Professor Peter Nolan

Professor of Work and Employment Futures

Contact details

  • Tel: +44 (0)116 223 1657
  • Email:
  • Office: Room 1.07, Mallard House, Brookfield
  • Office hours: By appointment

Personal details

I joined the University of Leicester in September 2012. I hold a Research Chair and am Director of the Centre for Sustainable Work and Employment Futures. I was previously Montague Burton Professor of Industrial Relations at the University of Leeds. I began my research career at the (then SSRC) Industrial Relations Research Unit at Warwick. Between 1997 and 2004 I was Director of the ESRC £4 million Future of Work Programme and edited the Palgrave Macmillan research monograph series on the Future of Work. In 2011, I was appointed `scientific expert’ for the UK to help develop the European Union Joint Programme Initiative (JPI), More Years, Better Lives, a major international research project examining the social and economic consequences of demographic change. Since 2009 I have been Editor-in-Chief of the Industrial Relations Journal. I have published widely on employment relations, and wage and productivity dynamics in different sectors (coal, engineering, broadcasting). With funding from the Medical Research Council, I am currently examining the significance of the ageing workforce within the NHS.


Administrative Responsibilities

Director, Centre for Sustainable Work and Employment Futures

Member of ESRC Funder Group


My research spans the connected fields of work, employment relations, labour markets and economic performance. I have contributed over many years to the understanding of the sources and significance of Britain’s productivity deficit. My research has challenged recent studies of work futures that deploy partial and often contingent data in pursuit of grand narratives of apocalyptic change. My current work, focused on the NHS, is examining the possibilities and limits to policy initiatives to extend (paid) working lives.

Research Grants

I have held multiple awards from the ESRC to support my research, publications and outreach activities.  With this support I have examined the changing fortunes of the British coal industry, studied the impact of regulatory changes on work and employment in British broadcasting, and directed the ESRC Future of Work Programme. My current research, supported by the Medical Research Council, is investigating the prospects for and challenges of longer working lives in the NHS.


I have supervised twenty six doctoral candidates at Warwick, Leeds and Leicester and am interested in supervising new students with interests in work and employment and the changing character of employment relations in contemporary workplaces. My current students are:



Nolan, P. (2017), `The UK Productivity `Puzzle’: Reinserting Labour into the Equation’, Industrial Relations Journal, vol. 48(6), 1-20

Nolan, P. (2012), `Understanding the employment relationship: markets, hierarchies and power’, Industrial Relations Journal, vol.43 (4), 359-369

Nolan, P. (2011), `Money, Markets, Meltdown: the 21 Century Crisis of Labour’, Industrial Relations Journal, vol.42 (1), 2-18

Nolan, P., and Slater, G. (2010), `Visions of the future, the Legacy of the past: Demystifying the weightless economy’, Labor History, vol. 51 (1), 7-27

Nolan, P., Trumpbour, J., and Hogan, J. (2010), Labor History, Special Issue: Labor in the Information Age, vol. 51 (1), pp. 1-166

Nolan, P., and Heyes, J. (2010), `State, Capital and Labour Relations in Crisis’, Colling, T and Terry, M (ed), Industrial Relations: Theory and Practice, third edition, Wiley Blackwell, pp. 106-125


Recent media coverage of my research (and that of the Centre for Sustainable Work and Employment Futures) may be found at the following links. Subjects covered include Universal Basic Income; the threat to jobs from automation, robots and artificial intelligence; and productivity dynamics and the contemporary UK deficit.

BBC Radio 4: Analysis

Guardian: Worry less about robots and more about sweatshops

Guardian: Is Finland’s basic universal income a solution to automation, fewer jobs and lower wages?


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Contact Details

School of Business
University of Leicester
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