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Students receive first EPFL master's degrees in digital humanities

New graduates Mathieu Clavel, Raphaël Barman, Albane Descombes, Hakim Invernizzi & Maryam Zakani © 2019 Jamani Caillet

New graduates Mathieu Clavel, Raphaël Barman, Albane Descombes, Hakim Invernizzi & Maryam Zakani © 2019 Jamani Caillet

On October 5, EPFL awarded five students with the school’s very first master’s degrees in the field of digital humanities at the annual graduation event, Magistrale.

Following the EPFL graduation at the SwissTech Convention Center, the five recipients of master’s degrees in digital humanities celebrated their achievement in a special ceremony hosted by the Digital Humanities Institute (DHI) at the ArtLab DataSquare.

“I am very proud of these first graduates, because by choosing and being part of a new program, they have shown a lot of personal initiative and confidence, and I am sure this will serve them well. I wish them the best of luck,” says Sabine Süsstrunk, Director of the Digital Humanities Institute.

Launched in September 2017, the Master of Science in Digital Humanities program in the EPFL College of Humanities is a comprehensive course of study that covers both foundations and applications in computer science and the humanities.

“There is no field of digital humanities without the expertise that EPFL can provide. This is why the program is such a logical extension – considering the strength of EPFL in the domain of all that is digital – to bring its expertise into the humanities,” Süsstrunk says.

“One of the reasons the Master of Science in Digital Humanities is important for EPFL is that we cannot solve the problems of this world by monolithic approaches, so interdisciplinarity and interdisciplinary research is absolutely fundamental. This program gives our students the means and capabilities to work in such terms.”

EPFL’s first recipients of the Master of Science in Digital Humanities degree

Raphaël Barman completed an internship at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris, and his master’s thesis in the DHI Digital Humanities Lab (DHLAB), where he is now starting a PhD.

Mathieu Clavel completed an internship at CERN, and his master’s thesis in the DHI Lab for Experimental Museology (EM+)

Albane Descombes did an internship at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris, and her master’s thesis at the DHLAB, where she has been hired as a scientist.

Hakim Invernizzi did his internship at Visium Technologies SA in the EPFL Innovation Park, and his master’s thesis at the National Institute of Informatics in Tokyo, Japan.

Maryam Zakani completed her master’s thesis with Daniel Gatica-Perez of DHI and IDIAP.


Students learn how to transform data from global cultural heritage, historical archives and social media into a deeper understanding of the world we live in. Their projects span the fields of musicology, social media, literature, arts, user experience, history, and more.

“The atmosphere of the digital humanities section is supportive. I particularly enjoyed the opportunities for students to discuss state-of-the-art problems with professors and scientists,” says new graduate Maryam Zakani, who studied social computing.

For her thesis, Zakani conducted a sociotechnical investigation of the change in mothers' needs for peer support on social media over time.

“I would like to continue my research in this area, which will hopefully lead to improving our understanding of mothers and to providing better healthcare, which directly increases the well-being of the family.”

Hakim Invernizzi says his favorite part of the program was its diversity: “With two semesters of courses, one of internship and one of thesis, I had the opportunity to deepen my theoretical knowledge as well as practice my skills in the industry. I particularly appreciated the opportunity to create my own tailor-made experience by doing my internship and master’s thesis in fields that intrigued me.” He adds that he now plans to apply his skills to a career at the intersection of data science and consulting.

Read more about the DH master program at EPFL.

Watch videos of EPFL DH master’s students
talk about their studies, and read descriptions of their projects.

Author: Celia Luterbacher