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Global Labour Studies


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA International Relations.


The course Global Labour Studies addresses issue of labour transformations, productivity and exploitation from a global perspective. The course is divided into three parts: global labour history; labour economic theories; global labour issues. Global labour history implies a holistic view of labour history. It puts together the history of the free wage workers or the traditional working-class with that of workers employed in other forms of labour relations: tributary, servile, reciprocal, household, etc. The section on labour economics will focus on two major trends within the discipline: the classical labour theory of value; and the neoclassical labour market theory. The labour theory of value is an economic theory that considers the value of a good or a service as determined by the quantity of labour necessary to produce the output (goods and services). In capitalism, a major question is how labour contributes to the valorisation of capital. The neoclassical paradigm focuses on the importance of institutions such as markets, i.e. labour markets. A fundamental element of this approach is the competitive rationale of maximizing utilities by all economic actors. In both cases, the works and perspectives of prominent philosophers and economists will be examined. The section on contemporary global labour issues deals with transformations in the world of work induced by financially-driven and technologically-driven globalisation. Students will work on case studies that cover economically diverse regions. In seeking to better appreciate modern-day global capitalism as part of a process driven by working peoples, a range of topics related to labour exploitation and labour organisations will be covered.

Course objectives

The historical dimension allows to emphasise the history of women at work as well as labour history from the so-called Global South, for these workers have not been employed as free wage workers throughout history. Global has two meanings or dimensions: i) geographical, to go beyond Eurocentric views of labour history; ii) methodological, to unveil the history of connections that existed between not only workers and employers but also between workers employed in different types of labour relations (unfree/free, waged/non-waged, dependent/self-employment etc.). The economic dimension of the course allows students to hone their analytical skill to better address global economic issues from the point of view of workers. In adopting a global approach, the aim is to focus the attention on different parts of the world.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • seminar

Assessment method


  • Paper

  • Mid-term take-home exam


  • Paper (50%)

  • Mid-term take-home exam (open questions) (20%)

  • In-class participation (20%)

  • Attendance (10%)


The resit will consist in the the re-submission of the final paper.

inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

The course material will be distributed by the teacher in due time at the beginning of the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch.


Stefano Bellucci