Programme content

The modules on the MA in HR and Consulting are taught over three terms, with a break at Christmas and Easter.

The related coursework assessment is not necessarily connected to one individual module but gives you scope to explore themes and issues arising from more than one area of study.

Michaelmas term : October-December

The programme begins with an Induction Week, setting the scene for the MA as a whole. Groupwork activities are used to help students get to know one another and to reflect on styles of individual and team learning.

In Term 1 you study four modules:

Introduction to Human Resources and Consulting

Providing the essential building blocks for the programme and links to subsequent areas of study, this module covers the nature and purpose of HR and consulting and reviews management and organisational learning as a field of enquiry. It also develops interpersonal and collaborative learning skills and links these to associated theories.

Organisational Learning and Knowledge Management

Despite the growing importance of knowledge management for organisations large and small, the systems introduced have often not lived up to expectations, largely because they fail to take account of the learning processes within organisations. This module helps you review the development of ideas about organisational learning and knowledge before considering how these ideas apply to real-life organisations – including those in which programme participants have working experience.

Research Methods I

This first research module introduces you to various research methods (e.g. interviews, participant observation, focus groups),with practical sessions to help you develop the necessary skills. It looks at the ethical and technical aspects of research methods and provides background on theoretical perspectives which are drawn upon in HR and consulting as well as more widely in management studies.

Design and Dynamics of Learning

The focus of this module is on the design of education, development and training events and on the processes that create the best environments and conditions for learning. The module has a significant practical element as you are invited to carry out your own learning designs, using the ideas and theories to which you have been introduced.

Lent term: January-March

In Term 2, you study three further modules: 

Advances in HR and Leadership

This module takes an advanced view into contemporary HR, the world of leadership and its development. On this module you will explore the idea of talent through the eyes of the HR director, the chief executive, the finance and strategy directors and many others. During the module you examine what global service delivery looks like and the role played in shaping contemporary HR and talent practices by leading-edge consulting. The module includes external speakers; in past years these have included speakers from Accenture, Deloitte, IBM, PA Consulting and the National Health Service. An important aspect of HR and Consulting is understanding leadership and on this module you will be introduced to contemporary and critical debates on rethinking leadership. 

Organisational Diagnosis and Consulting

This module gives you practical experience of working as a consultant and is highly relevant both to subsequent dissertations and to future employment in HR or organisational development. It looks at the nature of consulting and the role of internal and external consultants – both from a theoretical and a practical standpoint. It considers the research skills required for consultancy work and examines various ways of managing projects and organisational interventions. Working in small teams you then undertake a live consultancy for a client organisation, analysing the issues in the client’s brief and advising them on an appropriate course of action.

Research Methods 2

The second research module goes into more depth on different research methods and approaches, with further practical sessions to help you develop your research skills. The module also explores the various issues involved in designing and planning a research project. It provides particular theoretical perspectives in relation to data analysis and helps you with techniques for analysing your own data.

Summer term: April-September

In the final stage of the programme you complete three further modules, including a substantial dissertation:

International HR and Leadership Development

This module provides a foundation for understanding key contemporary and global HR and leadership challenges facing organisations and HR practitioners and consultants in major economies. Examining these issues the module considers the implications for the continued development of the workforce and leaders, and also offers an opportunity to consider your own leadership development as a future HR and Consulting practitioner. 

Quantitative and Survey Research Methods

This module provides detailed guidance on undertaking large-scale research, using a range of quantitative research methods. The main methods covered are descriptive data analysis, statistical relationships (correlation and regression analysis), hypothesis testing, data reduction analysis (factor analysis) and data classification analysis (discriminant analysis).

Dissertation

Occupying the final three months of the programme, the dissertation allows you to undertake an extended piece of research in an area of particular personal interest, and to study that topic in depth. The research for the dissertation is frequently carried out in a company or across a series of companies/organisations.