Postgraduate Research Course

PhD Human Resource Management and Organisation Studies

PhD Human Resource Management and Organisation Studies


The details
Human Resource Management and Organisation Studies
October 2024
4 - 5 years
Colchester Campus

Our four-year PhD Human Resource Management and Organisation Studies (with research and communication skills) course has been designed to support students who do not have English as a first language.

We recognise and understand the importance of continuing professional development for students and have designed this course for students who do not have English as a first language and may have been studying in a different country, or out of a traditional academic environment for some time.

This is a tailor-made course that seeks to combine skills and enhanced subject-specific research proposals to give you the best underpinning for your doctoral studies. A core aim of the course is for students to refine English language for scholarly communication, enhance academic skills for postgraduate study, hone higher-level research skills, and master how to study and manage academic work in the UK.

The course is comprised of the following elements:

  • English language for postgraduate research studies
  • Academic skills for postgraduate research studies
  • Research skills for human resource and organisation studies
  • Research proposal
  • Studying and researching in the UK

This four-year PhD does not include a Masters degree in its first year, like other existing Integrated PhDs offered at Essex. On this course, you will enrol for a PhD in Human Resource Management and Organisation Studies (with research and communication skills) for a PhD final award, with only a PG Dip or PG Certificate available as exit awards after the first year. You will take a number of core and compulsory modules in your first year, and the next three years will be conducting your individual research project.

This course is available to start in either October or January.

You will study at Essex Business School, at our Colchester Campus. We are a business school with an international outlook. Our doctoral students join us from all over the world and we are committed to the UN Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME).

The University of Essex is home to a number of cutting-edge research centres and institutes, where academics across disciplines and departments come together to collaborate around a common theme, often engaging with external partners at a national and international level. Our Organisation Studies and Human Resource Management Group research centre, organises seminars throughout the year, giving you access to the latest academic thinking and the opportunity to network with colleagues and visiting scholars from across the world.

Essex Business School provides a highly flexible and supportive PhD experience, where your supervisors develop your professional skills and research expertise in your chosen area. We are the largest department at the University of Essex, with more than 100 doctoral students from more than 40 different nationalities.

Why we're great.
  • 100% of our business and management research environment is world-leading or internationally excellent (Research Excellence Framework 2021).
  • We champion responsible management and sustainable business practices
  • We have strong relationships with external stakeholders and funders, including UK research councils and EU framework programmes

Our expert staff

You benefit from world-class supervision and research training. Essex Business School is home to several leading journal editors and eight research centres across our two campuses. Our researchers are highly regarded for their work on:

  • gender equality and inclusion in the workplace
  • organisational behaviour
  • the relationship between work, organisation and society
  • employee relations and human resource management

Essex is home to world renowned academics in the field of organisation studies and leadership, like Professor Elisabeth Kelan whose research explores the future of work, digitalisation, and gender. Her research is regularly featured in the media such as the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Telegraph and HR Magazine. The Times featured her as one of the management thinkers to watch.

Dr Louise Nash and Director of Postgraduate Research at Essex Business School oversees and leads the provision of our graduate research programmes and ensures that we create an environment where our doctoral students can flourish as researchers in a thriving and mutually supportive PhD community.

Louise is a lecturer in Management and Marketing and completed her PhD Management at Essex. She has extensive management and marketing experience which has influenced her research interests – these focus on interpretative, qualitative studies of the lived experience of work, including: the spatial and temporal rhythms of everyday life; the culture, aesthetics and symbolism of organisational life; gender in the workplace and exploring and developing sensory and embodied methods for researching organisations.

You are allocated two supervisors during your studies. They provide you with guidance and support to help you achieve your individual research goals and produce a high quality piece of doctoral work.

Your supervisors help you to develop your research topic and create your personalised training plan. You meet with them at least once a month and are usually required to submit work beforehand to gain feedback in these meetings. Twice a year, you have a supervisory board meeting when you discuss your progress and agree your plans for the next six months.

We recommend that you make contact with potential supervisors before making your application. You can find supervisors who are open to supporting supervision in your area of research by searching for your research terms in the Research Finder search function on the University of Essex website.

As well as supporting you to complete your thesis, your supervisors can help you to plan your career development. Our academics often co-author publications with doctoral students and can help you to develop the transferable skills needed for the jobs market.

Specialist facilities

PhD Human Resource Management and Organisation Studies is based at our Colchester Campus, in the UK's first zero carbon business school building This reflects our commitment to sustainability and business ethics and we are proud to be a signatory of the Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME).

You have access to excellent research facilities, such as:

  • a dedicated PhD study area with computer stations
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) pods to meet with students, should you decide to become a GTA
  • a Bloomberg trading floor
  • access to databases such as Bloomberg, Compustat, Passport GMID, Bankscope and Datastream
  • e-book finance and business packages to support part-time and distance learning (including Ebrary, NetLibrary, Oxford Scholarship Online, Palgrave Connect and SpringerLink)
  • final-year students are provided with office space to encourage successful thesis completion
  • group-working space in our stunning winter garden
  • study skills support for postgraduate students
  • Bonds café with adjacent sun terrace

Our PhD community offers opportunities for mutually beneficial collaborations as well as being a strong social group for our students to engage with.

