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Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology

The Bachelor's in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology takes three years. Each academic year consists of two semesters of approximately 20 weeks of college each - from September till the end of January, and from February till the end of June - and includes 60 ECTS credits. The programme is structured in such a way that you will spend more or less 40 hours a week studying, most of which will be done by means of self-study. You will expand your anthropological knowledge and skills every year. After the first year, you will begin to specialise in terms of theme and region.

  • Dual Language Bachelor

    Our dual language program in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology offers both an English-only and a Dutch/English track. During the first one and a half years, when all students follow the same obligatory courses, all lectures are taught in English, and students can choose between English or Dutch tutorials. Assignments will be written in the language of instruction of the relevant group. Concluding exams (tentamens) will be offered in both languages, so that students can choose to write their answer in either English or Dutch.

    After the first one and a half years, students follow a number of obligatory courses, while they also select their own study program out of a series of specialisation courses. These specialisation courses will be taught in English. Students can choose between delivering their written work in English or Dutch.

    Students will make a final choice for the English-only or Dutch/English language track after three semesters and will be assisted in this choice by their mentor and study adviser. Their diploma-supplement will show one of either varieties.

  • The first year: introduction

    The first year of study offers a broad introduction to the field of anthropology. The courses Introduction to Cultural Anthropology and Introduction to Development Sociology deal with important anthropological and sociological themes, such as politics and power, identity, economics, globalisation, religion and rituals, gender, and kinship. You will also study different theoretical frameworks such as evolutionism, functionalism, structuralism and postmodernism.

    In the module Ethnographies and Academic Writing you will write essays based on classical and modern anthropological studies. During the course Anthropological Research Methods you will learn the basics of the research methodologies used in anthropology.

    At the end of the first year, in the course Doing Anthropology, you will explore the applicability of anthropological knowledge and skills, and in what areas of society anthropology can make a difference or be innovative. You will explore what qualities and skills a graduate anthropologist brings with him, in which professional fields anthropologists are working, and which career steps might be important for you.


  • The second year: orientation

    In the second year you will study various fields of anthropology and development sociology. In Theory and History of Anthropology you will study the origin and development of anthropology as a social science. In Historical and Comparative Sociology you will examine major social processes such as colonialism, state building, nation building and globalisation. The course also examines the ways in which political leaders and governments have tried to bring about social change in different parts of the world.

    Next to these courses you will begin to specialise by choosing a module (regional course) that zooms in on a specific region of the world. You will also choose two specialisation courses that are a first step towards a specialisation in a particular field. You can choose from the following specialisation courses:

    • Power and Politics: political anthropology; how globalisation, nationalism, violence, racism, and orientalism affect - and are experienced in - people's daily lives.
    • Economy and Ecology: Green Futures?: ideas, policies and practices concerning progress, prosperity, environment and global inequality.
    • The Body in Anthropology: about representations and practices of sickness, health, sexuality and gender.
    • Anthropology of Religion: study of ideas, authors and themes in the anthropology of religion.

    Check the course catalogue for a full description of the specialisation courses.

    Do you want an extra challenge? During your second year of study you can start the Honours and Talents programme, with extra disciplinary and interdisciplinary modules for excellent students.

  • The third year: specialisation

    In the third year you will choose different theme courses where you will analyse a specific theme at a high theoretical level. These courses are a follow-up of the specialisation courses. This way you can compose your own study route, and specialise in a field and theme you might want to study more in a future Master’s programme.

    Examples of theme courses are:

    • Political Anthropology: The Norm, Violence and Resistance
    • Race and Physical Anthropology
    • Visual Anthropology: Filming as a Knowledge Practice
    • Religion and Politics of the USA
    • Reproduction, Health and Techniques
    • Magic Bullets in Development, Climate Change and Global Health
    • Multimodal Ethnographies of Selfing & Othering

    Check the  course catalogue for a full description of the theme courses

    The range of theme courses varies from year to year, because the content is directly related to the research expertise of our staff members and the changing interests of students. This has resulted in a wide and varied range of courses, in which the latest developments in the field of research are extensively discussed.

    At the end of the third year, you will conclude the Bachelor's programme with the Presentation and Oral Exam about a theme that fits within your specialisation.

  • Teaching methods

    Anthropology students are required to attend lectures, tutorials and practical training.

    • During lectures the teacher will explain the literature you have studied in advance, putting it into perspective and giving examples.
    • During tutorials you will take a more in-depth look at the subject matter together with a lecturer and a group of students. You will participate in discussions, complete assignments, ask questions and analyse examples.
    • During a practical you will work individually or together with your fellow students. During Ethnographic Writing for example, you will learn how to write well academically. In Anthropological Research Methods you will learn how to do independent research.

    Most courses are concluded with one or more assessments, such as a written or oral examination, a paper or a presentation.

  • What a week of study looks like
    • Study load per week: 40 hours
    • Lectures and tutorials: 12 hours
    • Self-study: 28 hours

    Every week you will have approximately eight to twelve hours of lectures and tutorials, with the rest of the time spent studying literature, conducting research and writing papers. In the later years, the number of teaching hours decreases to approximately eight hours, while the amount of time you will work independently increases.

