University of Amsterdam

This university has 1 general master track (thesis can be done in Dutch), 6 specialisation tracks (fully in English), and 1 research master (fully in English)


The Master’s in Sociology at the University of Amsterdam offers a  comprehensive programme focusing on current social issues. The Master's programme in Sociology teaches you how to think about sociological issues independently and offers you a sound understanding of sociological theory and methods. In this programme, you will acquire intellectual and practical skills enabling you to analyse problems, structures and processes related to the coexistence of people. With a wide range of courses on offer, the Master's in Sociology provides you with the opportunity to put together your own curriculum within a broad sociological spectrum.

Student profile

If you want to know what causes social problems, you have a desire to understand underlying processes, if you are critical and interested in alternative explanations for what happens in the world around you, if you want to conduct your own research and be inspired by the classical sociological scholars on current issues, then this is your study programme. In sum: this Master's is the right choice for you as a critical, inquiring student who has a desire to gain in-depth knowledge on current social issues and find solutions for these.



After completion of the study programme there is an array of job opportunities. As a sociology graduate you possess excellent research skills and have the capacity to define complex social problems, to come up with potential solutions and to translate these into written recommendations.

Focus on research

In recent years the Department of Sociology has attracted a large number of international staff members who excel in their own specialist field and are actively involved in teaching in their domain. The strong reputation of the staff is evident from the large number of research grants received in recent years from the Dutch Scientific Organisation (Nederlandse Wetenschapsorganisatie - NWO) and the European Commission. Many members of staff are also active in the public debate, and are involved in research on (government) policy. This is also reflected in the curriculum.

The main difference between this Sociology degree programme and the English tracks is that the Sociology programme offers more choice.

Students in the general Sociology programme are allowed to put together their own curriculum by choosing from all the courses offered by the various specialisations, whereas it is compulsory for track students to choose from courses within their specialisation. Sociology students can specialise in one of the six majors, but may alternatively opt for a more general programme. Dutch students of the MSc Sociology may write their thesis and papers in Dutch (provided that the lecturers are able to understand Dutch).


The MSc in Comparative Organisation and Labour Studies covers the sociological and interdisciplinary understanding of employment relations, the organisation of work processes and the position of labour in the wider society. The programme in Comparative Organisation and Labour Studies has two distinctive features: (i) a strong focus on comparative analysis of issues concerning labour and organisation; and (ii) a special emphasis on processes of integration and convergence in world markets of both employment relations and organisational policies.

The programme

The programme offers a sociological approach to the study of modern capitalism by investigating cross-national differences within the institutional framework of market economies. It contributes to an understanding of the changing world of labour market institutions ranging from work-place practice, across union-employer bargaining to national welfare states and European social policies. Such institutions are fundamental to the wealth, power and patterns of inequality in the global economy. The programme also explores the institutional, cultural, social, and historical determinants of economic behaviour by looking at issues such as the regulations and norms in the labour market, informal norms in firms, and the effect of institutional path dependency on social capital, trust and networks.

Focus on research

The programme culminates in you developing your own thesis research, closely mentored and guided by a supervisor with expertise in the particular area of investigation. Staff members of the Sociology department share their expertise in innovative sociological research. The scholars involved in teaching the programme are affiliated with the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS) and Cultural Sociology of the Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research (AISSR). The diversity in the research background of the staff guarantees a broad and disciplinarily well-embedded perspective on labour and organisation issues. Students will 

  • obtain knowledge of institutional and behavioural patterns and variations, internationalisation and integration processes in labour markets, organisations and industrial relations. 

  • gain experience in the use of methods of social and economic research and statistics used in the field of labour and organisation studies and social policy research.

  • develop the ability to integrate theories and concepts from different disciplines in a multi-disciplinary, comparative and analytical approach to research and policy problems.

  • acquire the ability to conduct and evaluate research, and to participate professionally in multi-disciplinary and international research and policy-analysis teams, both in academic and non-academic settings.

The programme is part of the European Master in Labour Studies Network (MEST) that allows a selection of students who perform well during the first semester to spend their second semester abroad at one of the partner institutions in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Belgium, France, Spain, Slovenia or Romania.

