Cultural and Social Anthropology

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Local:$ 2.04 k / Year(s) Foreign:$ 12.8 k / Year(s)  
66 place StudyQA ranking:5427 Duration:12 months

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Contemporary social and cultural anthropology aims to understand and explain the differences and commonalities between different lifestyles found in societies of the world.

How do people relate to each other and their social and material environment? Questions of globalization, identity and authenticity, migration, citizenship, but also of transnational relations, development, and myths of progress are at the heart of the programme. The Master's programme in Anthropology at the UvA is a broad, one-year Master's programme in which you design and conduct high quality anthropological research. After conducting fieldwork you are expected to write a well-argued thesis. The University of Amsterdam's anthropology programmes encompass two research traditions: cultural anthropology and social anthropology. A distinctive feature of this programme is that there are several options for your Master's thesis. The topic of your Master's research project is your own choice, made in consultation. Therefore, when embarking on the Master's programme, you will need to have some idea of the kind of research you would like to conduct. This also implies knowledge of a specific anthropological research theme, combined with knowledge of a region. It is also possible to join one of the established research projects of one of our staff members.

The Master's programme consists of three stages, namely designing, conducting and writing up your research in the form of a thesis.

At all three stages, you will be supervised individually by a member of the academic teaching staff. You will also receive collective support in group seminars, although your main focus will be on your own research.

The Master's programme is worth 60 ECTS (one year of study) and comprises:

  • Master's seminar Theory for Ethnographic Practice' (12 ECTS), full-time course, 8 weeks
  • Designing Fieldwork' (12 ECTS), full-time course, 8 weeks
  • Research/fieldwork (18 ECTS)
  • Thesis seminar Writing Ethnography', leading to the Master's anthropology conference (3 ECTS)
  • Thesis (15 ECTS)

Masters seminar Theory for ethnographic practice

The Master's seminar examines the state of the art in anthropological theory. It covers a number of key debates within the discipline that you link to your own research. This enables you to place the preliminary research question you formulated before starting the Master within a broader theoretical debate. This course provides the opportunity, prior to embarking on fieldwork, to engage in systematic and thoughtful reflection on the relationship between theory and empirical research.

Masters seminar Designing Fieldwork

You will continue to work on the research question that you elaborated theoretically during the previous course. During the Designing Fieldwork' course, you work on a research proposal and study anthropological literature on your research topic. You also practice research techniques in a series of assignments that enable you to turn the research question into a practical research project based on a series of methodological choices.

Thesis seminar Writing Ethnography

After spending three months on field research, you take compulsory bi-weekly thesis seminar. During the thesis seminar, fieldwork experiences are discussed, as well as issues of relevance to anyone faced with the prospect of writing an extended academic text:

  • How to structure your research material
  • How to organise your thoughts about the research material
  • How to identify the main and subsidiary issues
  • How to construct a cohesive argument
  • How to devise a realistic schedule
  • What form and style to use

In addition to the practical aspects of writing a thesis, there is also room for presentations and discussions concerning specific aspects of the thesis. The course culminates in the Master's conference, in which students present the central arguments of their research.

Masters thesis

While writing the thesis, you learn to interpret research results and present experiences in abstract terms. The main challenge is to combine anthropological theory with fieldwork materials in a way that is both elegant and effective. Your supervisor will provide you with support with the subject matter of the thesis.


Students' choices of theme and research location very much depend on the expertise and areas of specialisation of the academic teaching staff members. Whenever possible, the allocation of supervisors for fieldwork and theses is based on these factors.

For more information about the academic teaching staff members and their specialisations, see Staff. The study adviser will select a suitable supervisor, taking into account your personal preferences.

Additional subject: All applicants should have sufficient knowledge of social sciences research methodology including knowledge of qualitative fieldwork methodology, reflected by the completion of at least (an equivalent of) 20 ECTS during previous study. Candidates who cannot meet this requirement may be admitted provided they complete an intensive research methodology module first. Previous education: The programme is targeted at students with a Bachelor's degree in Anthropology. Students with an academic Bachelor's degree (or equivalent) in a closely related discipline, such as social sciences or humanities, are invited to apply as well. International diplomas are evaluated on the basis of advice from professional evaluators. The minimum level of the diploma should be equivalent to three years of Dutch university education. For more and up-to-date information on application and admission, please visit our website. Language test: All non-native speakers of English (including Dutch students) applying to one of the English-taught programmes offered by the Graduate School of Social Sciences, are required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. All students must be able to read textbooks, understand lectures, take part in classroom discussions and undertake written work in English. For more information, please visit our website. Written request: All applicants are required to submit a statement of motivation. Knowledge minimum: Student should have completed a substantial number of courses in anthropology, including a one semester (or trimester) course in anthropological theory completed with a good grade. Grade list: All applicants are required to submit official transcripts of each higher education institute attended, listing all courses and examinations already completed and currently enrolled in, and grades and credits obtained. Additional language requirements:Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English: C1Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English: C1IELTS overall band: 6.5IELTS listening: 6IELTS reading: 6IELTS writing: 6IELTS speaking: 6TOEFL paper based: 575TOEFL computer based: 232TOEFL internet based: 90 English Language Requirements IELTS band: 6.5 CAE score: (read more) Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) is part of the Cambridge English suite and is targeted at a high level (IETLS 6.5-8.0). It is an international English language exam set at the right level for academic and professional success. Developed by Cambridge English Language Assessment - part of the University of Cambridge - it helps you stand out from the crowd as a high achiever. 60 (Grade C) TOEFL paper-based test score : 575 TOEFL iBT® test: 90

Scholarships / Grants:

The University of Amsterdam:
The University of Amsterdam provides a limited number of full and partial scholarships for excellent students from outside the European Economic Area. The Amsterdam Merit Scholarships have specifically been designed to offer talented, ambitious and dedicated students the opportunity to pursue a Mast
For additional information: Website


Accredited by: NVAO in: The Netherlands

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