Social and Cultural Anthropology

Analysing the world's social and cultural complexity

In the 2018 National Student Survey, our students rated the programme as the best in its field. Our students are particularly satisfied in the areas of pursuit of excellence, teachers and internationalization.

Anthropology of Mobility, Diversity and Development

Are you fascinated by the social and cultural complexity of human communities? Are you excited about delving into the nitty-gritty reality of how people experience daily life all over the world? Are you ready to not only learn about anthropology but to put it into practice by conducting fieldwork of your own? Then the Master’s programme in Social and Cultural Anthropology may be for you! You will gain a firm theoretical foundation in anthropology while developing strong qualitative research skills.

The programme teaches you to apply anthropology to the challenges facing us in today’s globalizing world. You will gain in-depth insights into a variety of topics, ranging from Islam in Europe, to politics and power, to urban anthropology and anthropology of crises, to migration, development and globalization. You will participate in public debates and write blogs and articles that communicate anthropological knowledge about the way people live around the world.

The programme in short
  • You will receive a theoretical foundation in Mobility, Diversity & Development.
  • You will choose a specialization:
    - Mobility & Diversity.
    - Development & Sustainability.
    - City, Space & Politics.
  • You will receive rigorous skills training in qualitative methods, visual methods and ethnographic writing.
  • You will receive individual guidance from a staff member throughout the programme.
  • You will conduct your own three-month fieldwork project.
  • You will write a Master’s thesis based on your fieldwork.

Programme structure

  • September – December: You will receive a comprehensive theoretical orientation on Mobility, Diversity & Development and choose a profile. You will also prepare for your fieldwork by completing your research proposal and getting intensive training in ethnographic research skills.
  • January – March: You will carry out your field research. You can choose any topic or region as long as it is related to the overarching themes in our programme. You can also join one of the many ongoing staff projects. 
  • April – June: You will write your Master’s thesis, in which you analyze the empirical data from your fieldwork and connect it to anthropological theory. You will receive support from a weekly graduate seminar, which will guide you through the writing process, as well as meetings with your individual supervisor.

View the 2018/2019 course descriptions
View the schedule

For many students, the three months of fieldwork is a life-changing experience. You may travel to another part of the world and experience dealing with different lifestyles, communication styles and local authorities. You could also face new moral dilemmas and maybe even a bit of culture shock. This can lead to a dramatic shift in your own perspective.

During your field research, you will collect the empirical data for your Master's thesis. This will give you the opportunity to experiment with various ethnographic research techniques such as participant observation, unstructured interviewing, visual methods and elicitation. You will also learn to keep meticulous records in the form of research notes and a field diary.

You are free to choose any topic or region as long as it is related to the overarching themes in our programme. You can pursue your own research questions or join one of the many staff projects within the research programme ‘Mobilities, belonging and beliefs: Confronting global inequalities and insecurities’.

Check out our bi-lingual blog Standplaats Wereld for informative, thought-provoking and cutting-edge opinions from an anthropological perspective.

Anthropologists today are key players in development, governance, social work, culture and education. Your coursework and fieldwork will help you develop the skills to:
  • Analyze complex situations.
  • Question the obvious.  
  • Document perspectives and agendas of different stakeholders.
  • Understand intercultural sensitivities and group identities.
  • Resolve conflicts.
  • These skills are highly valued in both the public and private sectors.

What types of jobs use anthropology?
Your theoretical orientation, thematic specialization, rigorous skills training and intensive fieldwork experience will make you widely sought after for a wide variety of career opportunities, such as:

  • Research in academic or non-academic institutes.
  • Strategic work with NGOs.
  • Policymaking in development, aid or governance.
  • Consulting for private enterprises.
  • Journalism.

Other areas in which employers seek anthropological skills include:

  • Human resources
  • Intercultural communication
  • Tourism
  • The museum sector
  • Marketing research
  • Design anthropology

If you want to pursue an academic career, this programme’s strong fieldwork and research focus provide excellent preparation for a PhD.

Where do our alumni work?
Our alumni work as mediators, analysts and researchers, both within and outside academia. They work for local and national government institutions, newspapers, corporations, and non-governmental organizations such as War Child or UNICEF.

