module specification

HR7P00 - Human Resource Management Dissertation (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Human Resource Management Dissertation
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 60
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 600
592 hours Guided independent study
8 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Other 100%   Individual research dissertation 12,000 (min) - 15,000 (max) words (including a 500 word section on personal reflection)
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Not applicable -
Summer studies North Not applicable -
Spring semester North Not applicable -

Module summary

The MA dissertation is a triple-weighted module and is designed to provide an opportunity for students to undertake a substantial piece of research in their subject field.  The research project is intended to build on the taught modules of the student's MA award and is underpinned by the Research Methods in HRM module.  The dissertation is designed to demonstrate the synthesis of knowledge and skills developed throughout the award.  It is the largest piece of assessed work undertaken on the award, and is seen as the clearest expression of the student's ability to demonstrate what they have studied at Masters level

Prior learning requirements

Successful completion of HR7155 Research Methods in HRM

Module aims

  1. To undertake a detailed investigation of one area/ topic within the subject field.
  2. To develop thorough analysis and synthesis of theory, policy and practice in relation to the chosen topic.
  3. To demonstrate application of knowledge and skills developed through the Research Methods in HRM module.
  4. To make appropriate and correct use of research methods/techniques and data analysis.
  5. To provide an opportunity for critical reflection on the research topic within the subject field and draw realistic and appropriate conclusions and recommendations from the research.
  6. To consider presentation of the research data and analysis and select an appropriate form and style taking into account the dissertation guidelines and the ‘audience’ for which the dissertation is intended.
  7. To provide an opportunity for critical self-reflection of learning, studying and research skills and knowledge.   


The dissertation topic should be sufficiently well-focused to facilitate an in-depth study but broad enough to develop an informed overview of the topic area.  The required length of the dissertation is 12,000 (min) - 15,000 (max) words exclusive of title and contents page, figures, tables, quotations, appendices and bibliography.  The dissertation will be developed from the 3,000 word proposal submitted as part of the assessment in the Research Methods in HRM module.  Once the topic has been approved, the student will be allocated a supervisor with whom the student will work during the research and writing up stages prior to submission.

The structure of the dissertation may depend upon the nature of the research and there is no one correct structure.  However, the following must be included:

Cover Page: Institution's name; Award name; Year of dissertation submission; Student's name; Dissertation title

Title Page: Title of dissertation and author's name

Acknowledgements: Acknowledgements should be given to individuals who have provided substantive help with the research.

Contents Page: Chapter headings and subheadings.

List of tables: Individual listing of titles and pages of any tables, graphs and statistics.

List of figures: Individual listing of titles and pages of photographs, illustrations and diagrams.

List of Appendices: Individual listing by title of each appendix.

Main Body of the text: See below.

Bibliography: Listing, using the Harvard method, of all sources used in the course of the dissertation

Presentation: The dissertation must be typed using double spacing and ten or twelve point printing.  Pages should be numbered at the bottom and margins of 2.5 cm should be left at the top, bottom and both sides of the page.

Binding: The dissertation may be soft bound but if hard bound (should be with navy blue cover and gold lettering).  It is the student's responsibility to organise binding and to ensure that binding takes place in advance of the submission date.

Depending on the project topic the main body of the dissertation may be structured in slightly different ways.  The following presents a guideline which students should discuss with their supervisor.

Introduction:  Rationale to the research, background to the research, and aims and objectives of the research.

Literature Review: Outline of previous research and critical evaluation of existing literature and research.

Methodology: Outline of research philosophy and research methods and analysis used encompassing critical evaluation of the methods used.

Findings: Outline of findings of research.

Analysis: Analysis of findings.

Summary: Summary of main findings and critical evaluation of the research process.

Conclusions:  Summary of main analytical points from the research and recommendations for future research.

Recommendations: Appropriate costed recommendations for change to policy and practice in the topic area should be made.

Personal reflection: 500 words of personal reflection.

Learning and teaching

In addition to requiring a large commitment from the student, the dissertation also requires a critical input from staff in the form of individual consultation and supervision.  Most staff are themselves interested in and engaged in research and therefore supervising student dissertations can be rewarding for both staff and students. Staff and students should be guided by the Postgraduate Masters Dissertation Handbook: Guidelines for students, Supervisors and Markers - MAHRM Dissertations, A Guide to Successful Completion.

It is vital that appropriate supervisors are allocated to each dissertation topic.  Following the submission of the dissertation proposal in the Researching HRM module each student will be paired with an appropriate supervisor who possesses expertise in the area of interest to the student and/or the methodological approach to be adopted.

Following the allocation of a supervisor the student should arrange an initial meeting with the supervisor who will assist in:

a. clarifying the terms of the research;
b. suggesting areas of reading;
c. reviewing the proposed methodology;
d. establishing  a timetable for the research which also includes initial dates for further meetings
             between the student and supervisor;
e. advising the student about appropriate standards and conventions concerning the assessment;
f. providing means of contact in addition to tutorials
e.          helping the student to think through appropriate conclusions, recommendations, costings and
             the personal reflection sections to the dissertation required by the University & CIPD. 

Each year LMBS, organises workshops for students which further support their understanding of the what is required in completing a dissertation. These may include for example, the CIPD external examiner talking about the CIPD expectations of the dissertation; students who have completed the dissertation talking about the dissertation process and completion.

