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Master Cultural and Social Anthropology: Applied Anthropology (track)

Study programme

Cultural and Social Anthropology: Applied Anthropology (track)

Programme

The Master's programme consists of three stages: designing your research project, conducting fieldwork and writing your thesis. In all three stages, you will be supervised individually by a member of the academic teaching staff. You will also receive collective support in group seminars, although your main focus will be on your own research.The Master's programme consists of the following components:

  • Key Debates in Anthropology (6 ECTS)
  • Theory for Ethnographic Practice (9 ECTS)
  • Designing Fieldwork (9 ECTS)
  • Fieldwork Applied Anthropology (15 ECTS), minimum of 10 weeks full-time research
  • Thesis seminar Writing Applied Anthropology (3 ECTS)
  • Thesis (15 ECTS)

UvA Course Catalogue - Master's programme Cultural and Social Anthropology

Key Debates in Anthropology

Key Debates in Anthropology examines the state of the art in Anthropology. The course offers an overview of important contemporary anthropological theory by focusing on six key-concepts in anthropological research and thinking. These concepts are: culture, structure, power, agency, economy, and experience. In this way, important theoretical concepts and ideas from cultural, social, political and economic anthropology are discussed on Master’s level.

Theory for Ethnographic Practice & Designing Fieldwork

Students who specialize in Applied Anthropology follow after the course Key Debates the same courses in the first semester as their fellow students in the Msc Cultural and Social Anthropology. However, students in Applied Anthropology are joined together in a group which enables the lecturers to address the specific challenges and dilemma’s that are related to the field of Applied Anthropology. Please note that although you choose for this specialisation when you apply for the programme, there is some flexibility in the choice between Applied Anthropology and General Anthropology. If you have signed up for Applied Anthropology but realise that you wish to shift to General Anthropology, you can still change in the first semester and opt for a non-applied fieldwork.

The course ‘Theory for Ethnographic Practice’ will allow you the opportunity to link major theoretical debates to your own research. This enables you to place your research question within a broader, relevant theoretical debate. This course provides the opportunity, prior to embarking on fieldwork, to engage in systematic and thoughtful reflection on the relationship between theory and empirical research.

During the ‘Designing Fieldwork' course, you work on your research proposal combining anthropological literature on your research topic with the proper methodological tools. You also practice research techniques in a series of assignments that enable you to turn the research question into a practical research project based on a series of methodological choices. Students will furthermore engage with issues of ‘translation’ between academic and organizational fields of practice, and prepare for practical and ethical issues specific to applied anthropology.

Applied Anthropology Fieldwork

In the track Applied Anthropology the fieldwork conducted in a period of 10 weeks (15 ECTS). The fieldwork can be in the Netherlands or anywhere abroad. During the fieldwork period you are expected to devote all of your time to your research. Using various methods and techniques of investigation, like formal interviews, observations, chats, drawing maps or genealogies, recording of household expenditures or the use of social media, you will seek to collect material and gain insights in order to formulate an answer to your research question. How you communicate with the commissioning organisation will be different per case, depending on the nature of the collaboration. Also, the kind of material that you communicate will depend on the wishes and needs as formulated beforehand by the organisation.

Thesis seminar ‘Writing Applied Anthropology’

After the return from fieldwork, students participate in the course Writing Applied Anthropology (6 ECTS). This course supports students in the writing of their thesis and in producing  the final work that is deliverable to the organization that commissioned the research. This can be a report, a presentation, a contribution to an exhibition, an internet text, policy recommendations, etc. The course offers a forum to discuss the challenges one faces when writing a thesis and asks students to brainstorm on solving occurring problems.. Also, recurrent problems and dilemma’s in the field of Applied Anthropology will be discussed, such as:

  • how does one find the right distance in the collaboration with the commissioning organisation and in reporting the results?
  • Ethical dilemma’s such as: can fieldwork data be used in ways that could harm the people that have engaged in the research?
  • How to communicate critical findings to a commissioning organisation?

  Master’s thesis

Upon returning from ‘the field’ even if it is right around the corner, you will start writing your thesis. The Applied Anthropology thesis often has a ‘hybrid’ character: It serves both the academic purposes of the MSc programme in Cultural and Social Anthropology and also includes the final work that is required by the commissioning organization. While writing the thesis, you learn to interpret research results and present experiences in abstract terms. There are two main challenges for students specializing in Applied Anthropology:

  1. How to combine anthropological theory with fieldwork data in a way that is both elegant and effective.
  2. How to maintain the mind-shifting qualities of Anthropology while making knowledge more applicable.

Your supervisor will support you in planning and writing your thesis.

Supervision

Every student is assigned an individual supervisor from the academic teaching staff. The allocation of supervisors for fieldwork and theses is based as much as possible on matching the expertise and areas of specialization of the staff with the research interests of students.

Your supervisor will function as your adviser during the writing of your research proposal, your contact  during fieldwork and your adviser during the thesis writing process. For more information about the academic teaching staff members and their specializations, see Academic staff.