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Major Science in Society

Science in Society is a transdisciplinary major that provides tools and strategies for understanding and approaching complex societal problems related to scientific and technological development. The programme is open to students of most two-year Masters at the Faculties of Science of UvA and VU.

Science in Society (SiS) is a collaborative major programme (60 EC) of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU) and Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA). It teaches students how to identify, analyse and manage complex societal problems. The programme is concluded with an internship in which the student applies the acquired knowledge and skills.

After completing this major, you earn a regular Master of Science (MSc) degree in your current field, with this programme as specialisation. Former students of Science in Society currently work, for instance, as consultants, policy-makers, researchers or entrepreneurs at the interface of science, technology and society.


  • 1st semester: courses

    In the first semester, you will follow the below courses:

    • Research Methods for Analysing Complex Problems (6 EC) 
    • Analysing Governmental Policy (6 EC)
    • Communication, Organisation and Management (6 EC)
    • Elective courses (12 EC total)
      • Policy, Politics and Participation
      • Business Management in Health and Life Sciences
      • Science in Dialogue
      • Disability and Development
      • Health, Globalisation and Human Rights
      • Management of Innovative Technologies in CBH
      • Epidemiology
      • Clinical Development and Clinical Trials
      • International Comparative Analyses of Health Care Systems
      • Science Museology
      • Innovation, Behavior, Emergence and Markets
      • Ethics in Life Sciences

    In the study guide you will find a detailed description of each course.

  • 2nd semester: internship

    The SiS internship (30 EC) is preparatory for your work at the interface of science, technology and society. You will learn how to independently conduct scientific research, generate evidence‐based knowledge and report on that in writing and via seminars. You will learn how to collaborate with researchers of various disciplines and about potential career opportunities. Some students even find their first job via the internship.

    The content and product of your internship can vary. For example, you can conduct a management analysis, write a policy report, set up a business plan, evaluate a process or a program, conduct a feasibility study or assess a tool or a method. All students present their internship during one of the Summer Seminars.

    Internships can be done at research institutes, biotech companies, (governmental) policy institutes and many other organisations. For inspiration, view this list of previous SiS internship organisations.

    Internships in this major are linked to the Athena Science Shop, which supports non-profit organisations, civil society organisations and communities in many locations across the globe by facilitating and collaboratively conducting scientific research on subjects requested by them. The Athena Institute also offers internships internally, or through their network. These will be posted on Canvas.

    It is also possible to conduct your internship abroad. In general, this requires more (academic) independence and organization.

    The internship period is February-June.


  • Entry requirements

    This  major is open to students of most two-year Master's programmes at the Faculties of Science of UvA and VU. Science in Society has welcomed students from MSc programmes such as Biomedical sciences, Health and Life Sciences, Physics & Astronomy, Biomedical Technology and Physics, Biology, Chemistry, DDS and many more.

    Feel free to contact us if you are in doubt about your admission.

  • Subscription

     To subscribe, please take the following steps:

    1. If you are not a student at the VU yet, please subscribe as a ‘bijvakstudent’ at the VU first. Subscribe at least 6 weeks before the semester starts. Go to the registration form and select ‘bijvakregistratie’. 
    2. Subscribe for each of your courses individually on using the course codes in the study programme. Subscribe at least 4 weeks before the semester starts.

Examples of SiS internships

  • The acceptance of neuromarketing by Dutch manufactures and service firms

    Neuromarketing is a marketing technique to study consumer behaviour by using modern brain science. Neuromarketing holds the great potential to become an important tool in marketing research and has gained increasing credibility among marketing agencies. Nevertheless, neuromarketing is still in an early phase of commercial deployment and only a limited number of companies have currently adopted this technique (Morin, 2011; NSMBA, 2017). Despite its potential benefits, neuromarketing faces multiple challenges that could hinder the adoption of neuromarketing as a research tool, including: ethical issues, high costs, and awareness. Recently, a number of companies are emerging to market neuromarketing as a service to other companies. They offer neuromarketing tools for industry uses. However, usage of this neuromarketing service is limited and companies are reluctant to implement neuromarketing methods as part of their marketing strategy. To explain this resistance one has to investigate the acceptance of neuromarketing by Dutch companies. Acceptance of a new innovation is an important factor in explaining its market success, since acceptability provides insights in the extent to which an innovation is attractive for potential users and their intent to use it. Therefore, this study aims to get insight in the potential for large scale adoption of neuromarketing, by explaining how the acceptance of neuromarketing by Dutch manufacturers and service firms can be stimulated. The main research question is: How can the acceptance of neuromarketing by Dutch manufacturers and service firms be stimulated?