You can find an overview of the sectors in which our alumni work below.

Arbeidsmarkt SCA

After two months in the programme, you will choose one of three specializations:
  • Mobility & Diversity.
  • Development & Sustainability.
  • City, Space & Politics.

Mobility & Diversity
This specialization looks at identity, diversity and belonging through the lens of mobility and its adversary, immobility. This notion includes social mobility and geographic mobility, as well as technologies of mobility. It applies to flows of people, as well as those of images, ideas, ideologies and products. Mobility also involves social mobilization and social movements that change the world we are living in. It refers moreover to the instability and fluidity of everyday life in the contemporary world. On the one hand, this fluidity and instability may cause insecurity and unsafety, but on the other hand it can be a source of security.

Development & Sustainability
This specialization focusses on the physical but culturally entangled aspects of human needs and different perspectives on addressing those needs. We approach development with a critical focus on the ways in which it is defined in policy and practice. This involves critical issues such as:

  • Global inequality.
  • Ecological sustainability.
  • Human development.
  • Social justice.
  • Industrial and infrastructural development.

You will learn to analyze the consequences of these issues for the organization of social life, social engineering and dependency. You will also gain a thorough understanding of global capitalist development and its implications.

City, Space & Politics
More than half of the human population lives in cities. Urban anthropology and anthropology of the city are established traditions in the discipline, which allow us to see cities in their full extent. The urban condition is a combination of:

  • Geographic and social mobility.
  • Proximity with strangers.
  • Cultural diversity.
  • Struggle over spacedevelopment of built environment.

At the same time, the city, from its very own foundation, is a political unit. The political conditions of a city are reflected in the ways in which its built environment develops and is organized, as well as the ways in which different social classes, ethnic groups or other communities are living and moving within the city. Moreover, it is the relationship between the city, nature and its people that defines the urban environment. Urban public spaces are where the recent wave of uprisings, from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street, have taken place, changing the face of global political agendas.

An inspiring learning environment
Our international, English-language programme attracts students from all over the world. You will be part of a truly diverse student body. You will also study in a lively and engaging environment, which facilitates constructive interaction between students and staff. The academic staff are all involved in initiatives that address current issues such as the migrant crisis in Europe or large-scale land acquisitions in Africa. This will bring the world to the classroom, allowing you to apply the theory you learn to real situations.

Pursue your own interests      
You will receive a unique combination of course instruction and supervision on critical global issues. And your individual initiative and freedom will be nurtured within research projects. Due to the small scale of our education and the dedication of our staff, you will receive individual guidance and supervision throughout the entire programme. Our staff will also support you in choosing a specialization. In fact, there is hardly a topic or region that is not covered by the expertise of the staff, which will give you free rein in pursuing your research interests and ambitions.

Real fieldwork experience       
Anthropologists distinguish themselves from other social scientists with their strong qualitative research skills that apply anthropological knowledge to the social reality around us. To help you hone these skills and gain professional experience, you will engage in a three-month field research project of your own. This encourages independent and self-driven research that will prepare you for doctoral research or anthropological work outside the university setting.

Great location
Amsterdam is a great place to study, with excellent city-wide public transportation, and everything a cosmopolitan European city can offer. Not only that, but Amsterdam also prides itself on its great diversity, boasting the largest number of different nationalities in the world.

Overview Social and Cultural Anthropology

LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION

English

DURATION

1 year

TUITION FEE

APPLICATION DEADLINE

June 1st for Dutch and EU-students. 1 April for non-EU-students.

START DATE

1 September

STUDY TYPE

Full-time

SPECIALIZATIONS

Mobility & Diversity / Development & Sustainability / City, Space & Politics. 

FIELD OF INTEREST

Behavioural and Social Sciences

Maja Waters Senneseth

Alumna, Refugee Coordinator at the Norwegian Labor and Welfare Organization

Maja-SCA-tabel

"Since I work with people from different cultures I get to use my education every day."

