MSc Human Resource Management & Employment Relations

Course Details

Explore the future of work and employment on a national and international scale. From the rights and interests of employees and employers, to the relationship between people management and organisational competitiveness, consider key themes across the HR and employment relations sector. 

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. 

Please note this course is currently under review and there may be changes to the course structure and available modules for 2019 entry.  Updated course information will be available once the course content is finalised, and no later than 28 February 2019. Several core  and elective modules will be renamed and updated learning objectives will align with the development of professional practice and additional HRM specific electives will be made available. In the new course structure core modules in Human Resources, Industrial Relations and Organisational Behaviour will be maintained. The course will continue to align with CIPD accreditation. 

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 10,000 word 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

    Work and Human Resources in Global Context

    We will focus on key issues in work and human resources from a global perspective, with particular reference to the role of multinationals in the employment relationship. We will look at the development of the institutions governing business and commercial organisations in different national contexts. The central premise is that varieties of regulatory systems foster different behaviours by economic and political actors, and we are particularly interested in how these business systems shape interactions at the workplace.

    The key theme of the module is the multinational corporation and how it interacts with both the national and international context. From there we will engage in debates on globalisation, on the convergence/divergence of national business systems, and on the productivity and growth of economies. The module aims to enable you to understand key contextual features, such as models of capitalism and supranational governance, alongside the prominent role of multinational enterprises as transnational actors shaping employment relations and human resources across boundaries.


    Leading and Managing People

    This module aims to broaden your knowledge across a range of topics related to leading and managing people in the field of Human Resource Management. 

    In the first part of this module, we will focus on leadership and people management from an academic perspective and discuss its application to practice. The second part focuses on HR practices related to leading and managing people. We invite HR practitioners to deliver workshops on a range of topics, including leadership development, talent management and leading for creativity. The module seeks to promote critical reflection on both theory and practice and thereby help you to develop as a 'thinking practitioner'. 

    Introduction to Human Resource Management

    This module aims to develop your critical understanding of the management of workers in organisations. The module will draw principally on the fields of human resource management (HRM) and employment relations, which are informed by several base disciplines in the social sciences including economics, law, political science, psychology and sociology. Adopting a political economy perspective, we will explore the relationship between human resource management/ employment relations matters and the wider context in which organisations are located. The module will demonstrate how the management of human resources is problematic both in theory and practice and should be of fundamental concern for all managers engaged in managing people within their organisation.

    Each topic covered in this module uses evidence-based research to challenge some of the central assumptions of 'people management' orthodoxy. You will be equipped with diagnostic tools to evaluate management practice, and an appreciation of the possible beneficial and harmful outcomes or the unintended consequences associated with human resource management interventions aimed at improving organisational performance. In doing so, you’ll be introduced to a range of debates that are central to the 'high commitment' models of human resource management as well as a number of specific HRM practice areas, including: recruitment and selection; the analysis and design of work; learning and development; talent management; rewards and remuneration; and equal opportunities and diversity management.


    Managing Human Resources

    On this module, you will explore a range of human resource topics including employee resourcing and development and the management of employee performance. It critically assesses the impact of environmental contingencies on employee resourcing, with particular reference to employment flexibility, employee involvement and ethical considerations. In addition, the module also provides insights on effective labour utilisation and the global context within which the management of human resources takes place.

    The aim is not to teach you a prescriptive 'how to do it' set of rules but to help you develop an informed, critical understanding of how the management of human resources is undertaken, why and with what effect.  For those who intend to work as HR practitioners, this will provide you with a sound basis for evaluating different approaches and assessing where they might be appropriate.Explore and critically evaluate approaches to managing people in different contexts. Study key issues including the nature of the employment relationship and the implications of this for the management of human resources; employee resourcing and development; the links between how people are managed; and organisational performance.

    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 within individuals the 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 team effectiveness, improving decision-making skills and resolving conflicts in the workplace.

    Researching Human Resource Management and Employment Relations

    This module introduces a variety of epistemological approaches and a variety of research methods for collecting, generating and analysing research data in social science research. The philosophy that underpins the course is that researching industrial relations and the management of human resources at a post-graduate level in a critically informed manner requires more than an understanding of quantitative and qualitative methods.

    The module will provide you with an opportunity to examine the epistemological and ontological assumptions that underpin a wide range of research methodologies that are drawn on by researchers in analysing social behaviour. The module does not aim to prescribe particular research approaches or methods but aims to enable you to develop appropriate research designs for the issues you choose to investigate for your dissertation, and to do so in a critically informed and reflexive manner. This requires an acknowledgement of the social, cultural, political and economic context of research together with ethical aspects of the research process.

    This module begins with an overview of different epistemological positions in social research and moves on to develop an appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of different research methods commonly used in the management of human resources.    

    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.   


    Comparative Employment Relations

    On this module, you will explore how and why the organisation of work (pay determination, working time, employee participation, equality etc) differs among countries, and the implications of such differences for HRM. It aims at enabling you to understand national differences and the links between aspects of employment relations within each country, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of different 'models'. You will look, in particular, at the influential French, German and Swedish patterns, but within a broader global perspective. 


    Global & European Governance of Employment Relations

    We will explore the main transnational institutions of employment relations at global and regional levels, focusing on the 'triad' of industrialised global regions (Europe; North America; China, India and Southeast Asia). You will examine the relationship between growing internationalisation of economic activity, markets and the organisation of production, and the development of transnational structures, processes and instruments of social regulation in the world of work and employment. Specifically, we will appreciate the potential and limitations of different types of international trade agreements and regional integration agreements (e.g. NAFTA, EU, ASEAN, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, etc.), as well as of international framework agreements and codes of conduct produced by key business players in industries such as fashion/apparel and ICT.

    At the end of the module, you will be able to: locate the growth of transnational institutions and regulation of employment relations against underlying economic and political developments at global and regional levels; and demonstrate familiarity with the main features of transnational employment relations at global and regional, especially European but also much beyond, levels.


    Employment Relations in Britain

    Building on foundation topics introduced in the first term, this module explores contemporary debates on employment regulation in more depth through a single country study. A focus on Britain will highlight key developments in areas with broader international relevance, including the balance between legal regulation and collective bargaining, approaches to pay determination and investment/development in skills and trends in employee representation and involvement. The British labour market is highly dynamic and this module will offer you an insight into its effects and challenges to the management of human resources. 

    This module includes sessions taking place outside WBS. There are visits to the Coventry Transport Museum and the University of Warwick's Modern Record Centre archive, which are aimed at reconstructing the socio-economic development of Coventry and the key role in the study of industrial relations played by the Industrial Relations Research Unit of the Warwick Business School. There is usually at least one guest lecture delivered by experts such as ACAS arbitrators, employment lawyers, and more.

    You will have the chance to lead presentations on topics of your choice that are then embedded in the course. 



    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.

    See compulsory and optional modules for this course More Less

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