Skip to main content

University of Exeter Business School

Labour Economics

Module titleLabour Economics
Module codeBEE3057
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Professor Sonia Oreffice (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The module examines the behaviour of workers and firms in modern economies. The first part of the module will introduce labour demand, labour supply, the labour market, and the human capital model, with appropriate applications. These will be followed by contemporary topics in the labour economics literature and the current economic policy agenda, and social debates: for instance, the effects of minimum wages, discrimination and labour market outcomes, what discrimination is and how to assess its extent, and gender disparities in the labour market, also due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The module contains both theoretical and empirical components and will include the interpretation of estimates from econometric analyses. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

-Provide students with the microeconomic tools needed to analyse a range of labour market issues and to critically examine workers’ and firms’ behaviour and the impact of related public policies, both from theoretical and empirical perspectives.

-Help students to understand contemporary issues in labour economics and public policy, and society overall.  

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Apply standard economic principles to the analysis of labour market behaviour
  • 2. Describe the main features of, and trends in, the UK labour market
  • 3. Interpret relevant labour market data and empirical findings

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Interpret relevant data and empirical findings
  • 5. Assess appropriate policy responses for different labour market and social problems

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Demonstrate awareness of the role of numerical evidence in Economics
  • 7. Demonstrate written communication skill

Syllabus plan

Indicative content includes:

  • Labour supply and demand
  • Labour market equilibrium and non-perfectly competitive firms
  • Education and training
  • Labour market discrimination and labour market outcomes
  • Labour mobility and immigration

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • Enhance skills in analytical and critical thinking, and in written and verbal presentation
  • Appreciate the complexities of decision making, weighing theory and practice

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
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching5Tutorials
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1Revision
Guided Independent Study122Independent Study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Tutorial QuestionsIn-class1-7In class feedback from tutor

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
In-class test3040 minutes1-7Individual Feedback
Final Exam701 hour 30 minutes1-7Indicative solutions on ELE

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
In-Class Test (30%)In-Class Test (30%) (40 minutes)1-7August re-assessment period
Final examination (70%)Final Examination (70%) (1 hour 30 minutes)1-7August re-assessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:


Essential Reading

Borjas, G. J. (2019), Labor Economics, 8th edition, McGraw-Hill.


Additional readings (excerpts of recent research articles, policy reports, and articles from The Economist) will be assigned. The exact references will be provided by the instructor.



Background Reading


Becker, G. (1998), Accounting for tastes

Becker, G. and Nashat Becker, G. (1998), The economics of life

Becker, G. (1992), “The economic way of looking at life”, Nobel Lecture.

Deaton, A. (2013), The great escape: health, wealth, and the origins of inequality

Dixit, A. and Nalebuff, B. (2008), The art of strategy

Dixit, A. and Nalebuff, B.  (1993), Thinking strategically

Fogel, R. (1995), Time on the cross

Hamermesh, D (2013), Beauty pays

Hamermesh, D (1996), Labor demand

Krugman, P. (2012), End this depression now

Krugman, P. (1999), The accidental theorist

Levitt, S. and Dubner, S. (2007), Freakonomics

Stiglitz, J. (2012), The price of inequality

Wilson, W. (1990), The truly disadvantaged

Zingales, L. (2012), A capitalism for the people

The Economist providing contextual articles and current examples.



Key words search

Labour Economics

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

BEE2025 and BEE2026

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date