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HRM in Context

Module description

In focusing on the interaction between HR practice and the wider business context this module will be of particular interest to you if you are planning a long-term career in HRM, particularly at a senior level. The unit is one which is designated as core by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), making its successful completion a prerequisite for all who are seeking chartered membership.

Our focus is on the long-term trends in the business environment that are having the greatest effect on HRM over time, both directly and indirectly. You will also consider ways in which contemporary developments in HRM are influencing the business environment. The range of subjects you will be studying will be wide, encompassing the competitive environment, political, social, legal, demographic, technological and economic developments. We will put a particular focus on globalisation and its impact. A further theme will be the strategic response of organisations to developments in their environments. Here we will introduce you to contemporary thinking about business strategy and to the role played by HR strategy-making in assisting organisations to achieve their objectives. Finally, we will also consider major contemporary developments in the fields of marketing management, financial management and information management.

Full module specification

Module title:HRM in Context
Module code:BEMM043
Module level:M
Academic year:2021/2
Module lecturers:
  • Mr Stephen Taylor - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:






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


Duration (weeks) - term 3:


Module aims

The main purpose of this module is to help ensure that you, as an HRM professional, are able effectively to identify, examine and analyse the major contexts within which organisations operate and can contribute constructively to the formation of responses which take account of contextual diversity, continuous change and ethical ambiguities. Particularly significant in this respect are developments in the business environment which are directly relevant to HR managers, which require you to respond and about which you may be required to advise senior managers. Developments in labour markets and in employment regulation are the major examples. A further purpose is to arm you with information and understanding about the business environment more generally and its impact on other management functions in order to increase your credibility and influence at senior levels in your organisation.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. meet the learning outcomes contained in the CIPD's advanced diploma syllabus for HRM in Context
  • 2. analyse and critically evaluate major environmental developments in the business environment in the following fields: the competitive environment, labour markets, globalisation and international forces, demographic, social and technological trends and government policy and regulation
  • 3. evaluate major contemporary theoretical and managerial perspectives on strategy-making in organisations with a particular emphasis on HR-strategies

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. engage critically and analytically with literature relating to major developments in the contemporary business environment
  • 5. explain how environmental trends are affecting HR practice and will do so in the future

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. develop and express strong, original and well-justified arguments to support your views
  • 7. advise colleagues and senior managers about the implications of environmental trends for the future development of organisations

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 Activities30Lectures, group discussions and quizzes
Preparatory reading30Reading prior to taught sessions
Reflection and further reading30Guided reading and completion of online exercises
Test preparation60Revision prior to your unseen test

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
In-class quizzes30 minutes each week1-5Scoring and in class discussions
Discussion exercises30 minutes each week6-7Tutor 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
In-class test1002 hours1-7Individual feedback delivered by tutors supplemented by general feedback delivered online

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
In-class testIn-class test1-73 months

Re-assessment notes

The re-sit test will take the same form as the original test, but will comprise different questions. An additional revision session will be held for those who are re-sitting, individual advise also being given by tutors.

Syllabus plan

Early sessions will focus on long-term trends in the business environment and on their impact on HRM practice in organisations. We will also discuss shorter-term, contemporary developments and debates about the future of work both in the UK and internationally. Later sessions will focus on organisational responses and particularly on strategic responses to these developments.

Over 15 two hour sessions we will cover the following major topics:

  • tools used in environmental analysis
  • the changing industrial structure
  • globalisation
  • key technological developments
  • major developments in government and inter-governmental regulation
  • social trends
  • demographic trends
  • labour market developments
  • short and long-term economic trends
  • competition and choice
  • business strategy
  • HR strategy
  • impact on the marketing, finance and information functions

You will need to undertake preparatory guided reading associated with each of these areas of study before attending your taught sessions.

The module will take 150 hours, comprising 30 contact hours and 120 hours of guided study / test preparation.

You will undertake a variety of different learning activities while studying this module including lectures, quizzes, discussion exercises, supplementary reading and online activities.

 You will be encouraged to relate your own experiences and developments in organisations you have worked for to your studies and to share these with fellow students.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core texts:

  • Farnham, D. (2010) Human Resource Management in Context: Strategy, Insights and Solutions, Second Edition, London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
  • Kew, J. & Stredwick, J. (2010) Business Environment: Managing in a Strategic Context, Second Edition. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
  • Taylor, S. (2011) Contemporary Issues in HRM, London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Indicative basic reading list:

  • Wetherly, P. & Otter, D. (eds.) (2012) The Business Environment: Themes and Issues, Second Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press
  • Abercrombie, N. & Warde, A. (2000) Contemporary British Society, Third Edition, Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Brooks, I., Weatherston, J. & Wilkinson, G. (2010) The International Business Environment: Challenges and Changes. Second Edition, London: FT/Prentice Hall
  • De Wit, B. & Meyer, R. (2010) Strategy: Process, Context, Content. An International Perspective, Fourth edition, London: Thomson,
  • Dicken, P. (2010) Global Shift: Managing the Changing Contours of the World Economy, Sixth Edition, London: Sage
  • The Economist (2011) Economics: Making Sense of the Modern Economy, Third Edition, London: Economist Books
  • Kaku, M. (2012) Physics of the Future: The Inventions That Will Transform Our Lives, London: Penguin Books
  • Kourdi, J. Business Strategy (2009) A Guide to Effective Decision-Making, Second Edition, London: Economist Books
  • Mccormick, J. (2011) Understanding the European Union: A Concise Introduction, Fifth Edition, Basingstoke: Palgrave
  • Riches, S. & Allen, V. (2011) Business Law, Tenth Edition, Harlow: Longman
  • Standage, T. (ed.) (2005) The Future of Technology, London: Economist Books
  • Worthington, I. & Britton, C. (2009) The Business Environment, Sixth Edition, London: FT/Prentice Hall

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 available on 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.  

Origin date


Last revision date