Employment Dissertation Topics

Example employment dissertation topic 1:

One hundred years of unemployment benefit: The changing realities of welfare provision

The social reforms enacted under David Lloyd George brought to social security safety to the masses through the introduction of National Insurance. One hundred years later, the proposed welfare reforms of Iain Duncan Smith have been described as the largest changes wrought to social security in a generation. Charting the rise of welfarism and questioning the on-going sustainability of its universality in an era of prolonged austerity, this is a dissertation that synthesises the legal and social aspects of work and benefits with political ideology and contemporary societal developments. This is a fascinating dissertation topic that could be tailored to accommodate a number of individual areas of expertise.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Arni, P., Lalive, R. and Van Ours, J.C. (2012). ‘How effective are unemployment benefit sanctions? Looking beyond unemployment exit’. Journal of Applied Econometrics (ahead-of-print) DOI: 10.1002/jae.2289.
  • Starke, P. (2008). ‘Radical welfare state retrenchment: A comparative analysis’. Social Policy Journal of New Zealand, vol. 33, 192-195.
  • Warr, P. and Jackson, P. (2011). ‘Men without jobs: Some correlates of age and length of unemployment’. Journal of Occupational Psychology, vol. 57(1), pp. 77-85.

Example employment dissertation topic 2:

‘Putting Pandora back in the box’: Criminal convictions and the world of work.

The decision of the Court of Appeal in January 2013 that not all crimes will need to be disclosed under CRB protocols has been heralded by civil rights and liberty groups. Against this contemporary backdrop this dissertation asks: what now for the Criminal Records Bureaux? Arguing that the explosion of CRB checks in the early 2000s has hindered volunteerism and meant that minor transgression committed in youth have come back to haunt people (in a way not expected by the initial instigators of the legislation) this dissertation argues that the time has come for a redrawing of CRB guidelines so that it becomes, once more, a check only for those with substantial unsupervised access to children and vulnerable adults as a primary focus of their work.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Bowles, R. and Florackis, C. (2012). ‘Impatience, reputation and offending’. Applied Economics, vol. 44(2), pp. 177-187.
  • Lukies, J., Graffam, J. and Shinkfield, A.J. (2011). ‘The effect of organisational context variables on employer attitudes toward employability of ex-offenders’. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, vol. 55(3), pp. 460-475.
  • Morgenstern, C. (2011).’ Judicial rehabilitation in Germany: The use of criminal records and the removal of recorded convictions’. European Journal of Probation, vol. 3(1), pp. 20-35.

Example employment dissertation topic 3:

Discriminating against the disabled or levelling the playing field?

The closure of REMPLOY factories was seen by many involved in the field of disability employment working and rights as an attack on the disabled. However, others argued that with each employee subsidised by the state, REMPLOY was a policy luxury that could no longer be afforded and that far from equalising the labour market, tipped the scales in favour of the disabled. Noting the statutory provisions presently in place to ensure that new recruits cannot be discriminated on the basis of disability, this dissertation undertakes primary research with former REMPLOY employees as well as able bodied unemployed persons previously employed in similar lines of work. This is a dissertation that, accordingly, addresses not only employment and legislation issues but also changing societal views of disability within an increasingly competitive job market.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Berthoud, R. (2009). Patterns of non-employment, and of disadvantage, in a recession. Colchester: Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex.
  • Berthoud, R. (2011). Trends in the employment of disabled people in Britain (No. 2011-03). Colchester: Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of Essex.
  • Foster, D. and Fosh, P. (2009). ‘Negotiating ‘difference’: Representing disabled employees in the British workplace’. British Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 48(3), pp. 560-582.

Example employment dissertation topic 4:

An analysis of the changing nature of employment within the legal profession within the United Kingdom.

The rise of solicitor advocates, the growth of personal injury lawyers and the recent government pronouncement that it will be possible for 16 year olds to undertake apprenticeships (without university) to qualify within the law has raised a number of questions. Using these changes as its contextual backdrop this dissertation evaluates the views of persons who have completed the Bar Practitioners Training Course or Bar Vocational Course over the last five years. In so doing it seeks to answer whether the experiences of those, many of whom are still waiting for a pupillage, and who could already be ‘in court’ as a solicitor advocate, suggest that a career at the Bar is becoming, despite the cost of qualification, a less appealing career option for those intent on pursuing a legal career.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Knott, P. (2010). ‘Becoming a lawyer: Entry level training for the legal profession’. Nottingham Law Journal, vol. 19(1), pp. 42.
  • Wilson, A. (2012). Future workforce demand in the legal services sector. Warwick: Warwick Institute for Employment Research.
  • Zimdars, A. (2010). ‘The profile of pupil barristers at the Bar of England and Wales 2004-2008’. International Journal of the Legal Profession, vol. 17(2), pp. 117-134.

