Announcing the launch of Digital Scholarship @ Oxford (DiSc)

The University of Oxford is launching Digital Scholarship @Oxford (DiSc), a five-year, £2.4 million inter-disciplinary project aimed at transforming the application of digital technology to the Humanities and involving the creation of a new Masters programme in Digital Scholarship.

This evening (Monday 15 November), Oxford Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson will formally launch DiSc in a ceremony at the Bodleian’s Weston Library. Based jointly in the Humanities Division and the Bodleian Libraries, and funded from the University’s Strategic Research Fund, the project will firmly establish Oxford University at the cutting edge of collaborative researcher-led digital scholarship.

Led by Professor Howard Hotson, DiSc’s new Academic Director, the project will lead on the use of digital technology, providing a stable core of technical expertise, tools, and platforms, as well as a public showcase and events programme – and includes a series of targeted research fellowships

Professor Hotson explains, ‘DiSc will accelerate the growth of digital initiatives across and beyond the Humanities Division by showing how they can learn from, interact with, and support one another.’

A key component in DiSc is the creation of Oxford’s first-ever degree course in this field: a new one-year Master of Science degree in Digital Scholarship, now accepting applications for students in the 2022-23 academic year.

Dr Sarah Oglivie, course director of the new MSc, adds, ‘This new Master's degree will enable students to participate in some of Oxford's flagship digital projects, and to learn cutting-edge digital tools and methods that will serve their scholarship in new ways.’

Why now?

Oxford’s digitally-enhanced research in the Humanities is long-standing and world-leading, with projects ranging from digitising the oldest written cuneiform tablets to transforming the works of Shakespeare into AI-powered chatbots. During the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced still further across the academic world the importance of digital resources and skills.

In Oxford, these projects and resources have emerged independently of one another in different settings: across all the Faculties of the Humanities Division,  and the university’s three other Divisions, within the Bodleian Libraries and Oxford’s museums, and also within the Oxford University Press.

The core mission of Digital Scholarship @Oxford is to bring these rich individual assets into mutually supportive relationships with one another. While doing so, DiSc will also render these resources more sustainable by sharing digital technologies and digital platforms, promote best practice including open access, and help train and educate the next generation of practitioners in this rapidly emerging field.

DiSc’s launch will feature a keynote presentation by Dr Marieke van Erp, Leader of the Digital Humanities Research Lab at KNAW Humanities Cluster in Amsterdam.

What is DiSc?

Digital Scholarship @Oxford’s ultimate goal is to help place the huge range of digital assets and initiatives in Oxford on an increasingly coherent, mutually supportive, and sustainable footing. After years of preliminary discussions and planning, DiSc has been funded for five years. During this period, DiSc will deliver the following goals

1. Collaboration and convergence

DiSc’s ultimate goal is to help place the huge range of digital assets and initiatives in Oxford on an increasingly coherent, mutually supportive, convergent, and sustainable footing. This will involve systematically exploring opportunities for collaboration between partners in and outside the Humanities Division; creating a stable team of experts in digital project design and development available for consultations and collaboration on projects in and building infrastructure to support multiple research projects, beginning with the Sustainable Digital Scholarship Service.

2. Capacity-building

DiSc will invest in the future of digital scholarship by helping to assemble and support a rich range of teaching and training options for all levels of the university community. A new MSc in Digital Scholarship will build on the success of the Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School and complement training options provided by IT Services, Bodleian Libraries, and elsewhere. DiSc will also help catalyse new research through funded research calls and visiting fellowships.

3. Community-building 

DiSc will provide a unitary point of access, outreach, and engagement, enabling anyone interested in digital scholarship to find, communicate, and join forces with others in the field at the University of Oxford and beyond. This will be achieved by supporting academic and public events, nurturing strategic relationships, and showcasing projects nationally and internationally through a website, twice-termly newsletter, social media channels, and presentations.   

To learn more about Digital Scholarship @ Oxford, visit its website [] or sign up to its mailing list [].