Employment Relations

Module description

At base HRM is about the effective management of the relationship between an organisation and its employees, so you will find this module to be essential if you are seeking to develop a career in Human Resource Management.  Here we will be both analysing the nature of the employment relationship as it is evolving in different industries and countries, and also considering the range of possible approaches that are available to managers seeking to build constructive, high-trust relationships with the people who they employ. Our perspective will be on both individual employment relationships and the collective employment relationship in organisations.

Full module specification

Module title:Employment Relations
Module code:BEMM045
Module level:M
Academic year:2019/0
Module lecturers:
  • Sarah Gilmore - Convenor
Module credit:15
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 1:


Duration (weeks) - term 2:


Module aims

The purpose of this module is to introduce you to a diverse range of theory and practice from across the field of employee relations. By studying these critically you will enhance your understanding of the evolving nature of the employment both in the UK and internationally, while also developing the skills and knowledge needed effectively to manage employment relations policy and practices in an organisation. The scope of the subjects we will be focusing on is wide, ranging from analyses of the employment relationship and how it can be understood; to contemporary developments in fields such as the gig economy and precarious work; employee voice, and collective bargaining.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. demonstrate that you have met the learning outcomes contained in the CIPD's advanced diploma syllabus for Managing Employee Relations
  • 2. analyse and critically evaluate major theories and practices in the field of employee relations; individual and collective, UK-based and international

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. explain how employment relations processes and practices affect and are integrated with policy and practice across other areas of HRM
  • 4. understand how the nature of the employment relationship underpins all HRM activity

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. develop original arguments concerning the management of employee relations and justify these effectively
  • 6. give accurate and timely advice to colleagues about the content and evolution of employee relations policy and practice in 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 activities30 Lectures and in-class activities
Preparatory Reading30Reading prior to attending taught sessions
Reflection and further reading30Further reading recommended by tutors
Assignment60Preparing and writing your assignment

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Discussion exercises and case studies in taught sessions30 minutes x 151-6Verbal tutor 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
Individual written assignment1003000 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
Individual written assignmentIndividual written assignment1-63 months

Syllabus plan

Over fifteen two-hour taught sessions you will learn about major contemporary developments in the employment relations field and their implications. We will focus both on UK developments and those occurring overseas. Some sessions will focus on the evolution of theories concerning aspects of the employment relationship and on debates about theoretical perspectives. Later sessions will focus more on the practicalities of managing employment relations in organisations. The following topics will be covered:

  • Key contributions to the theory of employment relations
  • Major contemporary developments in the employee relations context
  • Comparative/international dimensions of employment relations practice
  • The parties to the employment relationship and their perspectives
  • The role played by regulation and of state institutions
  • Determining pay and conditions
  • Diverse forms of employee involvement, communication and negotiation arrangements
  • The rise of the gig economy and precarious work
  • Employment relations procedures

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

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Initial recommended reading:

  • Blyton, P., Heery, E. & Turnball, P. (2010) Reassessing the Employment Relationship, Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  •  Colling, T. & Terry, M. (eds) (2010) Industrial Relations: Theory and Practice, Third Edition, Oxford: Blackwell
  •  Dibben, P., Wood, G. & Klerck, G. (2011) Employment Relations: A Critical and International Approach, London: CIPD
  •  Dundon, T. & Rollinson, D. (2011) Understanding Employment Relations, Second Edition, London: McGraw Hill.
  •  Rose, E. (2008) Employment Relations, Third Edition. Harlow: FT / Prentice Hall
  •  Wilkinson, A., Gollan, P., Marchington, M. & Lewin, D. (eds) (2011) The Oxford Handbook of Participation in Organizations, Oxford: OUP
  •  Williams, S. (2017) Contemporary Employment Relations: A Critical Introduction. Fourth Edition. Oxford: OUP

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