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Medical Anthropology and Sociology

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The Master’s programme in Medical Anthropology and Sociology focuses on health and healthcare in a political, economic and cultural context. In this programme you will use social science theory and methods to critically analyse health issues in a globalising world.

UvA online Open House

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About the programme

Diseases move across national borders - so do patients, doctors and medicines. Health and healthcare is often a matter of politics, economics and culture too. The Master’s programme in Medical Anthropology and Sociology (MAS) trains you to understand health, illness and the body from a social science perspective. During the programme you will look at contemporary global and local health problems, as well as key topics in social science. It enables you to deepen your knowledge of anthropology and sociology, while at the same time acquiring a specialisation in a health-related topic.

If you have a medical or psychological sciences background, you will acquire further training in social science and you will learn to critically and reflexively integrate this training with your earlier academic and professional experience.

If you have a social science background, you will have the opportunity to further sharpen your analytical tools and acquire a specialisation in the field of health. You will examine a broad range of issues: from the social determinants of disease to sexual subcultures to the politics of pharmaceuticals.

The UvA has been a pioneer in this exciting and growing field. Our intensive, one-year programme combines coursework and a thesis project based on your own individual fieldwork. You can choose to do research in the Netherlands or anywhere else in Europe; go to Asia, Africa or the Americas. You will design and organise your own research project, on a medical anthropological or sociological theme of your interest, with the guidance of our international academic staff.

Student profile

You should be self-motivated and have a keen interest in conducting research. In the core courses, you are encouraged to read texts critically and reflect upon the information learned. You are asked to compare theoretical approaches and to apply these  approaches to current issues and relevant empirical data. During the period of research for your thesis, you are deemed able to perform these skills independently and to act autonomously in the research field.


You will gain skills that will enable you to contribute to multidisciplinary problem-driven research and interventions. The programme help students develop into academics who are able to contribute to:

  • the formulation of theories in Medical Anthropology and Sociology
  • policy information and its practical implementation in multidisciplinary healthcare contexts.

After completion of the programme, students have:

  • an insight into the processes of health and healthcare in general and into specific sub-areas in particular
  • acquainted themselves with social science theories and research practices that can be applied to the interface between health, society and culture
  • the ability to find, integrate and critically asses relevant professional literature on specific subjects
  • the ability to analyse practical health problems, formulate relevant objectives for Social Science research and compose research proposals
  • the skills they need to execute such research and report on it according to the applicable standards.

Focus on research

Students are supervised by an international faculty with a range of theoretical expertise and research projects conducted in many areas of the world.  There are also opportunities to link the thesis to externally funded faculty research projects or health interventions. 

Research Master

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

Degree certificate

Upon successful completion of Medical Anthropology and Sociology, students receive a Master of Science (MSc) degree in Medical Anthropology and Sociology. 

Facts & Figures
Degree programme MSc Medical Anthropology and Sociology
Type Regular study programme
Mode Full-time
Credits 60 ECTS, 12 months
Language of instruction English
Starts in September
CROHO code 60198