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KU Leuven MSc Degrees in Anthropology

We have 3 KU Leuven MSc Degrees in Anthropology

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

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

How do people interpret natural disasters and which role does power play in that context? How does mining transform women’s understanding of sexuality and intimacy? How do diaspora organisations affect the development arena? How do people deal with violence and its consequences? The questions are many and complex. 


In the first stage, you are confronted with general questions such as "What is culture?" and "What is identity?". You will study many forms of human agency and consider different ways in which people across the world deal with social problems.

During this first stage, you start developing your own research by looking for a topic and supervisor, developing a research focus and preparing empirical research to support your final master's thesis. 

You will deepen and further develop your research skills in the second stage of the programme while conducting research for your master's thesis and participating in the Research Seminar. 

Experienced professors and early-career researchers of the faculty's research units (IARA & IMMRC) will introduce you to the most recent developments in anthropology. Your own research interests and focus will inform your choice of electives to round out your programme.


Are you eager to broaden your horizons by completing part of your studies abroad? As an anthropology student you can choose to conduct empirical research - fieldwork - in Belgium, another country, or both.

In the second stage, you have the opportunity to study for one semester at a (non-)European university within the context of the Erasmus exchange programme. The Faculty has agreements with universities in and outside of Europe and also offers various summer schools. 

If you are interested in researching social change or development, you can organise fieldwork and an Erasmus exchange within the framework of the European Certificate in Anthropology of Social Dynamics and Development. 


Through empirical research, social and cultural anthropology investigates the differences and similarities between cultures. Thus it wants to shed light on the historical, social political and cultural processes that shape society. This master programme wants to both introduce and specialize students into this fascinating domain. This double goal is reflected in the programme's structure. The latter further emphasises

  • acquiring a critical, social-scientific and anthropological attitude;
  • acquiring knowledge and skills specific to the discipline (anthropological methods, models, theories, ...). This also implies that students are able to put their specific knowledge and so-called emic perspective to use in an ever changing social debate.


A graduate in the Master of Science in Social and Cultural Anthropology is capable of designing and carrying out original research and communicating its findings. Also, s/he has the ability to critically evaluate existing research. To this purpose, s/he has a solid and active knowledge of anthropological methods and techniques, of the existing cultural and ethnological diversity and of past and current anthropological paradigms, themes and theories.

Career paths

Graduates of anthropology find employment in numerous areas including:

  • education
  • social services
  • medical care
  • NGO's
  • international organisations
  • development policy
  • international policy
  • business
  • research.

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What is the Master of Cultures and Development Studies all about? . The Master of Cultural Anthropology and Development Studies (CADES) aims to enhance the . Read more

What is the Master of Cultures and Development Studies all about? 

The Master of Cultural Anthropology and Development Studies (CADES) aims to enhance the multidisciplinary and intercultural expertise and skills of students and professionals involved in or interested in advisory, policy or educational assignments in the international and development sectors. Rooted in contemporary social and cultural anthropology, the programme draws on various disciplines and fields of study and deploys a wealth of relevant perspectives. Its approach builds on current insights into the complex dynamics of on-going economic and informational globalisation and the development of multiple modernities, inter alia.

Following multi-sited research conducted at the Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa (IARA) and the Interculturalism, Migration and Minority Research Centre (IMMRC), the programme counters the mainstream Western perspective and stimulates an integrated approach to development issues. Taking this into account, the programme does not offer its students a practical toolkit, but rather tends to question whether available tools are suitable and applicable in any given context.

Having learned to relate domain-specific knowledge within the evolving international debates, our graduates go on to a large variety of jobs in ngo’s, international organisations, development cooperation, education, social and medical services, advisory organisations, international relations, enterprises, and research. 


During the programme, students have the opportunity to carry out an internship and acquire international experience. The internship can be included in the curriculum provided that it covers at least 6 weeks and starts after classes have finished (end of June). Students taking up the internship can only complete the CADES programme after 1 and a half years.

Is this the right programme for me?

Ideal prospective students have an interest in advocacy, policy or educational assignments in the international and/or intercultural cooperation context. They are interested in anthropological and cultural-specific views on sustainable development and opt for an interdisciplinary academic preparation towards a better understanding of development paradigms.


The aim of the programme is to increase the student's interdisciplinary and intercultural expertise with a view to fulfilling advisory, policy-making and educational functions within international and/or intercultural development and cooperation. This is achieved by providing them with conceptual and practical experience in the processes of information transmission, international cooperation, globalization and cultural assertiveness. The programme places the accent on anthropology, but is relevant to various academic disciplines.