Nadia Moussaid

Alumna and presenter of Brandpunt, a news program on Dutch television

Nadia Moussaid

“After working for various media platforms I was asked to present De Nieuwe Maan (The New Moon), a new tv talk show that addresses issues surrounding the Muslim community in the Netherlands. The show features people whose stories reflect larger developments in society. Studying anthropology made me realise that pure objectivity is impossible. In the show I try to strike a balance between being the neutral host and being an involved participant. Anthropology inspired me to listen to the stories of the people around me and to bring them on the show because these stories often say more than abstract theories.”

Admissions and contact

The Board of Admissions is responsible for handling and assessing requests for admission to the Master’s programmes of the Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS). Questions to or requests for the Board of Admissions of FSS can be handed in to the administrative secretary, who will submit your request to the members of the Board and will inform you of their decision. The Board of Admissions strives to take on incoming requests within 4 weeks (20 working days) and 6 weeks during the busy summer period (starting 1 July).

Admission With a Dutch Degree

English Language Requirements

To be admitted to the English-taught Master’s programme you must meet the following results in the English language test (no older than 2 years):

  • IELTS score with a minimum of 6.5
  • TOEFL score paper based test: 580
  • TOEFL score computer based test: 237
  • TOEFL score internet based test: 92-93
  • VU TOEFL-ITP: 580 (only valid for VU University Amsterdam)
  • CAMBRIDGE CERTIFICATE in Advanced English (CAE): A or B
  • CAMBRIDGE CERTIFICATE of Proficiency in English (CPE): A, B or C

Exemptions from the language test requirement are granted in the following cases:
- your Bachelor’s or Master’s diploma was obtained in an English-language university programme in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, UK or USA.
- your Bachelor’s or Master’s diploma was obtained in an English-taught programme at a Dutch university.
- your Bachelor’s or Master’s diploma was obtained in an English-taught programme in a different EU-country.

Make sure to register on time at Taalloket for the VU TOEFL-ITP, as the possibilities are limited, especially during the busy summer period. August 8 is the last possible date for taking the test (registration August 1 at the latest).
If you have a Dutch Bachelor's degree obtained at a Dutch university, the VU TOEFL-ITP is free of charge.

Please add a scan of the result to your application in VUnet before 31 August at the latest.


DIRECTLY ADMISSIBLE

If you have one of the following Bachelor’s degrees, you are admissible to the Master’s programme in Social and Cultural Anthropology (SCA):

  • Culturele antropologie en ontwikkelingssociologie
  • Sociologie
  • Any other university Bachelor’s degree including the Minor Anthropology (FSS, VU)

Registration procedure
1. Registration for the Master’s programme in Studielink is open until 31 May (non-VU-students) / 31 July (VU-students) at the latest.
2. After registering in Studielink you’ll receive login data for VUnet.
3. Finish your application in VUnet.
4. Arrange payment of the tuition fee and complete your registration before 31 August at the latest.

More information about the registration procedure.

Please note: all students must meet the English language requirements.
Before the beginning of the programme you’ll receive practical information about starting your studies.


CONDITIONALLY ADMISSIBLE

If you have a university Bachelor’s degree other than mentioned above, you can hand in a request for admission. The Board of Admissions decides whether you will be admitted or whether you have to meet with additional requirements.

Registration procedure
1. Registration for the Master’s programme in Studielink is open until 31 May (non-VU-students) / 31 July (VU-students) at the latest.
2.
After registering in Studielink you’ll receive login data for VUnet.
3. Add the following documents to your application in VUnet:
- scan authenticated (provisional) grade list
- relevant course descriptions of your Bachelor’s programme
- short letter of motivation
- résumé
4. Finish your application in VUnet.
5. After your application has been processed and assessed you’ll receive notice about your admissibility.
6. Arrange payment of the tuition fee and complete your registration before 31 August at the latest.

More information about the registration procedure.

Please note: all students must meet the English Language Requirements. Before the beginning of the programme you’ll receive practical information about starting your studies.

Admission to the Master’s programmes is open to students holding any Bachelor’s degree in higher vocational education (hbo), providing they successfully completed the pre-Master's course. Before entering the pre-Master’s course with a hbo Bachelor’s degree, you have to pass a pre-Master’s assessment. The assessment is designed to ensure that students admitted to the pre-Master's (with the intention of subsequently completing the Master's programme) are able to meet the required academic level.

