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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Business School : Common Courses (Management School)

Postgraduate Course: Human Resource Management In Context (CMSE11177)

Course Outline
SchoolBusiness School CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits15 ECTS Credits7.5
SummaryThis course provides a broad introduction to, and understanding of, the principal internal and external environmental contexts of contemporary organisations. This covers both the managerial and business context, within which Human Resource Management (HRM) professionals, managers and employees must learn to interact, often under challenging conditions of environmental turbulence, change and uncertainty.

Course description Aims, Nature, Context

The course examines how leading organisations in various sectors and industries respond to trends and features of their dynamic internal and environmental contexts. It indicates how those working in the HR function need to work with the rest of the organisation and its stakeholders to recognise and acknowledge how corporate decisions are shaped by various forces, and how these decisions might be made most effectively given the business environment.

This means learning to identify and evaluate a range of internal and external forces, often beyond the immediate or direct control of the HR function itself. Having studied this course, students will therefore be aware that HR professionals and managers in different types of organisation (small, large, national, global) not only have opportunities and choices when taking organisational decisions, but also face some constraints on their autonomy in determining their futures.

The course explores the implications for professional HR policy and practice of engaging with broader business environments and trends, and provides opportunities for applied learning and continuous professional development.


1. HRM in contemporary organisations and defining business environments.
2. The line management and professional context of HRM.
3. HRM (and general business) strategy.
4. Market and competitive organisational environments facing HRM.
5. Globalisation and the world economy's impact on HRM.
6. Government policy, legal regulation, and HRM.
7. Demographic and social trends affecting HRM.
8. Technology and HRM.
9. Ethics, social responsibility, sustainability and HRM.
10. Course overview and revision of weeks 1-9.

Student Learning Experience

This course provides students with a wide understanding of the boundaries and key areas of concern across the field of HRM, through examples and topics addressed in lectures. Lectures will all be digitally recorded using Panopto software so students can listen to them again in a flexible and interactive format.

The students use class exercises and case study examples to facilitate interactive student discussions applying HRM frameworks to contemporary business problems, with formative feedback provided to individuals and groups where appropriate. Two guest speakers with established backgrounds in the HR profession will also deliver sessions in the course on cutting-edge areas of HR strategy and practice that have been, and can be, applied to client organisations where HR is making a real difference to success.

Essay and final assessment provide opportunities for students to analyse HRM issues and topics by critically and in more depth, summarising multiple viewpoints and making related recommendations for policy and practice, and receiving further formative and summative feedback on completion of this assessed work.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements For Business School PG students only, or by special permission of the School. Please contact the course secretary.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 150 ( Lecture Hours 20, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 3, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 125 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) 50hrs advance of lectures, 35hrs group/class discussion, 20hrs on essay, 20hrs final assessment
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework (40%) An essay where students analyse an industry/sector business context of their choice, and its implications for HRM, using academic and media sources. This assessment maps to Learning Outcomes LO2, LO3, LO4.

Individual final assessment - open book exam format (60%) Students choose two options from a range of five and complete short essays on the options chosen. The five options correspond to major weeks of the course, requiring students to discuss a particular set of forces affecting business contexts and HR. This assessment maps to Learning Outcomes LO1, LO3, LO4, LO5.
Feedback All students will be given at least one formative feedback or feed forward event for every course they undertake, provided during the semester in which the course is taken and in time to be useful in the completion of summative work on the course. Such feedback may be at course or programme level, but must include input of relevance to each course in the latter case.

For the current course, students will be encouraged to meet briefly with the course organiser/lecturer for some formative feedback ahead of their essay completion (summative work), based on their essay choice and study skills on starting the MSc. Students will also be given formative feedback on their essay alongside their summative essay mark, in time for it to be of potential use for them in successfully completing their examination (summative work).

Feedback on formative assessed work will be provided within 15 working days of submission, or in time to be of use in subsequent assessments within the course, whichever is sooner. Summative marks will be returned on a published timetable, which has been made clear to students at the start of the academic year.

Students will gain feedback on their understanding of the material when they discuss their answers in class concerning cases, debates and other types of exercise. Students may also ask questions directly before, during, and after Lectures to assess their own individual levels of knowledge and understanding in a timely fashion.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand and critically evaluate the range of contemporary business organisations and to explain how they fit into their principal environments.
  2. Understand and critically evaluate the managerial and business environment within which HR professionals work
  3. Critically evaluate how organisational and HR strategies are shaped by and developed in response to internal and external environmental factors.
  4. Summarise key globalisation and international forces and discuss how they interact with organisational HR strategies and practices.
  5. Analyse economic, political, demographic/social, legal/regulatory and technological trends in terms of how they interact with organisational and HR strategies and HR practices.
Reading List
KEW, J and STREDWICK, J. (2010, 2013) HRM in a Business Context. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Subject Specific Skills:
Evaluate market and competitive environments of various types of organisations and be able to critically explain how HR professionals can try to respond to them and engage with them
Analyse and explain the impact of various environmental trends (e.g. legal/regulatory, economic, technological, and demographic) and how these relate to and interact with organisational and HR strategies and practices.

Transferable skills:
competently communicate and exchange ideas in both large and small group settings;
critically evaluate evidence and present a balanced argument;
Plan, organise and prioritise work effectively.
KeywordsHRM-HRM in Context
Course organiserDr Thomas Calvard
Tel: (0131 6)51 5313
Course secretaryMiss Lauren Millson
Tel: (0131 6)51 3013
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