module specification

FE6003 - Economics of Human Resources (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
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
9 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
210 hours Guided independent study
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
In-Course Test 20%   1 hour In-Class Test
Coursework 40%   2000 words essay
Unseen Examination 40%   3-hours part seen, part unseen exam
Running in 2018/19
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Tuesday Morning

Module summary

This module enables students to acquire a systematic knowledge and understanding of economics of human resources, labour markets, current issues, policies and available evidence.

It develops the ability to think independently about labour market issues, drawing on the models and tools developed and apply economic principles and analysis in a variety of contexts in labour markets, business and government.

It examines a wide range of human resource and labour market challenges such as gender differences in labour force supply and participation, the development of human capital, the graduate labour market, differential pay rates including the gender pay gap, different types of discrimination, labour mobility and migration, the role of trade unions and unemployment. It addresses economic issues specific to organisations such as worker recruitment, training, motivation, retention, compensation payment systems and performance bonuses. Furthermore, it instils an appreciation of the economic dimension of wider social, political, national and international human resource issues.

It explores how models and empirical analysis can be applied to evaluate labour market policies, such as the minimum wage, welfare programmes, and immigration restrictions.

Internationalisation of labour markets is addressed by examining and comparing labour markets in UK, US and EU and focussing on certain issues such as differences in labour supply, gender gap, discrimination, migration, trade unions, graduate labour market, pay and reward.

Examination of discrimination, migration, gender and ethnic pay gaps enables students to develop a much deeper understanding of equality issues in labour markets.
In this module, equality is promoted by treating everyone with equal dignity and worth, while also raising aspirations and supporting achievement for those students with diverse requirements, entitlements and backgrounds

Students are encouraged to reflect and draw on their diverse socio-cultural
backgrounds and experiences.

A range of transferrable and subject specific skills are developed, in particular: self- assessment and reflection; peer assessment; written and oral communication; subject research; review and evaluation of available literature and evidence; data and quantitative analysis; critical thinking; thinking independently; abstraction and problem solving.

Prior learning requirements

EF5005 Microeconomics or equivalent


Introduction: an overview of labour markets. LO1

Labour supply: use models of individuals and households and empirical evidence from the UK and US, examine the determinants of labour force participation and the impact of work incentives, recent evidence on employment and unemployment in the UK and US. LO1

Female labour force participation and supply:  factors influencing it, recent evidence to from the UK and US. LO2

Labour demand: considering the level and composition of demand for labour by firms and the link with productivity. LO1

Labour market: analysis of impact of minimum wage, taxes, different welfare benefits and external shocks on the labour market in terms of wages and employment, with reference to examples from the UK and US labour markets. LO3

Human capital: assessment of the effects of education and training on earnings and labour market outcomes, graduate labour market and recent empirical evidence in the UK and US. LO2

Labour migration: examination of recent trends in the UK and US, analysis of impact on native labour market in terms of employment and pay, evaluation of economic costs and benefits to individuals, firms, and the economy. LO2

Labour market discrimination: examination of different types of discrimination, analysis of recent empirical evidence on gender and race discrimination in the UK, EU and US, measurement in terms of pay differences and occupational segregation, and the effectiveness of anti-discrimination legislation with reference to the UK and US. LO2

Personnel economics: examination of different labour market contracts and compensation methods, worker motivation and effort, cooperation and competition, promotion, worker compensation including bonuses, and analysis of recent empirical evidence in the UK and US. LO3

Wage distribution: analysis of wage and income inequality including across generations, skill-biased technological change, globalisation, the role of trade unions and the State. LO3

Trade unions: analysis of recent trends in trade union membership, composition and power in the UK and US, impact on labour market outcomes including pay, strike action and economic performance. LO3

Unemployment: measurement, theory, evidence, and policy discussion, analysis of recent trend in unemployment in the UK. LO3

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Students’ learning is organised around formal direct contact time with the teaching team, and reflective independent learning. Student formal contact time is normally 3 hours per week. Lectures are typically 2 hours and deliver core subject knowledge in labour market economics. During the 1 hour seminar, the emphasis is on student learning through participation, solving economic problems, presentation of journal articles and formative feedback.

Students are expected to complement the 'formal' learning activity with further reading of the material suggested in the teaching sessions, solving business problems using economic analysis; conducting research; writing, planning and preparing for individual presentations of journal articles and coursework; and the final exam.

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, presentations, 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. Students are required to engage with research published in high level academic journals and research institutes to present journal articles and participate in class discussions and prepare for coursework.

Professional and transferable skills are developed in lectures and seminars, and through independent directed learning and assessment. Skills development is enhanced through working cooperatively solving economic problems, discussion of journal articles. Individual presentations of journal articles will review and discuss: labour market issues and problems faced by organisations, government policy interventions, and distributional and ethical issues.
Initiative and independence 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) where module handbook, lecture slides, seminar questions, coursework brief, assessment and grading criteria, past exam papers, guideline answers to past exam papers, journal articles, research report and other relevant learning materials will be provided. Links to other online resources, government data bases and videos are also available on Weblearn.

