Masters Dissertation (HRM)

Module description

If you decide to enrol on our full MSc HRM programme, towards the end of your studies you will embark on researching and writing a substantial dissertation of 15,000 – 20,000 words. This is an excellent opportunity for you to develop an area of expertise within the HR field by carrying out and writing up your own research project. If you are a full-time student you will work on your dissertation between March and September of the year that you are enrolled. If you are a part-time student you will work on your dissertation between March in your second year and April in your third year.

Full module specification

Module title:Masters Dissertation (HRM)
Module code:BEMM056
Module level:M
Academic year:2018/9
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Graham Perkins - Lecturer
Module credit:60
ECTS value:



BEMM049 Research Methods



Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 2:


Module aims

Our aim in this module is to support you as you carry out your own research project and subsequently write it up. Throughout the process you will be advised by a supervisor who has some specialist knowledge of your chosen field of study. You will need to meet with your supervisor regularly as you first develop your research proposal and subsequently embark on your research. Your supervisor will read drafts of your chapters, making recommendations for improvement and will also advise you about how to structure your final submitted work.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. collect, analyse and interpret qualitative or quantitative data, using relevant software and statistical techniques
  • 2. relate theory to research findings, draw relevant conclusions and consider the implications and limitations of the research which you have undertaken

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. use independent research skills including use of the library and relevant information databases
  • 4. construct coherent, well-argued and convincing arguments, using evidence as appropriate to defend positions taken

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. take responsibility for the direction and management of an independent and original research project through to completion and submission on time
  • 6. demonstrate a high standard of written presentation, adhering to conventions for academic writing and referencing

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities10Meetings with your supervisor
Guided Independent Study590Researching and writing up your dissertation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Draft Chapters15,000 - 20,000 words1-6Verbal & written feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Dissertation10015,000 - 20,000 words1-6Written feedback

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
DissertationDissertation1-66 months

Syllabus plan

You will need to meet your supervisor regularly and maintain contact by e-mail throughout the time that you are working on your dissertation. You will need to respond to feedback and submit your dissertation on or before the deadline date.

While dissertations vary in terms of their structure and content, essential features include the following:

  • An introduction which sets out and justifies the research questions / hypotheses and introduces a case study company or sector
  • A literature review which is critical and analytical, and not simply descriptive in nature
  • A methodology section in which you set out and justify your choice of research methods
  • Sections which both set out and analyse your findings
  • Conclusions and recommendations which are clearly justified, and if appropriate, costed
  • A section reflecting on and critically reviewing your learning while completing your dissertation

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

• Anderson, V. (2013) Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue. Third Edition, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development: London.
• Bell, J. & Waters (2014) Doing Your Research Project: A Guide For First-Time Researchers, Open University Press
• Black, K (2011) Business Statistics for Contemporary Decision-Making, Seventh Edition, Wiley
• Bryman, A. & Bell, E. (2015) Business Research Methods. Fourth Edition.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.
• Burke, R. (2013) Project Management: Planning and Control Techniques, Fifth Edition, Wiley.
• Creswell, J. W. (2012) Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches.  Third Edition.  Sage.
• Creswell, J.W. (2013) Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, Fourth Edition.  Sage.
• Easterby-Smith, M., Thorpe, R. & Jackson, P. (2015) Management Research.  Fifth Edition, Sage
• Gill, J. & Johnson, P. (2010) Research Methods for Managers, Fourth Edition, London: Sage
• Gray, D. (2009) Doing Research in the Real World, Second Edition, Sage
• Hart, C. (1998) Doing a Literature Review, Sage�
• Horn, R. (2012) Researching and Writing Dissertations: A Complete Guide for Business and Management Students.  2nd Edition.  Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development: London.
• Jankowicz, A. (2005) Business Research Projects, Fourth Edition, Thomson Learning
• Myers, M. D. (2013) Qualitative Research in Business and Management, Second Edition, Sage
• Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2016) Research Methods for Business Students, Seventh Edition,  Pearson.
• Weyers, J. & McMillan, K. (2011) How to Write Dissertations and Project Reports, Second Edition, Prentice Hall
• Yin, R. (2013) Case Study Research: Design and Methods, Fifth Edition, Sage


Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

You will have access to an online searchable and resources database, with links to several eBooks and our own bespoke "Dissertation Support Materials" available through the Exeter Learning Environment (ELE). Within this environment, you will also be supported through online discussion forums and activities.



Indicative learning resources - Other resources

As an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development you will also have access to the entirety of the Institute's website, including all published research reports, archived articles from 'People Management', fact sheets, discussion papers and briefings.  

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Last revision date