The MA Human Resource Management direct entry stage is a research-based programme that has been developed to help you progress to management roles or consultancy. Combining theory and practice, it gives you the opportunity to gain specific insights into organisational behaviour and design and then to focus on an area of HRM research that is of specific interest.
The module and dissertation below will be the only requirements to top up the PG Diploma to the full MA HRM award.
Understanding and Researching Organisations: In this module you will develop a framework for understanding, analysing and researching organisations. The content includes both a (traditional) focus on core research methods and an emphasis on ensuring that you have a sound understanding of the organisational context in which management research takes place. The module draws on a range of perspectives from organisation theory and supports a critical awareness of organisations including such things as job design, internal processes, cultural dynamics and change. This awareness will be developed in a manner which prepares students for the completion of high quality, rigorous and systematic management research required for a dissertation. As part of this, you will also develop an appreciation of the use of primary and secondary data common in organisational research as well as the full range of generic methodological issues, procedures and study skills.
The dissertation: This is an in-depth research project into an organisational issue. You will generate high quality, rigorous and systematic applied research. You will reflect critically on relevant theoretical and philosophical assumptions, alongside the ethics of undertaking management research. You will be assigned an individual supervisor, who will support you to develop and implement a rigorous research design collecting data in an organisation of your choice. One of the key skills for professionals in HR is to be able to investigate, diagnose and report on relevant business issues and make practical recommendations for change or improvement within an organisation. This dissertation allows you to develop and practise these skills at a high level.
As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you choose from may vary from those listed here.
Teaching and learning
Students studying online participate in individual and group-based learning, all within a supportive online community setting. The online campus provides you with:
- Highly structured, user friendly written lecture and course materials
- Audio and video podcast materials specially recorded by course tutors
- Virtual tutorials, in real time as well as over a period of time
- Discussion forums - student and tutor led
- Up-to-date web technology for delivery methods
- Access to our online library.
Students studying through a combination of online and on-campus learning will also participate in a range of classes on our Headington Campus.
Teaching staff are drawn primarily from the Department of Business and Management within the Business School. There are some contributions from specialists in other departments. Visiting speakers from business and industry, local government, consultancies and research bodies provide further input both online and on-campus.
Approach to assessment
Your Understanding of Research Organisations module will be assessed through a research proposal and a research methods portfolio. Your dissertation will be a 20,000 word report on the outcomes of your organisational research project.
Oxford Brookes Business School has now moved to its new home at our Headington Campus. The university’s Headington Campus have undergone a £30m refurbishment to provide a new home for the Business School, which consists of a lecture theatre, teaching rooms, social learning space and a café. There is a new modern hall for teaching and special events like graduation.
This new home will help us to collaborate even more closely with university colleagues in other departments. It also provides a new Main Hall and a vibrant gateway into the Headington Campus. With these innovative spaces, students and staff can interact and collaborate in first-class facilities.
The Headington Campus is also home to the new John Henry Brookes Building, being the most significant project in the history of Oxford Brookes University. Set at the heart of our Headington campus, it has been designed for the future of higher education and has transformed the experiences of our students and the entire University community. The John Henry Brookes Building brings together the library and essential support services that offer academic, careers and international student advice. Find out more about the John Henry Brookes Building.
The majority of our student halls are close to the Headington Campus.
Here is an example of a session that you would experience on your Understanding and Researching Organisations Module.
Session Plan P57107
Session 2. The nature and philosophy of qualitative research and how to conduct a literature review
In this session, we will cover:
The nature and philosophy of qualitative research
Researching your organisation
Theorising Organisation Theory
Conducting a literature review
The type of questions we consider in this session include:
- Revisiting the previous session: in what way is the interpretivist way of thinking fundamentally different to a positivist way of thinking? Which philosophies does interpretivism draw on?
- What are the features of qualitative research within an interpretivist paradigm?
- How might we think about qualitative research in relation to organisations in which we work?
- A literature review: what is it, where do we start, and more importantly, where do we end?
After a recap of the difference between positivism and interpretivism, the topic in the first session, the lecture will talk about the nature of qualitative research, how to imagine doing a qualitative research project on your organisation, and which organisational theories would be appropriate to use.
In the second part of the lecture, we will discuss strategies for carrying out a literature review.
Essential readings and other preparation:
Hatch - Chapter 1 Why study organisation theory;
Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill - Chapter 3 Critically reviewing the literature;
Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill - Chapter 4 Understanding research philosophy and theory development
Ridley, D. (2012) The literature review: a step-by-step guide for students. London: Sage.
Discussion forum: please click on the forum icon and make your contribution by the stipulated time.
To help you ponder the differences between what is objectively observable (a feature of positivism) and what needs to be interpreted, why not take part in this thought experiment:
"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"
Consider these questions:
What does anything need, to be perceived as existing?
If we can’t hear it (or see and experience it), does it then not matter?
The Understanding and Researching Organisations module runs from September to May with sessions offered at key points over that time. Sessions offered online will sometimes require being in the online classroom at particular times in the early evening, but mostly will require work in the student’s own time during 2-3 week periods that are advised at the start of the programme. Where students have chosen to attend on-campus, sessions will be offered during the early evening and occasionally on Saturdays at the Headington Campus.
The Dissertation Module does not involve any formal taught sessions (online or on-campus) and is focused on 1-1 work with a supervisor. All this work can be scheduled to meet the student’s availability.
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published
on the website. For more information, please visit our
Changes to programmes