Graduate School of Social Sciences

Sociology: Comparative Organisation and Labour Studies (track)

The MSc in Comparative Organisation and Labour Studies covers the sociological and interdisciplinary understanding of employment relations, the organisation of work processes and the position of labour in the wider society.

The programme in Comparative Organisation and Labour Studies has two distinctive features: (i) a strong focus on comparative analysis of issues concerning labour and organisation; and (ii) a special emphasis on processes of integration and convergence in world markets of both employment relations and organisational policies.

The programme

The programme offers a sociological approach to the study of modern capitalism by investigating cross-national differences within the institutional framework of market economies. It contributes to an understanding of the changing world of labour market institutions ranging from work-place practice, across union-employer bargaining to national welfare states and European social policies. Such institutions are fundamental to the wealth, power and patterns of inequality in the global economy. The programme also explores the institutional, cultural, social, and historical determinants of economic behaviour by looking at issues such as the regulations and norms in the labour market, informal norms in firms, and the effect of institutional path dependency on social capital, trust and networks.

Focus on research

The programme culminates in you developing your 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 expertise in innovative sociological research. The scholars involved in teaching the programme are affiliated with the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS) and Cultural Sociology of the Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research (AISSR). The diversity in the research background of the staff guarantees a broad and disciplinarily well-embedded perspective on labour and organisation issues. Students will 

  • obtain knowledge of institutional and behavioural patterns and variations, internationalisation and integration processes in labour markets, organisations and industrial relations. 
  • gain experience in the use of methods of social and economic research and statistics used in the field of labour and organisation studies and social policy research.
  • develop the ability to integrate theories and concepts from different disciplines in a multi-disciplinary, comparative and analytical approach to research and policy problems.
  • acquire the ability to conduct and evaluate research, and to participate professionally in multi-disciplinary and international research and policy-analysis teams, both in academic and non-academic settings.

The programme is part of the European Master in Labour Studies Network (MEST) that allows a selection of students who perform well during the first semester to spend their second semester abroad at one of the partner institutions in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Belgium, France, Spain, Slovenia or Romania.

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) programme. 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 and organisations.

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

Degree programme
MSc Sociology
Regular study programme
60 ECTS, 12 months
Language of instruction
Starts in
CROHO code

Published by  GSSS

Graduate School of Social Sciences