Human Resource Development and Consultancy (MSc)

Year of entry


Start date

October 2018


Central London


Fully Approved


One year full-time or two years part-time


Three evenings a week full-time or two evenings a week part-time, plus occasional daytime workshops

This Master's degree focuses on human resource development (HRD) and consultancy. It takes a strategic approach to people management and organisational development, designed to enhance learning, skills, personal development and performance in the workplace, as well as a range of other topical issues.

The programme is intellectually challenging. It integrates learning on training, organisational development, lifelong learning principles and consultancy practice, as well as offering a systematic approach to the design, management and evaluation of programmes to improve personal effectiveness and organisational performance. A substantial aspect of the programme is a management research project which combines the academic rigour of more traditional research dissertations with focus on activities which make a difference to practice in organisations.

All modules taught on this programme place emphasis on bridging cutting-edge academic thinking with direct application to practice. The programme is recognised by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and students who successfully complete the programme are eligible for membership of this thought-leading professional association. All modules integrate academic perspectives with practice-based approaches to HRD and considerable emphasis is placed on developing the knowledge and skills required in more senior HRD roles. You will gain an understanding of relevant organisational, psychological and management theory, whilst examining contemporary developments within the HRD field.

Dedicated sessions will also equip you with skills in consultancy framework and paradigms, including practical methods for applying these. There is a particular focus on ensuring you are aware of the importance of acting ethically and professionally with a demonstrated commitment to equality of opportunity and diversity, and appreciate the importance of continuous personal and professional development.

You need to be aware that successful completion of the programme is contingent on a good attendance record and in particular practical engagement in the weekend workshops; dates are published in advance of programme commencement. This is necessary to embed the relevant learning, and also to gain CIPD membership.

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  • Integrates academic perspectives with a consultancy and practice-based approach to human resource development.
  • Suitable for graduates, experienced organisational development and HR practitioners.
  • Flexible and intensive course that provides opportunities to focus on your particular needs and interests.
  • Approved and accredited by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development at Level 7.
  • Birkbeck provides a diverse range of library and learning resources designed to facilitate your studies and research. Programme- and module-specific materials are also made available to support your learning.
  • Find out more about our student support and study facilities
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  • Entry Requirements We welcome a wide range of qualifications, from the UK and abroad, and we will also consider your non-academic achievements.

    Entry requirements

    A good honours degree (minimum 2:2), or equivalent, in social sciences or a business-related discipline. Alternatively, suitable professional qualifications and at least five years' significant management experience.

    HR professionals and consultants with at least five years' significant experience in a range of organisations and evidence of formal and appropriate training and professional development may be considered, even if they are unable to meet the formal qualification requirements.

    It is at the admissions tutor's discretion to assess suitability. Candidates may be required to submit other documentation, such as work samples, to determine eligibility for entry.

    Potential applicants should note that the programme is reliant on candidates being able to apply the learning directly to a relevant work environment (e.g. drafting and scoping an internal consultancy activity). Thus, it is essential that all candidates have some current or prior relevant work experience.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees We offer advice on all the options for financing your studies. You can pay your fees interest-free by direct debit and postgraduate loans are available for all Home/EU students.

    Fees (2017/8)

    Part-time home/EU students: £ 4475 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £ 8950 pa
    Part-time overseas students: £ 7225 pa
    Full-time overseas students: £ 14450 pa
  • Teaching and assessment Our innovative, engaging teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments.


    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading.

    Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    In addition, you will have timetabled meetings with your Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    All modules combine research-led teaching, experiential forms of learning, and critical self-awareness of the scope and limits of HRD. You will be introduced to concepts and practices drawn from leading international research. The emphasis will be on identifying core principles from relevant research, theories and practices, and applying these to relevant organisational contexts. To this end, teaching acknowledges your current knowledge and past experience, and actively engages you in the process of learning.

    In addition, you will be expected to take part in a number of learning forums outside the classroom, such as peer review groups and learning sets, and to undertake personal study to develop a critical awareness of a range of core HRD concepts and principles.


    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to large groups, with 30 to 100+ students in attendance, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups of 10 to 30 students, led by an academic.

    Academic support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short– or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.


    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations. You will be given time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Unseen written examinations are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June, and, in most cases, are held during the day on a weekday – if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance. Exam timetables are published online in March each year.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    Assessment varies for each module, but includes coursework, essay assignments, examinations, case studies, and a research proposal and dissertation of 8000-10,000 words.


    As well as a mark for your coursework and exams, you will also receive feedback from your marker(s) to help you learn, improve and succeed. We encourage you to discuss feedback with your module tutor.

    Feedback can come in different forms: notes via Moodle (our online learning environment); a paper copy of a completed feedback form; or in-class or face-to-face feedback. The College Policy on Feedback on Assessment sets out what you can expect from your feedback.

    Your department will usually provide you with your marked coursework within four weeks of submission. Your initial mark is provisional until the relevant Board of Examiners has confirmed it.

    Your official coursework and exam results will be made available to you via your My Birkbeck Profile online.

  • Careers and employability To help you get ahead in your career, we offer free advice and training and our recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, can connect you with employers.

    Careers and employability

    Graduates go in to careers in HRD and HR roles in a variety of settings, including government, the financial sector, services, manufacturing and charitable organisations. Possible professions include human resources officer or management consultant. This degree may also be useful in becoming a banker or retail manager.

    Find out more about these professions.

    Find out more about the destinations of graduates in this subject.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

  • How to apply Once you've found the course that's right for you, here's what to do next to get your place at Birkbeck.

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application.

    Which HR degree should I apply for?

    Human Resource Management (HRM) and Human Resource Development (HRD) share a common focus on the management of people within organisations. In general, however, HRD can be considered as a sub-area of HRM, with its specific focus on approaches designed to enhance learning, skills, knowledge and hence performance within the workplace.

    In contrast, HRM is concerned with the strategies, policies and practices of managing human capital, though the aim of enhancing individual, team and organisational performance is shared. Both HRM and HRD draw on many of the same conceptual and theoretical foundations, and the boundaries within practice can be somewhat blurred.

    Both degrees offer you the opportunity to contextualise your working/theoretical knowledge of HRD through case studies and participating in team presentations which mirror the employability skills that you are required to increasingly evidence in HRM and HRD contexts.

    With respect to the construction of our degrees, there are four common modules taught across both the MSc HRM and MSc HRD and Consultancy. These provide a core foundation for practitioners:

    As with all our Master's programmes all students study Research Methods and carry out an independent research project. For those students studying MSc HRM, there are three additional modules which provide a broad knowledge of HR strategies and practices.

    Overall this course prepares you for the broad range of work performed by both HR generalists and, usually at a more senior level, HR business partners. These modules also provide an introduction to the specialist skills necessary for a role in one of these HR areas:

    For those students studying MSc HRD and Consultancy, three additional modules provide the basis for senior HRD and consultancy roles in this area. These modules provide the additional HRD knowledge and skills for working in this specialist field:

      Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form, including our online personal statement tool, which will guide you through every step of writing your personal statement.

      Application deadlines and interviews

      You should apply as early as possible, but no later than September.

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