MSc/Postgraduate Diploma/Postgraduate Certificate Human Resource Management

Entry year
Course code
Bristol Business School
MSc: 12 months. PG Diploma: 11 months.
Full time
Programme leader
Dr Sarah-Louise Weller

Page last updated 13 April 2021


Bristol Business School has been a leading provider of professional HRM education for nearly 50 years. With one of the largest teams of HRM experts, long-established links with the CIPD, and up-to-the-minute, practitioner-focused training, we are widely regarded as a leading name in the field.

Accreditations and partnerships:

Imaginative and expertly-designed human resource management (HRM) is seen by today's leaders as central to an organisation's success. HR practitioners are an integral part of that success, and as recognition of the distinctive contribution of human resource management grows, it is increasingly valued, both as a career in its own right and as a foundation for careers in other branches of management.

Bristol Business School offers two popular Masters in Human Resource Management, both of which are recognised by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), providing a route into the profession in a wide range of industry sectors and for which applications will be considered from graduates of any discipline.

  • The MSc in Human Resource Management is for students from Britain or elsewhere who are pursuing an HR career in the UK. Tailored to the needs of British HR professionals.
  • The MSc in Human Resource Management(International) has a more international and comparative focus. If you wish to practise HRM outside the UK, this course is likely to better suit your needs. Visit our MSc in Human Resource Management (International) page for more information.
  • The MSc Human Resource Management (part time) programme is aimed at students with work experience in a HR or similar environment.  This version does not include a placement but does require students to draw on their experience in the classroom and in assessments.  Visit our MSc Human Resource Management (part time) page for further information.

Teaching expertise

Bristol Business School has one of the largest and most diverse teams of human resource management subject experts of any university in Britain. Many of the tutors on our HRM Masters are active in HR-related research and have worked in the industry across a diverse range of sectors. Most tutors are Chartered Members or Fellows of the CIPD.

Professional links  

We have long-established links with the CIPD and share their aim of championing better work and better working lives. Our courses lead to associate CIPD membership and satisfy the knowledge requirements for the highest membership grades. Student membership of the CIPD comes free with the full-time programme.

Personal approach

The Human Resource Management Masters is designed, above all, to target the needs of practitioners, with education that is intellectually stretching, practically relevant and up to the minute. A particular feature is the very personal interest we take in your development. Using psychometric assessments, skills development workshops and a range of practical activities, we will profile your unique attributes, develop your strengths and offer extensive feedback on your progress throughout. Our mentoring programme offers every student a personal link to a local HR professional who will discuss your progress with you and help you to relate the content of the course to practice.

Preparing for employment          

Our intensive programme prepares you to contribute immediately in an entry level HR role, or (if you are already employed within the field) to take your career to a more senior level. Recent employers include Avon & Somerset Constabulary, British American Tobacco, Barclays Bank, Colgate Palmolive, Deloitte, KPMG, L'Oréal (Paris), the National Health Service, Nestlé, and Towers Watson plc. Local employers approach us directly to fill HR vacancies.

Ten-week work-based research placement                      

We arrange a ten-week placement for full-time students in a local organisation between May and July. Here, you'll investigate a live HR issue for the purpose of your dissertation research. This challenging project develops research, consultancy, influencing and practical problem-solving skills. Your workplace supervisor and research tutor will guide you towards a viable, creative and business-focused solution.

Look at our student profiles and join us on LinkedIn to find out more.

Watch: The learning and teaching experience



The department is currently reviewing the curriculum for this course, so the topics of study and modules listed are subject to change.

The course is ideal if you are looking to change career or want a professional qualification that will help you resume working after a break. Contact programme leader Dr Sarah-Louise Weller for more details.

Option to study for a Postgraduate Diploma instead

You have the option of working towards a Postgraduate (PG) Diploma if you are not concerned about achieving a full Masters. You will complete the same taught programme as Masters students. The only differences are that you write a shorter management research report in place of the dissertation and (if you are studying full-time) your organisation placement is shortened from ten to six weeks.

Compulsory modules

The first stage of the course provides an introduction to the theory, practice and context for human resource management and consists of the following compulsory modules:

  • Managing People in Organisations explores the contribution of people to organisational success in a range of contexts. Topics include high performance work practices, motivation, leadership, understanding individual differences, organisational change and culture.
  • Human Resource Management in a Strategic Context considers three areas of influence on the practice of HRM: the external context, including legal, social and labour market issues; the internal context, including roles and organisation of the HR function and its contribution; and the strategic context.
  • Human Resource Management develops knowledge of the main theories underpinning HRM and its links to organisational strategy. It introduces the core disciplines of development, resourcing, employee relations and reward, and considers how they are integrated.
  • Applied Human Resource Management and Business Skills develops professional competency in a range of general management and HRM-specific skills underpinning successful management practice and effective leadership. Thees include interpersonal skills, interviewing, delivering training and understanding finance.

