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Unit information: Sustainable Work Futures in the Digital Economy in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Sustainable Work Futures in the Digital Economy
Unit code EFIMM0136
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Andrijasevic
Open unit status Not open
Units you must take before you take this one (pre-requisite units)


Units you must take alongside this one (co-requisite units)


Units you may not take alongside this one
School/department School of Management
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Unit Information

This unit focuses on the challenges and opportunities raised by two intertwined grand challenges – the rise of the digital economy and the greening of our economies – and their impact on Human Resource Management and the Future of Work. In a rapidly changing world, digital innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet platforms, algorithms, robotics, and Big Data are swiftly changing how we live and work and, in many cases, widening inequality and increasing precariousness. As these digital technologies continue to evolve at an exponential rate it is critical to understand their impact on contemporary and future work practices.

At the same time, work cannot be understood independently from the natural environment in which it takes place. Indeed, two major trends related to the natural environment – current and future environmental degradation on the one hand, and the push towards environmental sustainability on the other – will define the future of work. In short, these alternative work futures raise important questions. What new disruptive technologies are on the horizon? How will jobs change? What challenges will organisations and workers confront in the face of a climate crisis? What could the future of work look like and what could go wrong?

The overall aims of this unit are to:

  1. Understand and explain the impact of the rise of the digital economy and environmental sustainability/degradation for the future of work.
  2. Develop students’ intellectual abilities e.g. their proficiency in problem-solving, analysis, synthesising and evaluating contemporary challenges and opportunities of the digital economy in securing a sustainable work future for all.
  3. Develop students' skills and personal effectiveness to self-reflect and think critically on their own role and capacity to act and engage in future thinking on the climate crisis with integrity, enthusiasm and empathy.

Your learning on this unit

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

  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of contemporary research, practice and policy issues on sustainability and the digital economy and its impact on human resource management and the future of work;
  2. Appraise and evaluate the challenges and opportunities raised by the greening of our economies and increasing technological development on the world of work;
  3. Critically analyse and apply theoretical frameworks to areas such as technological development, gig work, circular economy and digital futures;
  4. Propose practical policy recommendations to ensure that digital innovation is ethical, socially responsible and inclusive;
  5. Communicate ideas associated with the sustainable work futures in the digital economy to a range of specific audiences.

How you will learn

The unit will be taught through lectorials. The unit structure offers 30 contact hours in total (10 x 3-hour lectorials). The remaining 170 learning hours will be spent in independent study and in the preparation of assessment. The lectorials will have the principal purpose of introducing the content of the course, providing students with an opportunity to test their understanding of the key concepts and developing their analytical skills through discussions based on key readings. A variety of teaching methods will be utilised in the lectorials, including discussions based on readings and student experiences; case study work involving analysis, problem-solving and decision-making; group and individual exercises; presentations, discussion, and debate. Lectorials will be structured around key weekly topics.

Lectorials will be team-taught by a range of academics in the school, with each week tailored to a particular ‘grand challenge’ associated with their research on work and human resource management.

How you will be assessed

Formative: 1 x 10 minute presentation of the focus of their summative assessment.

Summative: (40% of overall mark) 1 x 1,500-word in-tray exercise, in which students will be asked to look through a selection of documents, identifying relevant texts and information and synthesise these into a defined position (depending on the role assigned).

Intended learning outcomes: 1,2 and 5

Summative: (60% of overall mark) 1 x 2,000 individual word report to an international (intergovernmental or non-governmental) organisation of the student’s choice.

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. EFIMM0136).

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.