28 сентября 2020  |  
12:07 PM  May 22, 2020

TSU master's: robots, interfaces and human - who is created for whom?

© РИА Томск. Павел СтефанскийTSU master's: robots, interfaces and human - who is created for whom?

Interdisciplinary master's degree programs "Humanitarian Informatics" (philosophy) and "Digital Technologies in Socio-Humanitarian Practices" - are some of the most modern at TSU. Undergraduates study impact of digital world on people’s world transformation of society in connection with the advent of digital opportunities. Details - are in RIA Tomsk material.

History of programs

The master's degree programs "Humanitarian Informatics" (philosophy) and "Digital Technologies in Socio-Humanitarian Practices" - are the result of the transformation of the experimental program "Humanitarian Informatics", developed in 2003 for humanitarian departments who wanted to professionally use various digital tools.

Both master's programs are independent and provide graduates with their own sets of professional skills and competencies. However, in accordance with the subject matter, they mutually complement each other.

“I would call these two master's programs mutually penetrating. Undergraduates studying in one program can freely attend classes that are held within the framework of another program. Some courses for the two programs are uniform”, - explains the program manager Nadezhda Zilberman.


The master's programs "Humanitarian Informatics" (philosophy) and "Digital Technologies in Socio-Humanitarian Practices" are interdisciplinary and accessible to bachelors of the broadest profile - both for social science students who want to master virtual tools for research and for "techies", in particular graduates of the faculty of applied mathematics, cybernetics and related specialties.

Moreover, the "Humanitarian Informatics" program is formally tied to the "philosophy" direction, and the "Digital Technologies in Socio-Humanitarian Practices" - is tied to the "applied Informatics" direction. This fact largely determines the choice of programs on the part of bachelors - the first more often chosen by graduates of humanitarian faculties, the second - by "techies".

"At the same time, there is no strict predetermination in the selection of students in programs. There can be a graduate of any bachelor's degree studying at any of them. It is important to pass entrance tests and confirm readiness to master new knowledge", - emphasizes Zilberman.

During the training, undergraduates have a compulsory set of courses (about half of the total volume of the study load) and elective courses, which the undergraduates assign themselves (these include MOOC courses).

© РИА Томск. Павел Стефанский
“The first thing we focus on both programs - is the development of soft and selfskills. Hardskills become obsolete very quickly, while the skills of receiving, processing and assimilating information, the ability to develop independently, communicate in a team and so on remain always relevant. Our task - is to teach students to survive and adapt in a world in which specialties change every three to five years", - Zilberman said.

Graduate students of the "Humanitarian Informatics" program receive skills in the visualization of content regardless of the field — scientific, technical, business content. Within the framework of the program, undergraduates learn to create high-quality presentations, infographics, landing pages, websites and produce video content.

In addition, students gain the competence of an analyst, mastering the methods of statistics, content analysis, semiotic analysis of various media, analytics of social networks, data in education and others. And the basic subject - philosophy, more focused on understanding the new society, technology, and, of course, human, provides a wide view and critical thinking skills.

The potential employment opportunities are very wide - from a library director to TV presenter, scrum master, massive online courses designer, VR concept developer, UX / UI designer, certainly a researcher, and other specialties that are closely related to communication with people, technologies and analytical work.

The main skills that graduates of the "Digital Technologies in Socio-Humanitarian Practices" program receive - UX / UI-design (experience in creating interfaces with a "human face").

“Here, the main thing for us - is to understand how to build the user experience in its interaction with a digital product. Accordingly, this program has a lot of psychology, the results of cognitive research and the generalized experience of human sciences in relation to digital spaces”, - explains Nadezhda.

At the same time, students receive applied interface development skills from prototyping to market launch, as well as product presentation skills to the general public. Graduates will be able to work as UX / UI designers, web designers, front-end developers.

Training language

Both master's programs are taught in Russian. There are no required courses in foreign languages, but the program involves studying materials in English and reading English-language academic literature.

Entrance tests

Applicants for admission to the "Humanitarian Informatics" program must pass entrance tests. This is a two-part interview. In the first part of the interview, teachers test the ability of applicants to comprehend modern technological reality and its impact on society.

“This is such a moment of thinking and reflection - the entrant must demonstrate the ability to assess the impact of modern digital technologies on people's lives. And if this also brings a certain philosophical base, then this is generally fine”, - Nadezhda told.

The second part of the interview - is motivational. During the conversation with applicants, teachers find out the reasons for admission, determine what skills, knowledge and abilities the applicant would like to receive. Within the framework of this part of the interview, expectations regarding the educational trajectory of the student are identified.

For admission to the "Digital Technologies in Socio-Humanitarian Practices" program it is also necessary to pass two examinations - a test that assesses the basic skills of the applicant to work with software and databases, and a motivational interview.

Mandatory skills for applicants include, in particular, the skills of conducting research and writing scientific articles.

Academic skills vs applied skills

The "Humanitarian Informatics" master's degree program is rather an academic one. It forms research competencies, scientific search and systematization skills. The result of training, as a rule, is scientific research, even carried out as part of an applied project.

In turn, the "Digital Technologies in Socio-Humanitarian Practices" program is more likely to be applied - undergraduates in the course of the learning process gain skills in creating a specific product.

Geography of undergraduates

The "Humanitarian Informatics" program accepts 9 people to state- funded places (free tuition), the "Digital Technologies in Socio-Humanitarian Practices" program accepts 10 undergraduates. According to statistics, about 70% of students reach the end of training.

Geography of undergraduates: Russia and neighboring countries


Since both master's programs are autonomous, the teaching staff is not confined to TSU employees.

"We have sufficient freedom to choice teachers. We have teachers from other universities of Tomsk, also from Moscow, who run full-fledged courses. At the same time, we attract practitioners from existing companies to conduct modules of courses, individual master classes and workshops", - Nadezhda Zilberman told.

Partners of master's programs

According to the head of the master's programs department, the organizers do not conclude long-term contracts with companies-customers for training. Partnerships are built depending on the needs of the undergraduates themselves.

So, to implement the wishes of a graduate student who wanted to engage in neurotechnology, an agreement was concluded with the Moscow "Neuronet" company, where she went to practice. Another undergraduate sought to master social robotics and, as a result, went to practice at the "Neurobotics" metropolitan company.

“It’s more convenient for us and business to build partnerships depending on the needs of graduate students. Not every company is ready to regularly take 5-10 people to practice. And for the students it’s an individualized experience. For us, this option of interacting with companies seems more effective”, - confirms the expert.

* * *

"Our distinguishing feature is that we take non-standard topics. We deal with social robotics and questions about how society relates to robots. We study the formats of digital immortality and how the structure of death is changing in today's world. We talk about whether machines will take over the world or not. We explore virtual reality, wondering how real the world is and whether we live in a matrix? In general, we have a lot of interesting things", - Nadezhda Zilberman summed up.

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