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This module is concerned with the management and development of staff in public organisations, known popularly as Human Resource Management and Development (HRM). The basic idea is simple – that all organisations, and not just those in the public sector, can improve their performance if they manage their staff properly. Very often, HRM is also associated with a series of practices related to the main activities of managing people and that we, as employees, experience directly. This may include recruiting new staff or training and developing existing staff.

The main objective of this module is to develop a critical appreciation of the strategic role of HRM not only in a public sector context, but within the overall constraints of different political, cultural and institutional environments. Although the module introduces you to the main features, or 'good practice' in HRM, we hope you can develop a critical awareness of its applicability to a given organisation. In addition, HRM is not a field of study independent of other modules in your MSc programme; it is related to many other areas including the management of change, project management and policy implementation.

Learning outcomes

When you have completed this module, you will be able to:

  • present a 'strategic' model of human resource management and development (HRM/D)
  • assess the main functions of strategic HRM/D primarily, but not exclusively, in public sector organisations
  • discuss the main contemporary issues for HRM/D in the public sector
  • analyse the role of HRM/D as a managerial activity, while appreciating institutional and cultural constraints
  • apply the main features of HRM/D to the public sector of developing and transitional countries with an understanding of its weaknesses and limitations.

Study materials

Study guide

You will receive a looseleaf binder containing eight units. The units are carefully structured to provide the main teaching, defining and exploring the main concepts and issues, locating these within current debate and introducing and linking the further assigned readings. The unit files are also available to download from the Virtual Learning Environment.


Truss C, D Mankin & C Kelliher (2012) Strategic Human Resource Management. Oxford, Oxford University Press.


You will receive three volumes of Readings which contain articles and chapters from a variety of sources. Some texts are theoretical, but more often they aim to supplement the discussion of practice in the text by providing case studies of the actual practices of organisations. In this way, the readings help you engage with the process of critical choice which is at the core of this module.

Virtual learning environment

You will have access to the VLE, which is a web-accessed learning environment. Via the VLE, you can communicate with your assigned academic tutor, administrators and other students on the module using discussion forums. The VLE also provides access to the module Study Guide and assignments, as well as a selection of electronic journals available on the University of London Online Library.

Module overview

Unit 1 Strategic HRM for the Public Sector
  • 1.1 Introduction to HRM
  • 1.2 The Activities of HRM
  • 1.3 The Context of HRM
  • 1.4 Strategic HRM
  • 1.5 Strategic HRM in the Public Sector
  • 1.6 Conclusion and Summary
Unit 2 Employee Resourcing
  • 2.1 Recruitment
  • 2.2 Selection
  • 2.3 Retention
  • 2.4 Contracts of Employment
  • 2.5 Summary and conclusion
Unit 3 Performance
  • 3.1 Introduction – Organisational Performance
  • 3.2 Performance Management
  • 3.3 Performance Evaluation
  • 3.4 Leadership
  • 3.5 Teams
  • 3.6 Conclusions and Summary
Unit 4 Development
  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.2 Management Learning
  • 4.3 Organisational Learning
  • 4.4 Creativity in Public Organisations
  • 4.5 Conclusion
Unit 5 Employee Relations
  • 5.1 Introduction
  • 5.2 Employee Involvement and Participation (EIP)
  • 5.3 Managing Diversity
  • 5.4 Formal Employee Relations
  • 5.5 The Role of Trade Unions
  • 5.6 Conclusion and Summary
Unit 6 Reward
  • 6.1 Introduction
  • 6.2 Setting Rewards
  • 6.3 Pay Structures
  • 6.4 Human Resource Aspects of Public Sector Pay Problems
  • 6.5 Paying by Performance
  • 6.6 Rewards Other Than Pay
  • 6.7 Summary and Conclusion
Unit 7 Contemporary Issues in HRM
  • 7.1 Introduction
  • 7.2 Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility
  • 7.3 Work-Life Balance
  • 7.4 Alternative Forms of HR Service Delivery
  • 7.5 Conclusion
Unit 8 Applying HRM
  • 8.1 Introduction – Applying 'Best Practice'
  • 8.2 Convergence and Divergence between Countries
  • 8.3 The Limits of Strategic HRM in the Public Sector
  • 8.4 Challenges and Prospects for HRM in the Public Sector
  • 8.5 Conclusion

Tuition and assessment

Students are individually assigned an academic tutor for the duration of the module, with whom you can discuss academic queries at regular intervals during the study session.

You are required to complete two Assignments for this module, which will be marked by your tutor. Assignments are each worth 15% of your total mark. You will be expected to submit your first assignment by the Tuesday of Week 5, and the second assignment at the end of the module, on the Tuesday after Week 8. Assignments are submitted and feedback given online. In addition, queries and problems can be answered through the Virtual Learning Environment.

You will also sit a three-hour examination on a specified date in September/October, worth 70% of your total mark. An up-to-date timetable of examinations is published on the website in April each year.

Module sample

Click on the link below to download the module sample document in PDF.