European Research in Learning and Work
  Directory of Masters Programmes
EHRD Portal


> Programmes by country
> Thematic overview
> Regional map


Regional map of Masters programmes

The following presentation is intended to map the themes addressed by Masters programmes (n=114) according to groups of European countries. The method of regional mapping was first explored in a comparative analysis of research profiles related to VET and HRD (VET&HRD Base). It is now being taken up with regard to themes of Masters programmes, in order to find out, whether any thematic patterns can be identified across Europe. The analysis is based on the five thematic areas applied in the Overview of Masters programmes (see box).

  • E-AE-LLL : Education - Adult education - Lifelong learning (incl. vocational component)
  • VET-CVT : Vocational education and training - Continuing vocational training
  • HRD : Human resource development/ personnel development (or component)
  • B-HRM : Business - Human resource management (incl. HRD component)
  • O-W : Organisation - Work (incl. learning)

In the map below, the thematic areas of Masters programmes identified for each country are marked by coloured cells, referring to any number of programmes concerned. Within each country, the light grey colour indicates a fairly even distribution of areas, while the dark grey colour refers to a high number of programmes representing a particular area. The countries are arranged according to geographical regions. This pattern implies certain stages of EU enlargement and also specific socio-cultural traditions, both of which are relevant for the development of Masters programmes in the countries concerned. Preliminary results of the comparative analysis are outlined further below.

Northern Europe
Denmark (6)        
Finland (4)      
Norway (5)        
Sweden (4)      
Western Europe
Austria (6)          
Belgium (1)  
France (4)           
Germany (19)          
Ireland (3)  
Netherlands (6)        
Switzerland (3)      
UK (29)          
Southern Europe
Cyprus (1)        
Greece (2)    
Italy (2)  
Malta (1)  
Portugal (4)          
Spain (8)      
Central Eastern Europe
Bulgaria (1)        
Estonia (1)  
Lithuania (2)    
Romania (1)  

A few observations on this initial mapping can be made, even though the sample of programmes is as yet fairly small. 

  • There is a remarkable range of thematic areas to be found across all regions. Alongside the specific areas of VET and HRD, the contextual areas of education (E-AE-LLL), business (B-HRM) and organisation/work (O-W), all of which including VET or HRD as programme units, are strongly represented. The variety of areas is particularly extensive in Western Europe, while the countries of Northern Europe seem to favour the contextual areas of education and organisation/work. The patterns of the two other European regions cannot as yet be identified.
  • The thematic range of masters programmes in individual countries is, no doubt, closely connected with the overall provision of  national study programmes, but it is also related to research activities at the institutions concerned. In particular the contextual setting, which the majority of programme themes share, corresponds to the profile of VET and HRD related research, as a parallel study has revealed (see thematic analysis in the VET&HRD Base).
  • The thematic focus of masters programmes on VET in Germany contrasts with that on HRD in the UK. The German emphasis on VET, also identified in the profile of VET/HRD related research (see parallel map), is rooted in in the tradition of vocational education in this country. In the UK, HRD is well established within university teaching and research, backed by the professional body CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development), while research institutions outside universities centre their activities on skills development (VET).
Top of the page