Arts and Sciences (BASc)


Information through the Ages

Module leader:Sara Wingate Gray
Module code:BASC0033
Suitable for:Cultures, Sciences and Engineering and Societies
Assessment:2,000 word essay (30%), Group practical project (40%) and individual project and presentation (30%)
Taught:Term 1
Seminar: 2-4pm on Thursday
Credit value:15 credits
Module level:Level 5

This module explores the concept of information and its relation to data and knowledge, taking an historical perspective through examining the past, present and future of associated institutional repositories and collections (libraries, archives, museums, galleries, data vaults) as well as the different historical forms of information sources (moving from the papyrus and codex up to contemporary forms such as the database). The module engages students in a critical, interdisciplinary examination of the role institutions and collections play in validating and verifying information and information sources, and scrutinises the interplay between audiences, politics, aesthetics, material forms and the socio-economic, technological and socio-cultural elements in which information is situated. 

  • Lectures and seminars will explore the conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of information and information history, providing context for class discussions, and seeking to explore examinations of data preservation, curation, open access, accessibility, intellectual freedom and data and information ethics. Practical examples and experience of metadata standards, digital publishing, digital curation and digital scholarship (incl. digital humanities) will be explored by students in hands-on seminars alongside theoretical discussions of these areas, in tandem examining the social and institutional issues that shape such practices.
  • There will be several field trips to institutional repositories to explore data and information in the context of GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) and digital curation sectors.
  • Students will work in groups (c.5 per group) on a group digital scholarship/publishing/digital humanities project, choosing an institutional dataset (supplied by the British Library or the American Poetry Archives) which they will assess and improve, using data/metadata cleaning processes and digital humanities/digital publishing techniques and knowledge gained in lectures and seminars. The group project draws on knowledge and skills attained during lectures and practical seminars geared towards students gaining a basic understanding of the essential technical concepts and approaches used in the fields of data curation, publishing and analysis, including metadata standards, XML encoding languages and schema design, and publication tools.
  • Independently, students will work on an individual project which draws on an institutional collection to create an animated GIF (using digitised archival data content) which is creatively transformed by the student to deliver a specific informational concept or idea. Students will publish the GIF on a social media platform of their choice (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) and complete a final blogpost (500-800) write-up of the experience, discussing both the theoretical and practical issues they dealt with in producing the final work.


  1. Group practical project - 40%
  2. 2,000 word essay - 30%
  3. 6 minute presentation and 500-800 word blog write up of project - 30%

Students enrolled on the module can find more course information on Moodle.

You can view examples of the blogs completed by students on the module in 2018/19 on the British Library webpages.

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