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Industrial Relations (IDRL) 496
Comparative Labour Education
(Revision 1)

Revision 1 closed, replaced by current version.

Delivery mode: Individualized study.

Credits: 3 - Reading course - Applied Studies (Business and Administrative Studies). IDRL 496 can also be used to fulfill the Social Science area of study (credential students only).

Prerequisite: Permission of the course professor.

Centre: Centre for Work and Community Studies

IDRL 496 has a Challenge for Credit option.


IDRL 496 is a reading course that examines labour education in five countries: Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. The course is designed to help students think critically about the aims and purposes of labour education, and the manner in which labour education varies according to the different contexts in industrial relations and political economy. This reflection will help students consider the issues raised in the final unit which examines the role of labour education in the context of the globalization of production.


Upon completion of IDRL 496, students should be able to

  • demonstrate a critical understanding of the development of labour education;
  • explain some of the major purposes of labour education;
  • relate some of the theories of labour education to practice;
  • discuss the impact of social, economic, political, and industrial relations change on labour education; and
  • link developments in labour education to those in the globalization of production.


Students must undertake substantial reading, communicate regularly with the tutor, answer a series of four study questions, complete a final term paper, and keep a learning journal including an annotated bibliography of readings. To receive credit for IDRL 496, you must complete successfully the course assignments and achieve a composite course grade of at least a “D” (50 percent). The weighting of the composite course grade is as follows:

Participation (phone or e-mail) 20%
Study Questions 30%
Term Paper 50%
Learning Journal 20%
Assignment 5 pass / fail
Total 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


London, S., Tarr, E. & Wilson, L. eds. 1990. The Re-education of the American Working Class. New York: Greenwood.

Martin, D. 1995. Thinking Union: Activism and Education in Canada's Labour Movement. Toronto: Between the Lines.

Newman, M. 1993. The Third Contract: Theory and Practice in Trade Union Training. Sydney: Stewart Victor Publishing.

Other materials

The course materials also include a study guide, student manual, and a reading file.