The MAHRM dissertation weblearn website includes examples of MA HRM dissertations awarded ‘Distinction’ and a range of guidance materials on the completion of the dissertation (referencing, marking schemes).  It also includes seminar programmes for University research centres and encourages students to attend to deepen their knowledge, discuss research strategy and learn about the presentation of research findings.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

  1. Identify and undertake a detailed investigation of  an appropriate strategic area or issue within the HRM subject field.
  2. Access and critically analyse, discuss and reference existing academic and practitioner literature, policy and practice relevant to the chosen issue.
  3. Plan and design a dissertation which requires critical analysis and synthesis of theory, policy and practice in relation to the chosen topic.
  4. Demonstrate application of the knowledge and skills developed through the Research Methods in HRM module, for example professional and research ethics and the relative merits of research methods and their relevance to different situations.
  5. Undertake a systematic analysis, making appropriate and correct use of research methods/techniques, data analysis and presenting the results in a clear and consistent format.
  6. Present research data and analysis  in an appropriate structure, form and style taking into account the dissertation guidelines (eg referencing work of others) and the ‘audience’ for which the dissertation is intended.
  7. Analyse their research findings to produce a convincing research dissertation with realistic and appropriate  conclusions and recommendations based on costed options from the research.
  8. Demonstrate essential people management skills through a range of activities such as interviewing, making presentations, project management and making appropriate recommendations to address people management problems and issues.
  9. Provide an opportunity for critical self-reflection of knowledge, learning, people management skiills plus studying, research and report writing skills.

Assessment strategy

The student can reasonably expect to obtain 8 hours of tutorial guidance from their supervisor (including reading drafts) and a written record of the purpose and outcome of each meeting should be signed and kept by both parties using the "Dissertation Tutorial and Supervision" form provided.  The student can also expect the supervisor to comment on draft work submitted during the dissertation process.

INDICATIVE DISSERTATION TIMETABLE (September entry Full-Time Mode Year 1; Part-Time Mode Year 2)

October-January: Undertake Research Methods in HRM module: Discuss dissertation proposal with Research Methods in HRM tutors: Write and submit dissertation proposal.

January: Submit dissertation proposal.

February: Receive written feedback on dissertation proposal; Allocation of dissertation supervisor and initial meeting with supervisor; Project timetable devised.

February-April: Literature search and literature review; Assessment and development of appropriate research methodology.

May-June: Fieldwork: data gathering and analysis of research.

July: Writing draft dissertation; Submission of draft dissertation; Feedback on draft dissertation,

August: Amendments to dissertation,

September: Final touches to dissertation and bibliography; binding; Submission of dissertation.

The dissertation is double marked by 2 internal markers with expertise in the field of study (one of whom is usually the supervisor) using the LMBS MA HRM dissertation marking schedule for internal examiners.


Key Texts:
Anderson, V. (2009) Research Methods in Human Resource Management, London: CIPD.
Bell, J. (2010) Doing Your Research Project, Open University Press.
Brett Davies, M. (2007) Doing a Successful Research Project Using Qualitative or Quantitative Methods. Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan.
Bryman, A. and Bell, E. (2011, 3nd edition) Business Research Methods. Oxford: OUP.
Buckingham, A. and Saunders. P. (2004) The Survey Methods Workbook. Cambridge: Polity Press. AND useful website with additional support materials
Cameron, S. and Price, D (2009) Business Research Methods: A Practical Approach, London: CIPD.
Costley, C., Elliott, G. and Gibbs, P.  (2010)  Doing Work-Based Research: Approaches to Enquiry for Insider-Researchers, London: Sage.
Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill (2012, 6th edition) Research Methods for Business Students, London: Pearson Education .
Student additional study resources to be used alongside this text are available at:
Salkind, N. (2011) Statistics for People Who (Think They) Hate Statistics. London: Sage.
Symon. G. and Cassell, C. (2012) Qualitative Organizational Research, London: Sage.

Important Texts:
Brace, N. Kemp, R. and Smelgar, R. (2012) SPSS for Psychologists, Basingstoke: Palgrave ALSO website with psychology related examples
Blumburg, B. (2011, 3rd edition) Business Research Methods. London: McGraw-Hill
Bulmer, M. and Solomos, J. (2004) Researching Race and Racism, London: Routledge.
Coghlan, D. and Brannick, T. (2010, 3rd edition) Doing Action Research in Your Own Organization. Cresswell, J.W. (2013, 3rd edition) Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches, London: Sage.
Easterby-Smith, M., Thorpe, R. and Jackson, P. R. (2012, 4th edition) Management Research. London: Sage.
Field, A.(2009)  Discovering Statistics Using SPSS , London: Sage. ALSO his website with psychology related examples
Hart, C. (2011) Doing a Literature Search: A Comprehensive Guide for the Social Sciences. London: Sage.
Horn, R. (2009) The Business Skills Handbook, London: CIPD.
Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy and Patricia Lina Leavy (2007) Feminist Research Practice: A Primer, Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Jowell, R., Roberts,C., Fitzgerald, R. and Eva, G. (2007) Measuring Attitudes Cross-Nationally, London: Sage.
Kelemen, M. and Rumens, N. (2008) An Introduction to Critical Management Research. London: Sage.
Marschan-Piekkari, R. and Welch, R. (2005)  Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods for International Business, Cheltenham, Edward-Elgar.
McNiff, J. and Whitehead, J. (2011, 2nd edition) All You Need to Know about Action Research, London: Sage.
Pallant, J. (2010, 4th edition) The SPSS Survival Manual, (3rd edition). London: McGraw Hill.
Wickramasinghe, M.  (2010) Feminist Research Methodology: Making Meanings of Meaning-Making, London: Routledge
Yin, R. K. (2009, 4th  edition) Case Study Research: Design and Methods. London: Sage.

Methodology Journals include: Action Research; Ethnograpghy; Organizational Research Methods; Qualitative Research. In addition to the recommended texts it is expected that students will consult the appropriate journals in their own specialist area. These provide examples of the ways different research designs have been applied in empirical research.