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Program and courses Politics, Policy and Societal Development

During this socially-, research-, and policy oriented Master's program, you examine and discuss how organizations may address sustainable development goals by designing sustainable business models. You address societal issues at the macro and micro level from a sociological and international comparative perspective and translate important societal questions into societal research to evaluate policies and to serve as input for new policies.

Program structure

This one-year Master's program consists of 60 credits (ECTS):

  • 3 track specific courses
  • 3 Sociology courses

The program is divided into four blocks and starts at the end of August. You can find the content of the program below. 

The two courses Social Changes and Sustainable Development and Hybrid Organizations are specific GMSI specialization courses. The Master’s thesis is focused on one or more Sustainable Development Goals, which are formulated by the United Nations.

Program content

Block 1 (September - October)

You will take the following courses in block 1:

  • Social Changes and Sustainable Development
    In this course, you will get an overview of the most urgent global challenges for sustainable development, such as poverty and inequality, migration, climate change and environmental degradation, illustrating how they foster social change on different levels of analysis. You will discuss the role organizations can play in tackling global sustainable development issues, particularly through sustainable business models and by leveraging digital platforms, and the challenges and shortcomings such organizational interventions may entail.
  • Master Seminar: From Theory to Research
    Throughout the program, Master’s seminars will prepare you for your Master’s thesis, which will focus on one or more Sustainable Development Goals.
Block 2 (October - December)

You will take the following courses in block 2:

  • Social Policy and Social Risks
    In this course, you address the topic of social policy and welfare states. Against the backdrop of global challenges and widespread socio-economic changes, you investigate how various ‘welfare regime types’ have developed over time in different countries, reflective of different concepts of social solidarity and leading to varied outcomes in terms of economic well-being (poverty, life chances), stratification patterns (inequality), and life-course risks and their consequences. 
  • Master Seminar: From Theory to Research
    Throughout the program, Master’s seminars will prepare you for your Master’s thesis, which will focus on one or more Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Master's thesis
Block 3 (January - March)

You will take the following courses in block 3:

  • Hybrid Organizations
    In this course, you are introduced to the role of hybrid organizations, and will consider various organizational models and initiatives that may strengthen policy actions in tackling complex and compelling social issues and improving sociodemographic indicators. You will investigate different types of ‘hybrid organizations’, especially social entrepreneurship, the challenges they confront, such as those related to measuring social impact and international scaling, as well as the actions they undertake to overcome them. 
  • Master's thesis
Block 4 (March - June)

You will take the following courses in block 4:

  • Politics and Society in Comparative Perspective*
    You develop cross-country analyses of politics and societies, particularly focusing on the rise of populistic groups and of populistic rhetoric.
  • Health and Policy*
    Delve into concepts and key theories in health and policy, and illustrate them with practical examples like health and wellbeing in relation to social and economic factors, policy interventions at macro/meso/micro level, illiteracy, education, poverty, housing, (un)employment, or social and physical environment.
  • Master's thesis

*You can either follow Politics and Society in Comparative Perspective or Health and Policy, not both.

Master's thesis

Throughout the program, Master’s seminars will prepare you for writing your Master’s thesis, which will focus on a Global Management of Social Issues (GMSI) related topic in the area of societal challenges and sustainable development.

  • In your Master’s thesis, you will investigate societal interventions that have been designed and/or implemented to address global social challenges/one or more Sustainable Development Goals, which are formulated by the United Nations.
  • You will have the opportunity to do a project in an emerging country, hosted by a partner university, or accompanied by an internship in an international organization ((non-)government, or private).
  • You will write your Master's thesis within the Department of Sociology.
  • Master's seminars are organized throughout the program, to prepare you for your thesis, by developing academic and research skills. 
  • In case you do an Extended Master's program, it is preferable (but not mandatory) to connect your thesis to the junior traineeship. 

Thesis examples

  • Explaining maternal healthcare utilization across low-and middle-income countries. A multilevel model testing the influence of religion and gender equality
  • Homeowners’ attitudes towards renewable energy sources
  • Political legitimacy of energy policies. How do national energy policies moderate the relationship between citizen’s power supply concern and political trust? 
  • Integration is not a one-way process. An interview study on perceived discrimination based on ethnicity among highly educated Dutch citizens with an immigration background
  • Is meat manly? Exploring different explanations for the relationship between gender and meat consumption
  • Is women’s education the exit way from poverty? Investigating women’s (economic) role and the impact of country-level differences in developing countries
  • Do voters give what they want? An exploration of the role of public support in Official Development Assistance Spending in European donor countries

You will find a detailed description of the courses and required literature in our course catalog.

Go to the course descriptions


Please note: programs are subject to change. We advise you to look up the current program in OSIRIS Student at the start of the year.


Do you want to know more about this Master’s program?

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Extend your Master with an internship

You have the opportunity to do an Extended Master to deepen your knowledge and skills. In the Extended Master’s program Politics, Policy and Societal Development, you will extend your Master's program by half a year, in which you do an internship (30 ECTS) in Dutch or English.

  • During the internship, you will dedicate half your time to research activities in the internship organization, and half your time researching and writing your Master's thesis.
  • After completing the internship, you will receive a professional certificate in addition to your MSc. This extensive experience will boost your position in the job market.

Short overview of Politics, Policy and Societal Development 

Become an expert in sustainable development from a sociological perspective and within an international context by addressing global societal challenges, such as poverty, migration, climate change, or humanitarian interventions after a natural disaster

  • You learn how to run projects and compose teams of experts to address societal issues and sustainable development from a sociological perspective.
  • Participate in community-building activities with your fellow students and benefit from a small-scale, interactive learning environment.
  • Do an Extended Master's program and add half a year to your studies by doing a junior internship to enhance your skills and gain relevant work experience. 

  • The program does not only offer an international perspective on sustainable development, but is also international itself, with students from different cultural backgrounds.

Interested in the Politics, Policy and Societal Development MSc track?

Check your eligibility and the deadlines for application