Big Data & Design

In the exchange programme Big Data & Design, you learn to work on projects and relevant topics during in-depth classes. We believe that you, as a future specialist in any field, need to acquire the necessary skills to work with data. Employers are not only desperately looking for specialists with practical knowledge of data, but for those who can translate these insights into creative data-driven designs.

Welcome to HU

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Companies in all domains are looking for go-getters with practical knowledge of data and skills to translate insights into solutions. During 1-week design crunches, you will work on assignments for real clients and develop your own start-up ideas. We will work from your background and motivation to use data in your context and focus on current technologies, look at future possibilities from a design, technical, business, and ethical point of view. You will learn basic programming in Python, which will help you feel comfortable when working with data and prototyping your concepts, but you do not need to be a hardcore computer scientist to do this.

Useful to know

Start moment February
Number of ECTS 30 Dutch Education System
Programme level Minor
Programme code JM-BSCEN-18
Language of instruction English
Year of study Year 3 or 4
Practical Matters Housing and Immigration
Location Utrecht Science Park

Course content

What do you need to enter this programme? And what can you expect when you apply? In this section you'll find all you need to know!

We create more than 2.5 trillion bytes of data every day. This data can come from anywhere: sensors in your smart energy meters, your public transport chip card, your e-reader, or the GPS data of your favourite running route, to name just a few. This data is called Big Data.

In addition, the number of ways and speed we can analyse data is increasing. With big data we can automatically compile personal profiles, determine the sentiment of users, and predict next actions. All this has its effect on the design of applications and user interfaces, which become smarter every day. They predict what users want, adapt automatically to its preferences, and creates more natural ways of interacting (for example through voice). However, it is still a challenge for organisations to use all that data and to design valuable new perspectives.

During this programme you will learn about all the steps of the data cycle: from collecting data to designing a service/product using data. You also learn about the impact of data on the world, companies, and the behaviour of individuals. You learn to look critically at this and apply data (techniques) appropriately.

After the programme you can:

  1. Critically examine the impact of big data on our society.
  2. Use design research to create innovative data-driven concepts.
  3. Collect, clean, analyse and visualise data from various sources through tools and basic programming.
  4. Create and communicate insights, predictions and actions from data using basic machine learning techniques and statistics.
  5. Learn new skills and methods within design research and data science using a self-directed, experimental, inquisitive learning style.

Would you like to know more about this programme or do you have a specific question? Please contact the programme coordinator, Lars Heemskerk.

We distinguish 3 components which will come together in projects, hackathons and design crunches. To prepare you for these projects and design crunches, you work on smaller assignments and take part in workshops, discussions, and lectures.

The 3 components are:

  • Design class
    Since we focus on data-driven concepts and smart applications in these classes, you will need to gain some elementary design skills. You will also learn to understand data from multiple perspectives (economical, philosophical, and ethical) and form your own opinion by reading relevant literature, having discussions, and attending workshops. Research is important in this programme: starting from data informed research and ending with research through design.
  • Technical class
    In these classes you will learn to work with Python to collect, analyse and visualise data using various algorithms, tools, and techniques. You will learn to make predictions based on data and explore more advanced technologies such as facial recognition, object detection and language processing.
  • Combined class (Data research lab)
    Both the technical, and the design teacher are present in these lessons. Here you can continue working on your research and assignments and delve deeper into the tools to get to know the domain of big data and design better.

Beside the 12 to 16 hours of classes divided over three days you should count around 24 to 28 hours of self-study. You are encouraged to further explore topics of interest to developing stronger technical and design skills.


You will be assessed at the end of the semester in an oral assessment and portfolio. Every 6 weeks we will give you clear feedback to make sure that the assessment at the end does not come as a surprise. If you fail on one or more learning objectives at the final assessment, you will be given an opportunity to resit these with an assignment.

In our Course Guide you can find all relevant information about the programme in one practical document. Download it here for your convenience.

This minor is interesting for students with a background in:

  • communication
  • media
  • ICT
  • business
  • entrepreneurship
  • journalism

You will learn some basic computer programming that will help you feel comfortable and confident when working with data. In the past many non-technical students have successfully finished this programme.

There are no additional entry requirements.

English CEFR level B2.

Please note: You may be asked to take a language assessment test before the start of the programme. If your English language skills are below the required level, you may not be able to enter the course, as you need to be able to actively participate in (parts of) the programme. In all cases, the programme manager makes the final decision.

Practical information

When you move to a different country to study, there are lots of things to arrange. For instance, where will you live, how much are the costs? Visit our practical information page to help you prepare your stay. It is also important to start arranging a living space as soon as possible. Our housing pages will help you on your way. A student living in the Netherlands needs about € 800 - 1000 a month to cover living expenses, such as housing, food and transportation. This includes insurances – health insurance is mandatory.

Find out how to apply

Ready for an international adventure?

Why choose HU?

  • Strengthen your professional profile with practical data skills

    Companies have an ever-growing need for business, communication and media specialists with a working understanding of data and the skills to translate them into policy. Following this programme will certainly strengthen your professional profile in this field.

  • Inspiring international setting

    HU supports your ambitions. Our lecturers will tutor and assist you in making the most of this international programme. During your time in Utrecht, you will meet students from all over the world and make connections to last a lifetime.

  • Utrecht Science Park Campus

    Studying at HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht means you get to enjoy all the benefits of our modern campus, Utrecht Science Park (USP). A miniature city with the universities' buildings, student housing, restaurants, cafés, a sports centre, and much more, it enjoys excellent transport links to Utrecht and beyond.

  • Vibrant university city Utrecht

    Beautiful Utrecht has lots of young people and excellent facilities for student life. It has a mediaeval city centre which is small enough to explore by foot or bicycle. Enjoy a drink next to the quaint canals or dine in one of the converted wharf cellars.

Study in Utrecht

Interested in our Big Data & Design programme?

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