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Guidelines: DH Practicum & Portfolio

Architecture professor presenting to graduate students at a DH project scoping panel
By Christian Howard, with Alison Booth and Rennie Mapp

What is involved in the Practicum Course for the Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities?

The Practicum Course has three aspects: 60 hours of hands-on DH work; attendance at DH@UVA colloquia, public lectures, forums, and other events; and a portfolio.

When is the Practicum Course offered, and when should I take it?

The Practicum Course will be offered every Spring semester (NB: exceptions may be made for those graduating in December). Students should enroll in the Practicum Course during their last Spring semester at UVA. For Masters students, this will generally be in the academic year that they complete the degree. For PhD students, this will be the Spring before they graduate from the PhD program.  Note that the course does not meet as such, and that the 60 hours of hands-on work may be completed at other times rather than entirely during the semester in which the student is enrolled.

What counts toward the 60 hours of hands-on DH work?

Hands-on DH work may include coding (or learning to code, e.g. in a short non-credit course on Python at a DH institute); digital categorization or archiving of source materials; data collection, analysis, and visualization, whether of small or extensive sets of data; text editing, annotation, or “mining” for quantifiable data; and spatial technologies such as photogrammetry, VR, 3D printing, or mapping. This is not an exhaustive list, and the student is encouraged to use a wide variety of tools and approaches. It should, however, be noted that hands-on work is time that the student spent actively contributing to a project; therefore, reading and theorizing about what constitutes DH work does not count toward this requirement.

Hands-on DH work may be undertaken as part of a Research Assistantship (RA assignment) and/or may include projects for which the student received a fellowship or other source of funding (such as the Praxis Program or the DH Prototyping Fellowship through the UVA Scholars’ Lab).

Important Exceptions: Please note that projects completed as part of a DH course do not count toward the 60 practicum hours.

Where can I find a list of upcoming DH events and lectures at UVA that count toward the Practicum requirement?

All upcoming DH colloquia, lectures, forums, and other events are posted on the Event Calendar on the DH@UVA website. You can also find DH@UVA Colloquia events under the DH Certificate tab on the DH@UVA website.

How many DH colloquia, lectures, and other events do I need to attend to satisfy the Practicum Course?

There is no exact number of colloquia and other events that students must attend; however, it is suggested that students attend at least two DH colloquia or lectures per semester once the student has applied for the Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities.

What is the portfolio for the Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities?

The portfolio demonstrates the student’s involvement with DH work, and in particular, it stands as evidence that the student has completed the other two aspects of the Practicum course (i.e., 60 hours of hands-on DH work, and attendance at DH@UVA colloquia and other events). The portfolio consists of three elements: A.) a public website or webpage, B.) a DH dossier, and C.) a profile on the DH@UVA website.  The profile and planning of the portfolio should be begun as soon as the student begins the Certificate.  For instance, reflections on DH events should not be recollected months after the fact.

A: Public website or webpage

The webpage or website should list all the DH projects that you’ve worked or collaborated on.  There should be an image associated with the project, a brief description of the project and the student’s contribution to the project, a link to the project website or GitHub page, and links to any blog posts you may have written about the project. This would also be the place to share any relevant, polished written work, for instance a researched seminar paper, that you wish to post rather than to publish with a journal (which would entail copyright). Think of this webpage as a showcase of your DH work to prospective employers. That said, you may decide that some of the projects you list should be simply described in words; these might include projects that you are not a leading collaborator for (it is not yours to “publish”), or preliminary plans for projects not yet prototyped.

B: DH Dossier

This is a private yet substantive document that will be submitted to the DH Committee (who will grade the portfolio). This document should include:

  1. a statement signed by the candidate certifying that he or she has completed all 60 practicum hours required for the Certificate;
  2. a breakdown of how many of the 60 practicum hours were spent on each project;
  3. evidence (in the form of screenshots or other images) that testify to the student’s contribution and involvement in the DH projects that count toward their practicum hours (we can consider a statement by a supervisor, if other evidence is lacking);
  4. brief descriptions and evidence of any other DH projects that the student completed through their coursework (NB: projects completed as part of a DH course do not count toward the 60 practicum hours);
  5. brief reflections on DH colloquia and other community events (including DH courses taught and DH conferences attended) in which the student participated during their graduate tenure at UVA;
  6. any relevant reflective writing or scholarly work that you do not wish to present on the public website. For instance, you may have written a response paper for the core course that articulates your own views about an issue or method in digital humanities.

The DH committee will evaluate this document in conjunction with the public website that the student creates in order to determine the student’s eligibility to graduate with a Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities.

C: Student Profile

The student should create his or her profile on the DH@UVA website ( as soon as he or she decides to enter the Certificate program. During the student’s last semester at the University, he or she should link his or her public webpage (A above) to this profile. The student should also complete all connections to his or her profile, including the Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities.

When should I start working on my portfolio?

While the DH Practicum course is only offered in the Spring, students should begin putting their portfolios together as soon as they decide to obtain a Graduate Certificate in Digital Humanities. Students should seek advice about the feasibility of their ongoing portfolio in the Fall before enrolling in the Practicum; this includes having a consultation with Alison Booth and/or Rennie Mapp in which the student outlines the main parts of the portfolio and shares an early draft.

What services can I use to create and host my public website?

There are a number of website creation and hosting options for portfolio students, including Wix and SquareSpace, which are easy-to-use but may require a financial investment. We recommend three free options for UVA DH graduate certificate students. These are:

  • GitHub Pages - a personal website hosted directly from your GitHub repository. 
    • Benefits: Signing up for GitHub is free, and each user is able to host one website through his or her GitHub account. Many free templates and designs are available through the GitHub and Jekyll communities. You can create and link a custom URL to your GitHub page. This site is not administered by UVA, and users can continue to update and change their websites beyond their time at the university.
    • Drawbacks: Using GitHub requires basic knowledge of Git and HTML/CSS.
  • Digication ePortfolio - a web-based platform designed to support the creation and sharing of electronic portfolios by and among individuals as well as groups and in courses.
    • Benefits: Freely available to UVA students in the College of Arts & Sciences. Digication offers technical, design, and pedagogical support for students, and provides a number of ready-made templates that require no coding skills. 
    • Drawbacks: While users will be able to access and share their ePortfolios even after they graduate from UVA, updating and maintaining portfolios after a student's graduation will only be available to those who choose to purchase an individual ePortfolio account. 
    • The A&S Learning Design & Technology team will establish a Digication account for you. Contact the Digication Help Desk and inform them of your reason for creating a portfolio. 
  • WordPress - a personal website or blog featuring multiple, customizable themes.
    • Benefits: UVA Collab offers free WordPress accounts to all UVA students; these WordPress sites are hosted by SHANTI. Students can create and manage their own WordPress website, which has a variety of easy-to-use themes and customizable options that does not require any coding skills. 
    • Drawbacks: Once a student graduates and no longer has access to UVA Collab, the student will be unable to change the WordPress site. Additionally, SHANTI will only host the WordPress site for several years after the student graduates, after which the site will be deactivated.

If you have questions about which platform would be best suited to your needs, please set up an appointment with Alison Booth.

Where can I find portfolio templates and examples?

Public Website Examples

  • Brandon Walsh, Head of Student Programs at the University of Virginia's Scholars' Lab
  • Amanda Visconti, Managing Director of the University of Virginia's Scholars' Lab
  • Annie Swafford, Digital Humanities Specialist at Tufts University

DH Dossier Examples

*Examples coming soon!