module specification

HR5059 - Organisations and People: Context, Strategy and Practice (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Organisations and People: Context, Strategy and Practice
Module level Intermediate (05)
Credit rating for module 15
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 150
39 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
21 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
90 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 100%   Report (3,500 words)
Running in 2018/19 No instances running in the year

Module summary

HR professionals need to understand the key internal and external contexts that impact on HR strategy, how organisations are designed and how people are managed. This module allows learners to explore theory and models to enable them to develop knowledge and a critical understanding of contemporary issues affecting the management of people and the employment relationship and how these contribute to healthy and adaptable organisations that can meet current and future challenges. The module will encourage learners to adopt critical perspectives to help develop HR solutions to conflict management and organisational problems at local, national and international levels.


• The module will introduce students to the key external and internal contextual factors influencing organisational strategy, performance and the HR function. It examines the concept of globalisation and its implications for organisations, HR, and employees. Different approaches to strategy development and implementation will be explored as well as the relationship between business strategy and HR: Integration and people management strategies. We also consider the relationship between organisational design, culture and business strategy, reviewing theoretical perspectives on organisation design and factors that influence structure, flexibility and agility. Diverse structural forms will be studied, including mechanistic, organic, networked and virtual organisations. We also discuss issues around work design, such as its impact on organisational and employee performance (LO1).

The module considers the nature of work in contemporary society and explores perspectives on managing the employment relationship. We look at the actors in the employment relationship, the nature of the labour market and different contractual forms of employment (LO1).

• In connection with these themes, we explore collective and individual employment legislation; mechanisms for employee involvement and participation; forms of employee conflict and management of these in terms of dispute resolution (LO1).

• HR’s role will be considered in terms of managing change, corporate governance and ethical business behaviour (LO1).

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Delivery of the module is based on a mix of lectures, seminars, workshops and peer-developed workgroups, supported by Weblearn materials and directed learning activities. Students will be issued with a module handbook, and guidance on readings, most of which will be available through the Learning Centre and as e-resources, others through Weblearn.  All participants will be required to read relevant materials in advance of seminar sessions in order that these can be student-led.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to appraise how internal and external factors have shaped organisational design and employment strategies, differentiating between a range of contemporary approaches to managing employee involvement and participation.

Assessment strategy

The assessment for this module will consist of one formal submission but there will also be regular opportunities for informal assessment through online exercises where students will receive feedback. The regular online exercises will relate to the weekly topics and also focus on building writing and thinking skills. This will prepare the student for the final assessment by providing clear expectations of academic conventions and the level of analysis and evaluation required.
The assessment will focus on students preparing a consultancy report (3,500 words) on the organisational and employment-related opportunities and risks of a transnational organisation opening a branch or subsidiary in the UK.


Core texts
Farnham, D (2015) Human Resource Management in Context: Insights, Strategy and Solutions, London: CIPD.

Other reading and e-books
Blyton, P and P. Turnbull (2004) The Dynamics of Employee Relations Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan – available as an ebook via the university library
Harzig, A. and Pinnington, A. (eds) (2015) International Human Resource Management. London, Sage.
Huczynski, A. Buchanan, D. (2013) Organisational Behaviour Harlow, Pearson
Kew, J. and Stredwick, J. (2013) Human Resource Management in a business context
London, CIPD
Marchington, M. and Wilkinson, A., Donnelly, R. and Kynighou, A. (2016) Human Resource Management at Work, London, CIPD.
Stewart, J. and Rogers, P. (eds) (2012) Developing People and Organisations London, CIPD (chapter 1)
Taylor, S. and Woodhams, C. (eds) (2012) Managing People and Organisations London, CIPD (chapter 5)
Taylor, S. and Woodhams, C. (eds) (2012) Studying Human Resource Management London, CIPD (chapter 3)
Wetherly, P. and Otter, D. (2013) The Business Environment: themes and issues in a globalising world Oxford, OUP – available as an e-book via the university library
Willey, B. (2013) Employment Law in Context London, CIPD Williams, S and Adam-Smith, D. (2010) Contemporary Employee Relations Oxford, OUP
Bargaining Report
British Journal of Industrial Relations
Employment Review
Harvard Business Review
Human Resource Management Journal
International Journal of Human Resource Management
Labour Market Trends
Labour Research
Personnel Review

Online resources:
Business Issues and Context links:
Employee Relations links:
Organisational Design links:

Useful websites:
Equality and Human Rights Commission
The Government’s Workplace Employee Relations Survey (WERS)