Example employment dissertation topic 5:

Massaging the figures? Youth unemployment, school leaving ages and state pensions.

Combining primary and secondary research this dissertation seeks to synthesise the views of young people, employers and politicians. Though trumpeted by the government as a means to ensure that future generations are equipped with the necessary skills required to survive in the e-world; it can alternatively be argued that the rise in the school leaving age from 16 to 18 is a convenient way to remove a significant number from the jobs market – thereby decreasing unemployment figures. This dissertation further notes that this ‘removal of the young’ coincides with a rising of the state pension age. It accordingly suggests that the primary motivation for the further education of the young is because in an increasingly out-sourced service-based economy there are simply ‘not enough’ jobs to go around if the old must wait longer for their pension.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Chung, H., Bekker, S. and Houwing, H. (2012). ‘Young people and the post-recession labour market in the context of Europe 2020’. Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research, vol. 18(3), pp. 301-317.
  • Danson, M. and Gilmore, K. (2012). ‘Employability and flexible retirement: Variations in academia in an age of austerity’. Geoforum, vol. 43(6), pp. 1323-1332.
  • Maguire, S.M. (2012). ‘Will raising the participation age (RPA) solve the NEET problem?’ Journal of Youth Studies (ahead-of-print).

Example employment dissertation topic 6:

The rise of the stay-at home dad: An employment/lifestyle revolution?

Commenting on the social realities of council estate life in the 1950/60s, academics such as Hacon and Colls note that with increasing numbers of young women seeking to work those who were left upon the newly constructed municipal estates were ‘isolated’ and suffered from ‘new town blues’. Fifty years later, the dominant employment model within the UK is once more changing dramatically. With the absolute decline of heavy industry, and the rise of service industries, the end of 2012 has witnessed the largest ever number of stay-at-home fathers. This dissertation seeks to evaluate not only the long term employment trends that have led to this, but also to analyse the effects of this change on gender perceptions within families through the use of primary interviews.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Gaunt, R. (2012). ‘Breadwinning moms, caregiving dads: Double standard in social judgments of gender norm violators’. Journal of Family Issues (ahead-of-print).
  • Doucet, A. (2004). ”It’s almost like I have a job, but I don’t get paid’: Fathers at home, reconfiguring work, care, and masculinity. Fathering: A Journal of Theory, Research, and Practice about Men as Fathers, vol. 2(3), pp. 277-303.
  • Merla, L. (2008). ‘Determinants, costs, and meanings of Belgian stay-at-home fathers: An international comparison’. Fathering: A Journal of Theory, Research, and Practice about Men as Fathers, vol. 6(2), pp. 113-132.

Example employment dissertation topic 7:

The virtual office: Employment opportunities and working lifestyle perceptions amongst commuters in Buckinghamshire.

Basing the focus of its primary research upon the town of Amersham, this dissertation looks at changing perceptions to work and employment opportunities in this London commuter belt. Noting the rise of the virtual office, the increased need to work from home in times of bad weather, and the ever-increasing cost of commuting, this dissertation seeks to interview 100 commuters. Through analysing the answers that they give to a series of short answer questions, this dissertation hopes to be able to advance a series of suggestions through which city-based firms could enable more of their work force to work from home (thereby saving money for workers and firms, and also contributing to the green agenda) whilst also ensuring that existing levels of productivity are not jeopardised.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Baines, S. (2002). ‘New technologies and old ways of working in the home of the self-employed teleworker’. New Technology, Work and Employment, vol. 17(2), pp. 89-101.
  • Felstead, A., Jewson, N., Phizacklea, A. and Walters, S. (2006). ‘Opportunities to work at home in the context of work-life balance’. Human Resource Management Journal, vol. 12(1), pp. 54-76.
  • Harris, L. (2003). ‘Home-based teleworking and the employment relationship: Managerial challenges and dilemmas’. Personnel Review, vol. 32(4), pp. 422-437.

