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Understand our society: why and how do we live the way we do?

A life-changing experience

A Master's degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology gives you a new perspective on some of the most challenging issues of our time. You’ll learn to analyse some of society's most relevant issues: cultural diversity, social complexity, international inequality, to name but a few.

Today’s world is in constant flux, and many phenomena can be understood from a mobility perspective. Take the example of migration: people don't just migrate because they are fleeing dangerous circumstances or because they need a job. People also migrate because they’re exposed to flows of ideas and images. Movements of people and ideas are interconnected and impact each other. While other disciplines explain phenomena like migration using broad theories about population flows, as an anthropologist you’ll learn to interpret them from the perspective of the people who are implicated or impacted.

The Social and Cultural Anthropology programme at VU Amsterdam is like no other. It offers you a unique experience in putting your knowledge into practice during a three-month fieldwork period. With support and backup from an individual supervisor at the VU, you’ll embark on your own intellectual adventure to probe your chosen avenue of anthropological inquiry. For many students, this is a life-changing experience.

The start date of this programme is September 1st.

Discover your Master's programme

During the first two months of your Master's, you’ll gain a solid foundation in the latest thinking on the Anthropology of Mobility. Alongside this theoretical introduction, you’ll undergo intensive training to develop skills in ethnographic research during a course on Field Research Design. 

After the first two months, you’ll continue developing your own research whilst simultaneously specialising in one of three themes:
1.Mobility, Diversity, and Equality
2. Development, Global Inequality and Sustainability
3. Changing Organisational Culture

You’ll then be ready to complete your research proposal and go into the field. Once you’ve finished gathering the necessary research data, you’ll return to write your Master's thesis, based on your fieldwork. 

No fieldwork, no anthropology!

Anthropology and fieldwork go hand-in-hand. In fact, anthropology is sometimes popularly referred to as the “field science”. The study of our fellow humans must be based on data from real-world experiences and knowledge.

Fieldwork is central in anthropological inquiry. Put simply: no fieldwork, no anthropology. It is the foundation of the discipline. Fieldwork is the study of people and their culture in their natural habitat.

You must be immersed in your research environment in order to do fieldwork effectively. This aspect of anthropological inquiry makes the study very special, and for many students, life-changing.

This Master's offers a unique opportunity for you to develop a research project, go into the field, observe, inquire and collect data. You will then navigate, interpret and distil that data into a thesis by applying the techniques of ethnographic writing.

Be warned: anthropology challenges your own norms and values, the way you look at life, and the way you have been taught and socialised. Once you’ve been introduced to it, you may no longer be able to take anything for granted. That’s not always easy and can be challenging. Anthropology opens your mind in ways you may never before have considered!

Change your future with the Social and Cultural Anthropology programme

Change your future with the Social and Cultural Anthropology programme

After completing the Social and Cultural Anthropology Master's programme, there are a wide variety of career prospects open to you. Our graduates have found work in various roles– as journalists, researchers or policymakers for governmental organisations, for example. Increasingly, large corporations are also looking to hire anthropologists.

Explore your future prospects
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