MSc Digital Development

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Human Resource Development: Programmes and Policies in Practice

Course unit fact file
Unit code MGDI60492
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This unit complements the conceptual and theoretical perspectives of HRD presented in the programme’s core unit MGDI60151: Human Resource Development: Key Concepts. This course, therefore, is a foundation course focusing on practice-oriented skills for the human resource development professional, and those working in the international development and public sectors who are engaged in the development and maintenance of HRD-related programmes and/or policies.


 The unit aims to:

  • Equip students with the skills to identify and manage resources to effectively deliver human resource development programmes, plans, and/or policies in the context of a developing country.
  • Analyse the need for a range of practice skills, and understand their role in the effective delivery of public sector, non-governmental, and private sector initiatives that focus on the development human capabilities in its broadest sense.
  • Assist students to develop critical analytical skills necessary to understand (measure/gauge/assess) both the contextual and informational (i.e. found or generated data) factors that impact different forms of HRD policies and programmes.
  • Develop a range of skills that characterize the current landscape of HRD-focused work and employment.
  • Offer students practical assignments that review and consolidate the core concepts in HRD as it is practiced.

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, classroom discussions, case study analysis, tutorials as practice sessions and also group work (focusing on the first assessment) as well as independent learning by students. Five two-hour participatory tutorials/ workshops will focus on developing students’ analytical skills, inter-personal skills, mentoring/coaching skills, networking and collaboration skills, as well as cross-cultural communication skills.


Knowledge and understanding

  • Knowledge and understanding of the practical approaches and issues concerning operational implementation of human resource development programmes or similar capacity building initiatives.
  • Critical understanding of the issues surrounding HRD interventions and how different socio-economic/cultural contexts involve different approaches.
  • Knowledge and understanding of the different forms of HRD practice/intervention at community, organisational, and societal levels.
  • Skills to analyse different forms of information and knowledge with which to devise, inform and manage HRD-oriented programmes or initiatives.
  • Ability to process, manage, and utilise different forms of data/ knowledge from different sources (government counterparts, private sector interactions, non-profit documents etc.).

Intellectual skills

  • Link the conceptual and the practical in HRD with the aim of improved HRD programme design. This unit would be aligned with MGDI60151 HRD: Key Concepts in this regard.
  • Demonstrate critical analytical skills with respect to different developmental and cross-cultural working environments.
  • To reflect on the why HRD policies/programmes have or have not been successful in the past.

Practical skills

  • Ability to understand the prerequisite elements for a sound HRD policy as well as a functional HRD programme of action.
  • To manage information and data in different forms and to appreciate how these work to form workable policies and/or programmes.
  • Have acquired skills in the costing, monitoring and evaluation of skills development projects and programmes
  • Ability to evaluate human capital needs and gaps in different socio-cultural/political contexts

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Ability to collate and collect a diversity of information/knowledge related to aspects of HRD’s work.
  • Ability to work and collaborate with a variety of counterparts and stakeholders from the public, private, and non-governmental sectors
  • To demonstrate team and independent working skills.
  • Presentation, knowledge sharing, and communication skills.
  • Have developed practical skills in working in teams as well as individually in particular in diverse, cross-cultural environments.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 30%
Portfolio 70%

HRD Skills Portfolio (70%):  (sometimes called a ‘process-folio’) to be developed over the course of the unit whereby students are expected to assemble and develop an ongoing skills portfolio that parallels the unit’s sessional content, which itself reflects the development of an HRD programme/policy. The process-folio/ portfolio content will contain, for example, a student’s collections of ideas, personal evaluations, collections of materials that they like/dislike together with comments and justifications relating to key HRD and practice elements. A format for this approach will be outlined at the start of the unit.

Group work (30%) with the aim of producing a short video (4-6 minutes) on an attribute of HRD practice. Videos will be shown to the class and a question and answers session by the students facilitated by the course convenor. All students in each group will be expected to feature in the video piece (either in person or via voice-over). Students will be introduced to the assessment in week 1 when groups are formed.

Feedback methods

Feedback provided immediately following group work. Tailored feedback on the portfolio and blog post in TurnItIn via Blackboard.

Recommended reading

Core Readings:

Gold, J., Holden, R., Stewart, J., Iles, P. & Beardwell, J. (eds.) (2013) Human Resource Development: Theory and Practice. Second Edition. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hirudayaraj, M. & Baker, R. (2018) 'HRD competencies: analysis of employer expectations from online job postings', European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 42(9), pp.: 577-596.

Mankin, D. (2009) Human Resource Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McLean, G.N. & Akaraborworn, C.T. (2015) 'HRD education in developing countries' Advances in Developing Human Resources, Vol. 17(2), pp.: 213–238.

UNDP (2016) Human Development for Everyone. New York: United Nations Development Programme.

Supplementary Readings:

Garavan, T., McCarthy, A. & Carbery, R. (2017) Handbook of International Human Resource Development: Context, Processes and People. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Garavan, T.N., McCarthy, A. & Morley, M.J. (2016) Global Human Resource Development: Regional and Country Perspectives. London: Routledge.

Köster, K. (2013) International Project Management. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

McGoldrick, J., Stewart, J. & Watson, S. (2001) Understanding Human Resource Development A Research-based Approach. London: Routledge.

McGuire, D. (2014) Human Resource Development: Theory and Practice: Second Edition. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Rees, G. & French, R. (2016) Leading, Managing and Developing People: 5th Edition. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

In addition, an extended reading list will provide articles from a range of peer-reviewed journals, including, for example:

Vallejo, B. & When, U. (2016) 'Capacity development evaluation: The challenge of the results agenda and measuring return on investment in the Global South', World Development, Vol. 79, pp.: 1–13.

Cochrane, L. & Georgina Cundill, G. (2018) 'Enabling collaborative synthesis in multi-partner programmes', in Development in Practice, Vol. 28(7), pp.: 922-931.

Hamlin, B. & Stewart, J. (2011) 'What is HRD? A definitional review and synthesis of the HRD domain', Journal of European Industrial Training, Vol. 35(3), pp.: 199-220.

Sanchez, M.V. & Cicowiez, M (2014) 'Trade-offs and payoffs of investing in human development', World Development, Vol. 62, pp.: 14–29.

Suri, T. et al (2011) 'Paths to success: The relationship between human development and economic growth', World Development, Vol. 39(4), pp.: 506-522. 

Syed, J., Metcalfe, B.D., Ali, F. & Ekuma, K. (2018) 'Critical perspectives of HRD and social transformation in sub-Saharan Africa', in Human Resource Development International, Vol. 21(5), pp.: 391-405.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 120

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Rory Stanton Unit coordinator

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