Learning outcomes

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

1. Evaluate labour market and human resources economics covering theory and application with regards to factors influencing labour supply and demand.

2. Critically explain, marshal evidence and assimilate, analyse and evaluate qualitative and quantitative data to understand and critically evaluate a wide range of human resource and labour market issues with reference to gender differences in labour force participation and supply, gender pay gap, human capital, graduate labour market, discrimination, and labour migration.

3. Critically appraise theories, issues, problems and policies in economics of human resources and apply economic reasoning in a critical manner to areas such as trade unions; personnel economics; wage distribution and inequality; unemployment; and impact of minimum wage, taxes, benefits and external shocks on equilibrium wage and employment in the labour market.

Assessment strategy

The formative and summative assessments and feedback practices are informed by reflection, consideration of professional practice, and subject-specific knowledge and educational scholarship

There is a formative peer assessment in week 4 which supports students in developing for summative assessment, In Class Test. It stimulates students to reflect on their own learning and provide peer feedback.

Students are also encouraged to carry out an individual presentation on a journal article during seminars and receive formative feedback. This presentation may be on the topic of their chosen essay and enables them to reflect on their learning in preparation for their coursework.

There are three types of summative assessment consisting of one In Class Test in week 9 covering learning outcome 1, individual coursework (2000 words essay) in week 19 assessing learning outcome 2, and a three-hours part seen, part unseen final exam assessing learning outcome 3.

Through the summative assessments, students are provided with opportunities to develop an understanding of, and the necessary skills to demonstrate, good academic practice.

The in-class test is one hour long and through a range of short and multiple choice questions assesses students’ broad knowledge and understanding of labour market and human resources economics covering theory and application with regards to factors influencing labour supply and demand.
Written, problem solving, quantitative, analytical and reflection skills are developed and assessed.

The coursework is an independent piece of work requiring the application of knowledge gained on the module. A feed-forward strategy is used to provide early feedback to students to improve their final submission. Use of the feed-forward strategy and class discussion of a detailed grading and assessment criteria create an opportunity for dialogue between students and staff and promotes shared understanding of the basis on which academic judgements are made. The coursework is submitted in week 19 to allow students to receive a timely, constructive and developmental feedback.

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. Subject research, written communication; data and quantitative analysis; review and evaluation of available literature and evidence; critical thinking; abstraction and problem solving skills are assessed

During the 3-hour examination, students are required to write answers to essay type questions addressing the underlying principles or issues of the subject matter and/or provide solutions to technical questions. In the previously seen section students will write up previously prepared answers to questions based on a journal article.

Revision activities and sessions are provided before in-class test and final exam to support students learning in preparing for these time constrained assessments. This should boost students’ confidence and improve their performance.

All the information about the processes of marking and moderating marks, the timing of assessments and deadlines for feedback provision are clearly provided in the module booklet and communicated to students through Weblearn as well.1 hour In-Class Test


Core Textbook:

1. Borjas, G. (2016). Labour economics, 7th Ed., New York, McGraw-Hill. 
    Aldgate 331 BOR

2. Ehrenberg, R.G. and Smith, R.S. (2017). Modern labour economics: theory and
    public policy,13th Ed., Abingdon, Oxon, Routledge.
This is an E-book. Earlier editions are available as hard copies in Aldgate 331 EHR

Additional Textbooks and Reading:

3. Smith, S. (2003). Labour economics, 2nd Ed., London: Routledge. This is an E-Book.
    Hard copies are available at Aldgate 331 SMI
4. McConnel, C.R., Brue, S.L. and Macpherson, D. (2016). Contemporary Labour
    Economics, 11th Ed., Dubuque, Iowa, McGraw. Hill Education. Aldgate 331 MCC
5. Boeri, Tito and Jan Van Ours (2013). The economics of imperfect labour market, 2nd
    ed., Princeton, Princeton University Press.  This is an E-book. Hard copies of earlier
    edition available at Aldgate 331.12 BOE
6. Lazear, E. P. (2007). Personnel Economics for Managers, 2nd Edition, Pearson
    Education, Ch.6, 7.  Earlier editions are available at Aldgate 658.3 LAZ
7. 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.
8. Orrenius, P. and Zavodny, M. (2007) ‘Does immigration affect wages? A look at
    occupation-level evidence’, Labour Economics, 14 (5): 757-773.
9. Harper, B. (2000). ‘Beauty, stature and the labour market: A British cohort study’,
    Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, vol. 62, pp. 771-800.
10. 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.

More Advanced Textbooks:

11. Layard, R., Nickell, S. and Jackman, R. (2005). Unemployment. Macroeconomic
      Performance and the Labour Market, 2nd Ed., Oxford, Oxford University Press.
      Aldgate 331.137 LAY