MSc Human Resource Management & Employment Relations

Course Details

Explore the future of work and employment, from the rights and interests of employees and employers, to approaches and methods used by the contemporary HR manager. Consider key themes across the sector, discover practices areas from recruitment and selection to performance management and compensation, and put this knowledge into practice on our HRM Professional Practice module. 

Six compulsory modules are complemented by three optional modules on this one-year programme. A final dissertation, based on original research in the field of human resource management and employment relations, will complete the MSc qualification. 

There will be a number of optional modules available on this course, allowing you to tailor the course to your particular interests. You will also have the opportunity to access modules delivered by different groups within Warwick Business School, relating to broader issues surrounding management.

The Chartered Institute for Personnel & Development (CIPD) is the UK’s professional body for HR and people development. Our course includes full CIPD accreditation, gaining you CIPD student membership.

Each module will contain elements of the CIPD qualification requirements, and those who register will write a management report as a supplement to their dissertation, demonstrating awareness of financial and company policy implications of their research. 


    Taught by the best
    You will be taught by leading experts within the field of human resource management and employment relations, as well as hearing from visiting industry guest lecturers – from managers in international firms, to HR consultants and labour disputes conciliators. 

    You will be assessed by a mix of exams, essays, presentations and group work.

    Your dissertation
    Your dissertation can be about anything within the broad scope of issues covered on the course. Most dissertations are based on field research that offer you the opportunity to practise and develop the skills acquired through the taught modules. Recent examples below:

    • Working in the gig-economy in China: HR/ER insights from the case of the platform-based hailing company Didi
    • Pay dispersion and turnover intentions of employees in China: The moderated mediation effects of pay level satisfaction
    • The effects of the job demands-resources model on work-life balance of Chinese IT professionals
    • Assessing the relationships among compensation and recognition, organization commitment and intention to stay: a quantitative case study of a Chinese domestic new energy company
    • Working under pressure in the UK A&E: the impact of burnout and social support on job satisfaction and organisational commitment among consultant physicians
    • Examining the Impact of Leader-Member Exchange on Work Engagement: Psychological Capital and Qualification of Civil Servants as Moderators



    Compulsory Modules

    Introduction to Human Resource Management

    This module will provide you with an introduction to human resource management as a field of study.

    It will cover, firstly, the basic HR cycle, including recruitment & selection, learning & development, rewards & remuneration and talent management. Secondly, the module will provide you with an introduction to strategic HRM, discussing alternative approaches to human resource management from a macro perspective. This includes, for example, a critical discussion of different approaches to HRM (such as the high-commitment approach) and of different work designs (such as lean management and self-directed team working).

    Thirdly, you’ll be introduced to current debates in HRM relating to broader societal issues, including workplace health and safety, stress, work-life balance, diversity and equal employment opportunities.

    The goal is not to provide a step-by-step, 'how-to' guide on various HRM practices and methods. Rather, the module seeks to question assumptions and develop an understanding of underlying mechanisms. The conceptual understanding developed will be applied in the context of practical examples (e.g., case studies). Through the critical discussion of various practices and methods, the module finally also seeks to stimulate debates pertaining to values and norms around good people management.

    The module is complementary to Advanced Human Resource Management: Theory & Practice (taking place in Term 2). Advanced HRM covers additional HRM practices and issues and it seeks to further develop and deepen the knowledge, skills and abilities developed in Introduction to HRM.


    Introduction to Employment Relations

    This module will present you with the main features and issues of employment relations, such as the indeterminacy of employment contracts, the psychological contract, issues of control and consent, individual collective voice, employee participation, resistance, productivity, performance, skills, issues of fairness and efficiency.

    It will draw from examples from the rich experience of the UK and USA as countries with the longest industrial relations history, and conclude with a global perspective and the implications of employment relations for economic competitiveness and for multinational companies.


    This is a new module that replaces the previous module Work and Human Resources in a Global Context. The module presents the main features and issues of employment relations, drawing examples from the rich experience of the UK and USA as countries with the longest industrial relations history. The module will conclude with a global perspective and the implications of employment relations for economic competitiveness and for multinational companies.

    Advanced Human Resource Management: Theory & Practice

    This module is designed to build on the term 1 module ‘Human Resource Management’. The module will cover a number of additional topics in the HR cycle, complementing what has been covered in Term 1, and will also explore some of the Term 1 topics in more depth.

    The topics include employee resourcing, employee development and the management of employee performance. We will critically assess the importance of labour markets, the concept of employment flexibility, the need for disciplinary measures and workforce reductions, employee involvement, the role of business ethics in employee resourcing, expatriate management, performance appraisals.

    As before, the aim is not to teach a prescriptive ‘how to do it’ set of rules but rather to develop an informed, critical understanding of how the management of human resources is undertaken, why and with what effect. The theoretical and conceptual understanding developed with this module is furthermore discussed in an applied context, including guest speaker presentations and case studies.


    This module has changed title from Managing Human Resources to Advanced Human Resource Management: Theory and Practice. The module retains most of the content and learning outcomes are unchanged. The title change is intended to provide applicants (and future employers) a better understanding of the content studied.

    Human Resource Management Professional Practice

    This module aims to broaden your knowledge across a range of critical topics in human resource management in order to satisfy the requirements of the CIPD Advanced Level qualification (in conjunction with the Masters Degree).

    The module links to subjects covered to some degree in other areas of the course. However, the focus in this module is on the practical application of the knowledge attained rather than academic understanding alone.

