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Sociology: Social Problems and Social Policy (track)

Sociology: Social Problems and Social Policy (track)

Social Problems and Social Policy offers students an insight into the ways in which social problems are defined and tackled within contemporary welfare states, analysing the roles ascribed to citizens, professionals and other stakeholders within these processes. It considers the recent histories of various policy approaches and places these in a comparative European context.

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Social Problems and Social Policy combines a broad foundation of sociological theory and research methods training with a more specific focus on the construction of social problems and attempts by policymakers to solve these. The different components of the programme combine to enhance your skills in applying social theory to deconstruct contemporary social issues from a range of critical perspectives.

The distinctive qualities of the programme are in its combining of constructionist perspectives with applied, case-oriented approaches to evaluate policy effectiveness. In linking these two approaches, the course enables you to develop critically incisive yet practical and applied insights into a range of contemporary problems 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, industrial relations and labour market policies.

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 the reality of issues as they are constructed in the public sphere, analyse complex societal and organisational problems, and to evaluate the efficacy of attempted solutions. 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 ‘Dynamics of Citizenship and Culture' (Sociology). Their expertise in the area of Dutch and other European policy environments, especially in relation to major urban centres like Amsterdam and Rotterdam, also means that they are active in advising policy makers. Experts 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, problem 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.

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Research Master Social Sciences

What is a Research Master's programme?

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).

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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