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International Human Resource Management (MSc)

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Course overview

This course adopts an intellectually rigorous and critical approach to international human resource management strategies and practices, assessing them from a range of theoretical and analytical perspectives, explaining them in terms of their social and economic context, and considering their implications and impact for a range of stakeholders and interest groups.

This MSc has a substantive international content (centred on the analysis of MNC strategies and practices), combined with a significant comparative dimension, considering national, regional and global contexts.  

Key facts

Key facts about the course
Qualification Master of Science
Duration 1 year full-time (September to September)
Department and Faculty Management, Management, Economics and Law
Partner institution(s) --
Course director

Prof. Sukanya Sen Gupta
+44 (0)1784 414975

Contact for more information Helen McEwan 
Postgraduate Programmes Administrator  
+44 (0)1784 276134 

Fees / funding

Please visit the Fees and funding pages for the latest information about tuition fees and the different sources of funding which may be available to you.

How to apply

Applications for entry to all our full-time postgraduate degrees can be made online.

Further information on making an application, including the documentation that you will need to submit with the application is available in the How to apply section of this site.

If you are interested in applying to Royal Holloway, why not arrange a visit to our campus to see for yourself what academic and student life is like here. More information on arranging visits is available on our Open days pages.


Entry requirements

Entry criteria:

UK Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:1) or equivalent.

Professional qualifications related to the field of International Human Resource Management and work experience in an associated area will be considered.

English language requirements:

IELTS 6.5 overall with 6.5 in writing and a minimum of 6.0 in all other subscores. For equivalencies, please see here

This is a research-focused course and is appropriate for those who have prior knowledge or experience in management. Those who have studied alternative disciplines should take the ‘Foundations of Modern Management’ unit during Induction Week to obtain the background knowledge required for this course.

Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.


Why choose this course?

  • It adopts a rigorous analytical approach to international human resource management.
  • You will be taught by professors and academics who are working on cutting-edge quality research, relevant to the course.
  • You will be engaged in exciting teaching, contributing regularly in class discussions and seminars.
  • You will develop a solid knowledge base equipping you to work in the area of international human resource management with confidence.

Department research and industry highlights

Our professors and academics are all engaged in active research relevant to this course. You can find out more about our current research by visiting our staff profiles and research groups.

Course content and structure

You will study five core units over the first two terms. In the third term, you will complete a dissertation, giving you the opportunity to analyse an international human resource management issue in depth. 

See an example autumn timetable from 2015 here.

Core course units:

Globalisation and Employment Relations
You will gain a broad overview of some of the major areas of international human resource management and employment relations policy within multinational companies (MNCs). These policy areas will be examined within the context of frameworks for understanding MNC strategies and structures, as well as competing arguments about the impact of national and regional differences upon international HRM.

Managing Across Borders - Contemporary Challenges
National borders continue to matter. Even within regions which have removed formal barriers to the flow of goods, finance, labour, and knowledge, a variety of differences (institutional, legal, cultural, identity, and so forth), albeit not static, exist between, and within, countries. These multi-level, multi-dimensional differences shape the contexts of ongoing transnational operations and reorganizational programmes. You will focus on the unique managerial challenges and differences between and within, that countries create for companies’ operation in multiple countries.

International and Comparative Employment Law
You will critically evaluate national and regional differences in the regulation of labour, and their implications for international human resource management practitioners. This unit focuses on the nature of the employment contract in comparative perspective, as well as specific areas such as discrimination, recruitment and termination law.

Organisational Learning, Change and Innovation
You will examine how organisations learn, create and utilise knowledge and respond to the competitive pressures in a globalising knowledge-based economy. This unit focuses on the interactive relationships between societal institutions and the micro-dynamics of organizational learning and innovation.

Strategic International Human Resource Management
You will gain an understanding of the major current themes and debates in the field going beyond operational approaches to managing people and focusing on core international HR issues and functions at the strategic level. It emphases on the integration of organisational strategy and IHRM, and explores how the issues and problems in managing a global workforce can be conceived strategically and operationalized through organisation practice. 

European Employment Relations
You will explore how the European Union and other regional groupings affects the development of employment relations across the member states. Employment relations are generally studied comparatively - for example, in the 'varieties of capitalism' literature - or through the lens of multinational companies, in terms of how HR practices may or may not transfer across borders. 

The regional level examines areas such as free trade areas, common markets and currency unions and how the process of economic integration has shaped its institutional development and how it has influenced pressures to harmonise employment policy and individual EU employment policies – such as equal opportunities, health and safety, employee participation and corporate social responsibility – and assesses whether these function in the interests of business competitiveness or not in relation to the rest of the world.

Dissertation Preparation and Research Methods
This unit helps prepare you for your dissertation.  You will recognise and critically evaluate approaches to management research and the assumptions upon which they are based. This will equip you to make justified choices as to appropriate quantitative/qualitative research methods for data collection and subsequent analysis. You will then be able to conduct research, and evaluate primary and secondary data sources in a systematic and critically reflective manner.You will also evaluate potential limitations to research investigation and applications and develop a coherent and appropriate research proposal, recognising the ethical implications of research investigations and their impact upon findings.

This is an excellent opportunity to analyse a particular international human resource management issue in depth. By the end of the dissertation, you will be able to plan and manage a project, define aims and objectives, identify appropriate data sources and collection methods, be aware of and deal with potential pitfalls, execute a dissertation plan, and construct an effective argument.

On completion of the course graduates will have:

  • demonstrated the ability to critically evaluate the practice of international HRM, and consider the kinds of contextual factors that international HR managers need to consider when making decisions
  • gained an appreciation of national and regional variations in social and economic conditions, and how these affect the way the employment relationship is conducted
  • grasped the significance and efficacy of transnational comparative analysis
  • become familiar with the various approaches to the management of human resources within multinational companies
  • equipped themselves with the necessary understanding of key policy areas to make an effective contribution as international HR practitioners.

View the full course specification for International Human Resource Management (MSc) in the Programme Specification Repository


Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework, examinations and a dissertation.

Employability & career opportunities

Our graduates are highly employable and, in recent years, have entered many different related areas. You will be well prepared for careers in international human resource management, management consultancy, public policy research, government advisory and research roles, the civil service, think tanks, employers’ organisations and trade unions. This course also equips you with a solid foundation for continued PhD studies. Example job profiles include:

  • Researcher at Hays Specialist Recruitment
  • International Relocation Case Manager at IBM

For more information about where our graduates have gone onto, check out our Alumni Profiles here.

Graduate ProfileCharlotteVersavel-cropped

Charlotte Versavel

MSc IHRM, 2011

>>> View Charlotte's Profile


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