Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology (MSc)


Discover the world at Leiden University

  • Global Ethnography (MSc)
  • Sociology of Policy in Practice (MSc)
  • Visual Ethnography (MSc)

Are you interested in how people create the world around them? Do you want to conduct three-month ethnographic research on a socially relevant topic of your own choice anywhere in the world? Then choose one of our three unique specialisations: design your own Global Ethnography project, work as a research intern in a Policy in Practice project or set up a Visual Ethnography project and translate your research findings into a documentary.

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Develop your personal research project

Do you feel engaged with a particular group of people or society? Do you have a socially relevant question in mind which you want to explore? The Master’s programme in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology enables you to develop a research on a topic of personal preference. Possible topics vary from the fate of LGBT refugees to initiatives of global sustainable tourism, from water management in African gold mines to digitalisation of heritage in Holland, from kickboxing Muslimas to storytelling in the Caribbean.

Learn about our master programme Cultural Anthropology in our Introduction video. Associate Professor Erik de Maaker explains the differences within the the three specialisations: Global Ethnography, Sociology of Policy in Practice and Visual Ethnography.

Theory and practice

Thorough coursework and intensive coaching by individual supervisors helps to develop your research. In order to select and organize your field site, this programme provides access to extensive research networks of our staff members. Our master’s programme offers you also the possibility to join staff members into their own research specialities. The combination of in-depth courses and your individual ethnographic fieldwork enables you to learn how to enter, participate in, understand and report on particular ways of living among different social communities. You acquire valuable skills for in and outside academia, including cultural awareness, analytical, critical and problem-solving skills.

Three unique specialisations

Prospective students have to indicate which Master specialisation they would like to enroll for. Changing between the master specialisations Global Ethnography and Sociology of Policy in Practice will still be possible until (shortly) after the commencement of the programme. Please note that the VE specialisation is only accessible for students who meet the additional requirements.

Impressions of the field

Information activities

Do you want to know more about the master's programme in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology and what it's like to study at Leiden University? Get to know us through our online and in-person events for prospective students!

About our Master information activities

Are you thinking about joining our Master's programme, and want to determine if it will be the right fit for you? Below, you can browse the events that we have coming up, and sign up to experience Leiden University and the programme for yourself. Alternatively, take a look at the Master Talks videos to find out more about the programme or check out our virtual campus tours! 

Master Talks: Programme videos

On the Master Talks: programme videos platform you can find videos for each master’s programme. This includes a video which gives a short introduction to the programme and the recording of the in-depth presentation during the Master's Online Open Days.

Online Master Experience

During this online Q&A we offer you the possibility to talk to our Master coordinator Erik de Maaker and our student Ambassador Emma van der Plas, who is following our Master specialisation Visual Ethnography herself! This will take place online on Thursday 23 February from 3 PM - 4 PM (CET). Sign up here!

On Campus Master Experience

Would you like to know more about our Master programme? Come to our on campus Master Experience and get to know everything about our three Master specialisations: Global Ethnography, Visual Ethnography and Sociology of Policy in Practice.

Mark your calendar: Thursday 16 March.


15:15 - 15:30 Welcome in central hall

15:30 - 16:00 General Presentation on the three specialisations by Rodrigo Ochigame (SB-11)

16:00 - 16:30 Film screening  VE graduation project (SB-11)

16:30 - 17:00 Drinks and talks at the institute

Sign up here!

Pre-master's programme

The pre-master's programme has been designed to help the individual student achieve the requirements for admission in the MSc in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology of Leiden University.

Pre-master programme

Admission to the pre-master’s programme is selective. You will be required to complete a pre-master's programme if our Admissions Board decides that you lack appropriate knowledge to get direct admission to our master programme. This decision is made after careful evaluation of your diplomas and academic portfolio and proof of proficiency in English. A pre-master's programme is tailor-made by our Admissions Board, for each applicant individually.

General information

Please note that you cannot apply for the pre-master’s programme independently. Students need to apply in Studielink for one of our specialisations in the master programme. You may need to enroll in the bachelor programme in order to get access to pre-master's courses, depending on the decision of the Admissions Board.

  • Please make sure to apply in time since the pre-master may contain courses from both semesters.
  • The number of credits to be obtained and the titles of courses to be followed is decided upon by the Admissions Board and is not subject to further negotiation.
  • A pre-master's programme is tailor-made and has a limited validity of two years after the decision by the Admissions Board.
  • All courses of the pre-master's programme need to be successfully passed before admission to the master specialisation is granted.
  • Courses for the pre-master programme cannot be followed during one of our master's specialisation.
  • Upon successful completion of the pre-master’s programme, you will get admission to the specialisation you applied for. 

If you are admitted to our pre-master's programme, and you accept the offer, you need to follow the instructions given by the Student and Education Affairs Officer to register in Studielink as a bachelor student. The registration in Studielink needs to be completed before August 31st (in order to have admission to courses of the Fall semester) or before January 31st (in order to have admission to the Spring semester).

Less than 45 ECs
If you will follow less than 45 ECs in your pre-master's programme, you pay approximately €34,- per study credit.  

​​​​​​45 ECs or more
If you have to follow 45 ECs or more you must pay statutory tuition fee. These fees apply to students of all nationalities. 

Visual Ethnography specific information

If you do not have adequate training in visual ethnographic methods, you may be required to do a pre-master's programme that incorporates our BSc Visual Methods course.

The BSc Visual Methods course offers hands-on training in the use of photography, sound and video for anthropological research. Through screenings and lectures, it provides a general theoretical and practical training in visual methods. It will give you an introduction to the ways in which (audio) visual media are used in the anthropological research process and producing research outputs. During this course, you will make a short film. This course of 10 EC will be given in the fall semester. This course fulfills the admission requirement for the MSc specialisation in Visual Ethnography. 

For more details about the BSc curriculum and the Visual Methods course, please refer to the prospectus: BSc Visual Methods.

The Visual Methods course is open to a limited number of pre-master's students with equivalent qualifications. Basic training in social scientific research methods is required, however, experience with audio-visual methods and techniques is not.

Application for students outside Leiden University
If you would like to take part in this course, please send a short motivation letter to our Secretary Education with the following information:

  • What do you study, at which university, and in which year are you now?
  • Do you already have experience with visual methods and techniques?
  • What is your motivation to participate in the BSc course Visual Methods?
  • Do you have the intention to enroll in the master's specialisation Visual Ethnography at Leiden University? 

We will let you know as soon as possible if you are selected and how to register at Leiden University and enroll in the course Visual Methods. The deadline for applications is November 15 of each year.


If you have any questions regarding our pre-master's programme, please contact