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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 2021

September 2022

September 2023

Program description

KU Leuven organises an online open day on 1 December. For more information, please Google "KU Leuven Online Open Day"

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.

What is the Master of Social and Cultural Anthropology all about?

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.


  • 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

Please consult the programme website for recent information on admission requirements.

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Tuition fees

Please consult our website for recent information on tuition fees:

Scholarships & funding

Please consult our website for recent information on available scholarships.

Career opportunities

Graduates of anthropology have developed the ability to familiarize with other’s perspectives, as well as the scientific rigor to translate their observations in realist representations to wider publics.

They are well-versed in independently setting up, executing and evaluating (research) projects and, educated in an international setting, they are skilled in communicating and reporting effectively in an intercultural environment. Their professionalized sensitivity to the complexity of issues of difference, spatiality, movement … makes them valued in numerous fields, both specialist and related:

  • diversity officer
  • cultural and political formation consultants
  • cultural and educational consultancy
  • policy advise and policy making
  • academic and applied research
  • youth work business and marketing
  • management of socio-cultural organisations
  • investigative / citizen journalism

About this institute

KU Leuven

KU Leuven will host an online open day on 1 december. For more information, Google "KU Leuven Online Open Day" KU Leuven is Europe’s most innovative university. Located in Belgium, it is dedicated to research, education, and service to society. KU...

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Why study at KU Leuven

A Highly Ranked University

According to international rankings, KU Leuven is among the best 100 universities in the world. Moreover, KU Leuven was ranked as most innovative university of Europe by Reuters four years in a row (2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019). All of KU Leuven’s disciplines proudly belong to the top 100 of their field. Scholars and researchers, teachers and visionaries, thinkers and makers all have their place in KU Leuven’s fertile intellectual habitat.

Most Innovative University in Europe

KU Leuven has been identified as Europe’s most innovative university for four years in a row by Reuters. By developing the most important drug against HIV, a new type of solar panel that converts oxygen into hydrogen and uncovering the secrets of Sagalassos, KU Leuven researchers have a profound impact on our everyday lives in nearly all fields of research. That innovative character is deeply embedded in the way we teach our students, by integrating relevant guest lectures, taking an Interdisciplinary approach and opening the most advanced research and education facilities.

A Comprehensive University

As a comprehensive university, KU Leuven offers a wide range of disciplines organized by 15 faculties. Each of these disciplines is ranked in the top 100 of its field according to the THE World University Rankings by subject. Half of the university’s faculties are even in the top 50 within their fields of study.


Average rating 5

Based on 1 reviews

Nice programme!

Contact info

KU Leuven

Oude Markt 13
3000 Leuven

Program rating
Based on 1 reviews

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