Sociology: Urban Sociology (track)

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. 

Ambition in research?

For students interested in this field of study, we also offer a two-year Research Master’s programme in Urban Studies and Social Sciences.

Degree certificate

Urban Sociology is a track of the accredited degree programme Sociology. After successful completion of this programme, you will receive a legally accredited Master’s degree in Sociology and the title Master of Science (MSc).

Key facts

Degree programme
MSc Sociology
Regular study programme
60 ECTS, 12 months
Language of instruction
Starts in
CROHO code

Published by  GSSS

Graduate School of Social Sciences