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School of Law

International Labour Law and Equality Rights

Course Code:
Course Not Running 2015/2016
Unit value:
Taught in:
Full Year

This course provides an introduction to the rationales, content, institutions and regulatory frameworks relating to labour standards and equality rights at regional and international level. A comparative, contextual and conceptual approach will be taken. The course examines the standards relating to labour and equality rights that have been adopted by international institutions and within the international community, the methods by which they have been promoted and the specific mechanisms utilised for their enforcement. This entails not only a technical analysis of international instruments and supervisory structures but also detailed consideration of underlying political and economic concerns. These are examined in their social and historical context.

NB: This course will never run in the same year as 15PLAH029 International Labour Law. Part-time students are not permitted to take both of these courses during their degree.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • exhibit a good understanding of the ideas, doctrines and framework sustaining core international labour rights and equality rights;
  • show an ability to critically appraise the law, not only on its own terms, but also from other points of view;
  • evaluate the rules studied on their own terms, for example for clarity, consistency and coherence;
  • relate the legal rules to the experience in practice of those whom they most directly concern, considering the impact of the labour regulation on workers, states, multinational enterprises and its function in society and the global economy more generally;
  • expose the thinking that underlies different legal interventions, and evaluate the cogency of the underlying premises;

Students will also have developed their analytical, communication and research skills, as well as their capacity to understand and evaluate complex legal sources and literature.

Scope and syllabus

The course focuses on two broad themes. In the first half of the course (Term 1), we will examine how national and international labour laws are responding to the challenge of globalization as it re-shapes the workplace. The focus will be on labour rights under conditions of trade liberalization; labour rights as human rights; the role of international labour standards and the contribution of the International Labour Organization; as well as exploring other international and regional mechanisms for creation and enforcement of labour standards: from the UN, to efforts to establish trade and labour linkages in regional trade agreements, such as the European Union; and the labour dimensions of codes of conduct, social labelling and investor initiatives. The second half of the course (Term 2) focuses on mechanisms for protecting equality rights, internationally and regionally, exploring theoretical foundations of equality laws and evaluating their effects in practice.

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: 90% unseen exam and 10% coursework (one essay of 3,000 words). All coursework may be resubmitted.