Elective modules

We offer an unusually wide choice of elective modules. These allow you the opportunity to focus in on more specialist interests; full-time students can choose from a range of international and comparative modules at this stage of the course. You will select four electives from the following list but they may be subject to change and only those chosen by at least twelve students will run:

  • Resourcing and Talent Management* explores the contribution that resourcing and talent management activities can make to organisational success, with topics such as identifying and developing talent, managing turnover and retention, downsizing and rebuilding human capital, and wellness at work.
  • Performance Management* develops insight into the theoretical issues and concepts surrounding performance management. It also fosters an understanding of the practices that contribute to improving the performance of individuals, teams and organisations.
  • Managing Reward* considers the strategic role of reward processes in developing organisational change programmes and promoting flexibility and innovation. Topics include different approaches to rewarding performance, equal pay and gender issues, the case of 'special groups' and the role of international reward.
  • Employment Law* enhances your knowledge of employment law in the UK and enables you to make constructive contributions to achieving compliance with relevant legislation in the workplace. The module includes a mock employment tribunal.
  • Employee Relations* develops the knowledge and understanding of employee relations required by HR practitioners. You will learn about the implications of the internationalisation of employee relations policies and EU membership on employee relations policies, issues and practices.
  • International Standards and Employment Law describes and assesses emerging international standards (eg United Nations, International Labour Organisation and European Union) relevant to HR policy and practice in the light of their implications for specific labour markets and for HRM practitioners.
  • International Resourcing and Talent Management* analyses key linkages between organisational strategy and HR strategy in the areas of employee selection, performance management and career development practices.
  • Equality and Diversity from a Comparative Perspective charts the rise of equality and diversity concerns within organisations in a comparative international context. Considers the implications of equality and diversity for HR practice in recruitment, reward, management and work-life balance.

* You must choose two of these to qualify for CIPD accreditation.

The management research report or dissertation

For the final phase of the course, you have the choice of writing either a management research report (which leads to a Postgraduate Diploma) or a dissertation (which leads to a Masters). This part of the course is designed to develop your applied understanding and research skills. The project you work on should be of real value to your host organisation.

The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved, we will inform you.

Learning and Teaching

We use a range of teaching methods on this course, with the aim of making the content as interactive, theoretically accessible, and practically focused as possible. You will learn through a combination of tutor-led and student-led activities, including small group work, group presentations and discussion, student-led seminars, case studies and role plays. Practical skills development is integral to the course and a number of skills workshops are included in the curriculum. The tutors come from a mix of academic and practitioner backgrounds.

For more details, see our glossary of teaching and learning terms.

Study time

The MSc can be completed in 12 months. Students studying with a Tier 4 visa will be issued with a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) statement based on the first available dissertation submission date. The full-time Postgraduate Diploma can be completed within 11 months.

Attendance typically involves four days per week, so you can seek part-time employment on a regular week day, if you wish to do so.

Study support

As some students join the course without an undergraduate degree, or after a long break from education, there is plenty of tutorial support while you adjust to Masters level study. This includes a study skills programme in the early weeks and assessment activities, with ready access to tutors' advice and feedback on your progress.


A range of different forms of assessment are used throughout the course, including written assignments, tests, exams, reflective log, presentations and group exercises. Assessment of skills and competence also forms part of the overall assessment strategy.

For more detail see our full glossary of assessment terms.


Professional accreditation

The MSc in Human Resource Management is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which represents a worldwide community of more than 135,000 members. Student membership of the CIPD comes with the programme, and the University pays your membership fees for your year of study. Most tutors on the course are Chartered Members or Fellows of the Institute.


You will undertake a ten-week placement in a local organisation arranged by the University (or a six-week one if you are working towards the Postgraduate Diploma). During your placement, you will investigate a live organisational issue for the purpose of your dissertation or research project. This challenging project develops your research, consultancy, influencing and practical problem-solving skills. Your workplace supervisor and research tutor will guide you towards a viable, creative and business-like solution.

Professional networking 

Studying on the Human Resource Management Masters means you will also have numerous opportunities for networking with HR practitioners across the South West. We have close links with the CIPD and encourage you to play an active part in your local CIPD branch.

Study facilities

You will have access to a wide range of facilities to enhance your learning experience. This includes:

  • the facilities at Bristol Business School, including our postgraduate study rooms and computer labs
  • the University library which is open 24 hours a day
  • access to HRM databases such as Business Source Premier, XpertHr and IDS Studies, where you can search for information on employment law, industrial relations and HR policy across case studies, peer reviewed journals and reports.

Find out more about the facilities and resources UWE has to offer.


Careers / Further study

Our intensive Masters equips you with the professional knowledge and skills you will need to make an immediate contribution in an HR role, or (if you are already employed within the field) to take your career to a more senior level.

Recent employers include Avon & Somerset Constabulary, British American Tobacco, Barclays Bank, Colgate Palmolive, Deloitte, KPMG, L'Oréal (Paris), the National Health Service, Nestlé, and Towers Watson plc.

We prepare you for advancing in your career in a number of ways, including:

  • a six or ten-week placement in a local organisation (on the full-time route)
  • practical workshops, to coach you in selection, interviewing, discipline, training and negotiating skills
  • guest speaker events and visits to local organisations where you can learn about current practice in different organisations
  • access to our award-winning careers advisory service.

Our award-winning careers service helps you develop your employment potential through career coaching, a vacancy service for internships, placements, jobs, global opportunities, volunteering and community activity plus support for entrepreneurial activity, and access to employer events.


Supplementary fee information

For information on fees please see our tuition fees pages.

Details of funding options can be found on our funding and scholarships information page.



Entry requirements

You will need:

  • an honours degree (minimum 2:2) in any subject
  • to be able to demonstrate a keen and informed interest in HRM.

If you do not have a first degree, you may still be able to take the course but you will need to complete a written assessment exercise.

Applicants to the course:

Applicants to the course should pay especially close attention to the personal statement which forms part of the application form. You should show why you are interested in managing people or specialist human resource management and explain why you believe you are suited to a career in this area.

You will be invited to attend an open morning (usually in July) to answer any questions you have, and to give you comprehensive information about the course and what it involves.

English Language Requirement

If English is not your first language, you will be required to meet the UK Border Agency and Universities minimum English Language requirements such as the International English Language Test (IELTS) overall score of 6.5 with 5.5 in each component.

How to apply

Deadline for application:
The deadline for applying for this course is three weeks before the start date.

For further information