Student profile

Do you have an interest in understanding how work is organised and in the functioning of the labour market? Do you want to go beyond a traditional economic perspective on these issues and infuse your research with a more critical sociological approach? Are you keen to engage in rigorous research? Then you are a good candidate for the Comparative Organisation and Labour Studies (COLS) programme. The programme equips you with a set of transferable skills which enable you to analyse complex societal and organisational problems and to see beyond generally accepted assumptions in the field of labour and organisations.


The Master’s progamme in Cultural Sociology examines how popular culture and the globalisation of media poses threats to national and local cultures. You will also learn how to research culture in a broad perspective, as well as its specific aspects. 

Would you like to know whether the global exchange of media products – Disney movies, fashion magazines, popular music – poses a threat to local and national cultures? Or whether developing art markets in Russia, China, Brazil and India adopt Western models and institutions?

In Cultural Sociology, you will not only examine culture from a broad perspective (collective mentalities, ideologies, religious orientations, expert and lay knowledge), but you will also look at the more specific features of culture (art, media, popular culture). You will focus on how symbolic goods like books, artworks and fashion are produced, distributed and received. In addition, the curriculum explores how broader cultural conceptions are embedded in social relations, and how they change over time and vary across social groups.

The approach to the study is empirically grounded, utilising both qualitative and quantitative methods. The programme offers you the unique opportunity to study key themes within contemporary cultural sociology. The research and teaching of staff members stimulates a strong engagement with issues of cultural globalisation and cross-national comparative research.


Student profile

This rigorous and intensive programme trains you at a high academic level. You are expected to develop the capacity to work independently and in group settings.


You will gain knowledge of aspects of contemporary cultural developments in relation to social processes and insight into the functioning of cultural policy areas. You will gain the ability to use these concepts and theories in creative ways. The combination of empirical studies with theoretical reflection gives you the intellectual tools and skills you need to analyse and understand complex social and cultural issues.


Focus on research

The UvA has a sophisticated, experienced and internationally oriented teaching staff, a well-built network of experts outside the university, specialised libraries and archives, and a student network. The staff of the sociology department guarantees that students will have the opportunity to acquire expertise in innovative sociological research. The programme culminates in students developing their own thesis research, closely mentored and guided by a supervisor with expertise in the particular area of investigation.


In the Gender, Sexuality and Society Master’s programme you will examine differences in groups of men, groups of women, and differences between these groups. This will be placed in a broader perspective of social identities, political power and processes of exclusion and inclusion.


It is generally accepted that differences between rich and poor, young and old, between skin colours, or between Christians and Muslims are undeniable factors in people’s lives. Functioning as a woman or a man, with particular sexual orientations, holds comparable significance. Gender, Sexuality and Society is devoted to enhance our understanding of the differences among groups of women and groups of men, as well as between women and men. In an era of globalisation and transnational migration we see that new sexual acts and practices emerge within the fragmenting cultural landscapes of gender, sex, class and nationality. 


This programme offers a systematic attempt to address structurally embedded prescriptions concerning gender relations and sexual behavior that are on a par with other analytical variables such as class, ethnicity, religion, age, or political views.

Gender, Sexuality and Society aims to integrate the social and cultural imperatives that shape gendered identities and sexual relationships into the normal research repertoire of social scientists. Accordingly, you will learn how to incorporate a multidisciplinary and transnational approach. The historical and comparative dimensions emphasized in the majority of the courses train you to analyse and understand issues in society and culture from various perspectives and to placethem in their wide-ranging sociological, political, cultural and historical contexts.

This programme is unique as it is incorporated in the social sciences as opposed to the humanities, which is the case for the majority of gender and/or sexuality studies. The combination of empirical research with theoretical reflection provides the student with a solid theoretical, conceptual, and methodological foundation to better understand, analyse and cope with the world’s contemporary problems and complexities related to gender and/or sexuality.

