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Sociology: Comparative Organisation and Labour Studies (track)

The Comparative Organisation and Labour Studies track offers students an insight into the organisation of work processes, the ways in which modern labour markets operate and the position of labour in the wider society.

It offers a sociological and comparative perspective on contemporary transformations in the world of work, by introducing students at an advanced level into the social embeddedness of labour markets and the political regulation of employment relations. The programme enables students to develop critically incisive yet practical and applied insights into a range of contemporary problems and policy approaches related to the world of work.

The programme

The programme contributes to an understanding of the changing world of work by analysing various labour market institutions, ranging from work-place practices, across union-employer bargaining to national welfare states and social policies of the European Union. Such institutions are fundamental to the wealth, power and patterns of inequality in the global economy.

The distinctive qualities of the programme are that it encourages a comparative perspective on institutional variety of labour market embededdness and the organisation of work: it examines how rules and regulations differ between countries, and within a single country between different industries, regions, kinds of organisations and social groups.

More specialised courses include those focusing on skills, education and labour markets (how education allocates individuals into different occupations and how employers look at education and skills), alongside a comparative analysis of European welfare states (including a deeper understanding of the processes underlying the labour market and social policies of the European Union). These courses aim to equip students with the capacity to analyse complex societal and organisational problems related to employment and work, and evaluate the implications of solutions.

The COLS track is a partner in the European Master in Labour Studies Network (EMLS/MEST) that allows a selection of students, who perform well during their first semester, to spend with Erasmus funding, most of their second term abroad at one of the partner institutions of the network, including the United Kingdom (London or Warwick), Ireland (Dublin), Germany (Bremen or Trier), Italy (Milan or Florence), Belgium (Louvain-La-Neuve), France (Toulouse), Spain (Barcelona), Portugal (Lisbon), Slovenia (Ljubljana) or Romania (Bucharest).

In a broader sense, the component courses equip students to look critically behind common sense assumptions about the reality of the world of work, analyse complex societal and organisational problems, and evaluate the efficacy of attempted solutions. These skills are highly transferable across the labour market, as is apparent in the variety of roles performed by recent graduates from the track, who end up in human resource departments of large firms, semi-public administrations, policy research institutions, trade unions, employers' associations, as well as in academic research institutions in the Netherlands and abroad.

Focus on research

The programme culminates in students developing their own thesis research, closely mentored and guided by a supervisor with expertise in the particular area of investigation. Staff members of the Sociology department share their knowledge in innovative sociological research. They are affiliated with the Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research (AISSR) and the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS). The diversity in the research background of the staff guarantees a broad and disciplinarily well embedded perspective on labour issues.

Student profile

Do you have an interest in understanding how work is organised and in the functioning of the labour market? Do you want to go beyond a traditional economic perspective on these issues and infuse your research with a more critical sociological approach? Are you keen to engage in rigorous research? Then you are a good candidate for the Comparative Organisation and Labour Studies (COLS) track. The programme equips you with a set of transferable skills which enable you to analyse complex societal and organisational problems and to see beyond generally accepted assumptions in the field of labour, work and employment.

Ambition in research?

For students interested in this field of study, we also offer a two-year Research Master’s programme in Social Sciences.

Degree certificate 

Comparative Organisation and Labour Studies is a track of the accredited degree programme Sociology. After successful completion of this programme, you will receive a legally accredited Master’s degree in Sociology and the title Master of Science (MSc).

Key facts

Sociology: Comparative Organisation and Labour Studies (track)
Degree programme MSc Sociology
Type Regular study programme
Mode Full-time
Credits 60 ECTS, 12 months
Language of instruction English
Starts in September
CROHO code 66601