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Master Communication and Information Studies

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Program overview
1 year
Master's degree
Start dates
September 2022

September 2023

September 2024

Program description

Master Communication and Information Studies

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 in 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.

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Admission requirements

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 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 600paper basedwith a minimum of 55 in each of the subtests plus 4.0 in TWE, score 250computer basedor score 100internet basedwith a minimum of 20-23 in each of the subtests).
  • IELTSscore 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.

Please refer to theAdmission and language requirements pagefor the general requirements regarding the English language test.

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
  • A list of all the main literature used during your previous higher education

After having prepared the required documents, please follow theonline 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 what to do after admission. When all conditions are met you will be ready to start your programme at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam!

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Program content

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 of 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.

Scholarships & funding

With our own scholarship, the VU Fellowship Programme (VUFP), we offer highly motivated students with excellent study results the unique opportunity to pursue a Master’s degree with financial support provided by the university. The VUFP scholarship is a tuition fee waiver. The Holland Scholarship Programme (HSP) is meant for students from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who want to follow a Master’s programme in the Netherlands. VU Amsterdam embraces diversity as an enrichment to our teaching, research and our contribution to society. This scholarship is specifically intended for excellent students who contribute to the diversity at our campus. As an international student planning to study at VU Amsterdam, you can apply for a variety of grants and bursaries.

Tuition fees

  • Tuition fee for EU: € 1,084
  • Tuition fee for NON-EU/EEA: € 15,546


MSc Communication and Information Studies

Continuing studies

You will be equipped with theoretical background and methods training which you could later apply in work such as communication advising, document or website design, marketing consulting, or doing research and training for media businesses. You could also go on to pursue a PhD on a topic related to the study of language and communication.

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About this institute

Welcome to Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (‘VU Amsterdam’) is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 175 English-taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to more than 26,000 students from all over the world. Students and staff...

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Why study at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

With more than 24,000 students, of which 4,088 are international, VU Amsterdam conducts cutting-edge research into problems of societal and scientific importance.

They distinguish themselves in research and education through four interdisciplinary themes:

  • Human Health and Life Sciences
  • Science for Sustainability
  • Connected World
  • Governance for Society

As a student this will help you to look beyond the boundaries of scientific disciplines, and to seek for tangible solutions for a better world.

In addition, VU Amsterdam regards diversity, whether in culture, conviction, nationality or prior education, as source of innovation and progress, and hence as special strength.

The Dutch higher education system has been ranked in the top 10 by Universitas 21. In the first Times Higher Education University Impact Ranking, VU Amsterdam is ranked 16th worldwide. In this ranking, universities are assessed based on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to measure the impact of the universities on society. In the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2018 (Shanghai Ranking) VU Amsterdam holds the 104th position. The international QS World University ranking 2021 places the Vrije Universiteit at number 236 in the world, which means the Vrije Universiteit belongs to the top 20% of the world.

At VU Amsterdam, the teaching style can be described as student-centred: they encourage students to develop their own opinions through independent and creative thinking. This means that teaching is mainly conducted in small tutorials, where interactivity is the norm rather than the exception. At every opportunity, students are encouraged to engage in constructive dialogue with their professors.

Contact info

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Netherlands, the

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Contact school

Want to know more about Master Communication and Information Studies? Fill out the following form and we'll pass your details on to a representative from the school, who will respond to your enquiry.


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