The University of Amsterdam has accumulated  an enormous amount of expertise in the field of gender and sexuality, with an internationally focused staff, a well-established network of experts, specialised libraries and archives, and a research centre for gender and sexuality (ARC-GS) with monthly lectures: The UvA is situated in the city of Amsterdam, a city that has relevant organisations, libraries and archives and many interesting places for people who are interested in the field of gender and sexuality.


Student profile

We dare you to look in the mirror first before studying the outside world. The intellectual initiative of gender and sexuality studies aims to integrate the social and cultural imperatives that shape gendered identities and sexual desire, behaviour and relationships into the normal research repertoire of social scientists.



The programme provides you with a solid theoretical, conceptual, and methodological foundation for the empirical study of social issues where gender and/or sexuality are explicitly or implicitly at stake.


Focus on research

The UvA has a sophisticated, experienced and internationally oriented teaching staff, a well-established network of experts outside the university, specialised libraries and archives and a student network. Expertise in gender and sexuality studies has been developed since their incipience in the late 1970s. The staff employs an interdisciplinary perspective, having specialisations in women's, gender and gay studies, as well as in sociology, anthropology, history, political science, and philosophy. This lively and colourful academic community is, above all, based in a city that is famous for its liberal sexual attitudes and boasts many interesting spots for people who are interested in the field of gender and sexuality.

Migration and Ethnic Studies (specialisation)

The Master's Migration and Ethnic Studies explores the dynamics of human mobility in the twofold context of globalisation and the persistence of nation-state boundaries. It examines how these dynamics translate into ethnic stratification, economic inequality, and cultural diversity in both countries of departure and countries of destination.


The core and elective courses of the Migration and Ethnic Studies Master's programme review a wide array of issues, including

  • Nation-state formation, borders, migration industries and the politics of migration control

  • Migration decisions, networks and movements

  • Refugees and asylum in a time of multiple crises

  • Citizenship, migrant (il)legality and regularisation

  • Migrants in employment and in labour movements; migrant entrepreneurship

  • How immigrants and their descents reshape cities; migrants in urban space, housing and education

  • Transnational identities, gender, sexuality and class; marriage migration.

  • Ethno-racial categorisation, racism and discrimination.

  • Cultural, religious and ethnic diversity

Migration is discussed from a broad sociological perspective. The programme provides you with the competences to identify and analyse social phenomena. You will learn to go beyond applying or illustrating available theories of migration, integration and ethnicity, and gain the practical skills needed for both challenging existing models, and building new, innovative ones out of rigorous empirical work.

During the programme, guest speakers from a variety of disciplines including sociology, anthropology, political science, and geography, as well as practitioners such as lawyers, documentary makers, labour organisers and government officials will be sharing their knowledge with you. 


Student profile

You are expected to develop your capacity to work independently and to become knowledgeable scholars, thinking critically about dynamics of migration and integration beyond media and policy stereotypes. A taste for empirical research combined with an aptitude for well-grounded theorisation are appreciated, and will be cultivated in programme members.  



You will learn how to identify and analyse social phenomena by comparing them with other concrete cases taken from history or cross-national comparative research. That way, you will learn to go beyond just applying or illustrating available theories of migration, incorporation, and ethnicity. You will also gain the practical skills for both challenging existing models, and building new, innovative ones out of rigorous empirical work, from the perspective of fundamental and applied research.


Focus on research

Teachers in this Master's are predominantly international, originating from various European and North American countries. Most of them are researchers at the prestigious Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, one of the foremost centers for migration studies in Europe and beyond. Students are encouraged to take part in conferences, public lectures, and workshops sponsored by IMES.

Social Problems and Social Policy (specialisation)

Social Problems and Social Policy offers students an insight into the ways in which social problems are defined and tackled within contemporary welfare states, analysing the roles ascribed to citizens, professionals and other stakeholders within these processes. It considers the recent histories of various policy approaches and places these in a comparative European context.


Social Problems and Social Policy combines a broad foundation of sociological theory and research methods training with a more specific focus on the construction of social problems and attempts by policymakers to solve these. The different components of the programme combine to enhance your skills in applying social theory to deconstruct contemporary social issues from a range of critical perspectives.

