Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

3 hours per week for twelve weeks or equivalent.

Unit rationale, description and aim

The area of labour economics has long been recognised as an important area of study, but the content and subject matter have changed significantly with the rise of the Gig Economy. This unit provides students with key knowledge and skills required to examine the economic theories related to the behaviour of labour market participants, their access to health and education and the nexus between labour market theories and Australia's industrial relations system. This unit will introduce students to the forces determining wages, employment and working conditions, with particular reference to the recent trends in the Australian economy. The aim of this unit is to develop critical approaches to evaluating traditional labour market theory and how it is affected by institutions, the global economy and changes in relevant legislation.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify and explain the key factors influencing the labour market and how these can be applied Australia (GA5);

LO2 - Analyse the nature of the employment relationship in Australia and the ways in which the parties seek to control and administer the employment relationship (GA4);

LO3 - Evaluate the costs and benefits of different industrial relations policies and their implications for the Australian economy (GA5, GA6);

LO4 - Apply labour market theory to predict the effects of changes in conditions and policies on an economy (GA8, GA10).

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include: 

  • The nature of Australia's labour market and industrial relations system;  
  • The demand for labour;  
  • The labour supply; 
  • Internal labour markets; 
  • The role of trade unions; 
  • The role of employer organisations; 
  • The role of industrial institutions in the labour market; 
  • Discrimination in the labour market;  
  • The changing nature of the employment relationship; 
  • Trends in employment and unemployment; 
  • Conflict and co-operation in the workplace;  
  • Wage determination in Australia;  
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and refugees in Australia – participation in the labour markets, trends in employment, and discrimination; 
  • Child and slave labour; 
  • Issues in modern industrial relations - equity/justice.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Mode: Attendance or Multimode 

This unit embraces a constructivist approach to learning where students are encouraged to acquire, assimilate and apply economic terms and concepts to real world issues. This unit embraces elements of inquiry-based learning by incorporating carefully designed research assignment questions in the tutorials. Here students will examine the main issues involved in Australia’s labour market.  

Students will engage in different activities including visual, aural, reading and hands-on activities in order to capture the greater picture of Australia’s industrial relations system. The unit will incorporate a variety of teaching approaches as well as carefully designed materials to enhance both student interaction and accommodate for different learning styles. 

In attendance mode: Lectures will provide relevant economic theory and content and tutorials will provide opportunities for students to work through a range of scaffolded activities and provide feedback on fellow student’s presentations.  

In multimode offerings: pre-recorded or streamed lectures will provide content and theory. Tutorials will be offered by webinar or face-to-face and will provide opportunities for students to work through a range of scaffolded activities and provide feedback on fellow student’s presentations.  

This is a 10-credit point unit and has been designed to ensure that the time needed to complete the required volume of learning to the requisite standard is approximately 150 hours in total across the semester. To achieve a passing standard in this unit, students will find it helpful to engage in the full range of learning activities and assessments utilised in this unit, as described in the learning and teaching strategy and the assessment strategy. The learning and teaching and assessment strategies include a range of approaches to support your learning such as reading, reflection, discussion, webinars, podcasts, video etc.

Assessment strategy and rationale

Mode: Attendance or multimode 

The assessment items have been particularly designed to cover a variety of tasks, support discipline standards, and enable a differentiation of levels of achievement. This assessment is designed for an attendance mode or multimode offering.  

1. Skills development task 

It is considered by many employers that graduates who have studied labour economics will be confident in analysing relevant economic theories. Graduates in economics are required to have excellent data and analytical skills and are often expected to engage in reflective practice. Therefore, this type of assessment has been chosen to effectively measure the learning outcomes LO1-LO2 and focuses on requiring students to demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession.  

2. Research assignment 

The research assignment has been chosen to effectively measure the learning outcomes LO3-LO4. Through the research on a particular labour economics topic, students will also develop their ability to locate, organize, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information related to Labour Economics. Students will also develop the capacity to interpret, translate, apply, critique and evaluate information and present it in oral and written forms. 

3. Final exam  

This type of assessment has been chosen to effectively measure the learning outcomes LO1-LO4 and focuses on application of student’s analytical and critical thinking skills to the fundamental theoretical content and concepts developed in the unit. This assessment offers the assurance that the work belongs to the student. The other main advantage of this assessment is that it provides assurance that students have attained the knowledge, skills, and depositions tested in the exam.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Skills Development Task  

This task requires students to demonstrate knowledge, data and analytical skills related to Labour Economics in a tutorial-based setting.


LO1, LO2

GA4, GA5

Research Assignment  

The main purpose of this research assignment is the collection and the evaluation of data, particular labour market outcomes and labour market policies in Australia and overseas. The student will engage in comprehensive research on a Labour Economics topic and present their findings in written and oral form. The list of topics will be posted on LEO.


LO3. LO4

GA5, GA6, GA8, GA10

Final Exam 

The final examination will test students’ capacity to evaluate content and apply skills related to traditional labour market theory and how it is affected by institutions, the global economy and changes in relevant legislation.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA10

Representative texts and references

Borjas, G. (2016), Labour Economics. 7th Edition. McGraw Hill, New York. 

Bray, M. et al. (2014), Employment Relations: Theory and Practice. 3rd Edition. McGraw Hill, Sydney. 

Cahuc, P. Carcillo, S. and Zylberberg, A. (2014) Labour Economics. London, MIT Press 

Ehrenberg, R. and Smith, R. (2017), Modern Labor Economics: Theory and Public Policy. 13th Edition. Routledge.  

Hubbard, G., Garnett, A.M., Lewis, P., and O’Brien, P. (2018). Essentials of Economics, 7th Edition, Pearson Education, Sydney . 

Junankar, P.N. (2015), Economics of the Labour Market. Palgrave MacMillan, London.   

McConnell, C. et al. (2016), Contemporary Labor Economics, 11th Edition McGraw Hill, Boston. 

Sloane, P. Latreille, P. O’Leary, N. (2013). Modern Labour Economics. Oxfordshire, Routledge.

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