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Unit information: Workers, Unions and Collective Labour Rights in 2021/22

Unit name Workers, Unions and Collective Labour Rights
Unit code LAWDM0149
Credit points 30
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Novitz
Open unit status Not open




School/department University of Bristol Law School
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will enable students to examine various aspects of collective labour law, with reference to social and democratic theory, regulatory design, and the wider social and economic context. The focus will be on UK law, with additional reference to international and European labour standards. Where appropriate comparative studies from other common law countries will also be discussed, as will recent developments in continental Europe. Students will have the opportunity to analyse freedom of association, its relevance as a human (and constitutional) right and its implications for democracy and equality. They will consider different forms of worker voice and collective organisation, including social movement unionism. We will explore scope for trade union representation, with reference to current provision for access to the workplace and statutory recognition procedures, alongside tendencies to privilege non-independent and non-representative trade unions. We will consider trade unions’ relationships with their members and regulation through the Certification Officer, including restrictions on the use of political fund. Access to information and consultation arising under European Union law will further be investigated. Opportunities for collective bargaining and enforcement of agreements reached (at workplace, enterprise and sectoral levels) will be investigated, alongside the statutory bodies established for their oversight: the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) and the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC). Controversy regarding the status of the right to strike under international, European and domestic law will be considered, alongside UK restrictions on industrial action, including picketing. The scope for transnational organisation and trade union activity will also be examined.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit learners that engage with this unit will be able to:

  1. identify and critically assess various normative underpinnings of collective labour law;
  2. appreciate the relevance of international and European human rights and other instruments relevant to collective labour law;
  3. analyse the relevance of social movement unionism and engage critically with contemporary sociological literature;
  4. understand and evaluate the workings of UK statutory institutions and legislative provisions relating to worker voice and their implications nationally and transnationally.

Teaching Information

Teaching will be delivered through a variety of asynchronous and synchronous activities

Assessment Information

2 x summative assessments: 2x coursework with a specified word count (50% each)

The assessment will assess all of the intended learning outcomes for this unit.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. LAWDM0149).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.