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University of Exeter Business School

Digital Technologies and the Future of Work

Module titleDigital Technologies and the Future of Work
Module codeBEM2034
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Dr Lisa Harris (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


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 your 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 two 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.

Note: Students based in Penryn study this module under the code BEP2120, but access the same learning opportunities and ELE pages as those on BEM2034.

Module aims - intentions of the module

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. You’ll experience learning in an online environment, which will prepare you for modes of working that are becoming increasingly common.


Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 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

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

  • 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

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

  • 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.

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. Then, each week you will work through resources and activities relating to key topic areas on the module’s ELE pages, including:

Smart Cities

Digital Communication

The Sharing and Circular Economies

Ethical Digital Disruption

Emerging Business Models

Digital Transformation

Entrepreneurial Business Opportunities

What does the future hold?

 There will be peer-to-peer and tutor-led sessions during the module where you will work collaboratively to consolidate your progress and prepare for the assessments. These will supplement weekly interactions via online forums, with your discussion contributions forming part of the final portfolio assessment to evidence your regular engagement.


As described in the Learning and Teaching Section, this module is taught online to mirror future digital workplaces. You will have access to on-campus spaces to meet with your study groups (formed at the start of the module) and/or to use as a convenient place to join online classes. You will be expected to engage fully with the module activities and resources on a weekly basis, with evidence of this engagement forming part of the final portfolio assessment.

Each week you will be provided with some set readings and other resources, and asked to seek out other material (in particular recent examples of digital initiatives to prompt further discussion on the topic). You will be expected to share your sources and ideas in an online social learning environment.

 You will also be expected to develop your personal communication skills and digital literacies, and to provide evidence of how these have improved as a result of engaging with social learning in this module.

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 portfolio74Preparation through reading and writing/collation of portfolio content.
Synchronous Activities6Participating in real time peer collaboration sessions

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Online interactionsVarious1-8Online (from peers and tutors)
Poster draftThroughout class contact and individual peer-to-peer meetings1-8Verbal (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
Portfolio1001000-word reflection, 1000-word opinion piece, Screen shots of weekly forum contributions (2 per week), One-page poster1-8Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PortfolioPortfolio as above (different opinion piece title)1-8August

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

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

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

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

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

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

ELE - 

Key words search

Work, Technology, 4th Industrial Revolution

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date