    By Merel Zandvliet, 2017

  • Automated Framing Analysis: Analyzing the Twitter conversation on the release of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

    This report explores the use of quantitative methods to assess framing on Twitter. In particular, it focuses on the framing of climate change during the release of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This framing has been analyzed by O’Neill, Williams, Kurz, Wiersma & Boykoff (2015) and yielded interesting results. However, due to their methodological choice of qualitative content analysis, they had to drastically reduce the number of tweets for their analysis. This left roughly 99.9% of their data unanalyzed. This is a known problem when using social media for qualitative analysis. Developments in automated framing analysis may offer a solution to this (Sanfilippo et al., 2008). The research discussed in this report captures these two notions in its objective: To contribute to the development of framing analysis on social media, by automatically analyzing the framing of climate change on Twitter during the release of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This naturally extends to the main research question of this report: What framings of climate change do automated framing methods yield when applied to the Twitter conversation on the release of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?

    By Bertram de Boer, 2015

  • Assessing and communicating the evidence for pre-test disease related advice and guidance (counselling) for people at risk of chronic hepatitis B/C

    This report was written as part of an internship with Erasmus MC, Department of Public Health, Infectious Disease Research Group and based in the Municipal Public Health Service (GGD) in Rotterdam, division of Infectious Disease Control as part of the Academic Workplace Initiative (CEPHIR). The internship, in turn, was part of the master programme Biomedical Science at the VU University in Amsterdam. This internship took place within HEP screen, an EU Health Programme funded research project comprised of ten partners in six EU countries. The main aim of the HEP screen project is to assess, describe and communicate best practices in screening and patient management for chronic viral hepatitis among migrants from endemic areas in the EU. Partners within the HEP screen consortium had conducted various research activities, including a systematic literature search for best practice guidelines in screening, counselling, referral and patient management for chronic viral hepatitis among migrants. This research internship added on specific questions emerging from those past activities.

    By Clariëne Croes, 2014

  • Patient handover in the Dutch Birth Care System

    Because of the sharp distinction between primary and secondary birth care, the increase in the rate of referrals over the past decades and because of the problems that can arise during handover, it is becoming increasingly important to integrate birth care. An important element in integrated birth care is good and successful patient handover from primary to secondary care and from secondary back to primary care. The research objective of this study is to provide a clear insight into how patient handover occurs from primary to secondary birth care and vice versa and to what extend patient handover is consistent with the concepts client-orientation and continuity, important for integrated care. Furthermore, the aim is to study what problems arise during patient handover and how it can be improved. We performed observations of written, telephonic and face to face patient handovers at the clinic and obstetrics department in the LUMC and Diaconessenhuis hospitals in the Netherlands. Besides that we conducted semi-structured interviews on patient handover and its obstacles with primary midwives, a clinical midwife, a resident and obstetricians. First, a selection of the observation reports and interviews was analyzed through open coding. A coding scheme was made based on the conceptual framework and supplemented with additional codes that emerged through the open coding. The observation reports and transcripts were analyzed with the help of MAX QDA, a qualitative analysis program.

    By Emma Peschier, 2014

  • Evaluating tuition for nurses at the Northwest Hospital Group

    Restricted actions are a subset of tasks that can be performed by qualified healthcare professionals only, as is stated by law (Wet op de Beroepen in de Individuele Gezondheidszorg, 1993). The limitation to this performance stems from the fact that when performed inadequately, these tasks can potentially be harmful to patients. To support nurses in staying qualified, tuition is applied in hospitals throughout the Netherlands. Tuition can consist of many forms, ranging from on-line modules that cover the specific topics to classical teaching methods where nurses are trained and educated. Although tuition is widely available and given in hospitals, no rules and regulation exist stipulating on how to correctly implement it. This lack of clarity is undesirable, as a set of guidelines would benefit nurses in staying qualified and ultimately lead to better patient treatment. Furthermore, due to lack of literature, it is hard to evaluate the influence tuition has on partakers’ working behavior. Therefore, the Board of Directors at the North-west Hospital Group (NHG) would like to know how successful the current tuition is at both medical centers. To evaluate the influence of tuition, three concepts were used, derived from the adapted model of Kirkpatrick to evaluate trainings. These three concepts are skill, knowledge and attitude. All three concepts are of importance during the performance of a restricted action. Using these concepts, the following research question was formulated: How do nurses at the NHG feel current tuition influences the improvement or sustaining of skills, knowledge and attitudes regarding restricted actions they view as vital during job performance?

    By Tom Neetens, 2016

Contact us

SiS coordinator:

All programme coordinators:

Consult the VU Study Guide for the specific course coordinators