module specification

EC6003 - Economics of Human Resources (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Economics of Human Resources
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Attendance Requirement 10%   Attendance and class contribution
Coursework 40%   One essay (2000 words) including group oral presentation
Unseen Examination 50%   Part seen part unseen exam (3 hours)
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Tuesday Afternoon

Module summary

This module develops student’s knowledge and understanding of work, labour markets, employment, and reward. It examines broad human resource and labour market issues such as differential pay rates, labour migration, unemployment and discrimination, as well as economic issues specific to individual organisations such as worker recruitment, training, motivation, retention, payment systems and performance bonuses.

Prior learning requirements

EC5006 Microeconomics or EC5001 Business Economics

Module aims

The module aims to provide students with:

  1. a systematic knowledge and understanding of human resource economics, including a critical awareness of current issues in the subject and the available evidence;
  2. an ability to apply economic principles and analysis in a variety of contexts including in business and government;
  3. a range of transferable and subject-specific skills that will be of value in employment and self-employment;
  4. an appreciation of the economic dimension of wider social, regional and political issues.

It also aims to develop students' skills, in particular: self assessment and reflection; literacy; academic study skills; subject research; data analysis; applied analysis; critical thinking; and problem solving.


Introduction – an overview of labour markets.
Labour Supply – using models of individuals and households and evidence to examine the determinants of labour force participation and the impact of work incentives.
Job Search – analysis of job search behaviour, vacancies, role and impact of employment intermediation, labour mobility.
Labour Demand – the level and composition of the demand for labour including by firms, the link with productivity and UK performance, historically and comparatively.
Labour Migration – economic analysis of costs and benefits to individuals, firms, and the economy.
Human Capital – examining the effects of education and training on earnings and labour market outcomes.
Personnel Economics - labour market contracts, worker motivation and effort, cooperation and competition, promotion, and worker compensation including bonuses.
Wage Distribution – analysis of wage and income inequality including across generations, skill-biased technological change, globalisation, the role of trade unions and the State.
Labour Market Discrimination – gender, race, measurement, and the effectiveness of anti-discrimination legislation.
Trade Unions – power and impact on labour market outcomes including pay and economic performance.
Flexibility – forms of labour market flexibility, trends, flexibility and EU labour markets.
Unemployment – measurement, theory, evidence, and policy discussion.
Globalisation - the impact of globalisation on labour markets, including labour markets in emerging economies.

Learning and teaching

Students’ learning is organised around direct contact time with the teaching team, and refective independent learning. The direct contact time takes place through lectures, seminars and group workshops. Students are expected to complement this 'formal' learning activity with further reading of the material suggested in the teaching sessions, solving realistic business problems using economic analysis, research, writing, planning and preparation for group presentations, class tests, and the final exam.

Student contact time will normally be 3 hours per week. Lectures will typically be around 1 hour duration and will deliver core subject knowledge in labour market economics. As this module emphasises the development of theory, policy and application a whole-group workshop of around 1 hour will provide examples of how to use economics to understand and analyse labour market problems. In the 1 hour seminar the emphasis is on student learning through participation, formative feedback and active learning.

The contact time with teaching teams will be organised around a range of learning activities including active learning to acquire knowledge and understanding, problem solving, problem based learning, presentations, analysis of case studies, group reading and analysis of research papers, discussion of policy issues and debate. Many activities require students to carry out independent work prior to meetings with lecturers. Increasingly through the module students are required to engage with research published in high level academic journals and research institutes.

Professional and transferable skills are developed in lectures and seminars, and through independent directed learning and assessment. Skills development is enhanced through problem solving and problem based learning practiced in seminars, working co-operatively in groups for assessmnets and group presentations. These presentations will review and discuss: labour market issues and problems faced by organisations, government policy interventions, and distributional and ethical issues.
Inititative and independance is developed progressively through the module such that students are required to take greater responsibility of their work.

The module makes extensive use of blended learning  through use of virtual learning environment platforms (WebLearn, Publisher E-resources) in which module lecture material, course handbooks, test questions, previous assessment with feedback, and other material is placed.  Other ICT resources include links to key web resources such as Government departments, and research institutes such as IZA and Centre for Economic Perfomance,

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate a broad knowledge and a systematic understanding of labour market and human resources economics covering theory, policy and application;
  2. explain how economic factors influence both advantage and disadvantage in the labour market, and appreciate the ethical issues that may arise;
  3. apply a range of specialist skills to the organizations in which they as specialists may operate, including the application of analytical or quantitative techniques;
  4. marshal evidence and assimilate, structure, analyse and evaluate qualitative and quantitative data to understand and critically evaluate policy issues in the subject;
  5. work effectively in groups and demonstrate team-working, planning, conflict resolution, communication, self-management, time-management, and self-presentation skills.

Assessment strategy

Coursework will be used through the module to develop students learning and understanding. Also students will periodically review the assessement of other students. The group presentation will enable students to further develop their ability to work effectively in groups, undertake team activity, plan and allocate functions, seek to resolve any conflict, communicate effectively, work under binding time constraints, and undertake a presentation. Students will individually and independently produce an essay from the titles offered. Students doing the same essay will be placed in groups of typically 4 in number and will, based on their individual essays and feedback, work as a group to prepare and give a group presentation.

The coursework and exam will assess the student’s: knowledge and understanding of labour market and human resource economics covering theory, issues, policy and application; ability to apply and to critically assess what they learn directly to organizations; ability to marshal evidence, both qualitative and quantitative, to understand and critically evaluate policy issues in the subject. The examination of 3 hours and will require students to write answers to questions addressing the underlying principles or issues of the subject matter or provide solutions to technical questions.

Attendance data is collected by lecturers and tutors which is added to Evision and this information will constitute the main element of the attendance/participation mark. However there will also be a reward for active and constructive class participation which is be assessed in discussion with the seminar group.


Borjas, G. (2010).  Labor Economics, 5th ed., McGraw-Hill.
Smith, S. (2003). Labour Economics, 2nd ed., London: Routledge. (E-Book)
Ehrenberg, R.G. and Smith, R.S. (2008). Modern labour Economics: Theory and Public Policy, 10th ed., Harper Collins.
Lazear, E. (1998). Personnel Economics for Managers, New York: J. Wiley and Sons.
Mumford, K.; and Smith, P. N. (2009). ‘What Determines the Part-Time and Gender Earnings Gaps in Britain: Evidence from the Workplace’. Oxford Economic Papers, Vol. 61, Supp/1, pp.I56-I75.
Orrenius, P. and Zavodny, M. (2007) ‘Does immigration affect wages? A look at occupation-level evidence’, Labour Economics, 14 (5): 757-773.
Harper, B. (2000). ‘Beauty, Stature and the Labour Market: A British Cohort Study’, Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, vol. 62, pp. 771-800.
Niederle, M. and Vesterlund, Lise. (2007). “Do women shy away from competition? Do men compete too much?”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Aug, pp 1067-1101.