Trade Union Studies Certificate Programme January 2021

SIPTU College invites you to apply for a place on our Trade Union Studies Certificate Programme. This is a modular programme which SIPTU College manages on behalf of ICTU/SIPTU and the National College of Ireland. This programme is devised for, and by, trade union activists and leads to a Special Purpose Award at Level 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications.

Aims, objectives and outcomes

Trade Union Studies aims to provide learners with a sound theoretical and practical engagement with the purpose and practice of trade unions in the workplace and beyond, with the objective of enhancing their activities as officers or activists within a trade union, and of possible further academic study.

On completion of the programme you should

… have a basic knowledge of the principal features of the employment relationship and of trade unions in particular the external economic, social, legal, and political environment in which unions operate

… have a basic theoretical and practical understanding of trade union purpose and practice, as well as the core areas of collective bargaining and associated regulatory frameworks, both voluntary and legal.

… will be able to identify a range of options in industrial relations and trade union issues taking account of internal procedures and external regulatory (legal) contexts.

… will be equipped with a range of skills and tools in industrial relations and trade union activism that are used by practitioners in the field, and the ability to propose and defend recommendations to appropriate audiences.

… will have acquired the knowledge and skills to operate in a variety of trade union settings to promote and contribute to trade union policy and practice within and without the workplace.


This is a modular programme which means that you can take individual modules at your own pace. It is however designed to be achievable in two years and you have a maximum of five years in which to complete all of the modules. You acquire the Certificate by first acquiring 60 credits via the modules below.

Modules available from January 2021 are divided into ‘core‘ and ‘elective‘ and you can click on the module names below for more information.

Core modules are those which every learner must take and they are:

Trade Unions and Collective Bargaining (10 credits)

Management of Labour (10 credits)

Law and the Worker (10 credits)

Workers in the Economy (10 credits)

Return to Learn (5 credits)

Completion of these modules will gain you 45 credits. You will need a further 15 to be eligible for the Certificate. You may acquire these by any combination of the following elective modules:

Labour History (5 credits)

Diversity and Social Inequality (5 credits)

Work in Irish Society (5 credits)

Organising health and safety at work (5 credits)

Modern Labour Issues (5 credits)

Representing Workers (5 credits)


Normally Trade Union Studies is offered in Dublin, Sligo, Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford, via night classes held in local trade union offices and with some 1-day seminars on Saturdays. Due to Covid-19 restrictions however, these offices are not currently open and available to us, therefore all classes are now offered online only for the foreseeable future. We will however try to keep participants in groups based on the location you choose for physical classes when they return. Please note however that modules are offered in the various locations subject to there being sufficient numbers registering. We use an online platform called Webex and when you start on the programme you will be contacted with your log in details and all the information you need to start your studies.

You will need an ipad, laptop, PC or other suitable device and a reliable internet connection in order to participate on this course.

Dates and times

Core modules tend to be offered from 6-9pm on a fixed night at each location, for example:

Dublin, Limerick and Sligo on Monday nights

Galway and Waterford on Tuesday nights

Cork on Thursday nights (this will change to either a Monday or Tuesday in 2022)

Elective modules will be offered by a mixture of the above, on Wednesdays and via full-day seminars.

A full schedule of dates, times and modules for each location will be published before the end of the year.

If you have already started on this programme you can still combine your credits from the old modules with the credits from the new modules, in order to be eligible for your Certificate. No learner will be disadvantaged by these changes. See which modules are equivalent to which here.