Digital Technologies and the Future of Work

Module description

How we work, and the nature of the work we do, is being re-imagined. New digital applications, the maturing of automation, and the emerging transformations facilitated by artificial intelligence, have all prompted innovations that impact on every area of our lives. This module focuses on the potential of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ to offer creative opportunities for the restructuring of employment practices, and will explore the factors that influence the impact of change at both macro and micro levels. 

In preparation for their own working lives, the module will also guide you in developing your own digital literacies. Via a social learning pedagogy, you will develop strategies to find and evaluate online sources of information both individually and collaboratively, and interrogate the ways in which you curate your digital lives and communicate with others within virtual environments. 

There are no pre-requisites for this module, and it’s open to students from outside the Business School, regardless of campus location.

The module was developed for online study 2 years before Covid19, when we were already highlighting the growing importance of digital communication and collaboration to career success in the contemporary workplace. Most of the teaching and learning takes place on our virtual learning environment, and you will be expected to make regular contributions via online discussions throughout the module.

Full module specification

Module title:Digital Technologies and the Future of Work
Module code:BEP2120
Module level:2
Academic year:2021/2
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Lisa Harris - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 1:


Module aims

This module challenges you to consider new technologies and their impact on industrial and commercial processes, reaching beyond the hyperbole to establish reasoned and informed views on the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. In parallel we aim to encourage you to articulate the implications for work, communication, and community. As the module is offered in a blended format, you’ll experience learning in an online environment, which will prepare you for modes of working that are becoming increasingly common.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. explain how, across different professions, geographical and virtual environments, technological innovation can facilitate changes in working practices.
  • 2. evaluate the extent to which technology can both help and hinder productivity and wellbeing in the workplace
  • 3. discuss how technological innovation may impact both positively and negatively upon certain sectors or groups of individuals.
  • 4. provide evidence of your own development in understanding how technology may impact on your own future career, and those of your peers.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. critically evaluate academic and other sources of information to reach objective conclusions.
  • 6. explain and evaluate the impact of technological advances across business and personal contexts.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. demonstrate an ability to develop and maintain an argument and persuade others of its validity.
  • 8. articulate an understanding of how communication modes in an online context require specific skills.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Online interactions and contact through Virtual Learning Environment16Engaging with the module cohort and educators online.
Reading and preparation for assessments54Background reading to support engagement
Production of portfolio and video/poster74Preparation through reading and writing/collation of portfolio content.
Synchronous activities6

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Online interactionsVarious1-8Online (from peers and tutors)
Plenary session discussionThroughout class contact1-8Verbal (from peers and tutors)

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Portfolio of written work- 1. Portfolio of written work based on a student’s own online contributions and reflections on those of others. Will also include an extended piece of writing on a specific topic (for example, exploring the potential impact of one of Schwab’s 23 ‘deep shifts’). 803000 words1-4 5, 6Written
Short video or poster202 minutes or 1 page1-3, 5,6Verbal and written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Portfolio of written workPortfolio of written work (80%)1-8August
Short video or posterShort video or poster (20%)1-3, 5, 6August

Syllabus plan

In the first teaching week the tutors will provide an overview of the topics to be covered, and explain the learning and assessment approach. This session will include activities to build cohort identity and understanding, setting the tone and ground rules for online interactions throughout the term. Embracing the principle of working alongside students in the co-creation of knowledge, we will also use this week to make choices about areas to focus on during the module.

The module begins with participation in our FutureLearn MOOC “Building your Career in Tomorrow’s Workplace” alongside learners from all over the world.  This introductory course focuses on the macro-level changes in society and technologies which are profoundly impacting on our professional lives.  There will be workshop sessions during the module where you will work collaboratively to consolidate your progress and prepare for the assessments.  This will involve online interactions and opportunities to seek guidance from each other and the tutors in bringing evidence of your learning together into a portfolio for assessment.

You will explore a range of topics, for example:

  • The realities beneath buzzwords such “4th Industrial Revolution and “digital transformation”
  • Employment, Automation and AI
  • Job for life? Fragmentation and the gig economy
  • Society, Community and Connectivity

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Fry, H. (2018) Hello World: how to be human in the age of the machine, London: Penguin 

Gowing, N. and Langdon, C. (2018) Thinking the Unthinkable: A new imperative for leadership in the digital age, John Catt Educational Limited

Hughes, C. (2018) Fair Shot: rethinking inequality and how we earn, Bloomsbury

Keen, A. (2018) How to Fix the Future: Staying Human in the Digital Age, New York: Atlantic Books

Pein, C. (2018). Live work work work die a journey into the savage heart of Silicon Valley. Melbourne; London: Scribe.

Schwab, K. (2017). The fourth industrial revolution. Portfolio Penguin, London

Standage, T. (2013) Writing on the Wall: Social media – the first 2000 years, London: Bloomsbury

Stockwood, J. (2018) Reboot: A Blueprint for Happy, Human Business in the Digital Age, Virgin

Zuboff, S. (2019) The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, Profile books

Schwab, K. (2017). The fourth industrial revolution. Portfolio Penguin, London.

Module has an active ELE page?


Origin date


Last revision date