  • Academic student counselling and BSA


    During the first year of study a mentor will support you. He or she will guide you through the courses and will help you with all kinds of study- and non-study-related issues.

    Study advisors

    Throughout your studies, you can contact the study advisers in case you have questions regarding admission and course entry requirements or your academic plan (the various choices that you can make within the study programme), but also to discuss personal problems affecting your studies or matters such as study completion delay, study skills, exemptions, and university rules and regulations. Conversations and correspondence with the study advisers are considered confidential and will not, for instance, be shared with the lecturers without your consent.

    From the second year onwards, each student is given a second year interview to discuss your study route and your possible choices for electives, study abroad and specialisation.

    See for more information Programme contacts

    Binding study advice (BSA)

    In the first year of the Bachelor’s in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, you can obtain up to 60 ECTS credits. At the end of the first year, the faculty will issue a binding study advice (BSA) report based on your progress. You must have obtained at least 42 credits in first year courses by the end of your first year of study in order to progress to the second year. When you meet the requirements of the BSA, you will be given a positive commendation and you can continue your studies.

    If you do not meet the requirements, a negative BSA will be issued. In this case, you will not be allowed to enrol for the same programme or a related programme at the UvA. If you fail to obtain the required number of credits due to personal problems such as illness or other issues in your personal life, you can make an appeal against the negative BSA. Be sure to consult the study advisers when preparing your appeal.

    During the first year, you will receive several preliminary study advice notes, on the basis of which you can take timely action or decide to end your studies.

  • Internships and studying abroad

    The Bachelor’s in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology contains electives of 30 ECTS credits. There are various options to choose as electives. You could do an internship and put your acquired knowledge into practice. Or perhaps you would like to gain international experience at a foreign university.

    The Bachelor’s in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology contains electives of 30 ECTS credits. There are various options to choose as electives. You could do an internship and put your acquired knowledge into practice. Or perhaps you would like to gain international experience at a foreign university.


    You can use your third year elective programme to do an internship for 6 or 12 ECTS. You’ll have to find an internship yourself and submit a proposal. An internship can be a good way to discover how you, as an anthropologist, can be useful on the labour market. During an internship you will be asked to think in a different way about certain problems and to report on them. You can also do a research internship.

    Check vacancies at UvA Career and our Facebook

    Studying abroad

    International cooperation is crucial for science. In addition, and for anthropologists in particular, studying at a foreign university can be a very valuable experience.

    The University of Amsterdam has made exchange agreements with more than fifty universities outside of Europe. The Bachelor’s in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology also has partnerships with eight other European anthropology programmes, including in Germany, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Italy. In turn, international students on an exchange programme in the Netherlands attend lectures at the University of Amsterdam.

    In your third year, you will have the option to go abroad for a semester to study and obtain 30 ECTS credits.

    The College of Social Sciences has an International Office that provides consultation hours and information about studying abroad. Here you can also ask questions about other international activities and scholarships, among others.

    There are also UvA-wide exchange programmes. For more information about the different possibilities and destinations, go to Study Abroad

  • Minors & electives

    Anthropology offers a wide range of opportunities to shape your Bachelor's programme in line with your own ambitions and interests. In addition to choosing your own specialisation courses, you can also take other interesting electives (in total 30 ECTS credits) from other Bachelor’s programmes.


    A minor is a coherent course package that comprises 30 ECTS credits, within another Bachelor's programme, for example International Relations, Gender and Sexuality, Philosophy, or Conflict Studies. Obtaining a minor can give access to certain Master's programmes.

    See the course catalogue  for all minors at the University of Amsterdam.

    Sourse catalogue for all minors at the University of Amsterdam


    Electives offered by other Bachelor’s programmes can be found in the course catalogue <link>.

    Interesting electives for anthropologists can be found in other Bachelor’s programmes within social sciences at the UvA , such as Sociology, Political Science, Pedagogy, and Geography. The Faculty of Humanities also offers interesting options, such as Philosophy, History, and European Studies.

    The UvA's Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies offers study programmes in which you learn to look beyond the limits of your field of study. You can also enrol as a guest student at other universities in the Netherlands in order to increase your options.

    More options?

    You can also choose for an internship or to study for a semester abroad. Look at Internships and Studying Abroad for more information.

  • Honours and Talent programme

    The aim of the programme is to provide extra stimulus to motivated Bachelor’s students and to introduce them to scientific research in a unique way.

    You will take a challenging set of courses for a total of 30 additional ECTS credits. This can lead to special projects, such as documentaries. The focus of your talent programme is up to you. You can opt for a more broad-based or a more in-depth approach.

    There are some requirements for this programme: you have to score at least a 7 on average during the first year and must write a motivational letter when you apply.

    The additional benefits:

    • The programme offers innovative education;
    • You will work together with other students in small tutorials at an advanced academic level;
    • You can take courses with other talented students from the College of Social Sciences (Sociology, Political Sciences, Geography & Planning, and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences), creating a multidisciplinary environment of motivated students;
    • You can take honours courses at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (IIS), which offers interdisciplinary courses for all honours and talent students of the University of Amsterdam and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU).

    Honours and Talent programma