6 ECTS credits
160 h study time

Offer 1 with catalog number 4021131FNR for all students in the 1st semester at a (F) Master - specialised level.

1st semester
Enrollment based on exam contract
Grading method
Grading (scale from 0 to 20)
Can retake in second session
Taught in
Faculty of Social Sciences & SolvayBusinessSchool
Communication Sciences
Educational team
Jos Pierson (course titular)
Activities and contact hours

18 contact hours Lecture
18 contact hours Seminar, Exercises or Practicals
124 contact hours Independent or External Form of Study
Course Content

The course takes an interdisciplinary road trip at the role and meaning of data and privacy in mediated communication, online platforms and society, from a social, economic, technological and regulatory perspective. We discuss central theories, research, terminology, current issues, and future challenges on big data, privacy, ethics, literacy and user empowerment in different fields of society, from the perspective of Media and Communication Studies and STS (Science & Technology Studies). For this we incorporate three inextricable and mutually determining components: artefacts, practices and social arrangements. More in particular the lectures take an in-depth look at national and international developments in social media, sharing economy applications and data technologies (e.g. Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Uber, Internet-of-Things, Smart Cities, health apps,…). We apply the knowledge in concrete and interactive class exercises. This is coupled with practical interventions with scientists, government, public organisations (eg Belgian Privacy Commission), companies, civil society organisations, artists and other stakeholders.

Course material
Digital course material (Required) : Data, Privacy and Society, Reference list, Learning platform
Additional info
The learning platform will be used for communication and information exchange (e.g. slides, practical arrangements, deadlines) with the students. The different texts of the course material will be indicated via a reference list on the learning platform.
Teaching Methods
- Lecture: collective contact-dependent moments during which the lecturer engages with learning materials
- Seminar, Exercises or Practicals (Practical): collective or individual contact-dependent moments during which the students are guided to actively engage with learning materials
- Independent or External Form of Study (Self): independent study
This description of the teaching methods is indicative, in order to assess the expected study load (160 hours).
Lecture: 18 hours
  • Introductory lesson: 2 hours
  • Lecturing, discussing text and common analysis in class: 16 hours (8 x 2 hours)
Practical: 18 hours
  • Interactive classes and guest lectures: 8 hours (4 x 2 hours)
  • Face-to-face group discussion on text and slide content: 6 hours (12 x 0,5 hour)
  • Online and face-to-face participation regarding exercises: 3 hours
  • Consulting, interaction with and feedback by lecturer: 1 hour
Self: 124 hours
  • Assignment (exercise)
    • Selection of case: 1 hour
    • Reading related text(s) from reference list: 2 hours
    • Search for scientific articles and other sources related to case: 8 hours
    • Research for case: 16 hours
    • Generating output for case: 12 hours
  • Preparation lesson and course material
    • Keeping up with slides and course material during the semester, amounting to 1 hour per week: 13 hours
    • Thorough reading and summarising texts from reference list, including studying slides: 36 hours
    • Active processing and clarifying of text, possibly based on related texts/information: 4 hours
  • Preparation exam
    • Preparing for exam with texts from reference list, slides from lectures and guest lectures, and own notes: 32 hours
Learning Outcomes

Algemene competenties

This course contributes to the following course unit learning outcomes (leerresultaten voor opleidingsonderdeel):
  • The student knows and defines key concepts and central theories on big data, privacy, ethics, literacy and user empowerment, from the perspective of Media and Communication Studies and STS (Science & Technology Studies).
  • The student can outline and explain the role and meaning of data and privacy from social, economic, technological and regulatory perspective.
  • The student can clarify, connect and integrate the three perspectives (artefacts, practices and social arrangements) in relation to mediated communication and online platforms.
  • The student can illustrate and apply key concepts and central theories on data and privacy in a real-life case exercise.
  • The student can translate the theoretical and practical insights into actionable results for different fields of society in a professional context.
  • The student can substantiate and debate on the role and meaning of (inter)national developments in data and privacy within social media, sharing economy applications and data technologies, from a critical perspective. 
  • The student embraces and demonstrates an open, critical and interdisciplinary attitude towards issues regarding big data, privacy, ethics, literacy and user empowerment.
This course contributes to the following course-specific learning outcomes (opleidingsspecifieke leerresultaten):
  • Students show in-depth knowledge, understanding and insight within the field of communication sciences and in relation to the latest evolutions and discussions at both the national and international level regarding media, internet and globalization;
  • Students demonstrate the ability to critically contextualise and evaluate current national and international developments and discussions, and are able to independently deepen insights related to complex problems on the basis of an original framework of analysis, thereby expanding the theoretical basis related to media, internet and globalisation;
  • Students show an open and constructive attitude whilst having respect for other views and beliefs;
  • Students are open to scientific doubt and societal pluralism. They demonstrate courage, ambition and perseverance in questioning both established insights and alternative points of view;
  • Students act upon an open attitude in a culturally diverse international context. They critically reflect on their own (geographical, social, cultural, local, personal, …) position;
  • Students demonstrate the skill to discuss and debate current societal and scientific topics and theoretical developments related to media, internet and globalisation. The students discuss issues on the basis of critical and substantiated reflections and research findings, open-mindedly and willing to acknowledge other arguments;
  • Students can apply the acquired knowledge and skills related to media, internet and globalisation in a professional context;
  • Students are able to communicate their point of view in a clear and scientific-grounded argumentation to various target groups.


The final grade is composed based on the following categories:
Other Exam determines 100% of the final mark.

Within the Other Exam category, the following assignments need to be completed:

  • Combination Exam Forms with a relative weight of 100 which comprises 100% of the final mark.

    Note: The general assessment is based on the knowledge of the course material, in combination with the understanding of and the ability to apply the acquired knowledge. For this the evaluation will be subdivided in three exam components: (1) individual online interaction via the learning platform, (2) group assignment and (3) oral exam. The exam components (1) online interaction and (2) assignment cannot be taken up again in the second examination period. The results of these two exam components will be transferred to the second examination period.

Additional info regarding evaluation


Academic context

This offer is part of the following study plans:
Master of Communication Studies: Media, Internet and Globalisation (only offered in Dutch)
Master of Communication Studies: New Media and Society in Europe
Master of Communication Studies: Journalism and Media in Europe
Master of Teaching in Social Sciences: communicatiewetenschappen (90 ECTS, Etterbeek) (only offered in Dutch)