Study content
The pre-Master’s programme Social and Cultural Anthropology (SCA) prepares students for the international English language Master’s programme SCA. During the first semester, students acquire basic knowledge of a variety of core themes in anthropology. They also receive training in social science research methodology and academic writing. In the second semester, the program addresses a number of key challenges of the 21st century. Students will also receive training in anthropological research methodology (also known as ethnography). They will carry out a small research project and complete the program with a research paper, in which they put the acquired knowledge and skills into practice.

Take a look at the study guide 2018-2020 (Dutch) of the pre-Master's programme SCA. The programme schedule 2019-2020 (Dutch) is also available.

  • The pre-Master’s programme consists of 30 ECTS. 
  • The study load is dispersed over the academic year. 
  • Classes and seminars take place on Friday. 
  • Every credit equals 28 hours of study. This means that a 6-credit course takes 168 hours of (self-)study. 
  • You have to successfully finish the pre-Master’s programme within one academic year. Pre-Master results are valid until 1 September of the following academic year.
  • The tuition fee amounts to half of the regular college tariff.  

Premasterassessment
In order to start with pre-Master’s programme, you must first succeed for the premasterassessment. The premasterassessment of the Faculty of Social Sciences consists of the following components:

  • English language competence
  • Dutch language competence
  • Arithmetic competence (statistics)
  • Cognitive capacities

The components English language competence and Arithmetic competence (statistics) are binding.
Please check the webpage for information about the premasterassessment and how to apply in Studielink and VUnet for both the pre-Master’s programme and the assessment.

HvA doorstroomminor SWO
If you have a hbo-diploma including the doorstroomminor Sociaalwetenschappelijk Onderzoek at HvA, you are admissible to the Master’s programme after successfully completing a specific subsidiary subject at the VU. You don’t have to follow the pre-Master’s programme nor take the assessment. We look forward to receiving your request for admission. Before starting the corresponding Master in SCA, all students have to meet the English language requirement. 

Registration procedure
1. Registration for the Master’s programme in Studielink is open until 31 May at the latest.
2. After registering in Studielink you’ll receive login data for VUnet.
3. Finish your application in VUnet, incl. registration for het premasterassessment.
4. Premasterassessment en hbo-bachelordiploma moeten uiterlijk 31 augustus behaald zijn.
5. Arrange payment of the tuition fee and complete your registration before 31 August at the latest.

Please note: all students must meet the English Language Requirements. 

Hoe schrijf ik me in voor een premaster?
Informatie over de aanmeldprocedure vind je op de  onder de kop ‘Toelating met een HBO-bachelor’.
Algemene informatie over de inschrijfprocedure voor een premaster op de VU staat op deze pagina.

Word ik met mijn hbo-diploma toegelaten tot een masteropleiding?
Met een hbo-bachelordiploma word je niet direct toegelaten tot een masteropleiding, maar volg je eerst een premaster. Om toegelaten te worden tot het premasterprogramma moet je slagen voor het premasterassessment. Een afgerond premasterprogramma biedt toegang tot de aansluitende masteropleiding.

Ik heb heel hoge cijfers gehaald in mijn hbo-bachelor en werkervaring. Mag ik direct instromen?
Helaas word je niet direct toegelaten tot de master met jouw hbo-bachelor. Alleen een wo-bachelor geeft mogelijk direct toegang. Werkervaring en hoge cijfers tellen niet mee in de toelatingsprocedure.

Mag ik instromen met een premaster van een andere universiteit?
Het is niet gebruikelijk om in te stromen met een premaster van een andere universiteit. De toelatingseisen en de inhoud kunnen verschillen per universiteit en per premaster. Je kunt een toelatingsverzoek indienen. De toelatingscommissie beoordeelt dan of je vooropleiding voldoet.

Ik ga mijn hbo-bachelor niet voor 1 september halen. Mag ik toch starten met de premaster?
Als je je hbo-bachelordiploma niet voor 1 september hebt behaald, kun je helaas niet beginnen met de premaster in het aansluitende collegejaar. Het is tevens niet mogelijk om halverwege het collegejaar in te stromen bij onze faculteit.

