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Sociology: Social Problems and Social Policy (track)

Social Problems and Social Policy offers students insight into the ways in which issues are defined, placed on the agenda and made public. Social Problems and Social Policy considers policy as one way of dealing with social problems and offers a specific focus on welfare states, citizens and professionals.

Social Problems and Social Policy is for you if you want to know more about how states, cities and other public bodies approach social problems and about what trained sociologists have to offer both problems and policy.

The Social Problems and Social Policy programme will train you in bringing social theory and research methods to real world social problems. This training will help you ask better questions, follow policy developments critically, perform incisive analyses of problems and policies and elaborate alternatives to dominant ways of thinking and doing in policy.

We will work on developing and strengthening these skills in case-oriented approaches in order to continuously apply theory and methods to concrete issues 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.

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 issues as they are constructed publicly and analyse complex societal and organisational problems. 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 ‘Political Sociology: Power, Place and Difference' (Sociology). Professors 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, issue 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.

Ambition in research?

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

Degree certificate

Social Problems and Social Policy 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

Sociology: Social Problems and Social Policy (track)
Degree programme MSc Sociology
Type Regular study programme
Mode Full-time
Credits 60 ECTS, 12 months
Language of instruction English
Starts in September
CROHO code 66601