Study programme

If you're interested in how algorithms can be racist, how your smartphone is a political object, or how climate change becomes an issue for a growing population, this Master's programme is for you!

Most of today’s major issues, such as climate change, racism or automated technologies, are not limited to traditional parliamentary politics, but play out in the public sphere of (online) media, social movements, expertise, activism and policymaking. This Master’s programme enables you to understand how such concerns become public issues. It provides you with the tools to navigate and broker complex issues, to develop your own engagement with them and to intervene in them.


This programme starts with an engagement with issues that concern you and trains you in advanced and publicly relevant social science. Situated in sociology but learning from other disciplines (e.g., media studies, Science & Technology Studies, anthropology, postcolonial studies, urban geography, gender and queer studies), this Master’s programme helps you develop your engagement with 21st-century public issues.

During the programme, you get to work on issues you choose and ask questions such as:

  • how are alternative futures imagined by climate activists, policymakers and professionals?
  • how does public mobilization around sexism or racism take shape?
  • how do young people in precarious, flexible employment, organize new forms of solidarity?
  • how are public issues mediated through online platforms like Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook?
  • how does the ‘smart city’ change urban politics?
  • how do knowledge and expertise help shape public issues, and how do such issues shape access to, and the definition of, knowledge?
  • how does European migration infrastructure shape the way people speak about immigration?

Next to studying social scientific approaches to such questions, you will be able to participate in field trips and seminars with people working on public issues.

The curriculum is subject to change. No rights can be derived from this information.

Mode of education

The programme consists of 60 ECTS. It is comprised of three core courses, one methods course, one elective and a thesis. Next to studying social scientific approaches to different problems, you will be able to participate in field trips and seminars with people working on public issues.


The programme features some electives in block 2, but electives can also be selected from courses offered in other Master’s specialisations in Sociology.

Please note that electives only take place when more than 12 students are enrolled. In case of a lower number of enrollments, electives will be cancelled and you will be kindly asked to enrol in another elective.


Block 1

  • Publics and Issues: introduction
  • Social Science Research in Practice

Block 2

  • Infrastructures of Power
  • Electives

Block 3

  • Public Knowledge
  • Thesis

Block 4

  • Thesis


Programme electives

  • Family Inequalities
  • Political Attitudes and Behaviour in Context

Why study Master Engaging Public Issues

"Ours is a time of global warming, racism and sexism, and omnipresent ‘smart’ technologies impacting our lives. We need people able to analyze how such issues are publicly contested and engaged with."

Prof.dr. Willem Schinkel

Coordinator of the programme

What is this specialisation about?

If you’re interested in understanding how algorithms can be racist, how your smartphone is a political object, or how climate change becomes an issue for a growing number of people, the Engaging Public Issues Master’s programme is for you. It deals with contemporary public issues such as racism, automation or global warming that mobilize people as public to work towards change. Such issues are shaped far beyond the traditional domain of electoral politics and involve publics with different identities and interests, and with wholly different ways of imagining the future.

This Master’s programme doesn’t place one issue front and centre, but it provides you with the tools to navigate and broker public issues, to develop your own engagement with them and to intervene in them.

Why choose this programme?

This programme offers:

  • This programme provides the tools to critically analyze the key issues of today
  • It works from and helps develop, students own engagement with those issues
  • It has dedicated professors, awarded with the best teacher awards by students in their department, and with experience in public social science
  • It has small-scale, interactive tutorials, with lots of attention for the individual student
  • It improves students’ ability to meaningfully work with people who come from a variety of backgrounds and have different types of expertise
  • The Social Sciences Department of Erasmus University Rotterdam ranks the highest of all of the continental European universities in the Shanghai Ranking

Career opportunities for Master Engaging Public Issues

The ability to dissect major public issues and to consider them from multiple perspectives is key whether you will be a journalist, NGO worker, teacher, social worker, entrepreneur or policymaker.

Master’s studies in Sociology

In a world shaped by science and technology, advanced and publicly relevant social science is needed to address the unequal ways in which people are affected by technological change, global warming or the flexibilization of employment. There is an urgent need for people able to understand the logic of how such issues and their publics emerge and evolve.

Whether you are part of a social movement trying to push an issue, or work as policy officer or in a company and are confronted with an issue, you are better equipped to address them when you understand how issues become public. That means you’ll learn to contextualize and dissect the interests at stake, the identities at stake in an issue, and the infrastructures and the forms of the imagination of the future that make issues and their publics. To engage with issues ranging from the implications Big Data to the consequences of global migration, from the politics of climate change to transnational activism, companies, organizations and institutions are in need of generalists able to ‘broker’ public issues, and provide realistic courses of action for different stakeholders.

After graduation, you will have gained a critical and reflective social scientific perspective. You will have a thorough knowledge of cutting-edge perspectives on the major issues of today. This is a state-of-the-art Master in publicly relevant and critical social science, and it provides a solid basis for career opportunities in a variety of fields. Examples include:

  • Strategist or policy officer at an NGO or community group engaged with issues ranging from climate change to technology and privacy
  • Journalist, media advisor or web editor for a variety of media outlets or companies
  • Researcher in academia, a public think tank or a social scientific advisory council
  • Consultant for governmental or non-governmental institutions
  • Researcher in a municipality or a ministry
  • Policy officer in a governmental institution

After graduation

After completing this Master’s programme you will be able to:

  • Understand how people become engaged with contemporary issues and form a public
  • Understand how knowledge, people’s identities and power are at stake in public issues
  • Analyze the interests, identities, infrastructures and imaginaries that shape public issues
  • Better intervene in public issues, based on an understanding of how public interventions are shaped
  • Critically evaluate and dissect academic texts, policy statements, expert judgments and activists’ statements
  • Work with diverse groups in society, with a better awareness of how your own background and identity shape your engagement with public issues
  • Present your insights and contribute to engaged discussions and struggles over publicly contested issues

Factsheet summary

  • Official CROHO name: Sociology
  • Programme name: Engaging Public Issues
  • Instruction language: English
  • Type: Master
  • Duration: 1 year
  • Location: Campus Woudestein, Rotterdam
  • Tuition fees (2019-2020):
    • €2.083 (Statutory fee)
    • €11.900 (Institutional fee: EEA/EU students)
    • €14.900 (Institutional fee: NON-EEA/EU students)
Program taught in:
Erasmus University Rotterdam - Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

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Last updated January 31, 2019
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Sep 2019
1 year
11,900 EUR
(Institutional fee: EEA/EU students); €14.900 (Institutional fee: NON-EEA/EU students); €2.083 (Statutory fee)
Request Info
(EEA); 15 May (Non-EEA)
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Start Date
Sep 2019
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Sep 2019

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