Human Resource Management (MSc and Postgraduate Diploma)
Is this course for me?
The course attracts students from a variety of backgrounds. Many are already working in HR or management and wish to advance their career with an academic qualification. Others are looking to make a career change, or simply want to understand organizations better. This course gives you the opportunity to gain professional recognition and progress your career in the direction you choose.
The course uses current and classic theory and research to develop a critical understanding of both the theory and practice of Human Resource Management. The focus is on strategic and individual level improvements, through assessment of the role of HRM in modern organisations, the issues involved in developing strategic aims (including on an international basis), employment relations, and selecting, motivating, and developing staff.
|You study||Study period||Cost (2014)|
|MSc||10 modules||2-5 years||£11,970|
|Diploma||6 modules||1-5 years||£7,970|
|Individual modules||Single modules are an ideal option if you're keen to update your professional knowledge, enhance your career or sample the programme. If you meet all the necessary entrance requirements you may later apply to register for the MSc and gain credits for the modules you have already passed. The fee per module is £1,190 in 2014.|
Fully supported online learning
- You are assigned a personal tutor. Support from academics is just an email away.
- You take part in online tutor-supported seminars, and an online facility for submitting essays and mock exams for assessment is provided
- Optional workshops are held once a year in London
- A student cafe for interaction and networking with other students is available as a virtual forum.
Developed by academics within the Department of Organizational Psychology at Birkbeck, the oldest and largest department of its kind in the UK. It is a major provider of academic and professional training in organizational psychology and career management.
Graduates of this course go on to become trainers, motivators, careers advisers, managers and consultants within large multinational companies, government departments, or in any organization where advanced knowledge of organizational psychology may be useful.
Your time commitment
This is an online programme, enabling you to fit your studies around work and family commitments. We estimate that to complete in the minimum study period you should be prepared to devote 20 hours per week during the academic session (February-September).
Note: an MSc and Postgraduate Diploma in Organizational Psychology is also available.
MSc: 10 modules (6 compulsory modules plus 4 further modules)
Postgraduate Diploma: 6 modules (6 compulsory modules)
Two core modules
- Organizational analysis
An overview of the different levels of analysis within organizational research. Emphasis will be placed on the different paradigms from which to analyse organizations, and the roles of theories and facts. Evidence-based and reflexive practice will be evaluated, as well as some specific focus on analysing power, gender and ethics. The aim of this module is to provide a sound basis from which to explore, evaluate and critique any issue within occupational psychology or organizational behaviour.
- Organizational research
Introduces the areas of knowledge which are necessary to critically evaluate research reports and papers, and provides the knowledge needed to carry out a quantitative or qualitative research project. Areas covered will include: research design; sampling; both qualitative and quantitative approaches to data collection; the statistical analysis of quantitative data; the preparation of research reports and the use of different paradigms in research.
- Leadership and human resource management
This module discusses different approaches to managing and leading people at work. In particular two main topics are covered: first, Human Resource Management, which focuses on theory and practice of the management of employment or people in organizations. Second, Leadership, which focuses largely on the management of “soft factors” at work from the perspective of leader and followers and the processes evolving between them.
- Employment relations
This module provides an overview of current developments in employee relations. It considers the influence of employers, employees, trade unions and the state in shaping the employment relationship. Areas covered include the issues of management strategy and strategic choice; flexibility in employment and managing diversity; the reform of pay determination and performance management; the role of trade unions and the management of conflict; and the role of the state as an employer. The aim of the course is to develop a critical understanding of changing patterns of employee relations.
- International human resource management Birkbeck
This module addresses the issues raised by international and comparative Human Resource Management. It explores the impact of national culture, the debates in the comparative HRM literature and examples of differences in the way HRM is conducted around the world. It also examines how international organizations deal with the extra complexity that operating internationally brings to HRM.
- Practices in human resource management
This module is concerned with the practice of human resource management in organisations. It considers issues relating to the links between HRM strategy, policy and practice, highlighting potential models of best practice and barriers to successful implementation, where appropriate. It discusses HRM policy and practice concerning recruitment and selection, organizational exit, performance management, careers, training and development, job design and reward. It examines employee relations and equal opportunities in the context of their relationship with HRM.
