During the programme

The MDDD curriculum is built around three learning tracks: Concepts, Technology, and Humanity, each covering various aspects of data driven design.

The curriculum is largely based on the demands and challenges of real-world situations. This means you will be able to work on genuine, data-driven solutions based on your passions, interests, and expertise. In this setting, you quickly develop a good sense of what you have to offer as a digital creative, as well as how to position yourself within a multidisciplinary team of professionals.

Content of the Master Data-Driven Design

Block A: Designing for a digital society

Block B: Designing for engagement

Block C: Designing for process

The final block (D) of the MA programme is dedicated to the Graduation Project (GP). For the GP, students work on a data-driven solution for a practical problem. It consists of two parts: an academic paper and a prototype. Student write a research proposal as the basis for both already in the Creative Research course (in block C).

The GP asks students to discover how data-driven design can enrich users lives and create value in a domain of their choice. They need to connect their diverse skills in creating data-driven solutions, critical thinking, creativity, and research to complete this challenge.

Block D: Graduation Project

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This full-time programme expects you to be available to engage in educational activities at the University for forty hours a week.

Students and lecturers form an active learning community in which we aim to develop strong social cohesion. You will be expected on campus for an average of three days a week, plus two days of self-study. There will be lectures, the Coding Club for extra support with coding assignments, the Writing Club for extra support with academic writing and several guest lectures. At times, you will participate in design sprints and pressure cookers, during which you work in a team on design processes.

We expect you to shape your own learning process. An important tool is our digital learning environment (DLE). The DLE enables you to prepare for classes, alone or in groups. Not only does this grant you a lot of flexibility as to when and where you study - face-to-face teaching time is much more valuable when you come into class well prepared.

Important parts of the curriculum are about interacting with professionals from the creative field. You work with them on a variety of actual problems that businesses encounter or that are happening in society at large.

The Data-driven Design lecturers

Bob Cruijsberg, lecturer Master Data Driven Design

Bob Cruijsberg

Senior lecturer

Bob is senior lecturer and coordinator at the BA Communication and Multimedia Design programme, as well as at the master Data-driven Design.

He is specialized in User Experience Design and Interaction Design and curriculum design, with a lot of experience in coaching students who work on projects for clients. Bob has been committed to the HU since 1996 and has helped designing the curriculum of several programmes, including International Communication and Media (currently called Creative Business), and Communication and Multimedia Design. For the latter he received the ‘HUgenotenprijs’ of 2010, an award for outstanding performances by staff members and students of the HU.

Aletta Smits, lecturer Master Data Driven Design

Aletta Smits


Aletta is one of the developers of the master Data-d Driven Design and a real all-round teacher (and student). Since 2011, she has had different positions within the HU. She is researcher in the research group Human Experience and Media Design and specializes in Data Mining and Engagement Metrics. 

Next to that, she teaches data science, machine learning, user experience design and psychology. In her spare time, she studies Cultural Sciences at the Open University and gives presentations on the development of the adolescent brain.

Erik Hekman, lecturer Master Data Driven Design

Erik Hekman

Lecturer, researcher

After his master's in Media Technology, Erik developed and taught different technology related courses at the HU.

He has been a lecturer at the programmes Communication and Multimedia Design, Digital Media and Communication and International Communication and Media (currently called Creative Business). He is one of the developers of the master Data-driven Design and his activities consist of supervising students and coordinating the entire programme. Erik is also a researcher at the research group Human Experience & Media Design. His research focuses on how technology shapes public value.

Dennis Nguyen, lecturer Master Data Driven Design

Dennis Nguyen PhD

Senior lecturer, researcher

Dennis Nguyen received his PhD in media and communications from the University of Hull, UK. His thesis discusses online public spheres and political communication, with emphasis placed on transnational political discourses.

Since 2015 he works as a senior lecturer, researcher, and graduation coordinator for the BA Creative Business programme (formerly International Communication and Media) and the Data-driven Design programme at the HU. His current research focuses on the impact of digital media and datafication on public discourses and data ecologies.

Further fields of interest and expertise include media convergences, citizen journalism, conflict research, and empirical methods for media analysis. Aside from his academic endeavours, he was able to gather practical experience in journalism, public relations, online marketing, and academic research projects. You can read more on his ideas and publications at www.dennis-nguyen.com.

Rhied Al-Othmani


Rhied Al-Othmani has diverse graphic design experience, having worked on projects ranging from print to web and branding for a wide variety of clients. 

In 2011, Rhied received her BA in Digital Communication from HU and in 2020 her MA degree in Data-driven Design. Her enthusiasm for user experience, combined with an insatiable thirst for knowledge, drew her gradually into research and education. Along with her current position as a lecturer at BA CMD, the Master, she is also the Study Career Counsellor for the students and a member of the Study Programme Committee. 

Her other interests are the development of conversational agents, open government data, and the knowledge and tools necessary to comprehend, interpret, and apply open data.

Simone de Droog PhD


Simone de Droog obtained her PhD in Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam and works as a senior researcher in the research group Human Experience & Media Design (HEMD). She has a broad background in media, behavioral psychology and marketing communication, and specific expertise about youth (2-21-year-olds), social marketing (interventions), experimental research, and relationships with characters, robots and other forms of non-human communication. 

She has worked for many years as a researcher and teacher at the University of Amsterdam, Radboud University Nijmegen and the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht (Communication, CMD, Master DDD). The courses she taught are very diverse. For the Master Data-driven Design, she is the coordinator and teacher of the course Creative Research, in which students are prepared for graduation by writing a convincing and feasible graduation proposal. The course focuses heavily on academic writing. She is also an examinator of the graduation projects. 

Her ambition is to use her knowledge to improve the wellbeing of young people, working on projects that concern health, happiness, empowerment and play. She also tries to learn Italian, hoping to someday speak it fluently... 

Shakila Syahan

Shakila Shayan, PhD

Lecturer, researcher

Shakila is a lecturer at the master Data-driven Design as well as a researcher at the research group Human Experience & Media Design. 

She has an interdisciplinary background in experimental and computational studies of human learning and behavior, and has worked at several International Institutes in the past, including Max Planck Institute and Utrecht University. 

Shakila is originally from Iran, where she completed her BA in Computer Engineering. She then moved to the US to pursue a master and PhD in Cognitive Science and Computer Science at Indiana University. She is deeply passionate about understanding the needs of individuals and communities as a whole and finding innovative solutions to help them. As a result, her research has gradually shifted towards an applied human-centered approach that can improve the “here and now” of people’s lives. 


Jonas Moons

Jonas Moons

Lecturer, researcher

Jonas is a lecturer at the master Data-driven design and the bachelor Communication and Multimedia Design, where he teaches mostly the machine learning, data science and research methods courses. He has an academic background in artificial intelligence and cognitive neuroscience.

Jonas worked for 6 years at an applied research group on behavioral change, where he focused on statistical and methodological questions. Jonas is especially interested in the relation between behavior, data and AI.

Currently, Jonas holds a minor position at the research group Artificial Intelligence, where he initiates student projects that focus on applying machine learning to creativity and art.

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