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Sociology: Urban Sociology (track)

Urban Sociology Master's programme is all about hands-on research into the topics that are most current in thinking about cities: diversity, creativity, sustainability and justice.

What is urban about sneakers? Why is the city a refuge for queer people? How much does Instagram say about a city? What are the politics of building a mosque, a church and a Buddhist temple? What is participatory about the participatory design? Urban Sociology track provides its graduates with an in-depth, research-informed and theoretically driven understanding of urban society.

The programme draws its strength directly from the exceptional expertise of its international faculty and its location, Amsterdam. This celebrated, vibrant city serves as a laboratory for students’ exploration of urban topics. Classes may take place in parks and assignments invoke streets. To make their skills relevant students learn about other cities of the Global South, as much as the Global North, where they also have an option to conduct their individual research.

A special focus in the program is on social organisation and its relationship to the physical environment, while the methodological emphasis is on ethnography and the qualitative methods of research. By learning about what shapes urban spaces, how they respond to change and politics, and how to research and understand them, students become experts in the field of social relations, social problems and policy in the urban context. A combination of theoretical training, practical exercises and internship prepares students to the realities of working in international contexts and facing a constantly diversifying social ecologies of cities.

Student profile

Urban sociology at the University of Amsterdam addresses the fundamentals of urban inequality, justice and politics through a close engagement with a diversity of publics: city residents and politicians, workers and entrepreneurs, bus drivers and drug users, and many more. Direct contact, observation, casual conversation and pre-arranged interviews, mental maps and auto-ethnography are some typical actions that our students take and skills they use when researching. The program combines the knowledge acquired in the classroom with its practical application during the research period and the internship work. It is intense and rigorous, and requires a good amount of independent work. Students are drawn from a variety of fields in social sciences, but are expected to have an experience of conducting a socio-scientific research. 


The Urban Sociology track offers a strong grounding in sociological thought and produces students who are able to:

  • Think critically on theoretical topics, through well-developed habits of questioning.
  • Conduct research in diverse social settings and places, bringing the first-hand experience of the urban society and its subsets, to the discussion table and decision-making agencies.
  • Speak with a variety of audiences and publics, on a variety of urban questions, in a variety of accessible-academic languages.
  • Imagine alternatives to the way things are now, especially having something to say about democracy, participation, and the creation of publics.
  • View the urban in a transnational, connected frame, understanding that there are more than just a few ways to be “urban.”

You are provided the theoretical tools to understand how large cities operate in a global world, the factors that make some cities more successful than others, 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 knowledge about 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

Sociology: Urban Sociology (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