The distinctive qualities of the programme are in its combining of constructionist perspectives with applied, case-oriented approaches to evaluate policy effectiveness. In linking these two approaches, the course enables you to develop critically incisive yet practical and applied insights into a range of contemporary problems and policy approaches. More specialised courses include those focusing on pertinent themes of active citizenship or vulnerable groups, alongside a more comparative approach to European welfare states, industrial relations and labour market policies.


Student profile

Students should have a keen interest in and general knowledge of certain contemporary social problems. They should be enthusiastic about harnessing social theory to open up specific ‘problems’ to critical scrutiny and rigorous research.



This programme is unique in that it focuses on social policy at both the local executive level and the level of evidence-based policy making and policy design. There is an increasing demand for graduates and professionals who are able to combine these complementary perspectives. In a broader sense, the component courses equip students to look behind assumptions about the reality of issues as they are constructed in the public sphere, analyse complex societal and organisational problems, and to evaluate the efficacy of attempted solutions. These skills are highly transferable across the labour market, as is apparent in the variety of roles performed by our recent graduates.


Focus on research

The track's core academic staff are engaged in innovative research in the field of social policy and social problems and are mainly drawn from the UvA Programme Group ‘Dynamics of Citizenship and Culture' (Sociology). Their expertise in the area of Dutch and other European policy environments, especially in relation to major urban centres like Amsterdam and Rotterdam, also means that they are active in advising policy makers. Experts draw on their own research in teaching the topics and approaches of the tracks courses. This enables a close synergy between teaching and learning on the one hand and the very latest research perspectives on the other.

In this track students acquire the academic knowledge, critical awareness and research skills needed to play an active and/or research role in this field. The programme is theory-driven, problem oriented and interdisciplinary, linking critical social scientific concepts and theory to applied research in salient policy contexts. The programme culminates in students developing their own thesis research, closely mentored and guided by a supervisor with expertise in the particular area of investigation.

Urban Sociology (specialisation)

The Master’s in Urban Sociology examines what the increasing urbanisation means for individuals and groups of citizens. You will learn about urban culture, the pros and cons of urbanisation in a social context, subcultures and their significance and much more. You will gain a deeper understanding of urban sociology through a wide range of core and elective courses.


For the first time in history, the majority of humanity lives in cities. The world has become urbanised. However, what does this mean in terms of individual and group opportunities, life-course development, inter-group contact and collaboration and ecological impact? What new ideas, trends and movements do contemporary cities give rise to? How does the urban ‘explosion’ change other classifications that we call ‘nation-states’ and ‘world-regions’? Urban Sociology at the UvA provides you with the research skills and analytical tools to answer these questions.

Urban Sociology begins with the premise that cities possess unique attributes – numbers, density, diversity, mobility. There are spaces of not only comforting anonymity, but also destabilising strangeness. Their public spaces offer an opportunity for fascinating ‘people watching’ and conviviality, but they also are laden with conflict and turf wars.  Urban Sociology at the UvA has been at the forefront of understanding these contradictory, ‘messy’ dynamics of urban public life.

Another strong focus of Urban Sociology is urban culture understood as both, life styles and cultural institutions. Meeting grounds of subcultures, migration flows from different countries and continents, and centres of conspicuous (as well as regular) consumption, contemporary cities are ‘stages’ for ‘scenes’ – walls of buildings house street art and abandoned factories creative agencies. In the Urban Sociology track you will explore the ways in which art institutions operate, and the kinds of economic opportunities that ‘culture’ offers today.

Whichever aspect of Urban Sociology you choose, you will always examine the forces behind these patterns and changes – forces that make cities bigger, more diverse and more fluid than ever. You will look at:

  • key forces that accelerate the growth and diversity of cities (migration, globalisation, inequalities);  

  • the ways in which different class and ethnic groups settle and interact in these places (gentrification, ethnic neighbourhoods, segregation and marginalisation); 

  • and how interactions between diverse groups produce new cultures, ideologies, and political mobilisation.


You will explore these issues through core and elective courses. The core course ‘Urban Perspectives’ provides you with an introduction into these issues while the elective courses provide you with greater depth on these matters. 


