Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology

Make a difference in today’s and tomorrow’s world
Keuzegids stickerBest rated programme within its own discipline in the Netherlands in Keuzegids Universiteiten 2018!

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Make a difference in today’s and tomorrow’s world

What attracts Dutch voters to populism? How do people in Bangladesh cope with the effects of climate change? How are ethnic or gender identity constructed and given meaning around the world?

Anthropologists shed light on important issues and challenges of our time. They do so by looking through the eyes of the people they study. This unique approach generates deep knowledge of groups of people. In many cases, people who are overlooked or not well understood.

Looking further as an anthropologist

As an anthropology student, you study how groups of people live their lives. Your own senses are your research tools: you observe people as they go about their lives; you interview them; sometimes you spend months with them. You discover what choices they make and why. Finding out what is going on under the surface is your ultimate goal.

As a student of this programme, the whole world is your domain. You’ll study universal themes like migration, globalization, inequality and religion - not only by reading anthropological and sociological literature, but also by doing local ethnographic research yourself.

The Bachelor’s programme in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at VU Amsterdam is the only English Bachelor’s programme in anthropology in the country.

Verander clichés. Ontdek hier hoe!

Personal approach

  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is a cutting-edge university, but maintains a personal approach
  • The lectures in this programme are small-scaled, for maximum interaction with lecturers

Top university

  • One of the fifty best unis for social sciences worldwide
  • The only university in the Netherlands to offer an English-taught bachelor programme (BSc) in anthropology

Engaged students

  • VU Amsterdam aims to make a change in the world
  • Students are encouraged to be critical and socially engaged and to look beyond their own ideas
  • Broaden your horizon with special lectures, debates and theatre on campus

Diverse and international

  • VU Amsterdam appeals to students of varying nationalities and cultural backgrounds
  • This diversity makes for an open and positively challenging environment.

Live in Amsterdam

  • A vibrant ‘melting pot’ of cultural groups
  • Conveniently positioned to explore the rest of Europe
  • Inhabitants speak English well

Apply what you learn

  • Work together with local organizations to conduct ethnographic research projects in and around Amsterdam
Students of this bachelor programme are part of an international classroom with students and teachers from various (national) backgrounds. All courses are English-taught and designed from an international perspective. Students are encouraged to share their unique experiences and insights, helping each other become global citizens.

The international classroom is a place of inclusion. Students are familiarised with cultural differences and acquire the skills to deal with this. This prepares them to work in varying cultural contexts around the world. Opportunities for internships and research projects are also aimed at internationally oriented organisations.

Do you want to make a difference to our world by investigating and understanding the everyday lives of people, and by providing a critical perspective and alternative to topical social issues? As an Anthropology graduate you can find employment as, a researcher at a civil society organization, (culture) specialist in the public or private sector, journalist, policy advisor in local or national institutions, or as community manager. And if you are interested in a specific theme such as for example sustainability, this bachelor offers you the possibility to specialize.

What you will be doing

This three-year international specialization of the Bachelor’s programme in Anthropology expressly relates anthropology as a (social) science to modern-day societal challenges. Year 1 starts with an introduction to core concepts of anthropology, followed by immediately putting academic theory, research skills and methods into practice. In year 2 you will deepen your knowledge of various key anthropological themes, such as development, migration, identity and political economy, and apply a multidisciplinary approach to anthropology. The third and final year focuses on the anthropology theme you are passionate about. The study programme concludes with writing a thesis based on your own ethnographic research.

  • Contact hours: ± 14 hours
  • Independent study: ± 28 hours
  • Total: ± 42 hours

Get acquainted with important themes, theories and concepts in anthropology, such as culture, ethnicity, nationalism, power, religion and inequality. You will learn how to do general research in the social sciences and study anthropological methods in particular. You will also master various techniques such as (open) interviewing, observing and ethnographic writing.

Programme overview

Deepen your knowledge of current themes, such as the anthropology of economics and politics, development anthropology, as well as diversity, religion and migration. You will take interdisciplinary courses with students from other programmes such as Communication Sciences, Public Administration and Organization Theory, and Political Science. In these interdisciplinary teams, you will work together on “wicked problems”: complex societal issues as climate change, for instance. Year 2 includes two distinct research projects, on issues relating to large cities and organizations.

Specialize further in the area of your own choice. You will take a minor, do an internship or study abroad during the first semester. In the second semester you will learn about digital anthropology, be part of a team doing a research project, and conclude with writing a bachelor thesis based on your own ethnographic research.

Get acquainted with important themes, theories and concepts in anthropology, such as culture, ethnicity, nationalism, power, religion and inequality. You will learn how to do general research in the social sciences and study anthropological methods in particular. You will also master various techniques such as (open) interviewing, observing and ethnographic writing.

Programme overview

Deepen your knowledge of current themes, such as the anthropology of economics and politics, development anthropology, as well as diversity, religion and migration. You will take interdisciplinary courses with students from other programmes such as Communication Sciences, Public Administration and Organization Theory, and Political Science. In these interdisciplinary teams, you will work together on “wicked problems”: complex societal issues as climate change, for instance. Year 2 includes two distinct research projects, on issues relating to large cities and organizations.

Specialize further in the area of your own choice. You will take a minor, do an internship or study abroad during the first semester. In the second semester you will learn about digital anthropology, be part of a team doing a research project, and conclude with writing a bachelor thesis based on your own ethnographic research.

If you have obtained or will obtain a Dutch diploma, please check the criteria on our Dutch webpage.


