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Strategic People Management MSc

2024-25 (also available for 2025-26)

This course is eligible for Master's loan funding. Find out more.

Start date

16 September 2024

6 January 2025


1 year full-time

Places available (subject to change)


About the course

Reasons to study

  1. Once you complete this course you will be eligible to apply to the CIPD for Associate Membership of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) which employers value.
  2. Our links with the West Yorkshire CIPD branch offer continual professional development events, additional networking, advice, mentoring, and updates from the profession.
  3. Study at an AACSB International accredited Business School. Globally, less than 6% of institutions offering business degrees achieve this accreditation.

This course enhances your career development within the 'people profession' and has been approved by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the UK’s HRM accrediting body, to prepare you for the Advanced level standards of the CIPD new profession map and to provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue Chartered Membership of CIPD. Valued by employers, CIPD qualifications help you to develop the business understanding and technical knowledge that employers look for.

This course offers blend of practical personal development and critical analysis of emerging HR trends and issues that organisations face. There is a focus on strategic thinking and understanding business challenges to prepare you for your future career in people management and organisational engagement. It is relevant to HR practitioners in the public, private, not-for-profit sectors, and international HRM.

You will graduate with an enhanced personal professional profile and greater awareness of how HRM practices can add value to corporate strategy and enhance better work and working lives. In addition, you will be able to access the University of Huddersfield’s Capstone project, providing you with the opportunity to pursue a chosen topic of interest in learning and development to greater depth through research, consultancy or venture launch options.

On this course you will develop knowledge and practical skills across a broad range of topics leading to Associate Membership of the CIPD. After graduating, with relevant work experience you can apply to upgrade your membership to Chartered Member or Chartered Fellow.

Course detail

Core modules:

Working lives in context

The context of work can be as important as the content of work, whether that’s at the global or local levels, in different work sectors and industries, or even simply in different sizes of organisations. Not only are these contexts inter-related, there is very little that is static about them, with upheavals in one part of the world impacting on work migration patterns in another; the tangled webs of supply chains that connect the global to the local and the world of work being constantly reframed through organisational change and mergers, social, political and environmental shifts, even pandemics. And in no two organisations are people management practices the same. These challenges encompass changes to the intrinsic nature of work, increased flexibilisation with demands for new skills, the expansion of non-standard work contracts, all raising a range of ethical and practical concerns. Despite these changes and challenges, we all remain driven to find meaning in work, even more than we seek reward or promotion (Grant, 2007). In this module you will explore these issues and understand the need for people managers to be aware of the dynamic contexts of work and change, the need to develop relevant skills of analysis and response that support good organisational outcomes, as well as the importance of fulfilling and purposeful work for individuals.

Strategic Employment Relations

The way we work is changing. Arguably, the nature and scope of the ‘employment relationship’ acts both as an indicator and also as a driver of these changes, reflecting the importance of the relationship between and among employees and managers to organisational performance and business success. In this module, you will learn about the ‘strategic’ importance of employment relations, in terms of the way it relates to issues of power and interests in organisations, as well as the ways in which other aspects of people management – e.g. reward, recruitment – all have critical implications for the employment relationship. The module thus provides a comprehensive understanding of employment relations perspectives and debates, focusing not just on the ‘harder’ theoretical, practical and legislative aspects of this constantly evolving subject area but also the ‘soft’ approach, emphasising the management of employment relations strategies and understanding their impact on organisational climate, employee well-being and trust. You will gain access both to knowledge about employment relations practices across broad organisational contexts and settings, including negotiation in union and non-union environments, conflict mediation and employee voice, and the importance of responsible people management. Critical analysis extends to exploration of the impact of wider changes on work quality and employment relations, the roles of the different parties involved in the employment relationship and evaluation of organisational-level employment relations processes and policies that support organisational performance. The importance of (e.g. grievance and disciplinary) procedures and using organisational data to explore and mitigate organisational risk are covered and students will explore how employment relations processes impact on organisational outcomes such as performance and employee engagement.

Resourcing and Talent Management

This module focuses not just on the practical aspects of recruitment, selection, employee retention and dismissal, but also on the strategic aspects to equip learners with the knowledge and skills required for resourcing and talent management. The module will be assessed by an individual report focussing on the strategic nature of People Resourcing and Talent, in addition to a portfolio of HR related skills. You will also investigate a range of resourcing practices to prepare a report and make recommendations on how an organisation can best attract, select, manage and retain talented individuals in order to add value.

