Key information

Mode of delivery
Delivery type
Full-time, Part-time
Start date
1 year


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Our CIPD accredited HRM degree will equip you with cutting-edge HR knowledge and skills relevant to the current and future workplace. Our programme will position you as an HR professional with specialist expertise in delivering sustainable HR practices.

Our MSc HRM Masters provides unique insights into this new area of Human Resource Management. HRM benefits employers and employees, as well as creating wider social benefits including lower unemployment, inclusion for marginalised people, reduced demand for out-of-work and in-work benefits while reducing healthcare burdens due to work-related illness and disability. We recognise the rapidly changing trends in employment and offer an exciting selection of specialist courses to educate current and future HR practitioners in a more sustainable and socially responsible form of managing people.

There are eight taught courses (divided equally over two semesters) and a HRM dissertation in semester 3, in a topic of your choosing. If you chose to study Part-time, you will register for two courses per semester and progress to the dissertation at the end of the second year.

There are four mandatory courses in Semester one: Organisational Behaviour, HR Strategy and Practice, Digital Human Resource Management and the Legal Context of Work. These courses provide insights into the fundamentals of Human Resource Management and develop a deeper understanding of specialist areas within the HR profession.

In semester two you will take a further three mandatory courses, Research Philosophy and Practice, Sustainable HRM and Employment Trends. You will then customise your degree to match your specific interests or career pathway by selecting an optional course from a choice of three: The Psychology of Leadership, People Analytics, or Managing Diversity in Business.

In Semester three the HRM dissertation is the capstone course where you will be supported by our world leading faculty to “deep-dive” into your chosen area of HRM. The dissertation enables you to investigate an HRM topic of your choice, where you will be able to demonstrate your mastery of the subject area by developing new insights from analysis of valuable primary research.

September 2024 entry 

The deadline for applications from UK students is 30 August 2024. For EU and overseas applicants, we guarantee to consider applications submitted by 2 August 2024.

Course content

Year 1

Within the degree programme there are seven mandatory courses, one option and the mandatory capstone HRM dissertation.

Semester 1

  • HR Strategy and Practice 
  • Organisational Behaviour 
  • Digital HRM
  • The Legal Context of Work 

Semester 2

  • Sustainable HRM
  • Employment Trends
  • Research Philosophy and Practice 

Choose one of the following options:

  • Managing Diversity in Business
  • People Analytics
  • The Psychology of Leadership

Between May and August students undertake their MSc dissertation.

Specialist Mandatory Courses:

Semester 1

HR Strategy and Practice

This course explores what it means to be an HR practitioner and provide insights into the differing strategic and operational roles occupied by those working within the HR profession. In line with the CIPD Profession Map, the course also explores the skills and behaviours required to perform the role of an HR practitioner effectively and considers how to design a range of people practices to deliver strategic people plans.

Organisational Behaviour 

Core to designing HR policies and practices is an understanding of why people behave the way they do at work. This course considers factors at an individual, group and organisational level that impact on our experience of work. Topics covered include motivation, work group dynamics, power and politics, organisational culture and the people aspects of change.

Digital Human Resource Management

Data permeates our world and is integral to the way businesses function and formulate strategies. The contemporary workplace therefore needs to augment human skills with the emergence of artificial intelligence and automation. This course examines how the HR profession can adapt to changing realities by combining artificial and human intelligence in new ways; finding digital solutions that not only enhance efficiency but also sustain positive employee experiences.

The Legal Context of Work

The legal context of work course aims to provide insights into the aspects of international and domestic law relevant to areas of work and employment, equipping you with the skills necessary to develop and maintain legally compliant and sustainable HRM practices.

Semester 2

Sustainable HRM

Sustainable HRM builds on many of the ideas in the HR Practitioner but engages in a more specialized discussion around how to ensure long-term financial sustainability, whilst meeting broader individual, societal and environmental needs. Specifically, the course helps to understand how HRM can be used to develop inclusive workplaces that promote wellbeing, achieve organisational flexibility which is mutually beneficial for employers and employees, and facilitate environmental sustainability in organisations.

Employment Trends

This course will encourage you to consider and discuss the context of contemporary employment, and its impacts on the pattern of employment outcome, as well as considering future trends in employment such as robotics. The course will provide the local, national and international context and trends that inform the practice of HR practitioners, and influence the outcomes for employees and workers.  

An MSc with industry demand

Within the HR profession, there is growing interest in understanding how to manage people in a way that not only delivers business results, but provides a positive experience of work for employees and workers, and supports wider social and environmental objectives. Our MSc HRM covers all the topics you would expect from an HR degree but also enables our students to develop specialist knowledge in this increasingly important new approach to people management.

