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BUS3066 : Critical Issues Human Resource Management: Pragmatic Dilemmas in Managing the Workplace of the Future

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Steve Vincent
  • Co-Module Leader: Dr Martí Lopez Andreu
  • Owning School: Newcastle University Business School
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 120 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


To provide a basis for critical and pragmatic judgement on the current state of human resource management.

To evaluate key recent changes in the practice of HRM in organisations.

To explore the role of political forces, ideologies and institutional conditions in shaping the practice of HRM.

To identify alternative ways of organising HRM.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus will cover five areas:

1. HRM as strategy

This section will consider the rhetoric and reality of HRM strategy by exploring its aims and scope, as well as the function and organisation of HRM. Theoretical and conceptual tools for exploring HRM strategy, and the impact of HRM strategy, will be considered.

2. Regulation and HRM

This section will consider how regulation impacts HRM practices, focussing on specific examples, such as equality and diversity, employee voice, and vocational education.

3. People Management in a Globalising Economy

This section will consider the impact of globalisation in HRM, the consequences of globalisation for workplaces structures, and the global political economy.

4 Technology and the future of work:

This section will consider the relationship between technology and HRM. It will explore how technology reshapes work organisation, people management strategy, and the employment relationship.

5. New patterns in working life

This section will consider how work is changing in a global and digital context. Issues discussed are likely to include remote working, the work-life boundary, and precariousness.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture52:0010:00One two-hour lecture for each of the five main topic areas of the module. PiP.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00One introductory lecture and two hours "supplemental" to each of the five core topic areas. PiP.
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion190:0090:0040 hours for the Assessed Essay, 50 hours for the Portfolio
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities54:0020:00Guided reading for each workshop
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities54:0020:00Workshop preparation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops42:008:00Workshop discussions for each the four parts of the portfolio. PiP.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops11:001:00Workshop discussion and support to the first assessment. PiP.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Optional in-person drop-ins to talk through the first assignment.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study137:0037:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

To enable the students to assess HRM theories and practices, with an emphasis on how HRM strategies and people management practices emerge in specific contexts, lectures block A will introduce the core theory.

The other lecture blocks [B-E] will also discuss the forms, effects, and contradictions of a variety of changes in approach to the organisation of HRM. These lectures will explore how HRM is affected by, 'regulation', 'globalisation', 'technology', and 'new patterns in working life'.

Each lecture block [A-E] and supporting activities will also enable the students to discuss the role of political forces, ideologies, experts, authorities and institutional arrangements in shaping the practice of HRM. However, the workshops will be specifically useful here.

Throughout the classes, students will be enabled to assess the possibilities and problems of alternative arrangements for managing the employment relationship by discussing various cases and examples.

The lecture content will be orientated to explore contemporary changes in economic organisations and how these have a direct bearing on what HR managers do.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A40This will include a 1500-word essay about HRM strategy and practical difficulties implementing an HRM strategy in a consistent way
Portfolio1A60A 2,500-word portfolio that includes critical and pragmatic appraisals of four case- or example-based exersises.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay will be handed in mid-term and should enable the students to develop and demonstrate an advanced understating of the situated problems that implementing HRM strategies both responds to and impels. It will be supported by four hours of lectures [A], one workshop and two "drop in" sessions.

This advanced foundational will enable the students to reflect, in a pragmatic way, on the portfolio tasks. The portfolio will include five parts. Four of these will be associated each of the four themed blocks of lectures [B-E], each of which is supported by one of the four two-hour workshops. These four parts of the portfolio will be approximately 500 word discussions of "cases" [examples and vignettes] that will invite practical reflection on the lecture content, which they should link back to the theories of HRM. The final section will be a practical/reflective statement about the pragmatic possibilities of HRM and how their thinking developed over the module. This will be introduced in the final 2-hour workshop and further supported by a third "drop in" session. The Portfolio will enable the students to demonstrate the breadth of learning outcomes associated with this module by requiring students to engage in the full syllabus.

Reading Lists