Managing and developing people

People are the heart of every organisation; they are its greatest resource. Managing and developing people helps businesses and organisations of different kinds and sizes to meet their goals, to remain profitable, sustainable and reputable. However, the role of the HRM professional has evolved considerably in the past 25 years, reflecting changes to ways of working as well as wider socio-economic changes and the use of technologies in organisations. People management is no longer about ‘hiring and firing; it is about how, in this changing world of work, organisations can get the best from people in a way that helps them to flourish and to be resilient. The way that people are managed and supported is directly linked to organisational culture, to organisational performance as well as to motivation, well-being and productivity. Managing and developing people thus takes time and skill. In this module you will be introduced to knowledge and understanding about the ways that HRM policies and practices can promote employee performance and commitment. You will also learn about the importance of the role of the people manager in articulating and facilitating organisational goals, customer needs as well as building relationships that span different professional boundaries.

Strategic Reward management

Pay and other types of rewards (or ‘total rewards’) are crucial in attracting and retaining employees. This module examines total rewards in an organisational and international context and provides you with the knowledge and understanding of environments in which reward professionals plan, implement and evaluate employee reward policies to support strategic organisational goals. You will acquire both theoretical and normative understanding of the diverse approaches to reward management and be able to critically reflect on the strengths and limitations of these approaches in promoting individual and organisational performance in a fair, reasonable and equitable way. You will also examine the foundations for pay and benefits management in modern organisations across different (private, public and third) sectors and how these approaches can be integrated into appropriate strategic designs that provide considerations of relative value and worth, individual and collective contribution and labour markets. You will learn about the relationship between traditional, contingent and developmental choices of rewards, the use of diagnostic and evaluative skills in designing flexible approaches to reward and the challenges of international and executive pay arrangements. You are also expected to critically reflect on theory and practice from an ethical and professional standpoint as well as from a professional development perspective.

Using People Analytics in Business Practice

This module encompasses two dynamic aspects of people management – the need to understand trends and challenges in business practice from a systematic perspective and the need to produce clear, evidence-based insights in order to inform organisational decision-making. You will learn to use reliable evidence to explore ‘real world’ issues, the kinds of problems and challenges you will face as a people manager. You will explore these issues from differing organisational contexts to reflect sectoral or industry-based differences as well as different professional (e.g. HRM/HRD) perspectives.

Developing skills for personal effectiveness, ethics and business acumen

This engaging and interactive module is essential for a career in HRM/HRD and you will learn how people professionals support other workers, how they promote effective and ethical behaviours to champion quality of work and improved working lives and, develop good business sense. The concepts that underpin this module are essential for promoting inclusiveness and influencing others through fair and transparent behaviours. Through core skill sets such as perception, critical thinking, communication and teamwork, this unit will promote understanding of how actions and inclusive behaviour impact on ethics and the organisation. You will critically assess business issues and different ethical standpoints across people practices and the strategic importance of the HRM role to maintain high standards and secure good organisational outcomes. This module enables you to consolidate your learning from other modules in the course, gaining greater insight into your role in business improvement and improving to working lives. You will evaluate the promotion of well-being, fairness and the contribution of personal integrity within organisations across a range of people practices, by working collaboratively and reflectively across a variety of organisational sectors, contexts and boundaries. You will learn how to achieve and maintain challenging business outcomes through an understanding of business purpose and values, along with the self-awareness needed to support career progression. Additionally, you will justify the benefits of maintaining a passion for learning, evaluate the need for continuing professional development and the merits of evidence-based critical thinking. Finally, you will demonstrate behaviours associated with effective influencing and decision-making as well as assessing the benefits of networking. The module begins at the induction onto the course and involves a number of workshops delivered through the programme of study to integrate and consolidate learning, linking topics to professional standards using the CIPD profession map, providing active reflective space to support learning to cohere around CIPD standards, and connecting learning topics to other professional development opportunities within and beyond the University.

Your course provides you the option to select from 2 modules which may include:

Employment Law

Employment law spans a number of important topics that are crucial for successful people management and organisational performance. This module seeks to introduce you to specialist understanding of employment law underpinning topics covered in other modules. It covers the rights of workers, the employment relationship and wider workplace regulations, from leave and flexible working, to equalities, health and safety law and visa / settlement issues of workers following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU in January 2020. In this module, you will approach understanding the law from a practical, people management perspective in a way that promotes good practice in organisations, supports employees and the negative impacts of conflict in organisations.

Managing People in an International Context

People management in the international context is about more than HRM in a subsidiary context. The nature and scope of international working through multinationalisation, labour mobility and the emergence of global nomads raises many issues about national, institutional and regulatory issues in relation to human resources, not just from the cultural perspective but comparatively and strategically. Processes of internationalisation require specific people strategies that raise questions about ethics and responsible management in the modern age as well as trends and demands for particular skills, such as Cultural Empathy (CQ). In this module you will examine the conceptual and practical issues in relation to international operations that impact on people management. You will also take a comparative approach to how organisations and people management operate in different cultures, countries and regions.

