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Future Worlds of Work - SPY00038I

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Enrico Reuter
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

How we work is subject to profound changes, due to technological developments, economic pressures, social change, and policy decisions. These changes affect people differently – they can enhance the quality of work, but they can also make working conditions more precarious and problematic.

This module explores key trends in work, and the multiple factors driving change, as well as the social and public policy responses that seek to shape the future worlds of work. We explore the relevance of work both for economies and for individuals and their place in society; analyse major changes and trends in the nature of work and their impact on employment conditions; and we critically evaluate how policy responds as well as contributes to these changes.

Using a problem-centred approach, you will gain the analytical skills to analyse a wide range of work-related issues, drawing on relevant theoretical concepts and data sources that help to shed light on contemporary work and on likely future trends. Moreover, you will assess how policy shapes working conditions and labour markets, and will hence be able to unpack the complex interplay between the economic, political, social and technological factors that define the different worlds of work we inhabit.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students should be able to:

  • Discuss the key economic, political, social and technological factors that structure labour markets and different forms of contemporary work

  • Identify current challenges regarding working conditions and assess their relevance for individual well-being and social citizenship

  • Discuss and appraise the contributions of different theoretical perspectives regarding the changing nature of work and employment conditions

  • Develop a critical appreciation of a range of data sources on labour markets and working conditions

  • Analyse the priorities, objectives, rationales and consequences of employment and labour market policies in the UK, and to draw comparisons with other European countries

  • Unpack the interplay between employment and labour market policies, the wider social protection system as well as the structural context of contemporary worlds of work

  • Engage with and contribute to debates on the 'future of work


Task Length % of module mark
Essay : Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay : Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback and marks are returned to students within the university marking period.

Feedback on the summative assessment will consist of written comments and a marking matrix that indicates where the assessed paper sits with respect to the marking criteria. Students can seek further guidance during the drop-in office hours.

Feedback on the seminar and workshop tasks is given verbally during the teaching sessions.

Indicative reading

  • Bröckling, U., 2016, The entrepreneurial self, London: Sage.

  • Chung, H, 2022, The Flexibility Paradox, Why Flexible Working Leads to (Self)Exploitation, Bristol: Policy Press.

  • Edgell, S., Gottfried, H. and Granter, E. (eds), 2016, The Sage Handbook of the Sociology of Work and Employment, London: Sage.

  • Greer, I., 2016, ‘Welfare reform, precarity and the re-commodification of labour’, Work, Employment and Society, 30(1), 162-173.

  • James, A, 2022, ‘Women in the gig economy: feminising ‘digital labour’, Work in the Global Economy, 2(1), 2-26.

  • Jones, P., 2021, Work Without the Worker, Labour in the Age of Platform Capitalism, London: Verso Books.

  • Nizami, N. and Prasad, N, 2019, Decent Work: Concept, Theory and Measurement, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Pettiger, L., 2019, What’s wrong with Work?, Bristol: Policy Press.

  • Simms, M., 2019, What do we know and what should we do about the future of work?, London: Sage.

  • Standing, G., 2014, The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class, London: Bloomsbury.

  • Woodcock, J. and Graham. M. (2020). The Gig Economy, A Critical Introduction, Cambridge: Polity Press.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.