Ik ontvang mijn hbo-bachelordiploma niet voor 1 september, maar heb deze al wel behaald. Mag ik toch starten met de premaster?
Uiterlijk 31 augustus moet een kopie van je hbo-bachelordiploma of een bewijs van afstuderen binnen zijn. In dat geval kun je jouw hbo-bachelordiploma wel later inleveren, maar deze moet gedateerd zijn van vóór 1 september om in september te kunnen beginnen.

Moet ik als premasterstudent ook deelnemen aan matching?
Nee, matching is alleen voor bachelorstudenten.

Hoe sta ik ingeschreven als premasterstudent?
Als premasterstudent ben je ingeschreven in de bachelor.

Moet ik ook een premasterassessment doen? En waarom?
Het assessment is verplicht voor studenten met een hbo-bachelordiploma die met een premaster willen beginnen. Met het premasterassessment wordt getest of je beschikt over voldoende vaardigheden op het gebied van Engels en wiskunde om de premaster te kunnen volgen.

Moet ik een GMAT doen?
Nee, de GMAT wordt alleen afgenomen bij de School of Business and Economics (SBE).

Wat toetst het premasterassessment van de Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen (FSW)?
Het assessment bestaat uit:
•    Tekstbegrip en leesvaardigheid in de Nederlandse taal
•    Tekstbegrip en leesvaardigheid in de Engelse taal
•    Rekenkundige vaardigheden en wiskunde/statistiek
•    Cognitieve capaciteiten

Is de uitslag van het premasterassessment bindend?
De onderdelen Engels en wiskunde zijn bindend. Wie voor deze onderdelen geen voldoende haalt, kan niet starten met een premaster. Het is niet mogelijk om het premasterassessment te herkansen.

Wat kost het premasterassessment?
De kosten voor deelname aan het assessment bedragen 110 euro.

Hoe meld ik mij aan voor het premasterassessment?
Meld je via Studielink aan voor de premaster en doorloop de stappen van de aanmeldingsprocedure. Je komt dan vanzelf op een punt dat je je moet aanmelden voor het assessment.

Wanneer vindt het premasterassessment plaats?
Data voor het premasterassessment kun je vinden via deze pagina.

Ik wil graag op een ander moment het premasterassessment maken. Kan dat?
Neem hiervoor contact op met de studentenbalie.

Ik heb een vwo-diploma. Moet ik ook het premasterassessment maken? Ik heb toch al bewezen dat ik het niveau aankan?
Met een vwo-diploma moet je het premasterassessment maken en behalen, om na te gaan of je nog steeds op het gewenste niveau zit.

Als ik het premasterassessment niet behaal, mag ik dan herkansen?
Nee, helaas kun je het premasterassessment niet herkansen.

Als ik het premasterassessment niet heb gemaakt/behaald, krijg ik dan het geld terug?
Nee, dit bedrag wordt niet gerestitueerd.

Wanneer krijg ik de uitslag van het premasterassessment?
De uitslag wordt binnen drie weken na afname van het premasterassessment per e-mail verstuurd naar het mailadres dat je hebt opgegeven in Studielink.

Mag ik de premaster als minor volgen in mijn hbo-bachelor?
Helaas is het niet mogelijk om de premaster als minor te volgen. Om toegelaten te worden tot de premaster moet je in het bezit zijn van een hbo-bachelordiploma. Je kunt als hbo-bachelorstudent wel 18 studiepunten aan keuzevakken volgen.

Kan ik na het behalen van mijn premaster een jaar wachten met instromen in de master?
Nee, je dient na het afronden van de premaster in het aansluitende studiejaar te beginnen met de bijbehorende master.


Lees meer over het premasterassessment, voorbereidingstips en afnamedata.

If you have any question after reading this website, please view the frequently asked questions. When your answer is not there, please send an email to contact@vu.nl

Programme information
contact@vu.nl
Information days
contact@vu.nl
Admission requirements
toelating.fsw@vu.nl
Tuition fee, admission via studielink and VUnet
Central Student Desk
Admission and application requests
Studielink + VUnet
Other questions?
contact@vu.nl

Masteravonddinsdag 4 december 2018aanmelden

Admission With an International Degree

The Master’s degree programme in Social & Cultural Anthropology is an international programme. To gain admission, you must hold a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited research university in Anthropology or a related discipline. You must have had qualitative social sciences research methodology and good grades. You also need an excellent working command of English.