Four further modules selected from (MSc only)
- Selection and assessment
- Convenor: Chris Dewberry
- Lecturer: Chris Dewberry
- Pre-requisites: None
- Assessment: Examination
The module is designed to provide an introduction to key techniques for selection and assessment at work, including issues relating to the reliability and validity of these methods. It also covers the nature of job performance, the relationships between cognitive ability and personality and job performance, psychological processes affecting selection decisions, and fairness.
The aims of this module are to:
- To describe the context in which personnel selection takes.
- To consider the nature of human performance in an organizational context, the ways it can be assessed, and issues relating to such assessment.
- To examine the variables which can be used to predict job performance.
- To describe and evaluate a variety of psychological processes which are likely to influence the personnel selection and assessment process.
- To describe various personnel selection processes and consider their merits and drawbacks.
- To consider various statistical and other issues relevant to the evaluation of the validity of selection methods.
- To examine ways of evaluating the fairness of selection methods and to discuss the issue of fairness in selection.
At the end of this module students will:
- Explain the context in which personnel selection takes place.
- Txplain different accounts of the nature of job performance, discuss ways in which performance can be assessed in organizations, and ways in which job performance can be measured.
- Discuss psychological and other variables which may influence job performance.
- Discuss psychological and other variables which may influence the selection and assessment process.
- Describe and evaluate a range of common selection practices and techniques.
- Discuss statistical and other ways of evaluating the validity and reliability of selection methods, and describe evidence relating to the validity a common selection methods.
- Critically evaluate various statistical and other approaches to the evaluation of the fairness of selection methods.
- Gregory, R. J. (2010). Psychological testing: history, principles, and applications (6th ed.). Boston, Mass.: Allyn and Bacon.
- Chamorro-Premuzic, T. and Furnham, A. (2010). The Psychology of Personnel Selection. Cambridge University Press Cambridge.
- Ployhart, R. E., Schneider, B., & Schmitt, N. (2006). Staffing organizations: Contemporary practice and theory (3rd ed.). Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.
- Life career development
- Convenor: Kate Mackenzie Davey
- Lecturers: Helen Cooper, Janet Sheath, Adrian Ward
- Pre-requisites: Successful completion of prior programme modules
- Assessment: Group work and 3000 word essay
This module reflects how significant careers have become as the world has become more complex and individualistic. A hotly debated issue in career studies is the extent to which people are experiencing more mobility generally in their careers, spending less time with one employer and making major career changes throughout their working life. Although anecdotal evidence suggests that this may be the case, large-scale research studies don't entirely bear this out. However, one change that does seem to be happening is an increased diversity in careers. Another focus is the importance of work in relation to the rest of life and the challenges of maintaining a healthy balance.
The challenge for both scholars and practitioners is to understand and explain this and to help individuals navigate their careers in this new context.
The module is based on a study guide. This begins by defining the term 'career' and discussing how social scientists in different disciplines have approached the study of careers. The effects of social, economic and organizational changes on individuals’ careers are outlined, and you are asked to think about your own career using concepts from the literature.
- Chapter 2 discusses theories of occupational choice and career decision making, and outlines some implications of these theories for career management practice.
- We then turn in Chapter 3 to examine models of adult development more generally.
- Chapter 4 covers career transitions and the outcomes of these, for example career success and satisfaction. Later in this chapter you are asked to consider career forms other than traditional careers in organisations.
- In Chapter 5 we discuss the impact of social networks and other interpersonal processes on careers, as well as the work-family interface.
- The provision and practice of career management interventions are covered in Chapter 6, and we pay particular attention to mentoring and career counselling.
- The module concludes with a short chapter on the relationship between theory and practice.
The aims of this module are to:
- enable you to acquire an understanding of career development within the total life space of the individual and the organizational and social context
- introduce you to the theory and practice of career management interventions
- help you in your own personal career planning, by using some of the concepts and theories in reviewing your own experiences and setting goals for the future
At the end of this module students will:
- Broadly outline the current employment context and labour market trends.
