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Our society is becoming more and more digital – including storytelling and production techniques. In the Master’s Program Digital Narratives, media and culture creators gain the necessary tools in theory and practice for a professional career in a field that is constantly changing due to rapid technological developments.

The program’s goal is the training of creative storytellers that master the narrative formats and production techniques of new digital media and experiment with them, in order to develop innovative formats. The program combines academic and practical work and teaches students to question the possibilities and limitations of digital technologies as well as the examination of current social issues.

Key areas:

  • dramaturgy and design of digital narratives, with a focus on immersive technologies
  • current theoretical debates and critical discourses in media studies and cultural studies
  • creative development and agile production methods
  • storytelling projects for digital formats and platforms (e. g. XR, web series, apps, interactive graphic novels, immersive installations)
  • social debates and the storytellers’ responsibilities

The Master’s Program also prepares students for a practice- or art-oriented doctoral studies program.

OVERVIEW

Applicants who want to explore media and new digital technologies and narratives both practically and theoretically, from fields such as storytelling, film, games, journalism, etc.

Applicants must have a BA or equivalent or higher degree and at least one year of specialized work experience or similar professional project experience. In justified exceptional cases, applicants with exceptional artistic talent who lack one or more of these formal requirements may apply to participate in this program as professional training participants.

Graduates have the opportunity to develop their careers in the creative industries, academia, or a combination of both.

If they choose to continue their academic career with doctoral studies after the program, they will be well prepared to do so in areas such as media and art studies, cultural studies, game studies, narratology, and digital culture. They are qualified to apply a research-creative or artistic-research approach.

In addition, graduates pursue the development of their own digital narrative projects in a variety of narrative formats and platforms, including XR, VR, AR, interactive web series, games, innovative journalism, interactive and digital documentaries, immersive and non-linear narrative formats and narrative worlds.

Our graduates are creatives who understand the ever-evolving language of digital media. They are people who actively shape the industry and engage in discussions around digitality, and they are involved in projects with strong social and ethical aspirations.

They can work in leading creative and artistic positions. Possible career fields for graduates of the Master's Program Digital Narratives are:

  • creative director / creative producer
  • storyworld designer / story editor / content designer / narrative designer
  • UX designer
  • media artist
  • media designer / doctoral student
  • curator / media critic
  • documentary filmmaker and/or journalist with a focus on digital storytelling formats

The media location North Rhine-Westphalia is one of the most innovative and economically potent metropolitan regions in Europe.
The city of Cologne not only has a 2000-year history, but has long since established itself as one of the most vibrant media hotspots in Germany. One third of Germany's television programmes are produced in Cologne. Major TV and radio stations, numerous renowned film, TV and web production companies, studios, publishing houses and creative agencies are based in the city and attract an innovative and artistic audience. In addition, a large and growing number of exciting international productions are being made in Cologne and NRW.

The ifs is located in the creative and media quarter Schanzenstraße in Cologne-Mülheim - in close proximity to TV production companies, studios, publishing houses, a radio station and the Schauspiel Köln theatre.

STRUCTURE

The 4-semester full-time Master's Program is modularized and is composed of:

PROJECT MODULES
Including the master's project, students go through four project phases during the course of the program, each with a different focus in terms of content and building on each other in terms of complexity. In these, ideas are found for projects, which are developed and produced.

MODULES DIGITALITY AND CHANGE
The modules Digitality and Change deal with the (media) theoretical and aesthetic foundations of digital narratives and critically engage with social and political implications of digital narratives.

MODULES NARRATIVES
The modules Narratives deal with dramaturgy, storytelling, and worldbuilding as narrative foundations of immersive, digital narratives.

MODULES METHODS
The modules Methods teach students the creative and technological skills to find, technically realize, and place projects in the marketplace.

 

SEMESTER 1
Digitality and Change 1:
Analysis and aesthetics of digital media, media theory

Narratives 1:
Storytelling and dramaturgy in digital media; audience-centered design strategies and formats; "Human Machine Interface"

Methods 1:
User experience design, collaborative and agile ways of working; creative writing for digital media; introduction to coding and overview of currently used softwares

Project 1:
Ideation: developing concepts for own projects with support from instructors and mentors, comparison with similar projects; presentation and discussion of the ideas

SEMESTER 2
Digitality and Change 2:
Connectivity, access, infrastructure, and network structures as core aspects of global online media; loop structures as a basic element of digitality; critical analysis of new forms of digital production and distribution.

Narratives 2:
Case studies of dramaturgical approaches and strategies in various industries; narrative system, transmedia storytelling, story worldbuilding; narrative and technical aspects of immersive technologies

Methods 2:
In-depth exercises in user experience design and creative writing for digital media; technologies for creating immersive storytelling experiences; project management tools and budgeting

Project 2:
Development: conceptual challenges (dramaturgy, narration, interaction, platform strategies, visual design, choice of technology), market research and funding options; artistic and technological definition of one's own project

SEMESTER 3
Digitality and Change 3:
Social and political issues and disputes about digitality; immersion as part of digital narratives.

Narratives and Methods 3:
Theoretical and practical perspectives on immersion; management and communication skills

Project 3:
Production: project production processes; legal aspects and market communication, including influencing and social media; integration of market aspects such as distribution, evaluation, and copywrights into the development phase

SEMESTER 4
master's thesis, master project and colloquium

 

SEMESTER 1
Digitality and Change 1:
Analysis and aesthetics of digital media, media theory

Narratives 1:
Storytelling and dramaturgy in digital media; audience-centered design strategies and formats; "Human Machine Interface"

Methods 1:
User experience design, collaborative and agile ways of working; creative writing for digital media; introduction to coding and overview of currently used softwares

Project 1:
Ideation: developing concepts for own projects with support from instructors and mentors, comparison with similar projects; presentation and discussion of the ideas

The Master's Program Digital Narratives is a four-semester full-time master's program with 120 ECTS. The program is offered in a blended learning format with face-to-face and online time. The language of instruction is English.

