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Master of Social and Cultural Anthropology (Leuven)

KU Leuven
Program overview
2 years
Full time/part time
Master's degree
Scholarships available
Start dates
September 2020

September 2021

September 2022

Program description

Master of Social and Cultural Anthropology

Anthropology studies the socializing, meaning-making and world-building practices of humans in different places, networks and settings, all around the world. Social and cultural anthropologists study social processes from the perspectives of the actors involved. Combining an insider's and an outsider's point of view, anthropologists actively engage and theorize the differences and similarities between people across the globe. 

Anthropology researches the complex composition and interplay of economic, political, social and cultural dynamics, through the critical and reflexive engagement of the researcher.

As an anthropologist, you study the social and cultural processes of societies from a bottom-up, actor-centred and situational perspective. Doing fieldwork is at the heart of anthropological research and allows for a combination of multiple, specific qualitative methods such as participant observation, in-depth interviews, life histories, audiovisual data collection, etc. A critical and reflective attitude, from the moment you define a topic, throughout the writing process, is what makes anthropological research distinct.

Possible questions you may encounter: How do people shape their religious experiences by using contemporary social media and mobile technology? What is the legacy of colonialism and in what ways does it reveal itself in the contemporary world? How do people deal with physical, symbolic, structural and emotional violence and its consequences? What are the effects of superdiversity on the development of a city? How do newly arrived migrants create kinship relationships?


This 2-year master’s programme is divided into two key stages:

Stage one:

In the first stage, you are introduced to larger, more general questions such as "What is culture?" and "What is identity?". You study many forms of human and non-human agency and consider different ways in which people across the world deal with social problems, embedded in particular infrastructures.

You acquire insight into the basic anthropological concepts and theoretical approaches, as well as into the methodological principles and practice of fieldwork. At this stage, there is an emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge and skills as well as the espousal of an anthropological attitude which challenges you to critically analyse perspectives of others, and in doing so, change your own.

Stage two:

In the second stage of the programme, you further enhance your research skills while conducting research for your master's thesis. In the Research Seminar, experienced professors and early-career researchers of the faculty's research units (IARA & IMMRC) introduce you to the most recent developments in anthropology and guide you in the process of data analysis and writing. The electives in your individual programme, are informed by your particular research interests, but also allow you to explore new territories.

Why study this programme?

  • The programme trains you in empirical and comparative research methodologies, which challenge your familiar ways of being-in-the-world and the prejudices you hold about yourself and others.
  • Throughout the programme, you develop your own research focus through conducting fieldwork, critically analyzing data and writing on this particular topic in your final master's thesis. 
  • Depending on your research topic, students have the opportunity to engage in qualitative research in many different locations around the world, possibly in combination with an Erasmus exchange or a summer school.

Admission requirements

For more information about the admission requirements, visit the website of this programme

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Tuition fees

For more information about our tuition fees, please visit

Scholarships & funding

Visit program webpage for more information

About this institute

KU Leuven

KU Leuven

KU Leuven is Europe’s most innovative university. Located in Belgium, it is dedicated to research, education, and service to society. KU Leuven is a founding member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and has a strong European and...

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