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Social Science Switch

This online programme will bring together people from a variety of scientific disciplines, giving them the tools and perspectives to enhance their study, research and work by including social science theories and concepts. Participants can expect weekly live zoom meetings in addition to pre-recorded materials, readings and discussions in our online learning environment as well as assignments and comprehensive feedback from our expert faculty.

  • Programme at a glance
    Mode of instruction Online (7 weeks)
    Academic dates Monday June 26 - Friday 11 August 2023 

    Academic fees 

    €900 for incoming GSSS Master's students

    €1100 for all other applications

    read more about what is included.

    Credits 6 European Credits for external candidates. Internal candidates take this course on a pass/fail basis. Read more about credits and credit transfer.
    Admission procedure Admissions will be processed throughout the year on a rolling basis.
    Final admission deadline                                                              Friday 5 May 2023 
  • Who is this programme for?

    This online summer programme has been designed to especially with three groups in mind:

    1. Students planning to enroll in a social science master, such as the UvA Medical Anthropology and Sociology Master, and who have had limited or no training in social sciences and want to obtain additional training to be better prepared;
    2. Participants who want to embark on a PhD in a social science area but who have limited or no training in the social sciences;
    3. Professional participants working and/or researching in the areas of public health, biomedical sciences, engineering or other non-social science areas looking to gain an enhanced social sciences perspective. 

    The programme was originally designed with an emphasis on social science theory as applied to health and illness, but has broader relevance and is well equipped to serve participants with interests beyond health.

  • Programme Description

    In order to work through and address societal issues in an updated and comprehensive way, emphasis has recently been placed on developing holistic approaches that combine the social and behavioural sciences with the methods and perspectives of the natural and medical sciences.

    This programme is designed to offer participants with a natural/medical sciences (or other) background the opportunity to expand their perspective and knowledge, enabling them to tackle complex issues and understand them from multiple perspectives, embracing interdisciplinary and social science mentalities and approaches.

    The primary difference between the social and natural/medical sciences concerns the use of theory. Hence, this programme focuses on building your skills by learning about and using social science theories. We jointly address and work through 'what theory is’ as well as what it 'does', reviewing widely-used anthropological and sociological concepts and theories, such as intersectionality, social navigation, and more.

    By the end of the programme, participants will be able to:

    1. Give working definitions of both theory and concept.
    2. Distinguish different kinds of theory (for example: grand and middle-range).
    3. Explain the additional perspectives that using theory brings with it, as well as what theories and concepts can do for both the social sciences and society at large. 
    4. Understand and describe commonly used social science theories and concepts. 
    5. Apply social science theories and concepts to illuminate real world phenomena, especially those related to health and illness. 
    6. Describe key ontological and epistemological differences between (certain) social science and natural/medical science perspectives.
    7. Read social science papers effectively and critically, and identify why and how theory is used, and to what effects. 
  • Format and Schedule

    Duration and timing 

    The course will run for seven weeks from June 26 - Friday 11 August 2023, and will meet live once per week. After the course is finished, participants will have one month to complete the final assignment. 


    In addition to the weekly live sessions hosted via Zoom, this interactive online programme is comprised of pre-recorded mini-lectures; ‘e-tivities’ (small online tasks); reading and reacting to discussions on the course discussion board; completing mandatory readings; and engaging in peer review and receiving tutor feedback. Most of the communication will be asynchronous, and participants will only need to be online at fixed times for the live weekly Zoom sessions. 


    Participants need to complete a variety of small formative assignments throughout the duration of the programme (which need to meet minimum requirements, but will not be marked). After the programme, participants will write a final summative assignment consisting of a 4000-5000 word essay/empirical paper on a topic of your choice, using social science theories and concepts discussed in the programme. You will receive peer feedback and tutor support to help you complete this final assignment. 

  • Academic Director

    Carla Rodrigues is a medical sociologist, currently completing her PhD within the Health, Care and the Body programme group, at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (University of Amsterdam).  She is a researcher at the Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology (Iscte-University Institute of Lisbon) and an honorary research associate at the Bristol Medical School (University of Bristol). Carla has developed research in several thematic areas, especially in the field of sociology and anthropology of pharmaceuticals. In this field, she has mainly focused on medicalisation and pharmaceuticalisation processes, including on different social uses of medicines (for both therapeutic and beyond healthcare purposes), self-medication practices, user-provider relationships,therapeutic pluralism, risk, uncertainty and trusting processes, and on the social dimensions of antimicrobial resistance. 

  • Explore our community

    Want to get to know more about studying in Amsterdam? Follow us on social media and join our community. Get a feel for our programmes, academic, and social community, and learn about studying with us through the eyes of past students. 

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De Brug at the UvA
Photo by Joep van Drunen
Facts & Figures
Mode Online
Credits 6 ECTS, 7 weeks
Language of instruction English
Starts in July