Module code: SOC2097

Module Overview

Work is important for individuals, for identity and survival, and for society, for stability and productiveness. This module focuses on the changing role of work, what impacts how it is experienced, and how theoretical approaches both inform and are informed by the study of working life. Students will explore the concept of work and its representation through different media, including film, music, fiction, art, photography, and virtual, augmented and mixed realities. The module offers a global perspective at its core, appreciating the importance of rooted historical accounts and diversity of cultural experience, but recognising the interconnectivity of issues of work and employment (as well as the lack of it) in the global economy. Students will also consider the future of work, its sustainability and connect this to employability, equipping students to evaluate their own work experience, resilience and career aspirations from a sociological perspective.

Module provider


Module Leader

TIMMS Jill (Sociology)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 106

Lecture Hours: 11

Seminar Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative key content themes include:


  • Meaning and varieties of work in global labour markets

  • Power, control and resistance in the workplace

  • Inequalities, flexploitation and digitization of work

  • Sustainability, the future of work and your employment


Indicative weekly themes which may be amended for each year of study, include:


  • What work is and why it is important

  • Varieties of work and employment relationships

  • Inequalities and divisions in global labour markets

  • Production and consumption: Uneven industrialisation, digitisation and beyond

  • Flexibility or flexploitation: The organisation of work in global capitalism

  • Representation or advocacy: The organisation of workers in global capitalism

  • Power and control in the workplace, compliance and commitment

  • Emotional work and employee engagement

  • The impacts of work and its sustainability

  • Resistance, regulation and responsible work

  • The future of work and your employment

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Individual Recorded Presentation 40
Coursework Case Study Essay 60

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to allow students to demonstrate that they have met the learning outcomes through critical engagement with a wide range of scholarly material.


The summative assessment for this module consists of:


Assessment 1 - Course work in form of a recorded online individual presentation (addresses LO1, LO2 and LO3). This is designed to draw on the digital capabilities of students, using online sources, employment skills tools and analysis of representations of work focused on key themes of changing experiences of work.  


Assessment 2 - Individual essay drawing on a company or industry case study (addresses LO2, LO3 and LO4). The emphasis here is on the global context of work and linking this to the student’s own employability plans, as well as theoretical approaches to understanding work.



Formative assessment and feedback:


Feedback in class on regular student inputs


Written feedback on individual assignment for assessment one will shape the preparation of the second and cohort feedback from the overall findings of the assessment will be offered in class and on SurreyLearn to all to further support preparation for the final assessment.

Module aims

  • Develop an understanding of the changing role of work in the global economy and the key drivers that impacts how it is experienced
  • Demonstrate awareness of how theoretical approaches can inform our understanding of how central work is to society, how it is organised and what the future of work could be
  • Encourage students to critically evaluate their own work experiences and graduate employment aspirations using a sociological lens

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 To be aware of and able to critically analyse key debates within the academic study of work and employment KCT
002 To demonstrate knowledge of how different theoretical approaches help to shape questions around work and its future sustainability KCT
003 To understand the challenges and complexities of researching work in a global context and to appreciate the multiple methods used to do so KT
004 To strengthen awareness of how theories of economic life connect to personal experiences of work and employability KPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:


Develop the knowledge, skills and capabilities of students through interactive sessions and by drawing not only on their own work experience, but also career aspirations.


A key feature will be a case study approach. Key concepts, theories, themes, and sociological approaches to understanding work will be clearly set out in lectures and different approaches and relevant research selected in readings. Seminars will then allow these to be explored and facilitate the student’s own reflections on how these connect to their experiences, resourcefulness and employability. Cases utilised will be from diverse cultural contexts including particular companies, industries, professions, events and worker resistance, historic and contemporary, to enable students an appreciation of how cultural factors can impact experiences of work.


The module also lends itself to exploit current affairs, to host contributions from guest speakers virtually or in-person, to the use of the FASS Mobile Mixed Reality Hub for experiencing potential future of work scenarios (which also facilitates resilience in use of new technologies), and to a class visit. Consideration of the UN SDGs, particularly in relation to human rights and sustainability, as well as the future of work will be built in. This is designed to enable students to actively reflect on how their learning about work and their own employment potential is impacted by ongoing global challenged such as climate crisis.

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: SOC2097

Other information

The School of Sociology is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas:

Employability – This is a module on work and employment, so all the learning objectives are relevant to a focus on employability. In relation to the course content, this includes considering the challenges and opportunities for employability of different societal groups as well as the impact of culture and place. Built into the weekly sessions as well as Assessment 2, is the requirement for students to reflect on their own work experiences and aspirations, and to engage with the career service. For example, we consider the changing skills needs of jobs and explore job adverts as well as recruitment methods. The resources of the careers service are highlighted and students have the opportunity to ‘virtually’ visit a number of workplaces in our practical session using mixed reality technology. The final assignment also requires a case study of an industry or organisation the student is considering pursuing post-graduation, so equipping students to view their own employability aspirations through a sociological lens.

Digital Capabilities – A key theme of this module is the digitalisation of work, considering the impact that technological advancement has had on different work places, the ones students hope to work in and how this may change in the future. There are also a number of practical activities built in to develop the skills students will need to navigate and capitalise on digital opportunities. The first assignment requires students to individually design, perform and upload an online presentation. This is supported by resources from the Digital Learning Team and where possible a live class presentation, to encourage student to explore the range of online platforms available and to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Then in the later part of the module, students benefit from the experience of the FASS Mixed Reality Mobile Hub. This hand-on session increases technological capabilities and allows students to ‘visit’ usually inaccessible workplaces, as well as providing an experience of what the ‘future of work’ might look and feel like – with the opportunity to critique what this might mean for future equality, power relations and their own career decisions.     

Global and Cultural Capabilities – At the core of this module is the global context of work and employment, taking our learning beyond understandings of work in one particular place or nation. The issues studied include the impact of globalisation on experiences of work, how global supply chains for goods and services are structured in a globalising economy, and the impact of this on solidarity and organisation of workers. This is done by including case studies and examples for different parts of the world (such as gold mining in the Philippines, flower farming in Kenya, trade union protests in Brazil), through film, literature and consideration of different standards and regulation of work. We also consider the concept of global labour markets and global workers, as well as the limitation to this and how it relates to the own career aspirations of students.

Sustainability – This theme has had a particular impact on the sociology of work and how employment is being shaped in the current climate crisis. We explore the ‘greening of work’ with new jobs and organisations developing in attempts to improve our ecological footprint and repair damage, but students also consider the wider impacts of climate change on the structure and experience of work. This includes, for example, the consequences of higher temperatures, changes to consumer needs, the rise of certified products and services where students explore examples, as well as related changes such as remote working and the use of technology in reducing the environmental impact of work.


Resourcefulness and Resilience – Students explore their own work experience to date to relate the issues and theories we consider in the module to, allowing them to identify their adaptability and existing skills (or gaps). The module also provides opportunity for these to be developed through demonstrating the range of media that can be drawn on to consider the concept of work and non-work, as well as in the resourcefulness needed for each of the individual assessments, The first requires students to themselves draw on multiple work representations and to package this digitally as an online presentation. The second requires students to research a particular industry or organisation related to their own career interests, and to consider this in relation to one of a number of issues. This facilitates students taking their essay skills into a more personal realm, which includes reflection on their own work plans too.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Criminology BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Sociology BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Media and Communication BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Politics and Sociology BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2024/5 academic year.