CIPD Advanced Level Examinations Human Resource Management in Context


  • Answer all of Section A.
  • Answer five questions in Section B (one per subsection A to E).
  • Read each question carefully before answering.




  • Equal marks are allocated to each section of the paper.
  • Within Section B equal marks are allocated to each question.
  • If a question includes reference to ‘your organisation’, this may be interpreted as covering any organisation with which you are familiar.
  • The case study is not based on an actual organisation. Any similarities to known organisations are coincidental.


You will fail the examination if:


  • You fail to answer five questions in Section B (one per subsection)


  • You achieve less than 40% in either Section A or Section B


  • You achieve less than 50% overall.



It is recommended you spend equal time on each question in this section.


UME has decided to undertake a major review of its European Studies’ programmes and Research Unit. A review panel is established, and, as Head of HR, you are a member of it. In the light of the potential implications arising from the review on an already concerned and despondent staff you will need to be well-informed, analytical and persuasive in the tasks delegated to you. These tasks are to:


Question 1

Question 1 Answer Box COMMENTS
SWOT analysis is a tool that is used in an organisation to identify their current position and the implication a new strategy would have to the organisation. It stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. For the School of European Studies (SES) inclusive of the Research Unit, its SWOT Analysis include;

Strengths– SES core five academic staff were from the existing Schools (Humanities and Arts, and Management). In this case, any decision UME would mean that they can be reallocated duties in their previous departments. A second strength is that there was a strong domestic market of students in the SES different programs. Another strength is the existing positive reputation among the academics and also the hourly-paid temporary contract staff. In particular, the professor leading the Research Unit possess strong leadership skills which is a strength of SES and the Research Unit.

Weaknesses– One weakness include, over-reliance with the European Union grant to establish a small Research Unit which has not expanded in line with the other SES departments expansion. Also, SES overly with the European Exchange Scheme to receive students from overseas. Another weakness is lack of courses that fit the current needs of the potential students. For instance, instead of only having MSc in Sociology and European Employment Relations, the institution would have introduced more courses which would have increased the scope of their target. Lastly, the Research Unit fails in sourcing for local support given by UK government potential to support their operations and expansion.

Opportunities– Continued growth of School of Management as the biggest school in the university would mean the potential for SES to revive its operations will continue. The existence of two universities in twenty-mile radius (long-established research-intensive university and former further education college) offers an opportunity for SES and the research unit to benchmark how they conduct their operations. The existence of the Research Unit which facilitates SES survival is also an appropriate opportunity for SES to support the Professor to improve its growth. This is on top of the other Schools apart from Education and health and clinical studies which collaborate with SES research Unit.

Threats– Brexit policy which creates an environment deterring overseas students to enrol in SES and its research unit. Also, apart from limiting EU grants and bursaries, Brexit would also limit borderless travel and withing European Mainland brining more restrictions, regulations and bureaucracy. Another threat is the high staff turnover. Employees are the major resource in any organisation survival. Another threat is the existing uncertainty of SES and the Research Unit creating a sense of fear, reduced morale and anxiety which threatens sustainability of SES and the Research Unit. Lastly, the two already existing universities in UME neighbourhood present a critical challenge for SES as they are already serving the broader community and increasing access to higher education with no evidence of challenges. This could be the evidence of decline in the demand for the School of Humanities and Arts courses specifically in languages and Sociology


Question 2: Produce a persuasively written set of recommendations on the future of the SES and its Research Unit in terms of both its activities and its location within the University structure.

Question 2 Answer Box COMMENTS
The best recommendations on the future of SES and its Research Unit in terms of its activities and location within the University structure would be informed by the SWOT analysis conducted in first section. As aforementioned, as a strategic tool for planning, SWOT analysis can be used by an organisation as a guide for establishing a strategic plan for achieving their progress and sustainability, improving overall practices to maintain its relevance. In this case, SES would continue to leverage on their strengths and opportunities while ensuring they improve on their weak areas while minimising threats by making them their opportunities. The recommendations hence include;


·       External recruitment of Administrators– All the SES administrators had been selected through succession plan from the other departments that were already in existence. In this case, one of the reason the department has faced challenges is lack of diversity in its leadership. Hence, one or two administrators could be externally hired to lead the organisation to new strategies of growth

·       Introduce strategies for reducing employees turnover– Since SES and the Research Unit have not been performing as initially, pay and other monetary remuneration is not feasible. However, by introducing approaches such as flexible working, employees recognition, listening to employee voice, career growth and opportunities for capacity development would improve the intention of employees to leave. This would specifically be offered to the University Brightest and Best employees.

·       Introduce online learning program– One of the major challenge identified facing SES and the Research Unit is the Brexit legislation leading to reduced European Studies among home students, lack of the European Exchange Program and Borderless travel due to restrictions, regulations and bureaucracy. Hence, by introducing online-based programs for their popular programs would mean that they will attract learners from different locations. For the home students, Blended learning which integrate both the physical and online learning programs can continue to be implemented.

Location within University Structure

·       Increase collaboration with other departments– Since there are already institutions ready to collaborate with SES and its Research Unit, this can be encouraged with UME management discouraging new research units development. The rationale of this would be for SES to continue running its operations. Sustainability would mean they remain in business which opens more opportunities. Also, a cross-functional team would be established which imply that the SES and the Research Unit operations are in sync with the rest of the organisation. This would help to increase the employee morale which has been noted to be affected by current change. Innovativeness, team-based practice and diversity would be harnessed by implementing this recommendation.

·       Change the Organisation Structure– The Research Unit has continued developing fairly well since it has a clear organisation structure. This is comprised of a full-time professor, administrators, research assistants and full-time researchers. The organisation structure change can include the rest of the organisation departments. This would mean that SES operates multiple locations, improved and synched decision making and overall employee performance.

·       Introduction of more programs– In line with the online learning strategy identified in the first part of these recommendations, they can increase the scope of their learning programs. Since the School of Humanities and Arts courses such as languages and sociology have declines in their appeal which are integrated in SES, they can introduce more programs that are unique or collaborate with the School of Management whose subjects are still in high demand. Benchmarking the neighbouring universities would help them to use a balanced scorecard to recommend on the best programs that fit SES and the Research Unit. Uncertainties which leads to the other departments feeling they would be the next in line to go through this change and reorganisation would therefore be eliminated.



Question 3: Critically analyse ways in which HR could help in the change process, and the potential challenges it will meet.

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