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

What is human resource management?

As it's widely accepted that people are the most important asset of any thriving organisation, 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 in the UK and internationally with HR functions 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,' says Tony Dobbins, professor of HRM and Employment Relations and programme director of the MSc HRM, at Birmingham Business School. 'They may also be professionally qualified if their programme is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).'

Joining the CIPD as a student gives you access to all of its online resources, such as podcasts, research factsheets and employment law information. There's also a discussion forum for the community of HR professionals. You can use this to ask experienced members questions on your research and studies.

Where can I study human resource management?

There are plenty of CIPD-accredited courses to choose from at postgraduate level, including the MSc Human Resource Management at the University of Edinburgh Business School and the University of Liverpool, and the MA Human Resource Management at Leeds University Business School. You may also wish to consider the challenging HRM stream of the MSc Human Resources and Organisations at The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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 2018/19 at the institutions above vary from £9,650 to £23,448 (for UK/EU students).

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 of this is the University of Birmingham's MSc Human Resource Management. There are two pathways on offer. One of these is accredited by CIPD and has a greater focus on the development of managerial skills.

'Students across both pathways are given the opportunity to examine, in some depth, human resource management issues and practices from a wide range of organisational contexts,' explains Professor Dobbins. 'The Birmingham Business School MSc HRM 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.

'At Sheffield, we offer students the option of choosing either the MSc HRM or MSc HRM with CIPD pathway. Both programmes provide students with a personal, academic and professional developmental experience relevant to people who seek a career in human resource management,' explains Dr Huiping Xian, lecturer in HRM at the University of Sheffield Management School. 'Both routes enable students to develop their knowledge and understanding of contemporary HRM issues in their international and strategic contexts.'

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

What do HRM graduates do?

Former students of The University of Sheffield's programme have undertaken projects in companies like Arnold Magnetic Technologies, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity.

'If you want to build practical skills that are relevant to HR, it's important to do some work experience to complement your postgraduate degree,' suggests Sarah Koppen, career and CPD lead at CIPD. 'Ideally this would be in an HR department, but any office or administrative role will be useful experience.'

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 in HRM.

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

How much will I be paid?

According to the CIPD's Why HR and L&D is a great career choice, the human resources management salary is certainly competitive and there's plenty of earning potential for graduates.

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 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.

For both these international HR Masters degrees the CIPD and industry employers have had a strong input, with units covering the strategies and techniques adopted by multinational companies in solving HRM issues where employees work across a number of different countries.

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 for international human resource management courses.

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