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Labour Relations and Human Resources Unit

The Degrees BA Honours and B.Com Honours in Labour Relations and Human Resources were approved, originally by the Department of National Education in 1981, and the first course commenced in 1982.

The purpose of the course is to provide an opportunity for advanced studies in labour relations at post-graduate level, with a view to the training of specialists who, in the future, will be equipped in the South African context. The course aims to develop students’ diagnostic and practical skills, so that they may bring to any particular issue an understanding of the factors involved, insight into how problems may be solved, and practical implementation plans.


A candidate is required to complete all eight of the following courses:

  • EIR 400 : Theory and Practice of Labour Relations and Human Resources
  • EIW 400 : Business, Labour and Collective Bargaining
  • EIU 400 : Selected Human Resources Issues
  • EIV 400 : Labour Law
  • EIT 400 : Research Methodology and Design
  • EIS 400 : Labour Markets
  • EZZG 401 : Advanced Organisational Psychology 1
  • EZZG 402 : Advanced Organisational Psychology 2

Theory and Practice of Labour Relations and Human Resources (EIR 400) : theoretical and ideological frameworks; the environment of labour relations including political, economic, social and technological factors; history of labour relations in South Africa; the forms, structures and functions of employee and employer organizations.

Business, Labour and Collective Bargaining (EIW 400): strategic aspects of the labour management relationship, human resource management and labour relations; collective bargaining issues: levels, subjects, rights to industrial action; collective agreements; negotiation skills; dispute resolution; employee participation and workplace forums.

Selected Human Resource Issues (EIU 400): topical human resource issues are addressed here.

Labour Law (EIV 400): the Labour Relations Act, Basic Conditions of Employment Act, Employment Equity Act, and other statutes relevant to labour relations are addressed.

Research Methodology and Design (EIT 400) : conceptualization of the research problem with reference to processes involved in the development of a literature report, considerations in project design and selection of a research method; sampling techniques/considerations in terms of representivity; the distinction between validity and reliability and ways of fostering both; forms of data analysis.

Labour Markets (EIS 400) : alternative approaches to labour economics; supply and demand for labour; investment in human capital; economics of trade unionism; inflation, unemployment and related economic issues; inequalities of wealth and income; labour market discrimination.

Organisational Behaviour (EZZG 401 & 402) : contemporary organisational behaviour issues; organisational development and transformation; global issues in organizational behaviour; intergroup dynamics; organisational processes; leadership and motivation theories; individual impact on organizational behaviour; values, prejudices and stereotypes; cultural diversity; organizational power and politics.


Labour relations as a field of study does not fit readily into any single discipline. Its proper understanding and practice requires the underpinning of a number of disciplines, primarily, Economics, Law, Sociology, Psychology and Politics. Bearing the above in mind, students with good passes (over 60% average) in first degrees having as major subjects at least one of the following: Sociology, Psychology, Industrial psychology, Economics or Business Economics, Labour Law or Political Science, may be admitted to post-graduate study in Labour Relations. Applicants with majors in other subjects may be assessed on merit depending on the specific content of courses offered for the first degree.

Provision at present exists in the NMMU Faculty regulations for Honours degrees in Labour Relations and Human Resources in either Arts or Commerce, depending on the applicant student’s first degree. Persons with degrees in other faculties (for example B.Sc (Econ.) and B.Juris, will require a separate decision on admission, but are not excluded. It is an objective of the Unit to recruit students from a variety of academic backgrounds, in order to strengthen the multi-disciplinary nature of the course. However, candidates accepted for the course may be required to supplement their knowledge of particular topics to the satisfaction of the head of the Unit, before being allowed to proceed with the relevant section of the honours course.


Applications are invited from both full-time and part-time students.

The course will spread over a year (full-time) or two years (part-time) and taught in three block sessions – February, June and November (for examinations).