By the end of the programme, the student will have acquired:

  • knowledge and understanding of the scholarly framework in which intercultural problems can be clarified with respect to various academic and social themes;
  • skill in the analysis of practical and theoretical problems from an intercultural perspective; setting up, executing and evaluating research projects; drafting diagnoses, plans and recommendations; use and/or design of instruments for the optimization of situations in practical situations; critical reflection on the content of practical interventions; linking theoretical concepts to practical acts; guiding and developing innovations;
  • the skills necessary for adequate communication and reporting.

Career paths

CADES offers students a broad international and interdisciplinary background with which to confront developmental issues from an anthropological perspective. Graduates find employment in:

  • ngo's
  • international organisations
  • development cooperation
  • education
  • social and medical services
  • advisory organisations
  • international relations
  • private and public enterprises
  • research

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The Master in Human Settlements addresses rapid urbanization in the developing world and contemporary urban transformations within the scope of sustainable development. Read more

The Master in Human Settlements addresses rapid urbanization in the developing world and contemporary urban transformations within the scope of sustainable development. The programme aims to provide insight into the problems of human settlements as related to rapid change and to the interaction between modernity and tradition, formal and informal city-making.

What's the Human Settlements about? 

Architecture, urbanism and spatial planning are the core disciplines of the programme. Contributions from economics, geography and anthropology, among others, complement this core.

The structure is organised around:

  • Introductory courses
  • Core courses
  • Design Studios
  • Optional courses
  • Master's thesis (research- or design-based)

Design studios form an important part of the programme, a status reflected in their credit load. They are organized as two full days of work on Mondays and Tuesdays to provide an intensive and immersive working environment, as occurs in most professional practices. They also are courses where a balance between teamwork and individual contribution is developed, since students are subdivided in small but mixed groups from inception.

Core courses are related to the studios themselves, whereas for students selecting a more research-oriented trajectory in line with the programme's profile supporting courses are organized for the elaboration of a research Master's thesis.


Study trips to various destinations are organised throughout the academic year as a compulsory part of the MaHS programme. You will be able to observe and experience the area being studied and will have a unique opportunity to link your theoretical knowledge to daily practice and fieldwork. The trips include visits to sites, lectures by local experts and a range of assignments. Recent study trips in Europe have been made to:

  • Paris-Lyon (France)
  • Amsterdam-Rotterdam (the Netherlands)
  • Zürich-Frankfurt (Switzerland/ Germany)
  • London (UK)

 In addition, one-day visits within Belgium (Brussels, Antwerp, Ghent) are organised to support courses and provide an understanding of current trends in Belgian urban transformation. Moreover, as a key feature of the MaHS programme, a study trip and studio-related fieldwork sessions are offered in a non-Western context. You will be given the opportunity to travel for a two-week period to a non-European studio context for fieldwork and visits to best practices sites and other relevant sites.


  • The programme is taught by professors belonging to as well the Department of Architecture as the Faculty of Engineering Science. They cultivate research in the fields of architecture, urbanism and urban design, conservation, and spatial planning.
  • The Postgraduate Centre for Human Settlements, renamed the MaHS MaUSP Centre in 2005, is known by specialists worldwide and has a remarkable history spanning over more than 40 years. Its activities have been broadened to coordinate both the Master of Science in Human Settlements and the Master of Science in Urbanism and Strategic Planning. Other activities include a doctoral programme, capacity-building projects and consultancy on human settlement policies and projects.
  • The programme occupies a unique position within educational landscape of Belgium and internationally, including a long tradition and 40-year jubilee.
  • It has a strong research basis, with an emphasis on the scientific underpinning of the discipline of human settlements, the central role given to space as a resource (in urban transformations) and as a medium of integration.
  • The MaHS knows a diversity of incoming students, both in terms of geographic origin, and in terms of professional/educational backgrounds.
  • There is a broad network of alumni and a sound reputation fostering an active system of collaborations supporting the selection of design studio topics, Master's thesis topics, etc. (examples: UNRWA; UN-Habitat Asia + Arcadis Shelter Program; etc.) and a credible reputation as international research partner.
  • The quality and quantity of visiting faculty and international speakers as part of lecture series, studio jury's and showcase events such as World Urbanisms, provides one of the strengths of the programme.
  • Synergy between MaHS - MaUSP - EMU
  • Interdisciplinary collaborations with anthropology, geography, etc.

This is an Advanced Master's programme and can be followed on a full-time or part-time basis.

Career perspectives

The programme produces interdisciplinary graduates capable of understanding and managing the complexity of urban development as well as promoting sustainable territorial transformations. Graduates of the MaHS programme find employment in numerous and widespread areas. Many alumni work as civil servants in urban development agencies in cities or national governments. Others are independent professionals in the field of urban design, planning, and community development. Some join private architecture offices or take on in leadership and policymaking positions in regional, national, and international human settlements institutions, such as UNCHS or UEPP. A small number of graduates continue on to an academic career by obtaining a PhD, and some become professors.

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