LECTURE TIMES PER SEMESTER:

  • 1st semester: 12 weeks (6 weeks face-to-face / 6 weeks online)
  • 2nd semester: 12 weeks (6 weeks face-to-face / 6 weeks online)
  • 3rd semester: 8 weeks (4 weeks face-to-face / 4 weeks online)
  • 4th semester: 3 weeks (2 weeks face-to-face / 1 weeks online)

In addition, there are phases of self-study.

After successful completion of the master's examination, students are awarded with the academic degree "Master of Arts" (M. A.).

Each module is completed with one or more examinations. These may be term papers, oral examinations, presentations, documentations or works samples.  

At the end of the program, the master's thesis and a final work sample (Master Project) are prepared and supplemented by an oral examination (colloqium).

The work sample is an individually or collaboratively created prototype of a digital narrative. The master's thesis flanks the Master Project and reflects on the project from a (media) theoretical perspective.

In the colloquium, aspects of the project work and the theses of the master’s theses are discussed in the form of a professional discussion.

Lecturers

Professors

Prof. Dr. Frédéric Dubois

Prof. Dr. Frédéric Dubois

Professur Digital Narratives – Theory

Professor*innen
Autor, Produzent, Journalist und Wissenschaftler für digitale Medien; preisgekrönte interaktive Erzählungen wie ATTERWASCH und FIELD TRIP
Prof. Lena Thiele

Prof. Lena Thiele

Professur Digital Narratives – Art & Design

Professor*innen
Autorin und Creative Director Miiqo Studios UG; u. a. Webserie NETWARS – OUT OF CTRL (SXSW Interaction Innovation Award, Grimme Online Award)
All professors

Lecturers

The MA Digital Narratives at ifs is a unique holistic study experience. I was happy to encounter an international environment where both academic and practical approaches are tuned in to bring out the best of each attendee. Every student is encouraged to develop a project or prototype on any digital medium, without defined creative boundaries, while being fully supported by all ifs staff, technical crew and professors.

Loreto Quijada

Filmmaker, Chile | ifs-Alumna

Loreto Quijada
When a film school values digital storytelling tools and elevates them onto a throne to be bigger in the future and set up today’s storytellers properly for the next decades, the result is the Master’s Program Digital Narratives. And I’m incredibly happy to be able to contribute a little bit to that.

Christoph Brosius

Gameproducer & CEO E-Mental-Health Developer Circumradius – Lecturer MA Digital Narratives

Christoph Brosius
MA Digital Narratives is a creative and research program that provides its students with high design tools and production methods, coupled with a solid analytical approach towards the digital medium. For me, coming from both cultural studies and independent cinema, the master managed to profoundly intertwine my artistic and intellectual interests. At a creative level, it has greatly improved my production skills, as well as training me with a whole set of transmedia forms in which to render my new ideas. On a more theoretical aspect, it has also granted me a plethora of research tools for a quality academic approach to cultural cybernetics. For all these reasons, I feel incredibly indebted to the program, and I hope it will continue enlighten new cohorts into the prospects of the digital medium.

Felipe R. Martinez

Filmmaker and Writer | ifs-Alumnus

Felipe Martinez Digital Narratives
© Heiko Specht
In a world where art is experienced on a daily basis, the MA digital narratives program at the ifs brings clarity to the concept of creative development. When I started, I thought I knew what art was and how to create it digitally, but once we went in depth into our program I realized that it’s so much more than what we think. It’s a process of ideating, creating, prototyping, expanding, reflecting and producing. It’s a circle of thoughts that brings you closer to your creative goal. I am grateful that I got to have hands-on experiences with a lot of different projects at the ifs, as I learned how to trust my ideas, go further with them and make them come to life. One of the main aspects of the program is the interlink between theory and practice. This allowed my classmates and myself to focus on both creative and analytical approaches to our thesis projects.

Eliane Eid

Performing Artists | ifs-Alumna

Eliane Eid
© ifs
Within the MA Digital Narratives program, we had the pleasure to work together with the students on ‘Creative Technologies and Tools’ with the focus on Virtual Reality conceptualization and development with Unity. The international group of students with extraordinary and different backgrounds astonished us immensely with their quick technical grasp, as well as the highly creative and promising Virtual Reality prototypes. We enjoyed working with the students and ifs a lot!

Lea Schorling and Maren Demant

Developer and Designer, Co-Found of Invisible Room GmbH & Co. KG – Lecturer MA Digital Narratives

Lea Schorling, Maren Demant
© privat

Study Fees and Financing

Study Fees

The tuition fees for the MA Digital Narratives are 2,750 euros for EU students and 3,750 euros for non-EU students per semester. This includes a 250 euro contribution to the ifs support association.

The ifs is a cooperation partner of the TH Köln and all ifs students are enrolled at the TH Köln and can use the TH's service offers, such as the semester ticket for public transport, access to the TH's International Office or to the sports courses and facilities.

Any further questions? We will be happy to help!

Valerie Lang

Assistenz Digital Narratives

Team

Assistenz Masterclass Non-Fiction

Team
Phone
0221 920188266
E-Mail

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