Courses

Below, you will find an overview of courses from the current academic year of this Master's. This overview is meant to give you an idea of what to expect. The course offer may change in the coming academic year.

 

Period 1

Interventions and Policies I: needs assessment and change approaches

In this course students familiarize themselves with central concepts and theoretical perspectives on the development and implementation of social policies and interventions on a local, national and international level, as well as the interplay between social policies and interventions. Drawing on principles of systematic program planning, different approaches for the development of social policies and interventions are presented, with a focus on a systematic intervention planning approach, and implementation issues are addressed. Throughout the course it is emphasized that the development and implementation of social policies and interventions does not take place in a social and policy vacuum. Researchers, scholars, professionals and affected individuals and communities each make important contributions to the development and implementation of social policies and interventions. To illustrate these fascinating and important processes, examples will be provided in lectures and seminars from the domains of health and wellbeing, including work, care and participation, youth and family, and diversity and integration.

Youth Studies: an Interdisciplinary Approach

In the social sciences, the development of young people (children and adolescents) has always been an important research topic. Young people represent society's future. This is why it is so important to understand the lives of young people, the main problems that they face and how society can most effectively respond to these problems or attempt to mitigate their consequences or solve them. It is also known that many problems in adulthood have their origins in childhood or adolescence. Thus, research into young people's lives is necessary to better understand adults' problems. Indeed, the idea that adult problems can best be prevented by taking remedial action and providing support when people are still young is now widely accepted.

Many disciplines conduct research into youth-issues, each with their own perspectives and theories. Developmental psychologists primarily approach adolescence and young adulthood as a specific phase in the individual life course. This approach is based on the assumption that life phases have a relatively fixed pattern driven by individual biological development and processes of maturation. However, psychologists also acknowledge that context is an important factor in determining individual development. For example, vulnerable children who grow up in highly favourable conditions may be protected by these conditions from developing problems, while vulnerable children who grow up in highly unfavourable conditions may be particularly susceptible to developing problems. Researchers in Pedagogics focus primarily on the influence of the immediate social environment (parents, friends, peers). However, social inequality and cultural and historical conditions can also determine an individual's life course, which is where a sociological or anthropological approach becomes imperative for gaining a better understanding of the risks in the social environment (be it social, cultural or historical).

These general assumptions are shared by many researchers, but untangling this combination of contemporary influences (personal, biological, social, cultural, and historical factors) can be quite complicated. Risk factors do not lead simply and logically to a predictable outcome. They often interact with each other to influence individuals and their development in a complex manner. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach as a basic premise, this course furthers this interdisciplinary approach by applying a number of important theoretical perspectives to a range of current issues affecting young people. Examples of issues covered by the course include:

  • (Increasing) social inequality among young people (socio-economic status, level of education, cultural capital)
  • Changes in youth culture, lifestyle and music preferences
  • The international context of young people's lives in Europe (cultural and political differences)
  • Substance (ab)use and addiction
  • Development of internalising problems (depression, anxiety, suicide)
  • Migration (labour migrants, asylum seekers, refugees) and intercultural conflict
  • Internet and social media use (including gaming and/or internet addiction)
  • Juvenile crime and antisocial behaviour

Working methodThe course consists of a series of lectures combined with working group sessions. The literature consists of articles by leading researchers in the areas of youth study described above. The articles discuss these topics in relation to young people's development, adopting an interdisciplinary perspective (genes, the brain, parents, peers, social and cultural context). Thereby, the course aims to provide students with an introduction to recent, high-quality research in the field of youth issues. There is a weekly lecture. In the working groups, students will discuss, analyse, and evaluate the literature of that week. To encourage in-depth discussion, analytical questions are posed about the literature of the week. Students prepare answers to these questions in groups. Any problems in answering the questions can be discussed in the working groups. Additionally, students choose one of the issues affecting young people. Students will prepare a final presentation, in which they analyse the chosen issue from an interdisciplinary perspective. In the presentation, students provide a scientifically based explanation for the youth issue and, based on this explanation, present implications for research, policy and interventions relating to the issue. The presentation is based on an essay of no longer than three pages.

Skills assessed

  • familiarity with and understanding of the complex literature and interdisciplinary theories on youth issues (examination) (70% of the final mark).
  • The ability to identify and analyse the relevant, scientific literature critically, use it to provide an explanation, and outline basic principles for policy and intervention (30% of the final mark)
  • The ability to critically analyse, evaluate and discuss scientific literature, theoretical approaches and their implications for youth issues (preparation for working group).

Aspects of academic skills developmentCritical reading of academic literature.
Analytical skills.
Developing new ideas and translating them into research questions.
Actively participating in the debate about academic knowledge and knowledge acquisition.

