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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. The dissertation is unlike a traditional taught module in that much of your contact time with staff will occur in the form of supervision meetings, which may occur one-to-one or within small group formats. 

Please be aware that any form of primary data collection undertaken for your dissertation requires ethical approval from the University.  In the event that primary research is conducted without appropriate ethical approval marks may be adjusted accordingly

Full module specification

Module title:Masters Dissertation (HRM)
Module code:BEMM056
Module level:M
Academic year:2022/3
Module lecturers:
  • Dr Graham Perkins - Lecturer
Module credit:60
ECTS value:



Allocated Research Methods module as per programme descriptor

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


Duration (weeks) - term 3:


Module aims

Our aims in this module are threefold.  Our first aim is to help you to identify research problems which have relevance to HRM practice within organisations.  Our second aim, connected with this, is to build your skills and confidence in collecting and analysing relevant data related to your selected research problem.  Finally, we seek to develop your ability to derive clear conclusions and recommendations from your data together with your ability to present these to both an academic and practitioner audience.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. collect, analyse and interpret qualitative or quantitative data, using relevant software and analytical techniques;
  • 2. Relate theory to research findings, drawing relevant conclusions and considering the implications and limitations of the research which you have undertaken.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Conduct independent research using primary and/or secondary sources;
  • 4. Construct coherent 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 from inception through to completion;
  • 6. Present written work to a high standard, 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 Activities13Meetings with your supervisor and formal dissertation briefing sessions
Guided Independent Study587Researching 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
Dissertation (100%)Resubmission of reworked dissertation (100%) 1-6Following reassessment period

Syllabus plan

The dissertation is unlike traditional taught modules.  You will attend briefing sessions during your programme where we will explain and discuss the dissertation process, these will occur in addition to the formal Research Methods taught sessions.  You will need to meet your supervisor regularly and maintain contact 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,sector or industry
  • A literature review which is critical and analytical in nature
  • A methodology 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
  • Please note that all students collecting primary data will be required to obtain ethical clearance from the university in advance of data collection activities.  Failing to adhere to ethical guidelines will mean you will not be permitted to collect primary data.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

 Basic reading:


  • Anderson, V. (2019). Research Methods in Human Resource Management: Investigating a Business Issue. Fourth Edition.  CIPD/Kogan Page.
  • Bell, J. & Waters (2018). Doing Your Research Project: A Guide For First-Time Researchers. Seventh Edition. Open University Press
  • Bryman, A., Bell, E. & Harley, B. (2022). Business Research Methods. Sixth Edition.  Oxford University Press.
  • Creswell, J. W. & Poth, C. N. (2017). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches.  Fourth Edition.  Sage.
  • Creswell, J.W. & Creswell, J. D. (2018). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. Fifth Edition.  Sage.
  • Field, A. (2017). Discovering Statistics Using IBM SPSS Statistics.  Fifth Edition.  Sage.
  • Gray, D. (2019). Doing Research in the Business World.  Second Edition. Sage.
  • Horn, R. (2012). Researching and Writing Dissertations: A Complete Guide for Business and Management Students.  Second Edition.  CIPD/Kogan Page.
  • Myers, M. D. (2019). Qualitative Research in Business and Management. Third Edition. Sage.
  • Pallant, J. (2020). SPSS Survival Manual: A Step by Step Guide to Data Analysis Using IBM SPSS.  Seventh Edition.  Open University Press.
  • Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2019). Research Methods for Business Students.  Eighth Edition.  Pearson.
  • Yin, R. (2018). Case Study Research and Applications: Design and Methods. Sixth 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 online support content which will be available through a dedicated page on 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