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Course content

The MSc in Project Management in the Built Environment is designed to meet the growing demand for project managers in the construction industry who can oversee the entire life cycle of any project, including unique and specialist developments. It is ideal for anyone with ambitions for project management within the construction sector.

We consult extensively with people from a wide spectrum of companies and organisations in order to make sure that the course content remains practically relevant. For example, prominent companies in the industry are represented in our Professional Liaison Group.

The MSc is available as a one-year, full-time programme or as an open learning programme (a combination of distance learning with intensive on-campus study periods) which is normally taken over two years. There are two entry points: September and January.

See the website http://www.brookes.ac.uk/studying-at-brookes/courses/postgraduate/2015/project-management-in-the-built-environment/

Why choose this course?

- Accreditation by the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) demonstrates professional recognition of the quality of our programme.

- Strong links with prominent companies in the sector, such as Mace, Willmott Dixon and BAM Construction who are all represented in our Professional Liaison Group (PLG), which exists to provide advice on existing and proposed courses of study, on research activities and consultancy work.

- The programme adopts a problem-based learning (PBL) approach to ensure that it is real-world focused and holistic. Not only is this more effective, it is more fun than the traditional study and examination approach.

- Students develop a whole range of management skills and knowledge including project finance, technology, law and contract by working on real-life or realistic problems as experienced by the construction industry, consultants and clients. They are also exposed to behavioural aspects of managing projects, which most project managers only experience when their careers in the construction industry are well-advanced.
- There are four intensive study weeks during the programme where full-time and open-learning students come together on campus to attend lectures, seminars and workshops and share experiences.

- Our students come from a wide range of backgrounds and locations. Many have originally studied subjects outside the realm of the built environment such as law, psychology, architecture and geography, and others have been or still are (in the case of our open-learning students) employed in project management roles. As a result, there are great opportunities to share experiences, to gain a better understanding of the industry and the range of challenges that project managers face and also to benefit from the many different approaches to problem solving that is a feature of such a diverse group of students.

- Our graduates span the globe, working in countries including Malaysia, India and USA.

- Our teaching is backed up by strong research activity. Many of our academic staff are involved in academic research and/or professional or commercial consultancy work. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, approximately 80% of our research, with our colleagues in other Built Environment areas, was judged to be of ‘international’ quality, with approximately 40% rated as ‘internationally excellent’ or ‘world leading’.

- Many members of staff are part of Brookes' Oxford Institute of Sustainable Development (OISD), a leading research and promotional organisation noted for its work on sustainable technology in buildings and sustainable urban form.

Teaching and learning

Teaching, learning and assessment methods are to a considerable degree determined by the use of problem-based learning (PBL) which leads to a more challenging and industrially relevant course than the traditional lecture approach. Learning takes place through groups of students puzzling through problems, often adapted from real situations with much of the complexity and context intact, using published resources, or reference to experts who are available to offer advice.

Assessment is 100% coursework, which includes a great variety of types of work, including quizzes taken remotely on Moodle (Brookes online learning environment). Material can be downloaded from our virtual learning environment and closed discussions can take place. It also enables on-campus and open-learning students to remain in contact with each other.

In full-time mode, the delivery of new material is generally bi-weekly with intermediate tutorial or seminar sessions. The intensive study weeks and a European field trip, when students in both modes of study come together, complement this delivery pattern. Outside these periods, online learning is the primary mode of learning for distance-learning study. Communication with distance-learning students will be supplemented by email and telephone during the periods off-campus.

Field trips

A European field trip is a compulsory element of the PGCert modules. It typically takes place over a five-day period towards the end of January and is heavily subsidised by the department.

The aim of this field trip is to consolidate the knowledge gained in the early part of the course and to develop team and other relationships through exposing our students to European project management practices and to assess their ability to observe and report on the different approaches to project management in the UK and in a European country.

The field trip normally consists of visits to prominent construction/engineering projects and sites, plus architectural attractions, both en route and at the destination. You are introduced to the development and planning practices at the destination, as well as having the opportunity to visit major complex projects.

Student body

The programme attracts students from diverse backgrounds and locations.

Many of our current students already hold degrees in fields outside the realm of the built environment including law, psychology and geography, and have decided to contribute to the development of the built environment around us by effectively managing projects. They hail from as far afield as Nigeria and India, with backgrounds ranging from languages to architecture.

This diverse group of students bring with them individual responses to the PBL approach that is at the core of our course delivery.

Typically the distance-learning students are employed by a number of different organisations from the private and public sectors in different countries. They have the opportunity to share their experiences in order to gain better understanding of the industry, the range of challenges that project managers face, and therefore the breadth of skills that they need to develop in order to perform successfully.

Our full-time students benefit from contact with the open-learning students engaged in project management roles in a variety of built environment projects across many countries.


Graduates of the Department of Real Estate and Construction have an outstanding employment record. Local and national construction companies, developers, project managers, house builders, surveyors and housing associations regularly recruit our graduates.

Many of these companies visit the department annually to meet students for graduate positions. Our graduates are recognised as having an excellent level of communication, presentation and problem-solving skills.

All of our open-learning students are employed full-time by prominent companies in the sector.

Full-time students find similar employment shortly after graduation. They typically hold (Assistant) Project Manager positions. However, the breadth of knowledge that our students gain gives them the flexibility to function effectively in a number of different roles.

Free language courses for students - the Open Module

Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:
- studying at a Brookes partner college
- studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.

Research highlights

Our teaching is backed by strong research activity. Many of our academic staff are involved in academic research and/or professional/commercial consultancy work.

Areas of interest include:
- sustainability, adaptation and resilience to climate change
- collaborative supply networks for procurement and delivery of project
- building economics
- forecasting techniques
- risk management
- social networks in project environments
- managing complex projects
- management of knowledge and innovation as a source of competitive advantage/li>
- adaptive re-use of existing buildings
- facilities management
- health and safety.

Many members of staff are part of the Oxford Institute of Sustainable Development (OISD). This research and promotional organisation is noted for its work on sustainable technology in buildings and sustainable urban form among many on-going projects.

A recent HEFCE report into sustainable development in higher education in England suggests that the OISD is one of the key players in sustainable development research.

Visit the Project Management in the Built Environment (RICS, CIOB accredited) page on the Oxford Brookes University website for more details!





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