As HR managers play such an important role in creating a positive workplace culture and engaging in personnel development, gaining the right qualifications and professional accreditation is essential

People are the most important asset of any thriving organisation and as a result the effective management of human resources (HR) is naturally central to any sound business strategy. This has led to an increase in human resource management (HRM) jobs, both in the UK and abroad.

HR managers are tasked with providing clear direction and guidance for those working in an organisation and are responsible for helping to generate a positive and encouraging working environment. Core HRM functions include:

  • the hiring and development of employees through training, incentives and benefits, and performance evaluation
  • administrative services, mediating in disputes and communicating with staff at all levels.

Why study a Masters in human resource management?

Organisations are increasingly seeking applicants with a postgraduate degree in HRM because of the knowledge they gain about different HR themes and the critical thinking skills they have developed. Add to this an accreditation by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and those with a Masters in human resource management are more than ready for the world of work.

There are plenty of CIPD-accredited courses to choose from at postgraduate level, including:

  • MSc Human Resource Management, University of Edinburgh or the University of Liverpool
  • MA Human Resource Management, University of Leeds
  • MSc Human Resources and Organisations (HRM stream), The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

You could also consider the MSc Human Resource Management at Cardiff University, which takes one year if studied full time and includes a three-day management retreat where you can put your negotiation and conflict resolution skills into practice.

All these options boast excellent industry links and the opportunity to apply your learning in practice. A 2:1 in any discipline is required for the majority of these Masters programmes, which typically consist of 12 months of full-time study. Tuition fees for full-time courses in 2022/23 at the institutions above vary from £12,300 to £26,232.

For a two-year CIPD-accredited course that incorporates a placement year, you may wish to consider the MSc Human Resource Management at Kingston University London. Other part-time options include the two-year MSc Human Resource Management with CIPD at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, which is suitable for those already working in HR and seeking qualified status.

What do human resource management courses involve?

The combination of theory, practice and professional accreditation ensures that these programmes give students the skills and knowledge they need to pursue a successful career in HRM.

One example is the University of Birmingham's MSc Human Resource Management. Students are given the opportunity to examine, in some depth, human resource management issues and practices from a range of organisational contexts. The course places a big emphasis on the fact that HR practitioners can and should champion ethical HRM, employee welfare, and responsible business.

CIPD accreditation is also a feature of The University of Sheffield's one-year full-time MSc Human Resource Management with CIPD Pathway, which covers topics such as industrial relations, employee performance management and strategic management.

See HR courses for details on what's available from organisations such as the CIPD.

What do HRM graduates do?

A HRM degree equips you with the skills to become a HR manager/adviser/assistant/systems administrator/co-ordinator, recruitment co-ordinator or reward manager among others.

Graduates of the MSc Human Resource Management at Cardiff University have gone on to work for Whitbread, Capita HR Solutions and the university itself. While former students of the MSc Human Resource Management at the University of Birmingham are now working at BP, TikTok and Deloitte.

As well as doing a degree you should also do some work experience to build up your skills. This should be in an HR department if possible, but any office or administrative work would be useful.

Once you've got your HR management degree and the experience to go with it, you could enter management or trainee positions in organisations ranging from multinational corporations to public sector bodies. However, you would also be well placed to move into other areas of management or even embark on a PhD.

You can explore this further at what can I do with my degree in HRM?

How much will I be paid?

While new starters can expect to earn between £15,000 and £18,000 a year, by gaining in experience and studying towards further CIPD qualifications, this can rise significantly. For instance, an HR manager can earn on average £46,000 a year, with HR directors brining in over £80,000.

See the human resources officer job profile for further salary details and job prospects.

Why choose international human resource management?

With much of today's business being conducted internationally, having knowledge of how human resources is managed at a global level is essential for those interested in an international HR management career.

In terms of postgraduate courses, there's the MSc International Human Resource Management at Kingston University London and the MSc International Human Resource Management and Comparative Industrial Relations at The University of Manchester. The former is available full time for one year, full time across two years (includes professional placement) and two-years part time during weekday afternoons and evenings.

In addition to a widely regarded professional qualification, it will set you on course for senior roles in international HRM and executive training and development.

To see what's available, search international human resource management courses.

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