module specification

HR7146 - Managing Employment Relations in Contemporary Organisations (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Managing Employment Relations in Contemporary Organisations
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 200
155 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Oral Examination 30%   Group Presentation (30 minutes) and 1500 word group report
Coursework 70%   Individual 3000 Word Essay *FC*
Running in 2022/23 No instances running in the year

Module summary

The module builds upon the Contextualising Management and Leading and Leading, Managing and Developing People modules with a view to developing a more in-depth and integrated appreciation of the field of human resource management. It locates the discussion of employment relations around the central focus of the employment relationship; taking both individual and collective aspects of this relationship and exploring in depth the various ways in which this is managed in both unionised and non-union settings.  In this it reflects the thinking within the CIPD, that 'the cornerstone of all human resource activity is the employment relationship’.

Given the focus on the employment relationship, the module explores the choices available to organisations in managing this relationship, what influences these choices and how the choices are experienced by those working in organisations, thus affecting employment relations practice within these organisations.  The module considers shifting priorities in managing employment relations and the diversity of employment relations and practices found in organisations, by making extensive use of case studies and case scenarios.  In doing so it adopts a critical orientation and encourages participants to reflect upon practices and in moving forward, the motivation for changing practice in employment relations together with an evaluation of such change initiatives.

Prior learning requirements

HR7134 (Contextualising Management), HR7135 (Leading, Managing and Developing People) or equivalent

Module aims

  1. To enable students to understand and analyse contemporary employment relations theory and practice.
  2. To develop awareness of the importance of the outer and inner contexts of organisations and the factors which impact upon employment relations strategies and policies.


The employment relationship; what is it?  How is it regulated and managed?  Frames of reference and structured antagonism.

Legal aspects of employment relationships - individual and collective.

The employment relationship and employment relations; actors, processes, outcomes.

The employment relationship in changing historical perspective; contexts; globalisation, structural economic and social change, disadvantage in employment, equality and diversity, social class.

Employment relations in contemporary organisations - fragmented organisations, networks, outsourcing.

Management and the employment relationship: strategies and styles.

Representation and voice at the workplace: unions and the employment relationship.

The state and the employment relationship.

Managing employment relations (1) – strategic choices - with and without unions, collective bargaining, consultation and organisational performance

Employment relations in public and private sector organisations, international and domestic, large and SMEs.

Employee involvement, participation and engagement.                

Substantive employment relations issues ; regulating pay and working time

Procedural issues in employment relations: regulating employment relations, conflict management, organisational justice and managing organisational risk.

Emerging issues and priorities; diversity, engagement, changing forms of regulation.

Regulating, experiencing and contesting the employment relationship.

Learning and teaching

Delivery of the module is based on a mix of lectures, seminars, and discussion groups 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, 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

On completion of the module the student will be able to:

  1. Describe and explain the organisational, regional, national and international political, economic, social, and legal contexts of employment relations and their impact on contemporary policy, issues and practice.
  2. Evaluate the effectiveness and utility of a range of organisational strategies and policies (e.g. participation, discipline and grievance, consultation and bargaining), for achieving good employment relations.
  3. Function as a skilled employment relations practitioner in the processes of conflict resolution, negotiations, consultation and communication.

Assessment strategy

There are two summative assessments in this module based on a group presentation (30 minutes) and an individual written 3000 word essay.  The first assessment is to provide a presentation on a current topic in employment relations together with a group report of 1500 words.  The second, is a more comprehensive and detailed 3000 word essay that focuses on a current but different area of contemporary employment relations.  The essay choices each address a specific topic area but encompass a number of areas of the syllabus and require a critical orientation, detailed analysis and clear conclusions.


Indicative bibliography and key on-line resources – for full details see section D in Module Booklet

Blyton, P. & Turnbull, P. (2004) (3rd Edition). The Dynamics of Employee Relations. Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Gennard, J., Judge, G. (2005), Employee Relations (4th Edition), London, CIPD
Rose, E. (2008), Employment Relations: Continuity and Change – Policies and Practices (3rd edition), London: Prentice-Hall
Williams, S., Adam-Smith, D. (2009) Contemporary Employment Relations: A Critical Introduction, (2nd edition) Oxford, OUP.
Daniels, K, (2006) Employee Relations in an Organisational Context. London, CIPD
Edwards, P (ed.) (2003, 2nd Edition) Industrial Relations: Theory and Practice. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
Hollinshead, P., Nicholls, P. &Tailby, S. (2003) (2nd Edition). Employee Relations. London: FT Pitman.
Leat, M. (2007), Exploring Employee Relations (2nd edition), Oxford, Butterworth Heinemann
Rollinson, D., Dundon, T. (2007), Understanding Employee Relations, Maidenhead, McGraw-Hill
Salamon, M. (2000, 4th Edition). Industrial Relations. London: Prentice Hall.

Additional Readings
Ackers, P., Wilkinson, A. (eds) (2003), Understanding Work & Employment: Industrial Relations in Transition, Oxford, OUP
Heery, E. and Salmon, J. (2000). The Insecure Workforce. London: Routledge.
Hyman, R. (1975). Industrial Relations: A Marxist Introduction. Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Kelly, J. (1998). Rethinking Industrial Relations. London: Routledge.
Kersley, B. et al. (2005), Inside the Workplace: First Findings from the 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey. DTI/ESRC/ACAS/PSI, London.
See at
Kessler, S. &Bayliss, F. (1998, 3 rd edition). Contemporary British Industrial Relations. Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Lewis, P., Thornhill, A., Saunders, M. (2003), Employee Relations: Understanding the employment relationship, London, FT Prentice Hall
McGovern P., Hill, S., Mills, C., White, M. (2007), Market, Class and Employment, Oxford, OUP
Millward, N., Bryston, A. and Forth, J. (2000). All Change at Work? British Employment Relations 1980-1998: As Portrayed by the Workplace Industrial Relations Survey Series. London: Routledge.
Perkins, S., White, G. (2008), Employee Reward: Alternatives, Consequences and Contexts, London, CIPD
White, M., Hill, S., Mills, C., Smeaton, D. (2004), Managing to Change? British Workplaces and the Future of Work, 2004, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.
Willey, B. (2003), Employment Law in Context – an Introduction for HR professionals (2nd edition), Pearson education, Harlow.

GUIDANCE NOTE: Students should use the above layout of readings as a style template for drawing up a list of references to accompany their written coursework submission.

Bargaining Report, British Journal of Industrial Relations (BJIR),Employment Review,Employee Relations
Equal Opportunities Review, Human Resource Management Journal (HRMJ),Industrial Relations Journal (IRJ)
Labour Market Trends, Labour Research, Work, Employment & Society (WES).
* Academic journals offer students an up-to-date source of theoretical and empirical material and should be consulted as a matter of course. The quality press is another useful source of up-to-the-minute empirical data, covering a number of domestic and international news stories in employment relations and industrial development. To be useful, the press needs to be read with the analyst’s eye, to filter out passing fads from real trends and to control for editorial orientations that will colour reporting.
The American Management Association –
Employment Relations (Department of Trade & Industry site) -
European Commission –
Economist Intelligence Unit –
Future of Work Research Project –
International Labour Organisation –
Incomes Data Services – (useful links to other sites)
Labour Net UK–
US HR Management Association –