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Ruskin College MA International Labour and Trade Union Studies (ILTUS)
Ruskin College

MA International Labour and Trade Union Studies (ILTUS)

Oxford, United Kingdom

1 Years


Full time, Part time

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This is a one-year full time or two-year part-time postgraduate course.

Labour movements worldwide are seen as being in crisis and are actively seeking ways of renewal. These issues are closely linked with globalisation and with fluidity among emergent transitional and developing states and countries. Ruskin’s place in the labour movement, together with academic staff researching, writing and teaching in the field, puts it in a good position to become a centre of debate and scholarship in this project.

The Ruskin MA offers practitioners and scholars of such challenges the conceptual, analytical and critical framework for understanding and explaining labour movement change.

This MA course aims to:

Stretch student thinking beyond the ‘envelope’ to new and creative strategies of labour movement renewal and transformation, and their own role and identity in this.

Debate issues such as:

  • Organised labour’s relationship with globalisation
  • Internal union democracy and leadership,
  • Inclusively in relation to diversities across gender, class, age, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, disability
  • Cross-national and cross-cultural comparisons
  • Achieving praxis – theory into practice

WHAT WILL I STUDY IN THE COURSE? The MA’s focus is on contemporary issues and the future of labour movements. While strongly grounded in practice, theoretical frameworks will frame and explain issues and students will extend this approach in their Part 2 work/union/current issue based Dissertation. At workshops, students discuss and debate with one another, with tutors and with invited academic researchers and speakers from the labour movement. Tutors on the MA are themselves experienced researchers and publish in their fields. Full-time students may be sponsored by their own or other trade union organisations. If in the UK, these will normally provide trade union attachments (unpaid) for overseas students. Some scholarships may be available.

The course is designed for:

  • Experienced UK trade union officers and activists (paid and lay) from UK unions especially those which have and are developing international departments and who work closely with overseas partners such as PSI (Public Services International), ICFTU (International Confederation of Free TUs) and the ETUC (European Trades Union Confederation) as well as their sister unions abroad.
  • UK trade union officers and activists working in professional and white-collar unions who are already graduates, and are seeking postgraduate academic study and qualifications in the field.
  • Overseas specialists, including from EU countries, in developing and emerging economies, and eastern/central Europe.
  • Activists and officers from labour movements worldwide. NGO workers in the field, equality and human resources specialists in the field. Graduates of industrial relations, human resource management, business, economics and associated disciplines.
  • Graduates of Ruskin’s BA International Labour and Trade Union Studies

Full-time students will write their dissertations between June and October and will have individual tutorial/supervisory supervision from tutors in the College.


You don’t have to live in Oxford to study the MA. The part-time course runs over two years and is organised through three-day residential workshops at Ruskin College. Between workshops, students keep in touch with one another and with tutors via e-support systems. The full-time course runs over 12 months. Overseas students on scholarships will normally live in Ruskin student accommodation, and other full-time students may do so if accommodation is available. Students from both part time and full-time courses will join together for classes at the three-day residential workshops. Full-time students will attend seminars and tutorials and spend time at UK labour organisations on unpaid attachments.

Student support

Support systems between workshops include tutors, the programme coordinator, and student colleagues in Student Study Groups (SSGs) using a range of communications methods; principally e-communications.

If students are sponsored by/working with or for a union or other organisation, we expect that they will be given support such as access to data, relevant policies and strategies, conferences, meetings with key people. This is especially important since assignments are oriented mainly towards labour movement current issues.


Students will normally be graduates with an honours degree or equivalent qualifications in a relevant area of study. Instead of a degree, you may be admitted if

  • You have relevant paid or unpaid experience including training/education courses, in organisations such as trade unions, community, voluntary or political groups.
  • You have knowledge and academic skills commensurate with degree level work.
  • You can show evidence of capacity for post-graduate study through providing a portfolio of recent written work; for example reports, policy papers, funding applications, essays, etc.
  • You complete an academic case study analysis exercise and background reading set by the MA to the equivalent standard of a first degree
  • You have qualifications in the relevant area of study and have completed the equivalent of year 1 elsewhere, you may apply for entry to Part 2 of the MA programme.


This course runs every other year. There will be a series of open days throughout the year that the course starts.


The MA aims to provide a higher education level qualification for the labour movement and associated practitioners in order to enhance their strategic skills and knowledge and provide the basis for career progression in the field, including movement between union policy development and practice and academic research and education.

As evidenced by the 2005 TUC Union Officer Training Review, which notes that following changes in union officer roles and entry routes, the level of educational qualifications has increased and now among officers, degree/HND and professional qualifications dominate (2005:9).

The MA is equally useful for those seeking to develop research and academic careers in the field.


You can apply for courses online via the Ruskin College website or you can download a pdf of our application form. Send printed application forms to Academic Registrar, Ruskin College, Ruskin Hall, Dunstan Road, Old Headington, Oxford, OX3 9BZ You can request a hard copy of the application form to be sent to you by contacting Reception at Ruskin Hall on 01865 759600 or email enquiries@ruskin. ac.u

You should submit your application with:

  • Evidence of your formal qualifications, and for those applying on the basis of equivalence, examples of recent written work and previous study etc.
  • 2,000 words on Why You Want to Apply for the MA International Labour & Trade Union Studies at Ruskin College


Students are responsible for the payment of their own tuition fees on this course and there will be an additional residence and catering charge for the residential workshops (approximately £150.00 per workshop). There are six workshops in year one, and three in year two. Some individual unions provide scholarships for study at Ruskin.

The TUC also generously provides three scholarships per year to £1,000.00. The MA programme co-ordinator, Ian Manborde (07900 325379) is willing to assist MA applicants in seeking financial assistance from their trade unions and employers.

Historically, the majority of all MA ILTUS students receive some form of financial assistance for MA study from their trade union and/or employer.

Fees and Funding

How to Finance your Studies for the UK - based students There is a range of options available to help you finance your studies dependent on the level, of course, you are undertaking, your financial status and where you live in the UK. Students should make their application for financial assistance as soon as they receive their offer letter. Information on where to apply for funding will be included in the offer letter, along with the tuition fee amount and any course codes that you will need. Students will not be allowed to enrol unless they can provide evidence to show how their tuition fees and (if applicable) residential and catering fees will be paid.

Tuition Fees 2015/16

Access to HE Programmes, Level 3, Full Time: £3,358

Certificate of Higher EducationLevelFull TimePart Time
Business and Social EnterpriseLevel 4£6,000£3,000
English Studies: Creative Writing and Critical PracticeLevel 4£9,000£4,500
HistoryLevel 4£9,000£4,500
International Labour and Trade Union StudiesLevel 4£9,000£6,750
LawLevel 4£9,000£4,500
Social and Political StudiesLevel 4£9,000£4,500
Writing for PerformanceLevel 4£9,000£4,500
B.A. DegreeLevelFull-TimePart Time
Social WorkLevel 4£9,000£6,750
Youth and CommunityLevel 4£9,000£6,750
MA ProgrammesLevelFull-TimePart Time
Public HistoryLevel 7£5,100£2,550
Resident Study Bedroom Rates 2014/1540wksper wk
Study Bedroom standardY£4,000£100
Study Bedroom en-suite£4,840£121

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