Unit Outline

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Unit Outline*

IREL 1102/2202

Australian Employment Relations

Semester 2, 2011
Crawley Campus

Unit Coordinator: Donella Caspersz

Business School


* This Unit Outline should be read in conjunction with the Business School Unit Outline Supplement available on the Current Students web site http://www.business.uwa.edu.au/students


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Copying of this material by students, except for fair dealing purposes under the Copyright Act, is prohibited. For the purposes of this fair dealing exception, students should be aware that the rule allowing copying, for fair dealing purposes, of 10% of the work, or one chapter/article, applies to the original work from which the excerpt in this course material was taken, and not to the course material itself.

© The University of Western Australia 2011



Winthrop Professor Rob Lambert and Dr Donella Caspersz will be jointly teaching this unit. We have both published widely in the field of employment relations.

Unit content

The unit focuses on contemporary change in the Australian employment relations system. Since the 1980s when the Australian government introduced dramatic shifts in economic policy the pace of employment relations change has intensified and become politically contested. It is not possible to understand the contested and controversial nature of these changes without exploring the character of free market globalization and the pressures this imposes on the institutional regulation of the employment relationship.

The goal of the unit

There are two essential goals: firstly, comprehending the economic, social and political forces propelling ceaseless change in employment relations; secondly, understanding the ever-shifting institutional character of employment relations regulation in Australia. The first goal means that you will approach employment relations in an intelligent, comprehending way, which will enable you to understand contemporary developments and future trends. The second will provide you with an understanding of the key stakeholders in Australian employment changes and regulatory changes that have occurred in the field.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit, you should be able to comprehend and critically assess:

  • The global forces (trade, investment, finance, labour market) shaping employment relations change in Australia;

  • The imperatives of global competition deriving from free market policies in the above spheres and the impact of this relationship on the Australian system of employment;

  • The nature of employment relations change in Australia and the ways in which labour market institutions have been and are being remodelled.

  • The way the Fair Work Act operates and its application in Australian employment relations.

Educational principles and graduate attributes

The educational principle underpinning the unit is the development of independent and critical thought. By completing the continuous assessment and study programme, students will be able to develop written, communication and interpersonal communication skills. Students will also become knowledgeable about on line tools available to assist them in their learning.


Teaching and learning strategies

The educational principle underpinning the unit is the development of independent and critical thought. This is grounded in an ability to analyse existing structures, roles and behaviours as a precursor to becoming a change agent, thereby enhancing the efficacy of employment relations processes and systems.

Teaching and learning evaluation

You may be asked to complete two evaluations during this unit. The Student Perception of Teaching (SPOT) and the Students’ Unit Reflective Feedback (SURF). The SPOT is optional and is an evaluation of the lecturer and the unit. The SURF is completed online and is a university wide survey and deals only with the unit. You will receive an email from the SURF office inviting you to complete the SURF when it is activated. We encourage you to complete the forms as your feedback is extremely important and can be used to make changes to the unit or lecturing style when appropriate.


Participation in class, whether it be listening to a lecture or getting involved in other activities, is an important part of the learning process, therefore it is important that you attend classes. More formally, the University regulations state that ‘to complete a course or unit students shall attend prescribed classes, lectures, seminars and tutorials’.


We strongly advise students to regularly access their student email accounts. Important information regarding the unit is often communicated by email and will not be automatically forwarded to private email addresses.

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