Academic Professional Youth studies

In the year-long module Academic Professional students are prepared for the job market by developing their professional identity. Important components thereof include: reflection, academic integrity, ethical conduct in practice, entrepreneurship, and life-long learning. In addition, this course will also provide students with an opportunity to develop practical skills that enable operating successfully in the job market. In different components of the course (lectures/seminars, assignments) ethical dilemmas will be studied. Through guest lectures by alumni and professionals working in the field of youth studies, job market orientation is stimulated. Additionally, students have ample opportunity to work on their individual professional identity development. For instance, students can participate in further training, additional to the compulsory offerings, and/or engage in network meetings. Where possible, these activities are linked to obtaining and internship position and the work undertaken as part of the internship.

Period 2

Interventions and Policies II: implementation and evaluation methods

This course – which is part of the master-program “Social Policy and Public Health” (SPPH) and "Youth Studies"(YS) – focuses particularly on research problems that can occur in evaluating policies and interventions, taking into account the social context in which this takes place. The course enables students to develop an understanding of the various types of social policy and intervention research. In the course special attention is paid to the difficult conditions under which evaluation research often takes place, the choices that have to be made in such circumstances, and the role of the social scientist in researching the effects of social policy and interventions. The course focuses on the following, interrelated questions: (a) how can you decide whether or not a particular form of social intervention has the desired impact?; and (b) why do some forms of social intervention have the desired effect while others do not? Students will learn about various types of complementary evaluation research – randomized controlled trials (RCTs), quasi-experimental research as well as qualitative and mixed-method research – that contribute to an answer to these questions. During the course, students learn to formulate a ‘program theory’ about how and in what situations they expect a particular intervention to be effective. Furthermore, it is discussed in what different ways the quality, impact and effectiveness of social policies and interventions can be tested; potential advantages and limitations of different research methods are considered. The knowledge obtained and skills learned during this course enable students to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and to give recommendations for improvement.

Academic skills
The following academic competencies will be tested in this course:
• the ability to identify and evaluate the mechanisms associated with social issues (‘problem definition’) and with social policy and interventions (‘policy or program theory’);
• skills in setting up evaluation research;
• skills in assessing the benefits and limitations of different kinds of evaluation research.

Key Issues in the Study of Youth

Students can choose between two variants (see the course catalogue details for the Interdisciplinary Social Science (ASW) Master's project):

• A separate internship and thesis variant (practical internship and thesis on existing data; TED) with an internship report and a separate thesis on existing data provided by ASW or the internship organisation.
• A combined internship and thesis variant (research internship and thesis; RIT) combining the internship and thesis and developing and conducting research and collecting data within the framework of the internship organisation.

The difference between a separate internship/thesis (TED) and a combined internship/thesis (RIT) is that the latter involves the student collecting his or her own data (for and in cooperation with the internship organisation) to be used in writing the Master's thesis. A separate internship/thesis may also involve research activities (for and in cooperation with the internship organisation) but the data obtained will not necessarily be used to write the Master's thesis.

In the course ‘Youth studies: an interdisciplinary approach’ (period 1), a range of different themes are discussed. In the course ‘Key issues in the Study of Youth’ (period 2), a specific theme is being explored in greater detail. Students who opt for the TED variant can choose a theme related to the recent and ongoing lines of research of the Youth Studies staff and use available data from the research group's major recent and ongoing research projects (e.g., Digital Youth, TRAILS, HBSC, PAS and SNARE) / or students choose a related theme for which data are available at the internship institution. Students who opt for the RIT variant choose a theme that is related to their internship and they will collect their own data. The students examine their chosen theme and, based on existing theory and empirical research on the theme, formulate an innovative and interesting research question. A key academic skill learnt in this component of the programme is how to write the introduction of an empirical article according to APA standards, including the depiction of the research model. The course therefore gives students experience in developing a socially and scientifically relevant research question in the context of Youth Studies. Students following the TED variant may use their Introduction as the basis for their masterthesis in period 3 and 4.

Aspects of academic skills development:
Cooperating with others, working as part of a team, developing and providing scientific reasoning of one's own research project, reporting on one's own research project in writing and orally, academic writing and critical reflection.

Academic Professional Youth studies

In the year-long module Academic Professional students are prepared for the job market by developing their professional identity. Important components thereof include: reflection, academic integrity, ethical conduct in practice, entrepreneurship, and life-long learning. In addition, this course will also provide students with an opportunity to develop practical skills that enable operating successfully in the job market. In different components of the course (lectures/seminars, assignments) ethical dilemmas will be studied. Through guest lectures by alumni and professionals working in the field of youth studies, job market orientation is stimulated. Additionally, students have ample opportunity to work on their individual professional identity development. For instance, students can participate in further training, additional to the compulsory offerings, and/or engage in network meetings. Where possible, these activities are linked to obtaining and internship position and the work undertaken as part of the internship.