- Discuss some of the factors that affect occupational choice and career development.
- Identify some of the developmental tasks and processes in adult life.
- Describe how theory can be applied in career management interventions.
- Evaluate theories and models of career development.
- Discuss the provision of career management interventions.
- Use career planning techniques to facilitate your own career development and that of others.
The subject guide provides an overview of the area and directs you to a series of readings. Most of the readings are contained in the textbook for the module; the other readings you will need are available through Birkbeck electronic library. These are an integral part of the module and are all essential reading. Many of the readings are included because they explore an issue in more depth and more critically than is possible in the subject guide; others are reports of empirical studies.
You will also find it helpful to read more widely for the module where you can, following up references cited in the text. Also, at various points optional readings from the Handbook of Career Studies are suggested which expand on particular topics.
Your resources for this module include:
- A subject guide.
- The textbook, the Handbook of Career Studies, edited by Hugh P Gunz and Maury Peiperl.
- Three readings, available from the Birkbeck electronic library.
- Motivation and performance at work
Examines contemporary work motivation theories within a coherent framework and the causes of high performance. Areas to be covered will include: content, need, process, and cognitive theories of work motivation; the identification and measurement of performance criteria; explanations for high performance; and the relationship between performance and a variety of organizational variables including pay, leadership, groups, job design, work systems, technical change, involvement and commitment, attribution and self-efficacy, and goal setting.
- Training and development
The meaning of training and development is explored. Several models of effective training are introduced, and ways of identifying training needs are examined. Theoretical approaches to learning are discussed. Various training methods are covered in relation to both theoretical aspects of learning and the nature of the material to be learnt. Finally, the ways in which training can be evaluated are considered.
- New technology at work
New forms of computer-based technology present both opportunities and challenges for organizations. How can this technology be designed to facilitate effective use? What new ways of working are implicated by advanced technologies? This module covers a range of psychological and organizational issues pertaining to the use of new technology at work, from designing and evaluating the human-machine interface to analysing the management of technological change.
- Dissertation MSc only
The dissertation takes that form of an empirical study, quantitative or qualitative, conducted by the student on some aspect of Organizational Psychology and Human Resource Management. The study is written up as a scientific report of not more than 10,000 words, including bibliography and notes but excluding appendices.
Notes: The two core modules must be taken in the year in which you first attempt an examination. Selection of the 'Dissertation' is subject to the approval of the Programme Director. Dissertation is equivalent to two modules. Not all modules will necessarily be available in every year. With the exception of 'Organizational analysis', 'Organizational research' and the 'Dissertation', all modules can be taken as Short courses. You can register for up to three modules at any one time. The anticipated number of study hours per module is 150 hours.
How you study
When you register we will send you an individual study pack containing a range of specially written materials to help you plan your studies and prepare for examinations including:
- a module handbook (online only) - sample of module handbook [pdf 6pgs 142KB]
- textbooks for certain modules
- details of how to access the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
You will also receive the following study materials online:
- Recorded lectures or dedicated audio recordings for each module studied with associated PowerPoint slides
- Links to recommended journal articles in the online library
Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
The Virtual Learning Environment provides an opportunity, through the internet, for students to interact through tutor-supported computer conferencing. Using the conferencing system you will discuss topics in tutored groups of normally 12 to 15 students. Computer conferencing for each module takes place at specific times of the year.
Computer conferencing for 2013-14
30 September - 13 December
6 January - 21 March
28 April - 11 July
|Research methods||Comparative employment relations||Leadership and performance management|
|Professional development and learning||Human resource strategies||Selection and assessment|
|Leading and developing people||International human resource management||The research project|
The International Programme is self-taught using the study materials provided. These are fully comprehensive: with the exception of the Research project, students are not required to purchase or obtain any other materials. All of the necessary reading material to obtain the MSc or Diploma is supplied.