Student profile

The programme is intensive and rigorous. You are expected to develop acapacity to work independently and in group settings. You are also expected to make an active contribution to the courses. 



You are provided the theoretical tools to understand how large cities operate in a global world. This provides you with insights into the factors that make some cities more successful than others, why inequalities develop within them, the driving forces behind urban conflicts, the policy instruments available to address pressing urban problems, and the role of civil society organisations in ameliorating the lives of urban residents.

Moreover, the comparative nature of the courses allows you to bring a uniquely international understanding to your understandings of cities.

Lastly, as all the courses are in English, you will finish the programme with advanced abilities to reason, debate, and write in this language. These competencies make you desirable to a diverse range of employers engaged in urban issues.


Focus on research

The lecturers in the Urban Sociology programme are engaged in many of the cutting edge debates on cities in a global setting. Moreover, their international backgrounds provide students with a unique opportunity to approach the “urban” question through a uniquely comparative lens. While the lecturers share a common vision of what Urban Sociology is, they also draw on different theories and perspectives to explore the impact of cities on our social worlds. 

Urban Sociology (specialisation)
Research Master Social Sciences

The two-year Research Master's in Social Sciences offers you advanced training in current social science theory and innovative methodologies in a rigorous and multidisciplinary social science research environment.


Are you interested in social scientific research, and do you want to pursue a career in academic or non-academic research environments? The Research Master's Social Sciences (RMSS) is designed for excellent students with an interest in research from various social scientific perspectives. Due to an extensive focus on advanced quantitative and qualitative research skills, students who have finished the RMSS will be able to carry out high quality scientific research independently.

You will specialise in one of three fields of research:

  • Sources of Inequalities (including Cultural and Political Sociology, and the Sociology of Institutions).

  • Comparative and International Politics (including Political Economy, Conflict and Security Studies, and Democratic Representation Studies).

  • Cultures in the Making (Anthropology of Health, Care and the Body, State and Migration Studies, and Cultural and Political Anthropology).

​During the programme, you will choose between three research methods tracks: empirical-analytical, interpretative, and mixed.

You will follow compulsory and elective methods courses within the chosen methods track. An internship allows students to become actively involved in ongoing research projects. The Master's thesis is based on individual research by the student and will be published in the form of a monograph or manuscript for an academic article.


What is a Research Master's programme?

Research Master's programmes are two-year programmes specifically designed for excellent students aiming for a career in research. These programmes include additional research methodology, skills training, as well as hands-on experience in the research groups of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research.

The programmes prepare students for writing a PhD thesis and an academic career, as well as for a research oriented career outside academia. 

In this video, the features of a Research Master's programme are explained by a current student, an alumni and an academic staff member: 


Student profile

A defining feature of this Research Master’s programme is that it attracts a highly international group of students all motivated to pursue a career in social scientific research.

After finishing this Research Master, you will be able to tackle modern social challenges and problems through innovative social science research. You will gain the ability to formulate socially and scientifically relevant research problems within the key areas of social sciences. The programme develops your capacity to construct a research design to solve these problems through the use of advanced quantitative and/or qualitative techniques. You will be able to report on their research process and conclusions clearly and concisely. 


Why study Social Sciences in Amsterdam?

The Graduate School of Social Sciences (GSSS) of Amsterdam provides a vibrant and international academic community. The GSSS values diversity in both research and academic content, academic staff and the student population. The Research Master’s in Social Sciences:

  • Offers the opportunity to contribute to ongoing research projects

  • Is an interdisciplinary programme, leading to a culturally and academically diverse climate

  • Provides students with excellent research skills, making them eligible for a PhD candidacy


Focus on research

The RMSS is strongly affiliated to research groups of the  Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research (AISSR), which is one of the most prestigious institutes of its kind.. The teachers incorporate their ongoing research as part of the courses. Their extremely broad range of interests and their elaborate research experience provide students with a complex and thorough picture of social and political processes.


Degree certificate 

Upon successful completion of the Research Master's programme in Social Sciences students receive a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Social Sciences (Research).


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