Final Project

An opportunity to pursue an area that interests you or which you are passionate about comes in your choice of project. You have a choice of three routes; Research Route, Consultancy Route and New Venture Creation Route (subject to tutor approval).

Research Route

Research Methods

This module aims to provide you with foundation concepts of research methods to prepare you to conduct your own research. It will introduce you to different types of research approaches available to researchers, how to formulate good research questions, how to review academic literature in the research process, how to select the appropriate data collection techniques, how to carry out the data analysis and write-up. The module should provide a solid basis for you to develop your skills further in your own research project.

Individual Research Project

The Individual Research Project provides an opportunity to pursue your own interests and engage more deeply with your subject by completing an in-depth piece of research work using relevant research methods. Working autonomously, but under the guidance of a supervisor, you will make choices about the most appropriate methods and then conduct your own research project. Through the Individual Research Project, you will have the opportunity to greatly enhance your own knowledge and skills. The research will be presented in written format using academic conventions recognised in your field.

Consultancy Route

Consultancy Skills

This module prepares you for the Group Consultancy Project. It introduces the theory underpinning the process of consultancy in organisations. The module will analyse various models of consultancy and you will be given an opportunity to explore different stages in the consultancy cycle including: the purpose of consultancy in business context, project scoping and contracting, information gathering, analysis and report, action planning, implementation, review and exiting.

Group Consultancy Project

The Group Consultancy Project provides you with the opportunity to engage in a ‘real world’ live client brief. You will work in small teams and will be expected to engage in the process of scoping the project with the business client, undertake the necessary information gathering, analysing the information and make recommendations to the client. As part of this module, you will also need to evaluate how principles of ethics, sustainability and responsibility influence your professional decision making.

Venture Creation Route

New Venture Creation

The module will encourage you to develop your entrepreneurial mind-set, and help you understand the challenges and opportunities of starting and running a new venture. Your entrepreneurial skills and abilities will be guided through the application of different entrepreneurial tools and techniques – as well as practical exercises - that should enable you to assess your own entrepreneurial readiness, while preparing for the risky, uncertain and challenging environment of creating new ventures.

Launch a venture

The module provides you with the opportunity to take the practical steps to initiate a new venture or facilitate growth and innovation in an existing venture. The focus is on developing an understanding of business practicalities through action, reflection and case study. The module encourages you to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes for practice, recognising that you may be at different stages and working on different issues at the same time. Supervision and action learning sets provide flexible support to enable self directed learning to facilitate start up and business development initiatives with existing businesses.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for this course are normally:

  • An Honours degree (2:2 or above). Applicants with a significant amount of HR experience but no formal qualifications may also be considered.
  • All applicants will be invited to interview as part of the application process.
  • Non-UK qualifications will be checked for equivalence.

If your first language is not English, you will need to meet the minimum requirements of an English Language qualification. The minimum for IELTS is 6.5 overall with no element lower than 6.0, or equivalent. Read more about the University’s entry requirements for students outside of the UK on our Where are you from information pages.

Student support

Learning, Innovation and Development Centre : Our Learning, Innovation and Development Centre (LID) provides academic support to all students within Huddersfield Business School. Our academic skills tutors have taught at all levels including Master’s who can work closely with you to help you achieve your full potential throughout your time at the University of Huddersfield.

They can help with a wide range of academic skills including referencing, academic writing (such as essays, reports and coursework), research, reading, note-taking, dissertations and presentations as well as all other skills and issues relating to academia. As well as this, they also offer advice on dyslexia and can provide information on accessing disability support.

The team also provides support for international students. We recognise that there are many differences between studying here and in your home country. This is why we have dedicated academic skills tutors who can help you with both your study as well as your language skills.

International Student Development: We understand that settling into a new country and environment can be very stressful. So, if you are an international student, the International Student Development (ISD) team can help provide support in understanding and adapting to the UK Higher Education environment as well as settling into life in the UK.

In addition, we can also help you develop the essential academic skills needed to ensure you achieve your full potential throughout your time at Huddersfield. We provide help and guidance to students at all levels (both undergraduate and postgraduate) with timetabled academic skills sessions. These sessions are delivered in same-course groups by our experienced tutors. In addition, English language sessions are available at foundation, intermediate or upper intermediate level. The number of weekly sessions and support you receive will vary depending on the level you are currently working at.

Student Support & Guidance: Huddersfield Business School has a Student Support & Guidance service which aims to ensure that you are fully supported whilst studying here with us at The University of Huddersfield. They are able to offer you help, advice, support and guidance on a wide range of matters that may be having an impact on your general well-being or university life and studies.

