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Research Master Social Sciences

Barbara van der Ent: 'Communicating with society'

Alumna testimonial

Barbara van der Ent graduated in Sociology (Bachelor’s) in 2012 and Social Sciences (Research master's) in 2015

FMG Social Sciences - Barbara v.d. Ent
Barbara van der Ent

When at 18 and just out of university preparatory education I decided to major in Sociology, my choice was based on the fact that Sociology sounded like the most interesting field to study. The job market didn't really enter into it. In my first year I was invited to take part in the Honours programme, and I decided to do it mainly because it included a research internship at the University. By combining this internship with my Bachelor's thesis, I was able to do a fairly large research project. I studied ethnic jokes in the Netherlands, looking mainly at how changes in ethnic jokes correlate with social changes between ethnic groups in the Netherlands. I even went to Poland to present my thesis at a conference about humour. That was a fantastic experience.

Scientific career

In the final year of my Bachelor's I got a student assistantship and conduct a research about changing relationships between volunteers and professionals. Working as part of an experienced team of seven researchers, I was closely involved in many facets of the study and gained experience in organising conferences and expert meetings, learned more effective interviewing, observation and analysis skills and helped to write the book. It was an valuable experience and also resulted in my first publication! This experience of research during my Bachelor's made me want to pursue a scientific career, so doing the Social Sciences Research Master's was the logical next step. I found a great internship at the Netherlands Institute for Social Research. A lot of their work gets considerable media and political attention, which gives their publications a broad reach. This dimension of accessibility and communication with society are important to me because I want to do research that can also be communicated outside academia, to a wider audience. Recently I was also appointed a junior lecturer and mentor at the Bachelor's programme in Sociology, where I teach a group of first-years. I'm really enjoying it, and it's very interesting to now tackling the field of Sociology as a lecturer.

Insight into social problems

After I write my thesis in 2015, I'll be done with my Master's. I'd like to continue teaching tutorials for a while and want to do a PhD. To have a great job as a scientific researcher – that's my ideal and I'll continue to work hard to achieve it. I want to do research that provides insight into social problems, hopefully bringing us closer to solutions. Naturally, my Bachelor's in Sociology and my Research Master's have been very influential in shaping my path and my ambitions, but, perhaps even more important, they've made me avid to learn more. There are so many interesting sociological phenomena that no one has studied yet, and that's where I'd like to contribute.


Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau, or SCP is an interdepartmental scientific institute that performs both commissioned and independent research on social sciences issues.