Your future

Essex Business School fosters the business leaders and researchers of the future. Our PhD graduates use their creativity, innovation and ethical awareness to meet the many challenges facing the international business world.

Many of our graduates enjoy careers in academia and organisations in the public and private sectors, including at some of the world's most well-known organisations and exciting SMEs, such as:

  • Groupon
  • KPMG Group
  • Right Freight Pvt Ltc
  • Copal Partners
  • Capital Markets Intelligence, a financial publisher
  • Credit Data Research, a business funder
  • Many now also run their own growing businesses, including international business incubator 0100Ventures and entrepreneurship website SlovakSTARTUP.

PhD Human Resource Management and Organisation Studies students can also take advantage of the services offered by the Student Development Team, including: careers advice; work experience; internships; placements; and voluntary opportunities.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

You will need a good Masters degree, or equivalent, in a related subject. A well developed research proposal is also essential.

You will normally be required to attend an interview/Skype interview for acceptance, and acceptance is subject to research expertise in the department.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please contact our Graduate Admissions team at to request the entry requirements for this country.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, then we will require you to have IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component


Course structure

Most of our taught courses combine compulsory and optional modules, giving you freedom to pursue your own interests. All of the modules listed below provide an example of what is on offer from the current academic year. Our Programme Specification provides further details of the course structure for the current academic year.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.

The research element of your degree doesn't have a taught structure, giving you the chance to investigate your chosen topic in real depth and reach a profound understanding. In communicating that understanding, through a thesis or other means, you have a rare opportunity to generate knowledge. A research degree allows you to develop new high-level skills, enhance your professional development and build new networks. It can open doors to many careers.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website and in line with your contract with us. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

Components and modules explained


Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.


Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms


Essex Business School - Research

Research skills are critical to a postgraduate research degree, regardless of the topic you are exploring. This module will reinforce the research methods and skills developed through your previous study and will address philosophical issues underlying management and business research and explain how to select research strategies and designs. It will offer a comprehensive view of methods of data collection and analysis to support the quality and value of research outcomes.

View Essex Business School - Research on our Module Directory


English Language and Communication Skills for Postgraduate Studies

This module provides training in English language skills for successful postgraduate study in the context of the UK generally and at the University of Essex in particular. The module focuses on developing English language proficiency through carefully graded input and scaffolded task completion, all within contexts of most relevance to those pursuing postgraduate research studies at the University of Essex.

View English Language and Communication Skills for Postgraduate Studies on our Module Directory


Academic Skills for Postgraduate Research

This module is designed for international students who do not have English as their first language and who are planning to pursue a PhD at the University of Essex. It builds upon the English language skills being concurrently developed in the English Language and Communication Skills module and prior research knowledge all students on the module will have already acquired at Level 7.

View Academic Skills for Postgraduate Research on our Module Directory


Research Methods in Management

This module introduces students to the methodology and methods of research in the field of Management. Students are acquainted with the nature of the philosophical assumptions that underpin the choice of research design, in particular case studies for data collection and analysis. The module explores a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods to illustrate the suitability of these methods for designing research projects. The ethical, practical and legal questions raised by research are explored. Practical aspects of the research process are examined including the skills required to evaluate published research, organise and undertake a research project within the body of relevant knowledge, and make practical and actionable recommendations.

View Research Methods in Management on our Module Directory


Research Proposal

This module introduces students to the form and function of an effective PhD research proposal. The module will help students to understand the expectations of the research proposal for their own subjects/supervisors and will help them to work on how to produce a quality proposal. The module will help students to develop their skills and confidence in their own research topic as well as their ability to write and talk about their proposal to a range of different audiences. The module will provide students with an overview of the relevant academic theory and ideas about the writing process as well as practical and hands-on experience of writing their own proposals.

View Research Proposal on our Module Directory

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£4,786 per year

International fee

£18,750 per year

What's next

Open Days

We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, graduate employability, student support and more
  • talk to our Fees and Funding team about scholarship opportunities
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday 21 September 2024 - September Open Day
  • Saturday 26 October 2024 - October Open Day


You can apply for this postgraduate course online. Before you apply, please check our information about necessary documents that we'll ask you to provide as part of your application.

We encourage you to make a preliminary enquiry directly to a potential supervisor or the Graduate Administrator within your chosen Department or School. We encourage the consideration of a brief research proposal prior to the submission of a full application.

We aim to respond to applications within four weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply' information.

A sunny day with banners flying on Colchester Campus Square 4.

Visit Colchester Campus

Set within 200 acres of award-winning parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

View from Square 2 outside the Rab Butler Building looking towards Square 3

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.

Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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