Students are also able to receive support through academic staff, who mark and give feedback on essay questions and mock examination questions. Although these essays are not compulsory and the marks obtained do not contribute to the overall assessment, students often find it helpful to receive academic feedback on their work to ensure that they are reaching the standard required for the Diploma or MSc. In addition, writing essays can be a useful aid in preparing for examinations.
The fees below refer to the 2014 calendar year only and are effective from 1 November 2013. Fees are subject to annual review.
|Registration fee||£ 1,970|
|Fee per module||£ 1,000|
|Dissertation (MSc only)||£ 2,000|
|Total Postgraduate Diploma||£ 7,970|
|Total MSc||£ 11,970|
|Total per Individual module (taken on a stand-alone basis for CPD)||£ 1,190|
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When to pay
Fees may be paid in one of two ways:
Either, pay the total fee on registration by making a single payment. This covers the registration fee and all module fees;
Or, if you prefer to spread out your payments, pay the registration fee plus the fee for each module you want to take in the first year, and then in subsequent years pay the fee for each new module you take.
How to pay
All University fees must be paid in pounds sterling (GBP). The University accepts:
- Western Union - Quick Pay
- Credit/debit card (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Electron, JCB)
- Sterling banker's draft/cheque
- International money/postal order.
Further details are given in payment methods.
In addition to the fees payable to the University, you should also budget for the fee charged by your local examination centre to cover its costs; this fee will vary.
The University reserves the right to amend previously announced fees, if necessary. For a full list fees that may be applicable, please see the fee schedule.
The following modules are examined by a two-hour unseen written paper:
- Research methods
- Leading and developing people
- Human resource strategies
- Leadership and performance management
- Selection and assessment
All other modules are assessed with written coursework or a computer conference presentation. You do not have to come to London to take your examinations. Examinations are held in local overseas centres around the world as well as in London. Examinations overseas are arranged mainly through Ministries of Education or the British Council. You will be charged a fee by your local examination centre (this fee will vary). For further information please see the Assessment and examinations section of our website.
If you fail an examination at the first sitting you will be allowed one further attempt. If you fail the examination a second time your registration will cease.
The Research Project is assessed by a 10,000 word scientific report. The Research Project is available to MSc students only.
A good honours degree or equivalent, in any subject, from an institution acceptable to the University.
A high level of English language ability in reading, writing and study skills. The University reserves the right to request that you take a test of English proficiency acceptable to the University before offering you a place on the programme.
Students applying for Individual modules should satisfy the entrance requirements for the Postgraduate Diploma or MSc. However, if you do not hold such qualifications, the University may still consider your application but will require evidence of your ability to undertake advanced study.
All students must have regular access to a computer and the internet. This may be for accessing the Student Portal, downloading course materials from the virtual learning environment or accessing resources from the Online Library.
You will also need suitable hardware capacity on your computer for document storage as well as basic software such as a PDF reader.
Some programmes have courses or modules that use additional software. Where this is the case, information is given with the relevant course descriptions.
Dr Chris Dewberry
Chris is also Lecturer on MSc Occupational Psychology and MSc Organizational Behaviour with special responsibility for the module on Selection and Assessment.
Chris is interested in the broad field of selection and assessment. In particular he is interested in the social and psychological processes which selection and assessment involve, and the consequences of these processes for organizational practice. An example of this is his work on the processes which might lead to differences in the assessed performance of white and ethnic minority trainees.
Chris's publications include:
Dewberry, C. Statistical Methods for Organizational Research: Theory and Practice. London, Taylor and Francis. Published August 2004.
Dewberry, C. Performance disparities between whites and ethnic minorities: Real differences or assessment bias? Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology, 74, 659-673.
Cavenagh, P., Dewberry, C. & Jones, P. (2000). Becoming professional: When and how does it start? A comparative study of 1st year medical and law students in the UK. Medical Education, September.
Cavanagh, P. and Dewberry, C. 'Buggin's turn or Buggin's choice?' A study of why or why not consultants take on clinical director roles in NHS trusts. The Clinician in Management. In press.