How to apply

To apply for the 2018-2019 programme, you need to register in Studielink. Once you have completed your registration in Studielink, you will receive log in details for the portal in VUnet. You must complete your application in VUnet by uploading the following required documents:
  1. Certified copy of your original Bachelor’s degree certificate. The certified degree must be in English or be translated into English by your university or a sworn translator. If you have yet to obtain your degree, you can ask the registrar of your university to provide an official statement to the effect that your are certain to graduate before 1 September.
  2. A transcript of the grades you obtained in your Bachelor’s programme. The certified transcript must be in English or be translated into English by your university or by a sworn translator. If you have followed or are following a master’s programme and/or more than one bachelor’s programme, please include transcripts of all these programmes. 
  3. A clearly legible copy of the page(s) in your passport (or ID-card if you are an EU student) that contain(s) your personal data. A copy of a passport / ID card that is no longer valid will not be accepted.
  4. A curriculum vitae (in English).
  5. A Bachelor's or Master's thesis (in English). Or if you have not finished your thesis yet, a sample of an academic writing in English (about five pages in length). We will check your sample for plagiarism as one of the first steps of the evaluation procedure.
  6. A description of the courses you have taken during your bachelor’s programme, you can either copy this from the study guide or type 5-10 sentences for each course yourself (written in English). Emphasize the ones that you think are relevant for the proposed Master Programme. If you have not yet graduated, please also include an overview of courses with course descriptions which you are following or going to follow before graduation.
  7. A letter of motivation. Also, if applicable, please specify in this letter, the name of the specialization you are applying for.
  8. The results of an English language test. To be admitted to the master’s programme all applicants must meet the following results in the English language test (no older than 2 years):
  • IELTS score with a minimum of 6.5.
  • TOEFL score paper based test: 580.
  • TOEFL score computer based test: 237.
  • TOEFL score internet based test: 92.
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE): A or B.
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): A, B or C.
  • VU TOEFL-ITP: 580 (only valid for VU Amsterdam).
  • IELTS = test given by the British International English Language Testing Service
  • TOEFL = American Test of English as a foreign Language

Exemptions from the language test requirements are granted in the following cases:

  • If your bachelor's or master's diploma on the basis of which you ask for admission at the VU Amsterdam, was obtained in an English-language university programme in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, UK or USA.
  • If your bachelor's or master's diploma was obtained in an NVAO-accredited English-taught programme at a Dutch university.
  • If your bachelor's or master's diploma was obtained in an NVAO-accredited English-taught programme in a different EU-country.

Please note that the options for taking this test are limited, especially during the summer holidays. Remember to upload the result of your test as soon as possible, but at latest June 1st (for non-EEA students) or August 31st (for EEA students).

Application fee and Deadlines

All students seeking admission to an international Bachelor’s or Master’s programme with an international degree are required to pay a non-refundable €100 application fee. Only after you have paid this fee will we be able to start the evaluation of your application file. If you are applying for more than one programme, you will only need to pay the application fee once. Your application fee payment is valid for two years.

Information on how to apply with an international university degree and deadlines can be found here.

For more information, international students may also contact the admission officer: masters.fss@vu.nl.

Some International students are happy to tell you about their experience with living and studying in Amsterdam. These Student Ambassadors come from all over the world and have attended various bachelor's and master's programmes.

Our Student Ambassadors are listed here on this webpage: vu.nl/ambassadors.

Reach out to them and get their stories about being a student at VU Amsterdam.

As an international student planning to study at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, you can apply for a variety of grants and bursaries. Detailed information about scholarships and deadlines can be found on www.vu.nl/scholarships or www.grantfinder.nl

For further questions about admission requirements, please contact the International Student Advisor Irena Paap by e-mail (masters.fss@vu.nl).
Master's Evening Tuesday December 4th, 2018aanmelden

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