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Unit information: Work in Capitalist Society: Change and Continuity in 2021/22

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Work in Capitalist Society: Change and Continuity
Unit code EFIMM0133
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Harry Pitts
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Management
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

This unit seeks to understand, evaluate, critique and address the conditions and consequences of work and human resource management in capitalist society in the twenty-first century using the theoretical and analytical tools of political economy. Emphasising continuities as well as changes, this unit explores the social relations underpinning contemporary and future work, the commodification of labour, and the institutions and organisations that govern and regulate the challenges and contradictions of work. The unit places work in its social, political and economic context, interrogating and critiquing how (human resource) managers, academics, policymakers and numerous other actors value, measure, promote and conceptualise the present and future world of work, and how organisations, institutions, laws and norms inform the development of new and alternative ways of doing and organising work.

The overall aims of this unit are to:

  1. Develop students’ knowledge of the political economy of work and its critique
  2. Develop students’ intellectual abilities e.g. their proficiency in problem-solving, analysis, synthesising and evaluating contemporary challenges and opportunities of work and its futures.
  3. Develop students’ skills in how to apply and develop theory to empirical phenomena and how to argue and deliberate between better and worse conceptual frameworks
  4. Develop students’ personal effectiveness and wellbeing e.g. integrity, enthusiasm, responsibility and ability to self-reflect and think critically on their own role and capacity to act within a rapidly changing world of work.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of contemporary ideas in the political economy of work and its critique
  2. Examine and distinguish pertinent issues and challenges in the character, contexts and changing face of work in capitalist society, including measures of the value of work, automation, the role of socially reproductive labour and care work in the contemporary economy, the rise and fall of the welfare state, the politics of work in an age of populism, and the proposal of alternatives to the present practice and experience of work in and beyond capitalism.
  3. Evaluate and debate the opportunities and challenges posed by a changing world of work in the context of continuities in how work is organised, valued and governed in capitalist society.
  4. Propose and apply appropriate theoretical knowledge and critical understanding for the purposes of improving policy, practice and philosophies of work in and beyond capitalist society.
  5. Communicate ideas, analyses, results, conclusions associated with the political economy of work to a range of specific audiences and demonstrate the capacity to reflect and adapt and engage in future thinking.

Teaching Information

A series of lectorials (3 hours/week) will be provided. The unit structure offers 30 contact hours in total. The remaining 170 learning hours will be spent in independent study and in the preparation of assessment.

All lectorials will be delivered and facilitated by the Unit Director.

Assessment Information

Indicative Assessment Details:

Summative: (100% of overall unit mark) 1 x 3,500 word individual assignment. Working with the Unit Director to identify suitable topics, students will apply theoretical tools from the unit to real-world phenomena relating to the political economy of work in the twenty-first century, in order to explore the key debates during the unit.

Intended Learning Outcomes: 1-5


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. EFIMM0133).

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.