The University of Southampton
Flexible Learning at Southampton

UOSM2000 Work and Employment in Theory and Practice - not running in 2016/17

Module Overview

This module aims to introduce you to a broad range of perspectives on work, working lives and work organizations with a particular emphasis on how these are affected by variables such as globalization, migration, technology and financial crisis. These impact on work and workplaces in terms of aspects such as the relationships between the life course, work and careers, the organization and communities of work, the formation of knowledge, innovation and expertise, forms of leadership and learning at work, and collective action and social movements.

Aims and Objectives

Part One: Introduction
Leonard, Fuller and Halford : Aims, focus and learning approaches, Introduction to key ideas and concepts
Davis and Davies: Young People's Working Lives: From Degree To Employment

Part Two: Global Change
Leonard: Globalization and Migration
Halford: Work Futures in the Digital Economy
Meyer: Economic Shocks and Work
Clarke J: Work in Precarious Times
Roth: Collective Action, Production and Consumption

Part Three: Workplace Change
Clarke N: Evolving Perspectives on Leadership: Leadership in Context
Fuller, Jones and Roberts: Workplace Learning
Sunley: Creative Services: Work and learning in design
Pinch: Work, Knowledge and Community: the example of ‘high-tech' industries.

Part four: Drop -in session to discuss employability issues and work placement

Learning outcomes
On completion of this unit you should be able to:
(i) identify a range of key factors affecting the global organization of work, working lives, careers and organizations and evaluate different theoretical and disciplinary approaches to understanding these
(ii) demonstrate how these factors may be applied to a range of issues affecting contemporary workplaces and industrial sectors and evaluate the extent of change.
(iii) identify the opportunities available and skills needed to be successful in job hunting
(iv) reflect on your own experiences of work in a theoretically-informed manner.


The module is in four parts. The first part introduces students to the aims and scope of the module, outlining the key issues and approaches to be explored. Students are also encouraged to think about how their own future working lives from the start and to reflect on how the issues covered in the module may impact on them as future employees, managers or entrepreneurs (social or otherwise). Session two will start to prepare students’ employability and the work placement component to be undertaken during the Easter vacation (or on a weekly basis if this is more suitable). The second part will examine some of the contemporary changes impacting on work, workplaces and organizational life through the themes of transitions into work, leadership and workplace learning. We will then explore these by taking the motor car industry as a case study. The third part focuses on some of the global and macro-level factors impacting on labour forces, work and workplaces with a focus on answering the big question of 'how and why is work changing’? The final session will be an overview of the module and groups will present their wikis.

Part One: Introduction

Session 1: Aims, focus and learning approaches, introduction to key ideas and concepts (Pauline Leonard, Alison Fuller and Susan Halford)
Session 2: Young People’s Working Lives: From Degree To Employment (Carol Davis and Rosalind Davies)

Part Two: Workplace Change

Session 3: Youth Transitions into Work: International Perspectives (Charlie Walker)
Session 4: Evolving Perspectives on Leadership: Leadership in Context: Nicholas Clarke, Edgar Meyer and Malcolm Higgs)
Session 5: Learning in the Workplace (Alison Fuller and Peter Jones)
Session 6: Work, Knowledge and Community: the example of ‘high-tech’ industries (Steve Pinch)
Session 7: Drop –in session to discuss employability issues, work placement and Assignment One (Carol Davis, Rosalind Davies and Pauline Leonard)

Part Three: Global Change

Session 8: Globalization, Transnationalism and Migration (Pauline Leonard)
Session 9: Economic Shocks and Work (Traute Meyer)
Session 10: Collective Action, Production and Consumption (Silke Roth)
Session 11: Work Futures in the Digital Economy (Susan Halford)
Session 12: Overview and Preparation for Assignment Two

A key aspect of the module is work experience. Students are encouraged to undertake a period of work experience which can either be a 1-2 week work placement conducted in the Easter vacation, or a few hours a week over the course of the module. The work experience can be either paid or unpaid. There will be an initial meeting held in November in which the work experience criteria are outlined and students will be introduced to members of staff who are assisting with this aspect of the module.

Learning and Teaching

Study time allocation

Contact hours:24
Private study hours:126
Total study time: 150 hours

Teaching and learning methods

This module will be taught by means of a series of 12 two hour sessions, supported by on-line mini lectures and resources. The sessions will vary in style, but will include guest lectures, student presentations, workshops, case studies, group work, discussions, debates and films. The handout indicates key readings and materials for each session. You will be expected to read as indicated in preparation for each session, as well as view the on-line materials.

Resources and reading list

1. A list of recommended readings and materials is given for each session in this module. In order to get the most out of this module, it is essential that you make use of these lists. Taught sessions should be regarded as introductions to each subject area, and not an exhaustive resource: the recommended reading will highlight the key texts on any given topic and will help you find your way into the topic and beyond. Advice on additional references on any of the topics covered in the module will happily be given.
2. Unless otherwise indicated, all references are included in the Hartley Library catalogue and are therefore assumed to be available for general loan.
3. Unless otherwise stated, all of the journal articles listed in this handout are accessible on-line. To access these journals, go to the library's home page, and follow the ‘TDNet: A-Z Journals' link to access an alphabetical listing of electronic journals available via the library.
4. The following books provides a useful introduction to some of the key concerns of the module, and will be used as the basis of some of the discussions:
Beck U (2000) The Brave New World of Work Cambridge, Polity
Boltanski L and Chiapello (2007) The New Spirit of Capitalism London, Verso
Doogan K (2009) New Capitalism? The Transformation of Work Cambridge, Polity
5. The Hartley Library subscribes to many relevant journals, including:
Work, Employment and Society; New Technology, Work and Employment; Information, Communication and Society; British Journal of Sociology of Education; Journal of Business Ethics; Environment and Planning A; Geoforum
These journals are all available online, and in some cases there are also hard copies in the Periodicals section of the Hartley Library.
6. Most broadsheet newspapers have supplements or sections on work (The Guardian for example has an extensive on-line archive) and often carry useful articles on current issues affecting work, workplaces, working lives and careers.
7. It is also worth keeping an eye on the television and radio schedules, as most of the main channels and stations regularly broadcast documentaries about contemporary educational issues. You are also encouraged to watch out for films and TV dramas based on issues affecting people's worklives: they can often provide useful illustrations of the themes we will be exploring in this module.

This unit has a regularly-maintained Blackboard website, which you are expected to consult on a regular basis. The course documentation section contains two sub-sections:

Session notes: access to downloadable versions of weekly mini-lectures, notes and other handouts;
Additional resources: links to useful web-based resources to supplement the formal materials listed for each lecture.

The assignments section reproduces the information included above on the coursework options for this unit.
The external links section contains additional links to a range of useful websites.


Assessment methods

Formal assessment of this unit is in two parts:

  • In the first piece of assessed coursework groups of students should produce 1500 words in the form of a Wiki considering the impact of globalization, new technologies and economic and political instabilities have impacted upon working lives and careers since the turn of the century.
  • The second piece of assessment will take the form of a reflective log conducted through the work placement period. This should draw on the theoretical frameworks, references and issues such as leadership introduced in the module to reflect and critically evaluate placement experiences. The log should focus in particular on organisational processes, practices, structure and culture.
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