Master in Communication and Information Studies: Multimodal Communication


Program Description

Some think of multimodal communication as something modern, as text and video are combined on websites, or as we both hear and see people we are talking with through apps on our smartphones. Yet humans have been communicating multimodally since prehistoric times, with vocal sounds and hand gestures. Despite the fast pace of digital technology development, videos are played and texts are read largely on the same real-time scale as that of face-to-face interaction – the human time scale.

How and why are different kinds of meanings and functions distributed over different modes of communication? How are those meanings, functions, and modes integrated into different media, including the embodied medium of face-to-face interaction? In this MA track, you will learn how multimodal communication works, meaning both how different forms of it are constructed and how they communicate ideas in different ways (such as making abstract ideas easier to understand through metaphors). Attention is given to the use of both written and spoken language in combination with other modes of communication.

We welcome students from abroad as well as those from the Netherlands. The courses in the track are taught in English. What you learn in this programme could be applied in a variety of jobs, such as those of communication advisor, marketing consultant, trainer for media businesses, website consultant, or as background for further study towards a PhD.

Study Programme

First and second semester
In the first semester, your programme will include three required specialist courses on multimodal communication: one concerning talk as multimodal, one on text and image and one about the important role of metaphor in various forms of multimodal communication. Alongside these, you will take two core courses in the department about how to analyse different genres of communication.

In the second semester, you will take two courses of your own choice (electives) while working on your master's thesis, which you can choose from the study guide. Each student coming into the programme will meet with a member of staff before the start of the academic year to consult about their choice of electives in order to ensure a coherent course of study. Once you successfully complete the programme, you will be a Master of Arts (MA).

An elective can be chosen from a wide range of courses. They provide opportunities to explore the particularities of multimodal communication in specific contexts.

Examples of conceivable topics might be:

  • Cross-cultural differences in the use of text and image in corporate web page designs
  • Metaphoric and non-metaphoric conceptualizations in commercials: A case study
  • The role of discourse-structuring and referential gestures in political speeches

An important part of the programme, the Master’s thesis enables you to conduct original research under the supervision of one of the staff members. The subject of the thesis must be mutually agreed upon by the student and the academic adviser.

Dutch Students

Direct admission to the Master's programme is possible with a Bachelor's degree in English Language and Culture, Linguistics, and Communication and Information Studies from VU Amsterdam. Applications from students with equivalent Bachelor's degrees from other universities in the Netherlands have to be submitted to the Admission Board for assessment.

If you have a Bachelor's degree in another subject, the Admission Board will decide what subjects you will be required to take in preparation for the Master’s programme. Depending on the number of subjects you have to take, you will either have to register for and complete the Bachelor's programme or you will be permitted to register for the pre-master's course (one year maximum).

Dutch students and international candidates with a Dutch degree can apply via Studielink before June 1st for the Master's programme Multimodal Communication under the label Communicatie- en Informatiewetenschappen (Communication and Information Studies).

After you have applied for the master in Studielink, you will receive within two days emails with your login details for VUnet (VU studentportal). Please complete your application in VUnet. Don’t forget to fill in your specialization on VUnet: Multimodal Communication.

During this step you will be asked to upload the following documents:

  • Transcript of records (scan from original)
  • Course descriptions (i.e. for courses related to the discipline of the Master, and for courses on general academic skills)
  • List of literature (the most important literature used for the courses)
  • CV
  • Motivation letter (max. one A4)

Please prepare these documents before you're going to complete your application in VUnet!

Your application will be reviewed by the Admission Board of Faculty of Humanities. You will be informed whether you have been admitted via Studielink.

International Students

Admission is based on a strict selection procedure. The Faculty’s Admission Board will decide upon your admission after having evaluated your complete online application. If you have read the admission criteria below and feel you are eligible for admission, please take the following steps to submit your application. Note that the initial application procedure is fully online and that scans of your relevant documents are required.

Step 1: Meet the admission criteria
In order to gain admission to one of our Master’s programmes, you will need to have at least a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited research university including at least three full years of academic study amounting to a minimum of 180 ECTS or equivalent.

Students are eligible for admission to the Multimodal Communication programme with a Bachelor’s degree in English, Linguistics or Language and Communication. If you have not studied English, Linguistics or Language and Communication, you will only be eligible if your Bachelor’s degree has a strong linguistic component. We will assess your previous education at course level to decide whether you have completed a sufficient number of linguistics courses.

Your suitability will be assessed on not only the basis of your previous education but also on your motivation for this specific programme. Be sure to elaborate on your interest in multimodal communication in particular.

You must always present official test results proving your proficiency in English. Only students who have completed a full high school/International Baccalaureate in English or bachelor’s degree in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand, or Australia may be exempted. You can already apply online without having the test results. In case you haven’t taken a test yet we advise you to plan a test date as soon as possible. Below you will find the minimum English test scores for the English taught programmes at the Faculty of Humanities:

  • TOEFL score (score 600 paper-based with a minimum of 55 in each of the subtests plus 4.0 in TWE, score 250 computer-based or score 100 internet-based with a minimum of 20-23 in each of the subtests).
  • IELTS score of 7.0 overall band score (with none of the separate section scores dropping below a minimum score of 6.5).
  • Cambridge English: Cambridge Proficiency Exam A, B, C, or Cambridge Advanced Exam A, B, C.

Step 2: Prepare documents and apply online
Please prepare the following documents. You can find an explanation of each document on the application page. All documents should be provided in English.

  • Copy of your valid passport or ID (ID only for EU residents)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Motivation Letter
  • Transcript of records
  • Thesis (or another sample of academic writing)
  • A description of the relevant courses you have taken during your previous higher education and a list of all the main literature

After having prepared the required documents, please follow the online application procedure. After you have completed the application, our international student advisors will contact you via email.

Step 3: Await decision on admission
The admission board will review your application as soon as it is complete. Normally this takes about four weeks, but it might take longer in busy periods so be sure to apply as soon as possible. If you gain admission, you will receive a letter of conditional admission by email. You can start planning your move to Amsterdam!

Step 4: Finalize your registration and move to Amsterdam!
Make sure to finalize your registration as a student before the start of the programme. Here you will find an explanation of what to do after admission. When all conditions are met you will be ready to start your programme at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam!

Last updated Oct 2020

About the School

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 150 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to over ... Read More

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 150 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to over 26,000 students from all over the world. Students and staff of 122 nationalities create a dynamic international academic community. The University distinguishes itself in research and education through four interdisciplinary themes: Human Health and Life Sciences, Science for Sustainability, Connected World and Governance for Society. Curious about student life at VU Amsterdam? Click here to ask our International Student Ambassadors. Read less