Postgraduate (MSc & MA) Programmes in Human Resources

Click on the link below to access our comprehensive database of European institutions that offer Human Resources related MA and MSc programmes taught in the English language:

Human Resources

Human resource (HR) management is a relatively new field that pulls together the fields of personnel administration, organisational behaviour and development, labour relations, the economics of human capital, and subfields such as leadership, change management, and others. These fields are combined into one that focuses on how organisations can develop policies and practices to manage large groups of employees, freelancers, and others who work on behalf of the organisation. In the past, HR professionals were involved in recruiting and selecting employees, designing compensation plans and benefits packages, overseeing compliance with government regulations, and handling labour relations issues. Those are still important, of course, but increasingly HR professionals are most concerned with managing the substantial changes necessary in the modern workplace – driven by the trends discussed below.

Once a support function loathed by operating managers (who regarded HR professionals as ignorant of the business that employed them and likely to hamstring operations with endless paperwork), HR is increasingly likely to be seen as a helpful partner in the drive to build a flexible, cost-effective, committed and competent workforce and organisation.

Looking for funding for postgraduate studies? Check out the exclusive bursaries on offer from Postgrad Solutions.


Numerous substantial trends continue to drive this field, including:
• the new design of organisations, including the flattening of hierarchies in – Canary Wharf, London
• technological change (resulting in changed relations between employer and employee)
• ageing of the workforce
• changed expectations of the workforce (regarding empowerment, length of stay with employers, etc.)
• increased workplace diversity
• a shift toward team-based working
• increased globalisation, meaning that employers must deal with employees with different expectations and norms than their local employees
• an increased rate of change in organisations, requiring managers to be better managers of change
• increased economic competition, and consequent emphasis on increased productivity
• more complex government regulation.

Most human resource master’s programmes are one year in length; many are provided online. Note that programmes can focus on the narrow, technical approach reminiscent of personnel management programmes – salary surveys, performance appraisal, grievance analysis, and the like – or a general management perspective that puts human resource management in a context of business strategy and societal constraints. The strongest programmes tend to be those premised on the idea that an organisation’s overall strategy, combined with developments in its environment, should determine its HR strategy.

A typical programme might offer courses in:

Find the perfect programme

Search for the perfect pre-experience postgraduate business programme for you using our course search. You can search a database of programmes on offer at European institutions by country, subject and study mode.

You can also find out more about the universities and colleges offering the courses using the A–Z institution listing.

• research methods in human resources
• international human resource management
• employment relations
• leading and influencing in organisations
• work organisation
• change management
• performance assessment
• organisational behaviour
• training and development
• human resource management.


Human resource master’s programmes fall into two categories: those that require prior work experience in the field (generally two or more years) and those that value, but do not require, such experience. Many programmes (in either category) require little more than some knowledge of statistics. Others require nothing other than a bachelor’s degree.

Many programmes also look for:
• prior coursework in human resources, organisational behaviour, or psychology
• undergraduate business degree.    


The shift from personnel departments to human resource departments has involved a shift toward integrated management systems – combining work design, staffing, measurement, development, compensation, and control systems – tied to the organisation’s business plan and strategy. This has brought human resource professionals much closer to the business core of organisations, rather than being in a limited support role (such as setting out a firm’s sexual harassment policy). As a result, human resource professionals are increasingly valued for their business savvy as well as their knowledge and skill in particular HR functional specialities.

Typical job – Masters in Human Resources
• Management education officer
• Human resources analyst
• Labour relations manager
• Arbitrator
• Facilitator
• Mediator
• Organisational change consultant
• Organisational development professional
• Employee relations associate
• Benefits analyst
• Personnel manager
• Human resources information analyst
• Compensation manager
• Trainer
• Training co-ordinator
• Recruiter

Professional associations (UK and US)

Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (UK)
American Society for Training and Development (US)
Society for Human Resource Management (US)

Introductory readings

Iain Henderson, Human Resource Management for MBA Students (Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development), provides a particularly easy-to-read overview of the field. Gluttons for punishment can consult Raymond A Noe et al’s lengthy text, Human Resource Management: Gaining a Competitive Advantage (McGraw-Hill/Irwin). The organisational element of the field is given good overview treatment in Stephen P Robbins and and Timothy A Judge’s Essentials of Organizational Behavior (Prentice Hall). A good alternative to Robbins and Judge, albeit more limited in scope, is Andrew J DuBrin’s Fundamentals of Organizational Behavior (South-Western College Publishing).

Closely related fields

Human resource management and general management overlap substantially. See the ‘Management’ discussion for further information.

Sign up now to become a member of StudyBusinessMasters student services - it will give you  free access to our exclusive StudyBusinessMasters bursaries, great competitions, lively chat forum and our monthly StudyBusinessMasters newsletter.

Click on the link below to access our comprehensive database of European institutions that offer Human Resources related MA and MSc programmes taught in the English language:

Human Resources





Course Search