The team can offer one to one pre-booked appointments or drop-In sessions to discuss or give advice on anything that concerns you which may include; attendance, disabilities, timetable Issues, welfare and any personal issues that may be impacting upon your studies.

Library services and online study support: Students at the University of Huddersfield have access to a wide range of study resources through the library and additional online study support resources. Our modern, professionally organised library provides a wide range of books, cds, dvds and additional online resources such as company reports, market research reports and academic and professional journal archives. At key times in the academic year the library is open 24-7 and our students also borrow laptops, reserve study rooms for group working and access computer software programmes.

Important information

We will always try to deliver your course as described on this web page. However, sometimes we may have to make changes as set out below.

Changes to a course you have applied for

If we propose to make a major change to a course that you are holding an offer for, then we will tell you as soon as possible so that you can decide whether to withdraw your application prior to enrolment.

Cancellation of a course you have applied for

Although we always try and run all of the course we offer, we may occasionally have to withdraw a course you have applied for or combine your programme with another programme if we consider this reasonably necessary to ensure a good student experience, for example if there are not enough applicants to ensure you have a good learning experience. Where this is the case we will notify you as soon as reasonably possible and we will contact you to discuss other suitable courses with us we can transfer your application to. If we notify you that the course you have applied to has been withdrawn or combined, and you do not wish to transfer to another course with us, you may cancel your application and we will refund you any deposits or fees you have paid to us.

Changes to your course after you enrol as a student

We will always try to deliver your course and other services as described. However, sometimes we may have to make changes as set out below:

Changes to option modules

Where your course allows you to choose modules from a range of options, we will review these each year and change them to reflect the expertise of our staff, current trends in research and as a result of student feedback or demand for certain modules. We will always ensure that you have a range of options to choose from and we will let you know in good time the options available for you to choose for the following year.

Major changes

We will only make major changes to the core curriculum of a course or to our services if it is necessary for us to do so and provided such changes are reasonable. A major change in this context is a change that materially changes the services available to you; or the outcomes, or a significant part, of your course, such as the nature of the award or a substantial change to module content, teaching days (part time provision), classes, type of delivery or assessment of the core curriculum.

For example, it may be necessary to make a major change to reflect changes in the law or the requirements of the University’s regulators; to meet the latest requirements of a commissioning or accrediting body; to improve the quality of educational provision; in response to student, examiners’ or other course evaluators’ feedback; and/or to reflect academic or professional changes within subject areas. Major changes may also be necessary because of circumstances outside our reasonable control, such as a key member of staff leaving the University or being unable to teach, where they have a particular specialism that can’t be adequately covered by other members of staff; or due to damage or interruption to buildings, facilities or equipment.

Major changes would usually be made with effect from the next academic year, but this may not always be the case. We will notify you as soon as possible should we need to make a major change and will carry out suitable consultation with affected students. If you reasonably believe that the proposed change will cause you detriment or hardship we will, if appropriate, work with you to try to reduce the adverse effect on you or find an appropriate solution. Where an appropriate solution cannot be found and you contact us in writing before the change takes effect you can cancel your registration and withdraw from the University without liability to the University for future tuition fees. We will provide reasonable support to assist you with transferring to another university if you wish to do so.

Termination of course

In exceptional circumstances, we may, for reasons outside of our control, be forced to discontinue or suspend your course. Where this is the case, a formal exit strategy will be followed and we will notify you as soon as possible about what your options are, which may include transferring to a suitable replacement course for which you are qualified, being provided with individual teaching to complete the award for which you were registered, or claiming an interim award and exiting the University. If you do not wish to take up any of the options that are made available to you, then you can cancel your registration and withdraw from the course without liability to the University for future tuition fees and you will be entitled to a refund of all course fees paid to date. We will provide reasonable support to assist you with transferring to another university if you wish to do so.

When you enrol as a student of the University, your study and time with us will be governed by a framework of regulations, policies and procedures, which form the basis of your agreement with us. These include regulations regarding the assessment of your course, academic integrity, your conduct (including attendance) and disciplinary procedure, fees and finance and compliance with visa requirements (where relevant). It is important that you familiarise yourself with these as you will be asked to agree to abide by them when you join us as a student. You will find a guide to the key terms here, along with the Student Protection Plan, where you will also find links to the full text of each of the regulations, policies and procedures referred to. You should read these carefully before you enrol. Please note that this information is subject to change and you are advised to check our website regularly for any changes before you enrol at the University. A person who is not party to this agreement shall not have any rights under or in connection with it. Only you and the University shall have any right to enforce or rely on the agreement.

The Office for Students (OfS) is the principal regulator for the University.

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