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University of Exeter Business School

Employment Relations

Module titleEmployment Relations
Module codeBEMM045
Academic year2023/4
Module staff

Ms Sian Robinson (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Human Resource Management (HRM) is about the effective management of the relationship between an organisation and its employees, so this module is essential if you are seeking to develop a career in HRM. Exploring a range of theories and working practices, it considers the evolving nature of the employment relationship and develops your knowledge of managing employee relations in practice.  We will be both analysing the nature of the employment relationship, and considering the range of possible approaches that are available to managers seeking to build constructive, high-trust relationships with the people who they employ. We will evaluate both individual employment relationships and the collective employment relationship in organisations, as well as the role of HR in managing the employment relationship between a range of stakeholders. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

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 to effectively manage employment relations policy and practices in an organisation. The scope of the subjects we will be focusing on is wide, ranging from opinions of the employment relationship and how it is understood; to contemporary developments in fields such as employee engagement, employee voice, conflict, and power and control. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate that you have met the core standards within the CIPD profession Map 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

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

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

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 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

Syllabus plan

You will learn about major contemporary developments in the employment relations field and their implications across a range of settings. 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
  • Forms of employee involvement, communication and voice
  • The role of power and control in the employment relationship
  • Conflict and conflict resolution
  • Employee engagement
  • Employment relations procedures

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
Guided independent learning30Reading prior to attending taught sessions
Guided independent learning30Further reading recommended by tutors
Guided independent learning60Preparing and writing your assignment

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Discussion exercises and case studies30 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

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Initial recommended reading:

  • Bennett, T., Saundry, R., and Fisher, V. (2020). Managing Employment Relations, 7th edition, Kogan Page.
  • Bingham, C. (2016) Employment Relations: Fairness & Trust in the Workplace, SAGE publications.
  • 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.
  • Williams, S. (2020) Introducing employment relations: A critical approach. 5th Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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.  

Key words search

employee relations, industrial relations, trade unions, employee involvement, discipline & grievance, employee engagement, employee voice

Credit value15
Module ECTS


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