Applicants holding a diploma from another country must meet a number of requirements:

  1. A diploma equivalent to the Dutch pre-university VWO diploma

    See the Diploma Requirement List for examples of accepted diplomas per country. Please note: this list is meant to give you an indication of admissibility; no rights can be derived from it.

  2. Proof of sufficient proficiency in English

    See the General Admission Requirements for the English language requirement.

  3. Proof of sufficient proficiency in Mathematics

After you apply to the programme and upload the required documents in our student portal, your International Student Advisor will have a look at your transcripts to determine whether your diploma is equivalent to the Dutch VWO diploma and whether your mathematics level is sufficient.

These examples of diplomas demonstrate sufficient proficiency in the required level of mathematics:

  • International Baccalaureate: Math Studies, Math Standard Level or Math Higher Level.
  • British GCE A-Levels: A-levels or AS-level in Mathematics with a grade A, B or C.
  • Germany: Zeugnis der allgemeinen Hochschulreife
  • European Baccalaureate: Mathematics; written or oral examination, at least 3 hours during the Orientation Cycle.

If your diploma is not considered to be at the right level and/or if your proficiency in mathematics is considered to be insufficient, your International Student Advisor will inform you about the possibilities how to meet the requirements with additional certificates. 

When advised to sit an entry exam, the following certificates are deemed equivalent to the required Dutch VWO Mathematics C level.

International Exams

  • International Baccalaureate certificate in Math Studies, Math Standard Level or Math Higher Level.
  • Another option for obtaining a separate course certificate in the required subjects is to take an A-level or AS-level in Mathematics examination at a registered Cambridge school. Please check here to find the nearest Cambridge school in your country.

Exams in the Netherlands

  • Boswell-Bèta (English). Boswell-Bèta in Utrecht (the Netherlands) provides a VWO Mathematics C exam in December, May and July.
  • CCVX (Dutch and English). CCVX also offers a VWO Mathematics C exam.


Please check our step-by-step application guide for more information. 


International applicants will be asked to submit the following documents:

  • Transcript(s) of records (e.g. High School grade list)
  • Curriculum Vitae (your personal details, previous education and any relevant work experience in approximately one A4 page)
  • Copy of valid passport
  • English language test results (if already obtained)

Deadline: International students who require university housing and/or a student visa must apply before 1 April. Students who do not require university housing and/or a student visa must apply before 1 May. You will be informed about your admission within four weeks after the completion of your application (including all required documents).

Ready to apply?
Great! All applicants must start the application procedure through the Studielink.nl portal.

VU Matching enables you to check whether you have chosen the right degree programme. The matching programme consists of two steps: a digital questionnaire on VUnet, which is part of the application process, and a matching activity. By taking part in the matching activity, you can check whether the programme is really the right one for you. For more information, please see the VU Matching website.

Please note: You will only be invited to the Matching activity if you have logged in to VUnet, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam’s information portal. It is also important that you fill in the digital matching questionnaire on VUnet before you join the matching activity! Doing so means you have completed the first step of VU Matching and are well prepared for the matching activity. The invitations for the activity will be issued from the end of April 2019.

The VU Matching activity for the Cultural Anthropology and Developmental Sociology programme will be held the beginning of June 2019. Exact date and time will be announced later.

Online matching for international students
Are you an international student and not able to make it to VU campus for the matching? No problem, we will prepare an online VU Matching activity just for you! Just make sure that we can send you an invitation by logging in to VUnet.

Would you like to know more?
Further details about VU Matching are available at VU Matching website.
If you have specific questions about the Cultural Anthropology and Developmental Sociology matching day, please get in touch at matching.fsw@vu.nl.
Have a look at: Application and registration regulation 2018-2019

Do you have questions about the content of the programme or information activities? Ask them via contact@vu.nl.

If you have questions about matching, you can send an email to matching.fsw@vu.nl.

International Student Advisor
For questions about admission and other matters, please contact international student advisor Frieda Schaufeli.

Frieda Schaufeli
Frieda Schaufeli
E bachelors.fss@vu.nl
T +31 20 5982883 

Thijl Sunier

Professor of Anthropology, teaches the course 'challenges of the 21st century’

Thijl_Sunier
"Anthropologists are crucial to address current challenges in society and understand phenomena like religion, ethnicity and identity. I have done a lot of research among Muslims with ‘radical’ views. How do they look at the world? How does their view explain that some of them are prepared to use violence? These are the kinds of questions anthropologists ask. Our drive is to really understand people, instead of drawing easy conclusions."

Mohammed Badran

Second year student

Mohammed_Badran
"I hope to use anthropology as a way to empower people and draw on their own ideas to find solutions. When I lived in Syria I did developmental projects and I’m continuing this in the Netherlands. I’m intrigued by how migrants shape and claim a new identity in their new country - but I don’t want to limit myself to migration issues. For example, I did a group project during which we researched how the image that tourists have of Amsterdam is shaped."

Dara Schoenwald

Anthropologist and environmental activist from the US

Dara_Schoenwald
"If you want to do environmental work, cultural anthropology is a smart study choice. I work for a startup that sets up water stations in my hometown Miami. Our goal is to make people refill their water bottles more often, to fight plastic waste. To succeed we have to understand how people think. For example: the water is purified, which appeals to the people of Miami, since they are really into health. A green future is not about technology, but about people and culture."

Samenvatting Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology

Taal

Engels

Duur

3 years (fulltime)

Aanmelden Voor

1 April (students requiring visa and/or housing services) / 1 May (students who do not require visa and/or housing services)

StartDatum

1 September

Vorm

Voltijd

Bindend Studie Advies

A minimum of 42 credits

Interessegebied

Gedrag en Maatschappij

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