Our research: a driving force for new knowledge

Underpinning our MSc HRM is our close links with the Centre for Research in Employment, Work and the Professions (CREWS). We have a strong research interest in sustainable HRM, diversity and inclusion, and developing fair work and healthy workplaces. Key academics from CREWS teach on the HRM programme, and use their own research to inform their courses.

HRM Mandatory Courses

Research Philosophy and Practice

The Research Philosophy and Practice course aims to prepare students for conducting their own dissertation. It introduces the social science research process, explores different research philosophies, designs and methodologies, and helps students design their own research study.

HRM Course Options

The Psychology of Leadership

The Psychology of Leadership discusses core theories of leadership, with particular focus on key social psychological approaches to understanding this complex and contentious concept. The practical considerations of leading in an organisational setting are also considered.

People Analytics

This course aims to equip students with the knowledge, skills and competencies when gathering and using data to deliver value to businesses. This course also creates awareness on the value of people and data by cementing a critical understanding of analytics and its use in creating insight and measuring value.

Managing Diversity in Business

Developing diverse, inclusive workplaces is key to sustainable HRM and this course provides a critical understanding of the major areas of equality and diversity in organisations and society. By the end of the course, students will understand how diversity affects organisational effectiveness and how to promote greater inclusivity within organisations.

Dissertation Project

Over the summer the masters' dissertation enables you to deepen your knowledge of HRM through research into a topic of your choice. You will gather and analyse data from employers (this could be your current workplace) or employers which directly relates to your ambitions and interests.

Examples of topics within this discipline are:

  • The role of HRM in overcoming in work poverty
  • The potential for remote working and robotics to improve employment outcomes
  • The role of HR practitioners in 'green' HRM
  • Innovation, sustainable HRM and customer satisfaction in hospitality industry.
  • Sustainable HRM practices and the effects on employee retention.
  • The impact of employee wellness programs on employee engagement

Go Global

Some of our Postgraduate Taught Masters Programmes are eligible for Inter-Campus Transfer. Please contact for further information.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Tuition fees
Status [footnote 1] Full-time Part-time
UK 10736 5368
Overseas [footnote 2] 23248 11624


  1. Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.
  2. Overseas includes applications from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in the UK. Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

Scholarships and bursaries

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.

Entry requirements


A good Honours degree (first or second class), or its non-UK equivalent, in a related subject.

Applicants with relevant education and work experience may also be considered.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English, or your first degree was not taught in English, we'll need to see evidence of your English language ability.

The minimum English language requirement for entry to this programme is IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent) with no component lower than 6.0.

If you do not have IELTS 6.5, we offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement for this programme prior to commencing your studies:

  • 20 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with no skill lower than 4.5)
  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with minimum of 5.0 in writing and no skill lower than 4.5)
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.0)
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.5)

Why Heriot-Watt?

Clubs and activities

At Heriot-Watt we have an extensive programme of over 90 sports clubs and societies to get involved in. You can try as many as you like or start one of your own!

Edinburgh campus accommodation

Living on our beautiful Edinburgh campus is a great way to meet others from all over the world. Our student accommodation is within easy reach of the teaching buildings, sports facilities, catering venues and the Student Union

Edinburgh Campus facilities

At Heriot-Watt University, we offer a wide range of services to help you deal with all aspects of your life with us, whether these be academic, personal, technical, financial or just plain fun!

Health and wellbeing

Student Wellbeing Services aim to provide a range of support, guidance, activities and advice to help students to be their best, and get the most from their university experience. From counselling to coaching we'll sure you are fully supported.

Heriot-Watt Student Union

There's more to university life than simply getting your degree, and Heriot-Watt University Student Union is all about helping you to have the best possible experience while you study here.

Living in Edinburgh

Historic and beautiful, a cultural capital that fuels the senses whether you love the arts or nature, nightlife or study life, Edinburgh is stimulating and inspirational and never, ever boring.

Sport facilities

Oriam, Scotland Sports Performance Centre offers state-of-the-art sports facilities, for all levels of sport and ability

Your career

Employers around the world actively seek out our graduates because they are work-ready. All our degrees are career-focused and relevant to the needs of industry. Around 95% of our students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating.

We are accredited by the following organisations

At Heriot-Watt University we develop degrees that are relevant for the world of work. We work with Professional bodies and Institutes to gain appropriate Accreditations and Professional Memberships for your industry. Find out below how this degree aligns to industry.

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)

Our MSc in HRM is aligned to the CIPD Profession Map and maps to the core knowledge and core behaviour standards for a level of CIPD membership. By studying this degree you are aligning yourself to the international standard for the people profession. Upon successfully completing this programme, you will achieve a CIPD membership outcome, a visible demonstration of your experience and expertise in the people profession.

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