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MA Human Resource Management - Fast Track


Oxford Brookes Business School

A fast-track MA for Postgraduate Diploma holders – study online or on campus

The MA Human Resource Management via the direct entry route is aimed at HR professionals who already have a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resource Management (120 Level 7 credits) and want to top up their qualification to a full MA. It can be taken entirely online or via a mixture of online and on-campus study. It offers maximum flexibility, enabling you to study in your own time, wherever you are and in a way that suits your circumstances. Whichever way you choose, you experience a high level of personal support and learning resources.

So if you are already CIPD qualified to postgraduate diploma level, this offers you a straightforward and cost-effective way of achieving a full MA in Human Resource Management. If you are aiming for a Strategic/Senior Management role, the MA is a great way of showing your commitment to building an all-round high level performance profile.

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.

To find out more, come to a Postgraduate Open Day or join an MA HRM Online Information Session.

Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus / Distance learning

Course length

  • Part time: 12 months

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • Your career: Oxford Brookes University has been successfully offering development programmes for working HR professionals for more than 25 years. Our courses provide you with the means to accelerate your career.
  • Flexibility in learning: You can study on-campus or online from wherever you are, giving you the flexibility of learning in your own time and in the way that suits you best. You can determine when and where to study to fit the master’s degree in with your other work and home commitments and also benefit from access to a wealth of university resources online.
  • Our reputation: Oxford Brookes is well known for its effective online learning programmes, with our MBA being ranked in the top 10 globally in the QS Distance Online MBA rankings.
  • Distinctive and competitively priced: We are one of the few universities to offer such a flexible route to topping up your PG Diploma to an MA. You benefit from a competitively priced master’s programme from an internationally recognised university.
  • Industry relevant teaching: You will be taught by academics who are both researchers and experienced HR practitioners, passionate about their subjects and keen to support you throughout your studies. You will also benefit from innovative teaching, assessment and learning materials that will give you access to the latest ideas and research into HRM. As a result your studies directly impact your workplace not just after but also during your course.
  • Professional Network: We actively keep in touch with our graduates, their employers, and local CIPD branch activities. This puts you in touch with great people from across the profession, and once a year we invite all these groups to come together at our Annual Postgraduate HR Research Conference.

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.

Specialist facilities

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.

Sample work

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?

Lecture topics

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

Additional reading

Ridley, D. (2012) The literature review: a step-by-step guide for students. London: Sage.

Session activities 

Discussion forum: please click on the forum icon and make your contribution by the stipulated time.  

Self-directed activity

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?

Attendance pattern

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.

Programme changes

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 page.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - part time fee: 2019/20: £2,280 2020/21: £2,350

Home/EU - distance learning fee: 2019/20: £2,280 2020/21: £2,350

International - distance learning fee: 2019/20: £2,280 2020/21: £2,350

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

Entry requirements

A Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resource Management (120 level 7 credits) from a recognised institution.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you will need to have the following level of English language competency:

  • IELTS minimum 6.0 (with a minimum of 6.0 in reading and writing and 5.5 in listening and speaking).

Please also see the university's standard English language requirements

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • If you need to take a pre-master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course, you can take our two year master’s course. This course combine the pre-master's diploma and your master's in one application. You can apply for one visa for the two years of study.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

Please contact Business School enquiries if you need help with your application or require any further information.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

How this course helps you develop

This programme is an excellent way of providing you with a springboard to progress in your career in HR. Students who have completed it in the past report not only career advancement but also an enhanced sense of professional confidence and self-belief. The programme enjoys a high completion rate and is guided by a tutorial team comprising research active and experienced HR practitioners.

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

Staff in the Human Resource Management team have a wide range of research and consultancy experience and interests. This body of research and expertise will help to guide your own research projects and assignments. Individual tuition through the dissertation phase will support you to develop your research ideas.

In addition, the school has a panel of visiting practitioners and specialists from industrial, commercial, voluntary sector and public sector bodies who are invited to contribute to the programme.

All the Support Services at Oxford Brookes will be introduced to you during the Induction Sessions. Induction is a really important stage of the programme and we will ensure that your feel confident to start and progress your studies. The Induction Sessions for those studying online have been specially designed to ensure that even at a distance you are fully integrated into the university’s systems and into your chosen community of learners.

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Research highlights

Research areas and clusters

Related to this subject there are two research clusters in the International Centre for Coaching and Mentoring Studies and the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice.

Research clusters

Research areas and clusters

Related to this subject there are two research clusters in the International Centre for Coaching and Mentoring Studies and the Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice.

Research clusters

Stemming from the nature of the department, research covers a very wide range of subjects in many disciplinary areas. Research areas within the field of human resource management include: employee relations, international human resource management, employee wellbeing, equal opportunities and diversity management.