    In addition to the module topics, you will develop a number of practitioner skills, including personal development planning, reflective learning, problem-solving, presentation skills and report writing. You are expected to make links with other modules and apply the learning to projects.

    The module seeks to develop practical skills in relation to a range of HR and ER topics covered on the course. Illustrative examples on the HR side include selection interviewing, feedback giving/difficult conversations and cost-benefit analyses for HR initiatives. The module will develop ER-related skills, for example, in relation to the handling of grievance and discipline procedures, implementation of equality and diversity policies and practical challenges associated with employment contracts.

    The goal is also to make links to the more traditional academic contents on these topics, which are covered in Introduction to HRM and Advanced HRM.

    Additionally, the module seeks to engage you in current debates relating to HR/ER that relate to topics covered elsewhere in the course, so as to again rehearse the application of academic contents in a practical context. Finally, the module seeks to equip you with knowledge on some of the latest trends and developments in HR/ER that are debated among practitioners while they have not yet found their way into theory/research-backed teaching, such as agile HR and certain topics around artificial intelligence.


    This is a new module that replaces the previous module Leading and Managing People. The focus in this module is on practical application of knowledge attained rather than academic understanding alone. In addition to the module topics, students are required to develop a number of practitioner skills, including personal development planning, reflective learning, problem-solving, presentation skills and report writing.

    Organisational Behaviour

    Organisational behaviour is an interdisciplinary field that draws on theory and research from psychology, sociology, economics and other related fields to study how individuals and groups affect and are affected by organisations.

    Its practical relevance lies in developing your ability to deal effectively with the challenges that arise in changing work environments. At the macro level, specific attention will be given to the study of organisations as social systems; the dynamics of change and survival in organisations; and the relationships between organisations and their environments. At the micro level, topics covered will include enhancing personal and organisational effectiveness, improving decision-making skills, and resolving conflicts in the workplace.

    The module will examine both classic readings and more recent treatments of key topics.

    You will be encouraged to critically engage with the literature and participate in class discussions which will include case analyses, experiential exercises and group projects.

    Researching Human Resource Management and Employment Relations

    This module will provide you with an introduction to methodological debates in social science research, and in industrial/employee relations in particular.

    You will develop an appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of particular research methods used in the study of industrial/employee relations, and will apply this knowledge to conducting a methodologically rigorous and critically reflexive research dissertation.

    You will also learn how this knowledge of quantitative and qualitative methodology can be used by HR managers to solve organisational problems


    The dissertation will enable you to apply some of the concepts, theories and knowledge of the taught modules to a concrete issue or area of enquiry. You will develop basic skills appropriate to the design and conduct of a research project, and to exercise critical judgement in the evaluation of research findings.

    You will produce an extended piece of written work, reflective of your own interests in the subject matter of the degree programme, which makes some contribution to the knowledge of the area.

    Example Optional Modules

    Strategic Human Resource Management

    This module equips future HR leaders with an understanding of how firms’ HR policies and practices fit with their context, in particular their business strategy, and how they may contribute to the competitiveness of the organisation.  We will explore various current topics in the field of strategic HRM, such as the resource-based view of the firm, the HR architecture model, HR metrics and analytics, executive compensation, human capital theory, human capital reporting and strategic talent management.  The teaching approach on this module is very interactive, incorporating many case studies, quizzes and group discussions. 

    Overall, the module aims to develop the ‘thinking HR practitioner’: students who are not just knowledgeable of the latest HRM trends and practices but who also understand underlying mechanisms and how they fit with the organisational context, thus preparing you for future leadership roles in HRM.   


    Leading and Managing Change

    This module aims to develop an understanding of some of the challenges faced by leaders and managers within an increasingly volatile organisational environment.  

    Ethical Leadership

    Students will investigate and analyse organisational situations where issues of ethics, values and responsibility are paramount.



    Equality & Diversity

    What is equality? Are inequalities the result of natural characteristics and choice?  Are they due to prejudiced decision-making by those that hold power? What theories might explain inequality inside and outside the workplace?  What role have governments, employers, trade unions and minority groups played in the creation, maintenance and resistance to horizontal and vertical segregation in the labour market? Are the same patterns of inequality evident during periods of economic and social crises? Is equality about same or different treatment?

    The aim of this module is to introduce you to current research and debate in the area of equality and diversity. This provides the theoretical and conceptual underpinning necessary to understand the changing contexts of workforce diversity and the changing equality and diversity policies and practices of government, organisations, line managers and human resource practitioners.

    Governance & Corporate Responsibility

    Appreciate the wider institutional location of business activity. Examine how firms are both 'takers' and 'givers' of governance and regulation in a variety of formal and informal ways.

    Digital Working & Organisational Transformation

    To be effective in modern organisations requires an understanding of the dynamics of digital work. This module equips students with a broad understanding of the tools and organisational arrangements driving this shift towards digital working, and provides them with techniques and frameworks to operate effectively in this more dynamic and fluid work environment. The module reviews major trends and changes in the workplace arising from the increased adoption of digital tools to support work practices in modern organisations. It reviews major drivers of adoption of these tools and the emergence of new dynamics of interactions and patterns of work.

    Business IT & Services

    Students will investigate the management issues surrounding the utilisation and delivery of business IT and services within organisations, with particular focus on the new major trend of outsourcing.


    See compulsory and optional modules for this course More Less

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