Book and Digital Media Studies

Book and Digital Media Studies, a specialisation within the Leiden University Master’s in Media Studies, focuses on the dynamic process of the transmission of knowledge and information through analogue (print) and digital (internet) media. You study both the historical development – from Gutenberg to Google – and the modern practice of textual communication within its societal and technological context. Much attention is given to the far-reaching consequences of the digital revolution for the world of the book.

Choose Book and Digital Media Studies at Leiden University

  • Be challenged by this international, one-year master’s programme, covering a broad range of topics related to reading and the circulation of text in manuscript, printed and digital form.
  • Focus on today’s digital developments in a historical perspective, following the only programme of its kind in the Netherlands
  • Gain access to a number of unique facilities, including the seventeenth-century Bibliotheca Thysiana and the Academic Press Leiden’s ‘Press Room’— with letter-press printing and electronic prepress.
  • Benefit from the expertise of specialists within such institutions as the Leiden University Library and the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (the National Library of the Netherlands) in The Hague. With partners in the national and international book trade, museums and libraries, the programme has close ties to the world of the book.
  • Take part in numerous off-campus activities, such as visits to the Frankfurt Book Fair and the Antwerp Museum Plantin-Moretus.

The programme has four main focal points:

  • Digital Access to Cultural Heritage
  • History of the Book
  • Publishing Studies
  • Digital Text and Data Processing


The aim of the programme is to ensure that you have an in-depth knowledge of the history of the written word, and of theories of publishing and textual media, both in physical and digital form. You will also graduate with detailed knowledge of all relevant issues and academic skills and insights regarding the field of Book Studies.

Check out the programme of Book and Digital Media Studies.

Master details

  • This is a specialisation of: Media Studies
  • Degree Master of Arts in Media Studies
  • Mode of study Full-time
  • Duration 1 year
  • Start date September, February
  • Language of instruction English
  • Location Leiden
  • Croho/isat code 60830

Prof. Paul Hoftijzer

Paul Hoftijzer

“There are striking parallels between the invention of book printing and the introduction of the internet: Johannes Gutenberg and Bill Gates have a lot in common.”

“When I was studying history in Leiden, I read a book that put forward a challenging hypothesis about the relationship between the invention of printing and the Renaissance, Reformation and new science. Since then, my interest in the subject has never waned and I decided to become a book historian. This passion is what I want to communicate to my students.

Throughout the whole world you can see a growing interest in the role and significance of the written and printed word, both now and in earlier times. This is undoubtedly related to the far-reaching communications revolution which we are currently experiencing as a result of the advent of digital media.

There are striking parallels between the invention of book printing and the introduction of the internet, for example with regard to their influence on society and culture, the position of the author or the effect of censorship. Johannes Gutenberg and Bill Gates have a lot in common.

This master’s is characterised by the interaction between the present and the past: we treat the history of the written and printed word in close relation to present-day developments in the world of the book and digital media.

In addition, Leiden has fantastic resources available in our field, all within easy reach: the University Library, the Bibliotheca Thysiana, many museums, but also renowned book shops and publishing houses, such as Koninklijke Brill, which has been in existence since 1683.”

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