MSc in HRM.....dissertation....


| 37 Posts

Chartered Member

24 Feb, 2015 15:46

I have just been accepted to top-up my Post Grad Diploma in HRM to a Masters, which entails doing an 18,000 dissertation.

Please can I shamelessly pick everyone's brains for ideas on what their dissertation was on?  I'm just looking for general ideas which might give me that 'lightbulb moment' where I think 'of course, that is what I shall look at'  

Thanks in advance :)  

  • Anna

    | 1017 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    24 Feb, 2015 16:41

    Hi Carey

    18,000 words is a big commitment, so it would be better if you picked a topic you're interested in/passionate about. Is there an area of HR practice that fits this bill for you? If you say what it is, others may be able to suggest research angles for you.

    Best wishes, Anna 

  • Hi Carey,

    I am currently undertaking my MSc in HRM and am in my final year which is the dreaded dissertation year. I fully agree with Anna that you must select a topic which is of interest to you because it is a mammoth commitment of time (not to mention the blood, sweat and tears!)

    If you are struggling to select a topic, I would suggest that you randomly pick a selection of academic articles in various topic and read them. This should steer you towards areas which you are naturally drawn to and will help you decide on the quants vs qual route which is also an important factor to keep in the back of your mind.

    I have chosen (rather foolishly) to do a dissertation on the analysis of politics, ambiguity and structure in the management of autonomous professionals in a professional services firm.

     Good luck and well done for taking on this challenge!

  • Hi Carey,


    Good advice from Anna to go for a topic that you're interested in as you will probably hit a brick wall some point when writing your dissertation and if the topic doesn't really interests you then it will be even harder to continue working on it.

    Another thing to keep in mind when picking a topic, is to assess whether you would be able to quite quickly obtain the information you need. As in - do you have access to the right people/organisations/resources that will actually be able to help you to conduct your research, whether a case study, interviews, questionnaires or whatever method you would like to use to obtain the information. This may steer your decision to go for a particular topic/angle.



    Good luck! 

  • Emma

    | 312 Posts


    25 Feb, 2015 12:36

    Hi Carey

    in addition to all the excellent advice you have received I would also bear in mind that if you pick a topic that has had relatively little previous research carried out then you may struggle to find enough sources for your literature review.



  • Jon

    | 45 Posts


    25 Feb, 2015 13:46

    I recently finished my Masters and I agree whole heartedly with the advice around choosing a subject that can hold your interest and you feel strongly about. No matter how much you love the subject I suggest that by the time you come to writing and re-writing and proofing your work it will be a bit easier when you hit that inevitable wall.

    My topic was around supervision of social workers in a wider performance management framework and again the advice around having plenty of opportunity to gather field evidence is critical - I was lucky as I had a "captive audience" and sign up our senior management team and therefore ended up with a 60+% response rate

    Good luck but a bit like friends and partners - choose carefully!!!! 

  • Carey

    | 37 Posts

    Chartered Member

    3 Mar, 2015 16:13

    Thanks all for your feedback, it is really appreciated :)  I will go away and have a think, there are some areas that really interest me but I am getting a slightly different drive from our directors...
  • Anna

    | 1017 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    3 Mar, 2015 17:43

    When you've decided on a topic, do come back for more advice if you want to Carey - there's a wealth of wisdom among the contributors to these communities.

    Best wishes, Anna 

  • Hi Carey!

    Oh I'm so familiar with this feeling when for you waiting tense but interesting period. But of course the most important thing it is to choose the right direction and make a clear action plan. Remind what worked on some paperwork in my student days a plan took a probably third part of the total time which I spent. When I wrote my doctoral dissertation I applied for help to one of the services. I know that some can consider such help as a cheating but still I do not see any crime if student decided to find a professional with years of experience who can help you with plan or wind some rigt way for research. The right mentor is the key to unsurpassed dissertation. I used this resource http://phdify.com/ . I do not know, maybe it will be useful to you.

  • Ray

    | 2657 Posts

    Chartered Member

    18 Jul, 2016 13:54

    In reply to Mary:

    As an MBA examiner on the Comp & Ben aspects of international HR here are a few pointers I can share (in addition to choosing a subject in which you are particularly interested and for which are likely to have some operational input)

    1. A good dissertation will mean reading and formulating a considered opinion on the published literature, in order to shed some theoretical light onto the practicalities of the subject. Therefore make sure that the subject area is welll covered and that the literature stands up to serious analysis (for example much of the Gen X, Gen Y literature is extremely superficial, assuming that the decade of birth will mould a person's worldview, forgetting that as they grow older and take on financial and family responsibilities their worldview, not surprisingly, adjusts)
    2. Make sure that the subject is something that you can readily research on a practical basis and that companies are willing to share information - I have seen many people preparing their dissertation facing a "brick wall" because the subject is potentially controversial or sensitive (for example, relationships with major shareholders concerning certain aspects of senior executive remuneration).
    3. After having assimilated the literature and benchmarked the real world, try to arrive at a position that you are personally able to defend  and explain why. Many good dissertations could have been excellent if people had gone a little bit further in terms of taking and defending a personal view. At this level I expect people to go beyond the descriptive and analytical and enter into the realms of personal positions which they can legitimately defend.
    4. Don't neglect to identify how the subject matter requires interfaces between HR and other functions or operational units - HR dosn't happen in a vacuum, so I expect a dissertation to demonstrate a clear understanding of these interfaces.
    5. Don't neglect the financial aspects implicit in the subject matter. Demonstrate by your analysis that you have mastered the financial fundamental of how a business works
    6. Recognise that "context is king" and that what is appropriate for Google is not necessary suitable when running a nuclear power station or a hospital. With this in mind, avoid "magic bullet" solutions/ideas
    7. The MBA course on which I teach also has a one hour oral presentation to a jury of 4 on the subject matter. In this specific context I expect the oral presentation to add to the written dissertation (typically 60 pages), rather than regurgitate what hhas already been written

    Hope these musings can be of help.

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