• Application Deadline
  • 12 months
  • Tuition
    Tuition (Year)
    Tuition (Year)
  • English
As society becomes more complex, the demand for experts continues to expand. In the one-year Sociology: Contemporary Social Problems Master’s programme at Utrecht University, you will be trained to become an expert on one important social theme. You choose one contemporary issue in which you will specialise: Crime and Safety; Internet, Social Media and Networks; Care, Policy and Organisations.


Social problems: how do they arise? And how do you solve them?

The radicalisation of Muslim youth is continually in the news and high on the political agenda. What has scientific research revealed about the causes and background of this issue? How should the government and societal actors handle this trend and which policy is effective? An ageing population leads to increasing healthcare costs. How should care for the elderly be structured in order to make it personal and affordable again? The virtual and physical world are increasingly merging. What role does the internet play in shaping political and social movements' ability to self-organise?

The experts of tomorrow

You design your own track in this Master’s programme, in which you quickly and rigorously immerse yourself in your specialisation. You will learn about the state-of-the-art in current scholarship. As an expert, you will also learn to think in multidisciplinary terms. In addition to sociology as your core subject, you will also take courses in the social psychology and social geography of your chosen theme, which allows you to further immerse yourself in your area of specialisation.

Theory and practice

As an expert, you will also learn to translate theory into practice. You will learn to translate scientific knowledge into concrete advice for companies or effective policy for the government. You will also learn to present research results to a wider audience. Speakers from the field, working visits and your own internship project ensure you gain comprehensive knowledge of the practical context.

Objective of the programme

During this Sociology: Contemporary Social Problems Master’s programme at Utrecht University, you will be thoroughly trained to analyse and advise on contemporary social issues. You will therefore develop yourself into an academic professional and an expert on your chosen theme. In these themes, the boundary between public and private is often transcended, which means that once you complete the Master’s, you can work in both the private and (semi) public sectors. Potential careers include social science expert, applied researcher in the corporate world, policy advisor at a ministry or municipality, advisor, project coordinator or consultant.

Labour market

There is a significant focus on labour market orientation and your transition to the labour market following your studies. You will, for example, be put in contact with relevant organisations in the professional field in addition to learning the professional project, communication, advice and interview skills you will need in your career.


Accredited by the NVAO

Programme Structure

In this programme you can choose from 3 tracks:
1. Care, policy and organisations

This track addresses the most important issues and problems concerning care and the care policy in the Netherlands. Students develop themselves in a broad sense into experts on organisational and policy issues in the care sector. By putting contemporary developments front and centre, theory and practice become closely interrelated.

Increasing demand for care

The focus of this track is the increasing demand for care. Social developments in recent decades have led to a greater need for care. As a result, the costs of care have risen sharply and new care arrangements have been introduced. Care policy is now aimed at both meeting the demand for care and creating a more efficient structure for care arrangements. Care organisations are therefore very susceptible to change. They must fulfil the growing need for care without increasing their costs. Moreover, they function in a hybrid – public/private – context, in which they are exposed to a multitude of stimuli. So the track devotes considerable attention to specific social developments which have led to an increased demand for care. Examples are the ageing population, the emergence of less healthy lifestyles, the increased labour participation of women and immigration. An examination is made of the effectiveness of the care policy in the delivery of care, the need for which arose due to such social developments.

The track also explores who are the private and public stakeholders in the care policy and how their role has changed as a result of recent care policy changes. And the question arises concerning the extent to which the effectiveness of the care policy is the result of changes in the role of various stakeholders.

Courses in this track
  • Care, Policy and Organisations, taught by Prof Tanja van der Lippe and Dr Anne Roeters (sociology)
  • Organisational Development (from the Social and Organisational Psychology Master’s programme (in Dutch))
2. Internet, social media and networks

The internet is fulfilling an increasingly prominent role in our society. More and more social interaction is taking place online, not only among people but between consumers and producers as well as citizens and governments. These developments raise numerous social questions.

