Human resource management in context

This module examines how HR policies and practices operate within multiple tiers of economic, political and social contexts. It examines context at the macro (societal and international) and micro (organisational) levels and incorporates the practice area of resourcing and talent management as an example of HR practice in context. Topics covered will include HR strategy and its contexts, markets and government regulations, the changing social and technological environment, resourcing and talent management processes and designs and managing labour flow.

Vocational relevance

This module can be studied as part of our MSc in Human Resource Management, which provides a route to professional membership of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) if you wish to develop a career in HR management. It will also provide training in research and academic skills if you want to develop an academic career in the field of HR management.

More generally, by studying a postgraduate business qualification, you can expect your salary to increase and for it to have a positive impact on your career progression, as well as bringing improvements to the organisation.


B811 is a compulsory module in our:

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU postgraduate modules correspond to these frameworks.
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

What you will study

In the first half of this module, you'll examine what we mean by strategic human resource management and how the different contexts in which organisations operate will shape the decisions they make about HR policy and practice. This includes the influence of different regulatory regimes and types of market economies, and you'll also look in depth at the social and technological changes transforming organisations and the whole world of work.

In the second half you'll consider how these ideas can be applied to the practice area of resourcing and talent management. You will consider workforce planning and the importance of talent management, and you'll look in depth at recruitment and selection, retention and managing exit from the organisation. Finally, you'll explore the important question of how to evaluate HR policies – that is, how to find out what really works and what does not.

Throughout this module, you'll be asked to relate your study of theory to practice in organisations which you know well. This may mean drawing on your own experience of organisations as an employee or perhaps as a volunteer. You'll also be offered case studies and will be encouraged to do your own research using the university’s online library. There will be a day school towards the middle of the module and four online tutorials to support you in your studies.

You'll develop and practise a number of skills, including postgraduate study skills and digital literacy skills. You'll also develop skills in strategy development, talent management, recruitment and selection and helping others to learn. You'll continue to develop as a reflective practitioner, planning your skill development and keeping a record of your plans.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Your tutor will help you with the study material, mark and comment on your assignments and provide advice and guidance. You'll be able to contact your tutor by email, phone or via your tutor group forum on the module website.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box.

Course work includes

2 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment

Future availability

Human resource management in context starts once a year, in May. This page describes the module that will start in May 2025. We expect it to start for the last time in May 2030.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.

Entry requirements

All entrants must hold a BA/BSc degree awarded by a recognised university or equivalent. If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


Start End England fee Register
03 May 2025 Oct 2025 £1865.00

Registration closes 17/04/25 (places subject to availability)

This module is expected to start for the last time in May 2030.

Future availability

Human resource management in context starts once a year, in May. This page describes the module that will start in May 2025. We expect it to start for the last time in May 2030.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as set books, a computer and internet access.

Ways to pay for this module

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options, including a postgraduate loan, if you study this module as part of an eligible qualification. To find out more, see Fees and funding.

Study materials

What's included

You will have access to a module website with an extensive variety of specially written resources designed exclusively for this module. This includes:

  • audio and video content
  • case studies
  • published articles
  • a week-by-week study planner
  • online tutorial access
  • access to The Open University library.

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

If you have a disability

Written transcripts of any audio components and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Other alternative formats of the module materials may be available in the future.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.

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