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HR management in practice

This module considers the role and contribution of the HR professional and provides opportunities for you to examine and develop your own skills for this role. Topics covered will include an introduction to human resource management, managing performance, leadership and change management, and the nature of professionalism and ethics. You'll also develop the skills needed to work effectively as an HR professional. These include self-management, leading and working in teams, communication skills, using ICT and managing financial resources.

Vocational relevance

This module is part of the MSc in Human Resource Management (F68) which is intended to provide a route to professional membership of the CIPD if you wish to develop a career in HR management. CIPD recognition is currently being negotiated to include this module. At present, if you want to gain CIPD membership, you can do so by selecting the alternative modules outlined in Route 1 of this qualification.

It will also provide training in research and academic skills if you want to develop an academic career in the field of HR management.


BXM840 is a compulsory module in Route 2 of our:

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Human Resource Management (K25)
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resource Management (E84)
  • MSc in Human Resource Management (F68)

These qualifications are no longer available to new students.

Some postgraduate qualifications allow study to be chosen from other subject areas. These qualifications allow most postgraduate modules to count towards them. We advise you to refer to the relevant qualification descriptions for information on the circumstances in which this module can count towards these qualifications because from time to time the structure and requirements may change.

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
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

In this module you'll consider the role of the HR professional and the skills needed to be effective in this role. You'll also consider the implications of recent research findings in the field of human resource management for your own practice, for example in increasing levels of engagement and improving performance, in acting ethically and in managing change. You'll compare this with the practice of HR professionals in other contexts, drawing on case studies and the experience of your fellow students working in different geographical areas and sectors; and you will also look at the development over time of thinking about the role of HR professionals in order to understand how this may influence current thinking. The emphasis throughout will be on considering what HRM practices are associated with positive organisational outcomes.

You'll develop and practise the skills you'll need to be effective as an HR professional, including as a leader and a senior manager. These include self-management, leading and working in teams, making decisions, managing and communicating information, including financial information, consultancy skills and helping others to learn. You'll also develop postgraduate study skills and digital literacy skills.

Perhaps most importantly this module will develop your skills as a reflective practitioner, committed to continuously learning from reflection on your practice and on the critical application of new theories and ideas to inform this practice.

You will learn

By studying this module you will learn to:

  • understand the role of the HR professional, the nature of professionalism and approaches to addressing ethical dilemmas
  • review recent research and to assess its relevance for practice in a range of contexts
  • assess the relevance of theory for practice and apply it where appropriate to improve practice
  • review theoretical approaches to leadership and team-working and to develop the skills needed to be effective as a leader and as a team member
  • critically assess the range of concepts and issues that are associated with managing performance in the workplace, and the interrelationships between these factors
  • develop the skills and understanding needed to address change management issues and to work at a strategic level in the organisation
  • develop the skills essential for HR work such as: leading and working in teams, making decisions, managing financial information, communicating effectively and helping others to learn.

Learning platform

This module will be delivered on the innovative online platform of FutureLearn. You may already know FutureLearn, which was founded by The Open University, for the free short courses it hosts for universities and institutions around the world. In addition to these free short courses, FutureLearn has a growing collection of full fee-paying university courses linked to undergraduate and masters-level qualifications. These fee-paying courses feature additional options and tools that aren’t available on the free courses.

If you’ve studied with the OU recently, you’ll find that FutureLearn works a little differently. For example, it’s entirely online and highly interactive, so you won’t be using printed or offline course materials. However, you’ll still have access to our tools and resources, as well as new options that aren’t available in the OU’s virtual learning environment. Importantly, as a fee-paying student, you’ll still have the same excellent tutor support that you would on any of our other modules.

BXM840 is divided into four programs: The Human Resource Professional, Being a Skilled Human Resource Professional, Mapping the Context of Human Resource Management, and Human Resource Management in Context. Each programs runs for eight weeks and there is a week’s break between each program.

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, telephone or via your tutor group forum on the BXM840 website.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Course work includes

4 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment
No residential school

Future availability

HR management in practice starts once a year – in November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2021 when we expect it to start for the last time.


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 to must hold a BA/BSc degree awarded by a recognised university, or equivalent.
    Various higher education and professional qualifications are considered equivalent to a degree. If you hold a qualification that you believe is an equivalent level to a UK degree you should contact us. The Open University Business School Masters Programme Committee is responsible for judging whether applicants' qualifications meet the requirements for admission.

    You will also need an appropriate facility in English language, sufficient to be able to work effectively at postgraduate level; generally this means capability equivalent to an International English Language Test System (IELTS) score of 6.5.  To assess your English language skills in relation to your proposed studies you can visit the IELTS website. If you think either of these possibilities may apply to you, or if you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


    Start End Fee
    - - -

    No current presentation - see Future availability

    This module is expected to start for the last time in November 2021.

    Future availability

    HR management in practice starts once a year – in November. This page describes the module that will start in November 2021 when we expect it to start for the last time.

    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 presented in different media (print and online) and 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

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module. Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows or macOS.

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To join in the spoken conversation in our online rooms we recommend a headset (headphones or earphones with an integrated microphone).

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students.

    If you have a disability

    This module is delivered online on the innovative FutureLearn platform. If you’ve studied with the OU recently, you’ll find that things are a little different on the FutureLearn platform, but it has been extensively tested for accessibility and it meets our accessibility standards. There are no printed or alternative formats of materials available as this is an online course.

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and we have a range of disability support in place.

    If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Visit our Disability support website to find more about what we offer.