Labour Economics for Research Students

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Guy Michaels 32L.2.10, Prof Yona Rubinstein NAB.5.32, Prof John Van Reenen 32L.2.27A and Prof Stephen Machin 32L.2.06A


This course is available on the MRes/PhD in Economics and MRes/PhD in Management (Marketing). This course is not available as an outside option.

Course content

The aim of the course is to familiarise students with main theoretical and empirical issues in current labour economics, to provide them with the tools for carrying out independent research in the field, and to provide a perspective on areas of ongoing research. The course has a strong applied focus. For each major topic covered we will investigate the main available theories in light of their testable implications, and discuss the advantages and limitations of existing empirical work and assess policy options.

Topics include:

  • Labour supply, household behaviour, and the allocation of time
  • Labour demand and monopsony
  • Search, matching, labour market frictions, unions, and unemployment
  • Wage determination, compensating differentials, race and gender gaps, and wage inequality
  • Human capital, returns to schooling, and training
  • Contracts and incentives in the labour market


30 hours of lectures in the MT. 30 hours of lectures in the LT.

This year, at least for Michaelmas term, some or all of the teaching for this course may have to be delivered through a combination of virtual webinars, online videos and virtual classes.

Formative coursework

Students will discuss papers in lectures.

Indicative reading

Readings will be mainly from journal articles; a list will be supplied at the start of term.


Take-home assessment (100%) in the ST.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Economics

Total students 2019/20: 11

Average class size 2019/20: Unavailable

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information