Period 3 and 4

Master Project Youth Studies: Practical Internship and Thesis

If a student opts for this variant of the ASW (Interdisciplinary Social Science) Master's project course, the end product is a separate internship report (15 ECTS) and a thesis based on existing data provided by ASW or by the internship organisation (15 ECTS). A separate internship (also referred to as ‘practical internship’) may also involve research activities (for and in cooperation with the internship organisation) but the data obtained will not necessarily be used to write the Master's thesis. The student will research a social issue relating to one of the various themes within the Youth Studies domain. Students work together in project groups of up to six students who have all chosen the same theme. Each student completes a practical internship at a relevant organisation in the professional field of the Master's programme. During this internship, the student conducts activities for the internship organisation on the level of an academic professional and under the supervision of a qualified academic professional at the internship organisation. In addition, the student will conduct independent research on one of the Youth Studies themes, supervised by a lecturer. The student will conduct independent research involving answering a scientifically and/or practically relevant research question based on an existing ASW dataset or one from the internship institution. This individual research must adopt an interdisciplinary approach to the social sciences, making use of a blend of concepts from the behavioural and social sciences combined within a theoretical perspective or explanatory model. Students learn to analyse the research data and report clearly and adequately about it. The analysis of research data and reporting on this analysis take the form of a scientific article written in English. The final product (the scientific article) is always an individual product. In addition, students of the PIT-variant must spend 60 hours conducting research for the ongoing ASW research project. It is only possible to make use of data from the internship institution if these are high-quality data that the student can use in answering his or her research question. Students wishing to use data from the internship institution (or from another external institution) must submit a written request that includes a description of the research data to the supervising lecturer and course coordinator of their Master's programme. In this course, students write a research design on the basis of the master’s thesis design they have written for the course Key Issues in the Study of Youth which will be assessed by the assessor (the supervising lecturer). If the design is approved by the supervisor, the student can continue the research for the thesis. This will result in an individual thesis and a presentation. If the research design fails to meet with approval after two attempts, the student is not permitted to continue the course.

Working methods:
Students work together in project groups of up to six students. This way of working aims to encourage discussion on experiences during the internship, a systematic design of the master project; to accompany the substantive exchange of theoretical findings and research results; to maintain the contact between students, and to help the students finish their projects on time. The students meet to discuss the progress of their projects with the supervisor; the supervisor will inform the student concerning what is to be expected from him or her at the next meeting in terms of progress etc. It is to be expected of students that they prepare properly for meetings of the project group. Preparation can include the reading of relevant texts, preparation of presentations, formulation of plans and so on.

Aspects of academic skills development:
Presenting and evaluating result research, cooperation with other students, reporting on research, developing research skills (general).

Master Project Youth Studies: Research Internship and Thesis

If a student opts for this variant of the ASW (Interdisciplinary Sociale Science) Master's project course, the end product is a research internship report (10 ECTS) and a thesis based on data collected by the student (20 ECTS), possibly in combination with data from ASW or the internship organisation. The student will complete a research internship at a relevant organisation in the professional field of the Master's programme. The student will identify an issue that is relevant for the internship organisation and the professional field of the internship. In a research design, the student describes this issue, formulates a relevant research question and presents a research project to answer the research question based on data he or she will collect. The student conducts individual research into practices of policy and intervention (e.g. conducting an empirically substantiated policy or intervention analysis or developing policy advice or an intervention strategy) from an interdisciplinary perspective within the social sciences making use of a blend of both social and behavioural science concepts combined within a single theoretical perspective or explanatory model. Students learn to analyse the research data and report on it clearly and sufficiently. The analysis of research data and the report of this analysis take the form of an scientific article written in English. The end product (the scientific article) is always completed individually. In this course, students continue the research for the thesis and this will result in an individual thesis and a presentation.  

Working method:
Students work together in project groups of up to six students. This way of working aims to encourage discussion on experiences during the internship, a systematic design of the master project; to accompany the substantive exchange of theoretical findings and research results; to maintain the contact between students, and to help the students finish their projects on time. The students meet to discuss the progress of their projects with the supervisor; the supervisor will inform the student concerning what is to be expected from him or her at the next meeting in terms of progress etc. It is to be expected of students that they prepare properly for meetings of the project group. Preparation can include the reading of relevant texts, preparation of presentations, formulation of plans and so on.  

Aspects of academic skills development:
Presenting and evaluating result research, cooperation with other students, reporting on research, developing research skills (general).
   

Academic Professional Youth studies

In the year-long module Academic Professional students are prepared for the job market by developing their professional identity. Important components thereof include: reflection, academic integrity, ethical conduct in practice, entrepreneurship, and life-long learning. In addition, this course will also provide students with an opportunity to develop practical skills that enable operating successfully in the job market. In different components of the course (lectures/seminars, assignments) ethical dilemmas will be studied. Through guest lectures by alumni and professionals working in the field of youth studies, job market orientation is stimulated. Additionally, students have ample opportunity to work on their individual professional identity development. For instance, students can participate in further training, additional to the compulsory offerings, and/or engage in network meetings. Where possible, these activities are linked to obtaining and internship position and the work undertaken as part of the internship.