For example:

  • How are people influenced by social media?
  • When are government campaigns that use the internet and social media effective and when are they not effective?
  • What influence do online social networks have on the functioning of organisations?
  • Could an internet-driven “collaborative economy” replace the traditional economy?
  • What role does the internet play in shaping political and social movements' ability to self-organise?

If you opt for this track, you will become an expert who can translate state-of-the-art knowledge of the internet, social media and networks into practice, in both the corporate and public sectors. You will learn how companies can influence their customers via the internet, how government campaigns can be successful and about the ethical sides of the internet and social media, while integrating your knowledge from various disciplines to enable you to effectively analyse these complex issues.

Courses in this track
  • Internet, Social Media and Networks, taught by Dr Rense Corten (sociology)
  • Social Influence (from the Social and Organisational Psychology Master’s programme)
3. Crime and safety

What leads to criminal behaviour and how to combat it is an age-old issue in social sciences, particularly in sociology. A great deal of knowledge has since been gained about the conditions that create crime, preventive policy and adequate policy responses to criminal incidents. In addition, citizens’ safety is one of the most important tasks of the government and many political party programmes reflect the significant importance of this issue.

After completing this track you will have an overview of the important conditions behind the development of crime and the nature of the connection between objective crime and subjective safety. You will also have an overview of the important measures to increase subjective and objective safety and prevent or combat crime. This will suitably prepare you to become an advisor for government institutions, organisations or as a policy researcher in the field of combating crime.

In this track we will address a number of questions concerning crime and safety. These will not only be focused on serious crime, but also on types of deviant or anti-social behaviour such as graffiti, group drinking in public or loitering youth.

The following are examples of questions that will be addressed:

  • What are the theories that explain crime and how sustainable are they today in the Netherlands?
  • What are old and new types of criminal behaviour?
  • What types of criminal behaviour will be popular in future? For instance, is white-collar crime on the increase? What about cybercrime?
  • How are criminal organisations structured? What types of networks are involved?
  • What can we do to prevent the radicalisation of certain groups? When does radicalisation occur? When do we call a radical movement ‘criminal’?
  • Why is there more social and physical chaos in some neighbourhoods than in others?
  • What type of policy is effective in fighting crime? How is that policy affected by different contexts, e.g. neighbourhoods and organisations?
Courses in this track
  • Crime and Safety, taught by Dr Amy Nivette (sociology)
  • Neighbourhoods & Crime, taught by Dr Gideon Bolt (Geosciences)

Detailed Programme Facts

English Language Requirements

You only need to take one of these language tests:

  • Minimum required score: 6.5

    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.

    Take IELTS test
  • Minimum required score: 93

    The TOEFL – or Test Of English as a Foreign Language – offers an internet-based test (iBT). The final, overall iBT score ranges between 0 and 120, and includes a scaled average from the four components (reading, listening, speaking, and writing). Read more about TOEFL (iBT).

Academic Requirements

A Bachelor’s degree (equivalent of a Dutch University Bachelor’s degree) within in the Social Sciences, and can demonstrate the following knowledge, insight, and skills:

  • You have knowledge and insight into theory development in one of the social science disciplines and you can apply the logic of hypothesis derivation and testing to specific topics.
  • You can adequately analyze social problems and issues based on the relation between the macro level (social/structural factors) and micro level (individual orientations, decisions and behavior).
  • You can successfully perform appropriate data collection and apply quantitative research strategies to - analyze the data.
  • You have experience using statistical software, such as SPSS, at Bachelor’s level.
  • Proof of your proficiency in English (CAE- Level B, CPC- Grade C).

Tuition Fee Per Year

  • EUR 15167 International
  • EUR 2006 EU/EEA


Scholarships, fellowships, and grants offered by Utrecht University, the Dutch government, and other organisations can help fund your studies at the university. Please note that the scholarship options for programmes starting in February are limited.

StudyPortals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.