HR9638 - Employment Relations

What will I learn on this module?

You will develop a critical and practical approach towards the employment relationship. Building upon work in the Level 5 Reward and Performance module, you will develop an understanding of the centrality of rewards to the employment relationship and address the central concept of power in attempting to negotiate the introduction of a new reward system. Whilst you will have previously considered the role of rewards from a competitive perspective, here you will do so in the face of opposition, you will learn to bargain, compromise and play with power.
This will lead you to understand that organisations and their employees will often seek different objectives, sometimes resulting in conflict.
You will be introduced to a wide range of employment relations practices, both traditional and modern, understanding how each of these may have very different meanings for each side of the employment relationship.
You will develop an understanding of the employment relationship and its connection to wider trends in the economy, society and politics. You will see the employment relationship as an outgrowth of powerful forces, rather than as a simple facet of an organisation’s structure.
You will learn the principles and skills of negotiation and compromise: finding your way to agreement through a complex mix of cooperation, consensus, power play and shrewd bargaining. Bargaining and negotiation are high level, strategically necessary skills. The focus of this module in developing these skills highlights the value of this module for the development of your future career to the most senior levels.

How will I learn on this module?

Activity and simulation are the main features of learning on this research-led module. Employment relations are fascinating, complex games of power and conflict, with astonishing influence and reach across organisations. You will experience this complexity through a module-long simulation in which you will take on a key role in the negotiation of a new reward system for an organisation. You will learn by doing – identifying sources of conflict and disagreement; developing bargaining strategies and tactics; balancing the desires of your bargaining principals with accommodating your bargaining opponents and ‘striking a deal’. You will make use of simulated power resources to alter the balance of power in the relationship and learn the delicate balancing act of negotiation.
There is a strong emphasis on professional skill development – learning and practicing valuable skills, underpinned by relevant theory.
You will experience a fully ‘flipped’ classroom – tutors will be on hand to assist, guide and advise, but you will find your own solutions to the challenges that you face, supported by a wide range of appropriate learning technologies that include extensive and carefully curated learning resources including video and webinars from the worlds’ leading HR researchers and practitioners, to enable your self-directed learning

How will I be supported academically on this module?

In order to provide as much space as possible for you to explore the facets of this module, most of the academic support will be provided outside of the physical classroom. High quality, short-form videos will largely replace the traditional lectures in order to signpost the key areas of theory and insight that will enable you to succeed. Cooperation and collaboration are important features of the module both within and without the classroom, you will be supported to do this through the use of appropriate technologies. The core of the module will be concerned with making realistic choices about strategy, policies practices and tactics – utilising simulated organisational and labour market data in order to model the effects of your decisions, to argue for and achieve your objectives, and to compromise where necessary.

Academics are also available upon request to support you outside of formal session time by responding to questions or concerns that you might have either via email or via individually pre-arranged appointments and/or drop-in sessions.

Academic support is also provided through the provision of a range of University learning support services. A wide range of online support materials is also available thought the virtual learning environment. These materials include recordings, webcasts, pre-recorded sessions, also an electronic reading list including RSS feeds that showcase the application of various practices presented in the module.

To support you in your academic progress, you will receive both formative and summative feedback/feed-forward on your work through the course of each academic year. Regular formative feedback on class activities provides you with the necessary guidance to scaffold your knowledge and understanding of the key concept and principles of the subject to enable your success in the final summative assessment. Summative feedback/feed-forward will be provided on your work after it has been assessed and graded. You should use all feedback/feed-forward that you receive to identify areas of strength and areas for future study and improvement

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
To develop a systematic and coherent body of knowledge concerning the role and function of reward and performance management [MLO1]

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
To develop core skills in the design and implementation of employment relations strategies, matched by the consideration of competing imperatives: from labour and product markets; and from different parts of the organisation and workforce [MLO2]

To work collaboratively on a team project. [MLO3]

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
To consider competing values, interests and objectives and to find imaginative solutions to conflicts and dilemmas. [MLO4]

How will I be assessed?

Formative assessment and feedback
You will receive near constant formative feedback throughout the module. All of the workshops are entirely focussed upon the main module project. Tutors are on hand throughout to facilitate, guide and support you towards this goal. As you work in your teams you will test your understanding by making choices and taking decisions – the activity will, itself provide feedback. At key points you will present your progress in role play to tutors acting as organisational leaders. They will challenge you to defend your decisions and, particularly, your compromises – this will require you to develop sophisticated bargaining skills and capabilities.

Summative assessment
Group-based report: Will detail the creation of a new reward system for a simulated organisation, but it’s not just about what you decided to do, it’s about how and why you decided. We are interested in how you negotiated the complexities and conflicts of the employment relationship. You will present this as a long group report, which draws upon the activities and feedback from the workshops [MLOs 1-4]


Level 5 Reward and Performance



Module abstract

The employment relationship is fundamental to the management of people at work. Whilst much of the teaching that you have been exposed to regards questions of employee commitment, engagement and performance to be driven by effective communication and ‘good management’, here we will suggest that matters are trickier than that. Employers and employees have fundamentally different interests, making conflict inevitable. The management challenge is how to deal with that conflict.
In this module you will learn where that conflict comes from and how we might attempt to resolve it, to keep the employment ‘show on the road’. You will look at work relationships from a different angle – that of the workforce, and consider how different perspectives lead us to different solutions to the problems of work. Primarily though, you will develop a negotiator’s skills – highly sought after in developing a senior level career.

Course info

UCAS Code N110

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 year sandwich

Department Newcastle Business School

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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