module specification

FE5057 - Labour Economics (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Labour Economics
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 150
9 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
105 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Individual Coursework2000 words
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Thursday Afternoon

Module summary

This module enables students to acquire a systematic knowledge and understanding of economic theories, applications, current issues, policies and empirical evidence in relation to the labour market.

It develops the ability to think independently about labour market issues and apply economic principles and analysis in a variety of contexts in the labour market.

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

It examines a wide range of labour market challenges such as gender differences in labour force supply and participation; gender and race pay gaps; discrimination; migration and the development of human capital. This enables students to develop a deeper understanding of equality issues in labour markets.

It instils an appreciation of the economic dimension of wider social, political, national and international human resources issues.

Equality is promoted by treating everyone with equal dignity and worth, while also raising aspirations and supporting achievement for students with diverse requirements, entitlements and backgrounds

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

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



Introduction: an overview of labour markets.

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

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

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


Labour market: analysis of impact of minimum wages, 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.


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

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

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.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Student 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 consisting of 2-hour lectures and 1-hour seminars. Lectures are interactive and deliver core subject knowledge, theory and analysis in labour market economics. Seminars are student centred and emphasise student learning through discussion, solving economic problems, presentation of journal articles and formative feedback.

Individual presentations of journal articles will enable students to review and discuss labour market issues and problems faced by organisations, government policy interventions, and distributional and ethical issues.

Students are expected to complement the 'formal' learning activity with independent reading, engaging with research published in academic journals, participating in class discussions, solving set problems and preparing 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 and discussion of journal articles.

The virtual learning environment platform (WebLearn) supports the relevant module learning and teaching materials such as lecture slides, seminar questions, coursework brief, assessment and grading criteria, feedback arrangements, module handbook, journal articles and links to online resources.

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 economics covering theory and application in regard to factors influencing demand for and supply of labour.
  2. Examine the impact of minimum wages, taxes, welfare benefits and external shocks on equilibrium wage and employment in the labour market.
  3. Examine, provide evidence and evaluate qualitative and quantitative data to understand and critically evaluate a wide range of labour market issues with reference to gender differences in labour force participation and supply, gender and racial pay gap, human capital, discrimination and labour migration.

Assessment strategy

Students are encouraged to carry out individual presentations on journal articles 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. Students receive formative feedback on their participation in class discussions and solving set problems during seminars.

The summative assessment is an individual 2000-word coursework assessing learning outcomes 1,2 and 3 and is due in week 10.

This coursework will assess: knowledge and understanding of labour market theories, issues and policies and application, and ability to use and evaluate qualitative and quantitative evidence.

Skills assessed are: subject research, written communication; data and quantitative analysis; review and evaluation of literature and evidence; critical thinking and problem solving.

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 promote shared understanding of the basis on which academic judgements are made.


Core Textbooks:

Borjas, G. (2020). Labour economics, 8th Ed., New York, McGraw-Hill. 
    [Hard copies available at Holloway Road 331 BOR]

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. Hard copies are available at Holloway Road 331 HER]

Additional Textbooks and Reading:

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 available at
    Holloway Road 331.12 BOE]

Harper, B. (2000). ‘Beauty, stature and the labour market: A British cohort study’,
    Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, vol. 62, pp. 771-800.

Lazear, E. P. (2007). Personnel Economics for Managers, 2nd Edition, Pearson
    Education, Ch.6, 7. [Hard copies are available at Holloway Road 658.3 LAZ]

McConnel, C.R., Brue, S.L. and Macpherson, D. (2016). Contemporary Labour
    Economics, 11th Ed., Dubuque, Iowa, McGraw. Hill Education. [Hard copies are 
   available at Holloway Road 331 MCC]

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.

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.

Orrenius, P. and Zavodny, M. (2007) ‘Does immigration affect wages? A look at
    occupation-level evidence’, Labour Economics, 14 (5): 757-773.

Smith, S. (2003). Labour economics, 2nd Ed., London: Routledge. [This is an E-Book.
    Hard copies are available at Holloway Road 331 SMI]

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.
      [Hard copies are available at Holloway Road 331.137 LAY]