Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide a critical, reflective examination of the organisation, delivery and evaluation of a training event conducted by postgraduate students undertaking a module on human resource development. Design/methodology/approach – The paper seeks to offer a triangulation of semi-structured interviews, archival student written reflective accounts of the training event together with oral narrative from past participants on the module. Findings – This paper examines the form and nature of a training event used as part of an assessment strategy on the human resource development (HRD) module of the MBA programme at the Abertay University. The findings document the meanings and multiple realities that the participants ascribe to the training event. The interactional variable inherent in the informal and formal dichotomy of learning are also illustrated. Finally, the process of empowerment and reflection for all learners leads to a range of outcomes beyond the fulfilment of the assessment task. Research limitations/implications – The study is exploratory and the authors do not attempt to assess the generalisability of the findings. Practical implications – The significance of the assessment of the training event lies in the manner of its execution and the involvement of the postgraduate student learners. It is anticipated that the wider dissemination of the practice is deemed to be in the interests of the HRD community. Originality/value – The paper highlights an innovative approach to the teaching and learning of human resource development at postgraduate level.