826026 :Visual Communication (CD/BDM/NMD)


Voertaal Engels
Werkvorm: 7 full day seminars. Each day consists of a morning (2 hours) and an afternoon seminar (2 hours). In between the seminars, the students work on their group project, with supervision of lecturers (2 to 4 hours). (Collegerooster)
Tentamenvorm: Exam + paper (see: Specifics) (Tentamenrooster)
Studielast:6 ECTS credits
Inschrijving:Enrollment via Blackboard before start of lectures
Blackboard informatieLink to Blackboard (Als u de melding 'Guest are not allowed in this course' krijgt, dient u nog bij Blackboard in te loggen)


dr. R.M.F. Koolen (coordinator)

dr. R. van Enschot-van Dijk

Doel van de cursus (alleen in het Engels beschikbaar)

There are four learning goals for this course:

  • The student is able to describe the 'best practice' research on visual design in the field of cognition and communication in their own words.
  • The student has knowledge about the methods used to study the effect of visual-spatial displays, and about the visual variables considered to be important in designing visual displays.
  • The student is able to use this acquired knowledge to design and conduct a small scale (experimental, analytical, design) study, which is preferably closely related to an existing study (replication, transfer of an existing set up to another communicative case, etc.).
  • The student is able to present his/her findings in weekly presentatations, and in a conference paper. 

Inhoud van de cursus (alleen in het Engels beschikbaar)

The central topic of Visual Communication is the way in which the visual medium is exploited to achieve various communicative goals. The starting point is a collection of recent articles focusing on the cognitive and communicative function of several variables in visual displays (such as diagrams, graphs, and maps). For example, we read an article on different types of diagrams that represent evolution, and their impact on how people understand evolution. We read the articles ‘horizontally’, i.e., we read theoretical backgrounds of the different articles in one week, methods in another week and so on. During the morning seminars, we discuss the content of these articles and look for commonalities and differences to get an understanding of the state of the art. Based on these discussions, students think of a small-scale research project, which they carry out stepwise from research question to conference paper report (following the discussions in the morning seminars). During the afternoon seminars, we discuss the progression of the different projects, either plenary or in separate groups. Students’ experiences from previous years tell us that after getting used to the horizontal reading and emphasis on group discussion, students greatly appreciate this way of collaboration and learning. 

Bijzonderheden (alleen in het Engels beschikbaar)

The contact moments per week are located on one day. In between the two seminars, the students work on their group project. As such, students cannot follow another course in between seminars. Students are expected to be present at least 5 full day seminars.

The final mark for the course is based on:

  • Individual: Weekly short exam (0%)
  • Individual: Written exam (50%)
  • Group: Conference paper (50%).

Every morning seminar starts with a short exam on the required reading for that week. With these short exams, students can earn bonus points for the final written exam. The marks for both the final exam and the conference paper separately must be at least 5,5. This means you cannot compensate for one mark with that for the other. The conference paper can only be retaken once when the first take is below 5,5. 

Labour market

Knowing how to correctly and effectively visualize data is a valuable professional skill. Students in this course familiarize themselves with a broad collection of data visualizations, underlying design principles, and effects on attention and interpretation.

Verplichte literatuur

  1. some articles from the special issue:, Topics in Cognitive Science: The cognitive science of visual-spatial displays implications for design, Volume 3, Issue 3. Available online: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tops.2011.3.issue-3/issuetoc
  2. other articles on visual communication, to be announced.

Vereiste voorkennis


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