Industrial Relations (IDRL) 215

Introduction to Labour Relations (Revision 1)

IDRL 215 course cover

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online (with eTextbook)

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Applied Studies (Business and Administrative Studies). IDRL 215 can also be used to fulfill the Social Science area of study (credential students only).

Prerequisite: None

Precluded course(s): IDRL 311, IDRL 312. IDRL 215 may not be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for IDRL 311 or IDRL 312.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

IDRL 215 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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Welcome to IDRL 215: Introduction to Labour Relations. It is an introduction to the economic, legal, political, and social aspects of union-management relations, and serves as a foundation for other IDRL courses. Specifically, it looks at contemporary issues in labour relations and examines union organization and structure, labour legislation, and how collective agreements are negotiated and administered. It does so within the context of exploring the nature of employment and the key theoretical perspectives that inform the study of labour relations.


IDRL 215 is divided into four units and 15 lessons, each covering a specific aspect of labour relations. The following list outlines the lessons and required learning activities.

Unit 1: Foundations

  • Lesson 1: What is Labour Relations?
  • Lesson 2: The Employment Relationship
  • Lesson 3: Role of the State
  • Lesson 4: Perspectives in Labour Relations

Unit 2: Unions

  • Lesson 5: History of the Canadian Labour Movement
  • Lesson 6: Union Structure and Rationale
  • Lesson 7: Unions in Theory and Practice

Unit 3: Labour Relations Process

  • Lesson 8: Organizing and Certification
  • Lesson 9: Bargaining
  • Lesson 10: Conflict Resolution
  • Lesson 11: Collective Agreements and Grievance Arbitration
  • Lesson 12: Public Sector Labour Relations

Unit 4: Labour Relations in the 21st Century

  • Lesson 13: Globalization
  • Lesson 14: Contemporary Issues in Labour Relations
  • Lesson 15: The Future of Unions


To receive credit for IDRL 215, you must pass the Final Examination and achieve an overall course grade of at least a D (50 percent).  Any assignments that are not submitted will receive a zero. The assignments and the final examination are weighted as follows:

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 5%
Assignment 2 15%
Assignment 3 10%
Assignment 4 30%
Assignment 5 5%
Final Exam 35%
Total 100%

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

Learning Outcomes (previously titled Course Objectives in some courses):

After completing IDRL 215, you should be able to

  • Explain how the labour market operates and how it affects the distribution of power in employment relationships.
  • Describe the role of the state and its interventions in the employment relationship.
  • Define, compare and contrast the key theoretical perspectives in labour relations and how the perspectives shape the practice of labour relations.
  • Explain the underlying logic of trade unionism, the structure of the labour movement and the practice of unionism in Canada.
  • Outline the key steps in the labour relations process from certification through bargaining, conflict resolution and administration of the collective agreement.
  • Identify how public sector labour relations differs from other forms of labour relations.
  • Identify and discuss contemporary issues facing labour relations practitioners and researchers.

Course Materials


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

McQuarrie, Fiona A.E. (2015). Industrial Relations in Canada, 4th ed. John Wiley & Sons Canada.

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

Other Materials

All other materials are available online.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university-level course.

Full information about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the IDRL 215 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least D (50 percent) on the examination.

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, December 6, 2016.