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Project Management in the Built Environment - MSc/PGDip/PGCert

Course Description

The MSc in Project Management in the Built Environment is designed to meet the growing demand for project managers in the industry who can oversee the entire life cycle of any project, including unique and specialist developments. It is ideal for anyone with ambitions to manage projects within this 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. Our Professional Liaison Group (PLG), which is made up of practitioners in the field, exists to provide advice on existing and proposed courses of study, on research activities and consultancy work. In addition, we use our alumni network to benefit from the views of professionals in prominent positions, who were also students at Oxford Brookes University.

The MSc is available as a one-year, full-time (FT) programme or as an distance-learning (DL) programme, which is normally taken over two years (minimum). Both FT and DL study modes include intensive study periods on-campus in Oxford, which are not compulsory. There is a compulsory European Field-trip. There are two entry points: September and January.

Why choose this course?

Strong links with prominent companies in the sector, such as Mace, Willmott Dixon and BAM Construction, and professional institutions (the RICS and the CIOB), who can provide advice on existing and proposed courses of study, on research activities and consultancy work. Our alumni network spans the globe, working in countries including Malaysia, South Africa, Russia, Turkey, Hong Kong, India and USA. Professional Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) accreditation.

Problem-based learning (PBL) approach which ensures that the MSc is real-world focused and holistic. Not only is this more effective, it is more fun than the traditional study and examination approach. One intensive study period in each semester where full-time and distance learning students come together on campus to attend lectures, seminars and workshops; and to share experiences. Extensive online learning material provided to all students via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) - our own intranet site, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Teaching backed by strong research activity. Many of our academic staff are involved in academic research and/or professional or commercial consultancy work. In the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) we were 11th in terms of Research Impact and Power Rating (GPA x number of full-time equivalent staff submitted) among the 45 institutions that submitted to our unit of assessment (UoA 16). The School's membership of a select group of RICS accredited universities acting as RICS' ambassadors; and to be among the signatories to the RICS Initiative to Drive the Adoption of Sustainable Development Principles in Built Environment Higher Education in line with the Six Principles under UN PRME (Principles for Responsible Management Education).

Professional accreditation

RICS and/or CIOB members are well-sought after in the job market.

If you have no or very limited relevant experience in the industry, holding this RICS & CIOB accredited MSc reduces the duration of your structured training (or relevant experience post-qualification) to become a member from five years to 24 months.
Many of our open-learning students run their structured training along-side the course. Thus, they become members of these institutions shortly after the completion of the course.

In summary, the programme offers a relatively quick route to RICS & CIOB membership for people who have no or very limited experience in the industry, and hence increases their potential for employment.

This course in detail

There are two modes of delivery for the MSc PMBE: full-time on campus or distance learning, and there are two entry points - September and January. PGCert and PGDip are offered as 'exit' awards. Candidates who are wishing to graduate with one of these awards, should also apply for a MSc place in the first instance.

Extensive on-line learning material is provided to all students via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) - our own intranet site. Students have access to this site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The course is assessed by 100% coursework submitted via the VLE. Module leaders can be contacted via the VLE, e-mail, telephone and Skype.

Intensive Study Periods - all students can attend four intensive study periods during their programme and these are normally around 3 days long. Students (and staff) enjoy these intensive sessions as they are able to share experiences and knowledge as well as renew friendships and make connections that extend into the industry. The open-learning students get the opportunity to meet face-to-face with staff. The organisation and the collaborative nature of these intensive study periods is always praised by our students who particularly like the site visits, workshops and guest lectures from industry experts that are among the key features.

Distance learners must find their own accommodation and are asked to cover expenses for travel to Oxford, accommodation and food.

Field Trips and Site Visits - there are a number of field trips and site visits which take place mainly during the intensive study periods. There is one European field trip during the MSc programme and this normally takes place at the end of January each year - usually to the Netherlands. As well as bringing together full-time and open-learning students, the aim of this field trip is to integrate knowledge gained in the early part of the programme, to develop team skills and to build relationships. With the European field trip we also expose students to project management practices outside the UK and encourage them to observe and report on the different approaches to managing projects in the UK, their own countries and overseas.

The European Field Trip takes place at the end of January for the duration of five days and four nights. Heavily subsidised by the School, a coach is also provided to transport students and staff from Oxford Brookes to the field trip destination. Please read the details further down the page for information about additional costs for the field trip.

In order to attend site visits as part of the programme of study, we ask that students provide their own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
-Safety boots
-Hard hat
-High visibility vest
-Eye protection

Problem Based Learning - the programme will develop knowledge of current practice and issues in the built environment sector as well as building real-life skills including the exploration of interdisciplinary problems. We have responded to requests from industry to make our masters more practical by using an applied approach to learning, sometimes called “Problem Based Learning” or PBL. This approach encourages learning by allowing students to actively puzzle through problems that are adapted from complex real situations. As real problems cross discipline boundaries and require research and collaboration, we use our links with industrial practitioners to help devise the problems we use in class. This leads to a more exciting and relevant student experience.

Teaching and learning

Teaching, learning and assessment methods are to a considerable degree determined by the use of problem-based learning (PBL) which encourages students to learn by applying theoretical principles in appropriate case studies. PBL 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.

In full-time mode, the delivery of new material is generally bi-weekly with intermediate tutorial or seminar sessions. The intensive study periods 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 open-learning study. Where necessary, open-learning students are supported by email, Skype, on-line lectures and telephone during the periods off-campus.

Careers and professional development

Graduates of the School of the Built Environment have an outstanding employment record. Usually, 100% of the graduates of MSc PMBE are in employment within six months after graduation.

Local, national and international construction companies, developers, project management consultancies, house builders, surveyors and housing associations regularly recruit our graduates.

Many of these companies visit the department regularly 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.

Visit the Project Management in the Built Environment - MSc/PGDip/PGCert page on the Oxford Brookes University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

The MSc in Project Management in the Built Environment is open to students who hold a good undergraduate honours degree (2.1 or above) in any discipline. We will also consider applications from candidates with relevant experience (or an alternative qualification) and demonstrable ability to study at master's level. Normally, applicants for open-learning study should also have at least six months' work experience in the built environment sector and are required to be in full-time employment.

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