Example employment dissertation topic 8:

‘Re-employing the north’: The case for transference of Whitehall departments to the North-East of England.

Using both qualitative and quantitative data, this dissertation advances a simple hypothesis. Based upon existent levels of employment migration from north to south, the growing ‘house price gap’ between the two, and infrastructural concerns (for instance, water shortages), it argues that the time has come for the relocation of two central government departments to the North-East of England. In advancing this proposal, the dissertation suggests that the traditional reasons advanced for ‘Whitehall supremacy’, such as nearness to Parliament and the national press are, due to technological developments, no longer appropriate and that the relocation of a diverse (but predominantly office-based white collar) workforce north would not only help to re-balance employment and housing markets but also lead to associated rises in employment in complimentary service industries. This is a bold dissertation weaving together issues of employment, regionalism, government policy and sociological perceptions that would be ideally suited to someone interested in a career within the public services.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Cabinet Office/HM Treasury (2003). Efficiency review: Releasing resources to the frontline, October. HMSO: London.
  • Hudson, R. (1998). ‘Restructuring region and state: The case of North East England’. Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie, vol. 89(1), pp. 15-30.
  • Marshall, J.N., Bradley, D., Hodgson, C., Alderman, N. and Richardson, R. (2005). ‘Relocation, relocation, relocation: Assessing the case for public sector dispersal’. Regional Studies, vol. 39(6), pp. 767-787.

Example employment dissertation topic 9:

Overqualified and under-employed: A study of the contemporary graduate job market.

This is a dissertation that combines employment theory with practical personal experiences and a number of ethical considerations would need to be addressed in the methodology accompanying the research. The explosion in student numbers in the late 1990s was matched by a growing economy. Ten years later and the job market has changed beyond recognition; high numbers of graduates are failing to secure ‘graduate’ employment within the UK. Using both readily available public data in the form of graduate employment trends and first hand interviews with graduates now aged 22-25, this dissertation focuses upon the careers, to date, of students who graduated from the School of Media, Leeds Metropolitan University, in the years 2009, 2010, and 2011, and provides an answer to the question as to the extent to which these graduates are ‘overqualified’ and under-employed for the jobs in which they presently find themselves.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Comunian, R., Faggian, A. and Jewell, S. (2011). ‘Winning and losing in the creative industries: An analysis of creative graduates’ career opportunities across creative disciplines’. Cultural Trends, vol. 20(3-4), pp. 291-308.
  • Comunian, R., Faggian, A. and Li, Q.C. (2010). ‘Unrewarded careers in the creative class: The strange case of bohemian graduates’. Papers in Regional Science, vol. 89(2), pp. 389-410.
  • Scurry, T. and Blenkinsopp, J. (2011). ‘Under-employment among recent graduates: A review of the literature’. Personnel Review, vol. 40(5), pp. 643-659.

Example employment dissertation topic 10:

A review of three generations of term-time job employment prospects amongst undergraduates of the University of Bristol.

Those fortunate enough to have started their undergraduate degrees in 1992 benefitted from a full maintenance grant as well as tuition fees paid by the government. Ten years later, in 2002, the maintenance grant had disappeared. By 2012 undergraduates enrolling upon the same course were expected to contribute some £9,000 per annum towards tuition costs. Noting the dominant socio-economics of undergraduates attending Bristol University, these financial changes have resulted in term-time work becoming for many a necessity whereas twenty years ago, the number of students engaged in paid-work during term time was far fewer. This dissertation reviews the effects that these funding changes have had on the need to work and the perceptions of working whilst studying amongst students. This is achieved by interview 15 sets of undergraduates (five from each of the intake years of 1992, 2002 and 2012) and thereafter analysing the results. This is a dissertation that has the potential to make a most useful contribution to issues pertaining to student finance and government policy in both short and medium terms.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Callender, C. (2008). ‘The impact of term-time employment on higher education students’ academic attainment and achievement’. Journal of Education Policy, vol. 23(4), pp. 359-377.
  • Purcell, K. (2010). ‘Flexible employment, student labour and the changing structure of the UK labour market in university cities’. Warwick: Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick.
  • Robotham, D. (2012). ‘Students’ perspectives on term-time employment: An exploratory qualitative study’. Journal of Further and Higher Education (ahead-of-print).

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