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Exploring the Past in the Digital Present


Admission requirements

This class has a cap of 40 with first placement for BA3 students taking either the 15 or 30 EC package in Digital Humanities. Staff and Graduate students are welcome to audit (parts of) the course, if space permits.
For any questions regarding the admission requirements, please contact the lecturer.


As quintessentially present-day phenomena, digital tools provide many surprising opportunities for exploring the past. At the same time, in academic, public, and (creative) industry spheres, the digital reflection of the past is becoming ever more important..
In this course we will look at a number of ways how this creation of digital histories and heritages opens up and transforms our study of the past. We will do so by discussing a wide range of topics, including the communication of the past through existing digital platforms and their user experiences, , video games as historytelling, , agent-based-modelling, and 3D modelling. What these tools or media have in common is that they ask provide specific models or perspectives into the , which need to be understood on their own terms. If we do, thisallows us to think and communicate more effectively about the past or with digital tools in general.
In this course, the past ‘starts yesterday’ and is a platform for creative interventions. In other words, you will be able to focus on a period, event, character or other aspect of the past, which you think is important and fun to explore and you will do so by using specific tools to make things, from user journeys, timelines, games, and 3D models.. The result of these explorations will be shared with your peers during the class, giving us all an opportunity to learn from each other.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, you will:

  • Use computational thinking and tools to benefit and structure your understanding and communication of history.

  • Understand how digital approaches can power a variety of explorations into the past and be able to communicate their potential and pitfalls to peers.

  • Know where to find some of the inspiring media, projects, and thinkers in this field.

  • Design and run an outward-facing digital historical project.

  • Have a working knowledge of a variety of tools that enhance the toolkit of a researcher and other professionals.

  • Critically reflect on the use of historical data or the reflection of past actors, events, and places in digital forms.

  • Share research results in a way that is accessible for your peers and a wider audience.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • Assignments

  • Participation

  • Final project


Assignments: 40%
Class Participation: 20%
Final project: 40%

Final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average. The grades for assignments and the final project have to be at least a 5.5.


Students who have scored an overall insufficient grade for the course may take a resit for the assignments and the final project.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

The reading and other materials for this course can be found at


Enrolment through My Studymap (Login | Universiteit Leiden) is mandatory.


Dr. A.A.A. Mol