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Social and Cultural Anthropology, M.Sc.

  • Application Deadline
  • 24 months
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. 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?

Programme outline

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

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.

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.

Career perspectives

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. 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
  • educational consultancy
  • policy advise and policy making
  • research
  • youth work business and marketing
  • management of socio-cultural organisations

The Social and Cultural Anthropology programme is offered at KU Leuven.

Questions about student life in Belgium, life at KU Leuven or more information about a specific course? Chat with our students: www.kuleuven/be/chatwithourstudents.

Programme Structure


  • Political Anthropology
  • Social and Cultural Anthropology: Basic Concepts and Theories
  • Anthropology of Religion
  • Urban Anthropology
  • Culture, Migration and Mobility
  • Current Issues in Social and Cultural Anthropology
  • Cultural Anthropology: Material Culture


  • Etnographic Fieldwork: Exemplary Research
  • Ethnographic Fieldwork: Analysis and Communication

Master's Thesis

  • Start Report
  • Master's Thesis

Research Seminar


          Detailed Programme Facts

          • Programme intensity Full-time
            • Full-time duration 24 months
          • Credits
            120 ECTS
          • Languages
            • English
          • Delivery mode
            On Campus

          English Language Requirements

          • Minimum required score:


            The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

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          • Minimum required score:


            The TOEFL iBT ® measures your English-language abilities in an academic setting. The test has four sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), each with a score range of 0-30, for a total score range of 0-120. Read more about TOEFL iBT ®.

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          General Requirements

          • Applicants are expected to have an appropriate familiarity with the social and human sciences.
          • The courses and seminars are taught in English, and the written work is to be completed in English. This means that sufficient knowledge of English is a pre-requisite. 
          • Other academic Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees are eligible for admission pending positive evaluation of a complete application file.
          For more information on the admission requirements, please visit the homepage of the programme.

          Tuition Fee

          • International

            938 EUR/year
            Tuition Fee
            Based on the original amount of 938 EUR per year and a duration of 24 months.
          • EU/EEA

            938 EUR/year
            Tuition Fee
            Based on the original amount of 938 EUR per year and a duration of 24 months.
          We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.

          Living costs for Leuven

          • 810 - 1280 EUR/month
            Living Costs

          The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


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