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Master Project Management in the Built Environment

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  • Entry requirements
    MSc Project Management in the Built Environment is open to students who hold a good undergraduate honours degree in any discipline. We will also consider applications from applicants with relevant experience and demonstrable abilities to study at master's level. Applicants should normally have at least six months' work experience in a sector of the construction industry. Applicants whose first language is not English must demonstrate that their level of English is appropriate to study at postgraduate level. This course requires an IELTS score of at least 6.5 or evidence of an equivalent level of fluency in English. For TOEFL the required score is 575 (paper-based) or 233 (computer-based).
  • Academic Title
    MSc / PGDip / PGCert Project Management in the Built Environment
  • Course description
    Accredited by Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).

    Oxford Brookes University offers an MSc in Project Management in the Built Environment. This course is ideal for anyone with ambitions in built environment project management. If you are working in the sector a good first degree in any subject, and in some cases an alternative qualification, is sufficient. Prior learning may be accredited. You will develop a whole range of management skills and important knowledge including project finance, technology, law and contract, and you will do this through working on real-life or realistic problems as experienced by the industry, consultants and clients.

    Real problems cross discipline boundaries and require research and collaboration. The course develops the skills and experience this needs, with guidance from us and industry advisers. Not only is this more effective, it is more fun than the traditional study and examination approach.

    The course development team consults extensively with people from a wide spectrum of companies and organisations. We continue to receive strong support for our approach to facilitating learning and recognition of the features, eg problem-based learning (PBL), that set it apart from existing related UK master's courses. Feedback from practice tends to be critical of the 'academic feel' of traditional courses.
    Course content

    The course will develop knowledge of current practice and issues as well as skills in relating it to situations which simulate 'real life' as much as possible. The emphasis is on interdisciplinary problems.

    Among the issues covered are:

        * technology
        * sustainability and risk factors in design
        * emerging procurement methods to meet new demands to collaborate and new competitive challenges
        * personal skills such as leading teams, negotiation and communication in all its guises
        * handling uncertainty and paradox
        * responding to risk and opportunity
        * responding to constantly changing demands in areas such as environmental change, law and regulation, and international flux of people and competition.

    Course objectives

    With rapidly moving technological change and environmental and global challenges, practitioners need a wide range of knowledge and skills to manage projects. Accordingly we have established course learning objectives in relation to:

        * project planning and procurement
        * management theory and human behaviour
        * technology and design management
        * project management and the law
        * opportunity and risk management
        * project finance and appraisal (including for environmental sustainability)
        * research methods
        * the dissertation - which may be industry or research based.

    Knowledge and abilities gained will fit you for projects undertaken by construction companies and consultants of various kinds, by major private clients (such as BAA, utilities, etc), government agencies and other government sponsoring bodies.

    Each year of the course includes a study tour, to continental Europe in Year 1, and visits to local major projects, including those that are part of the London Olympics, in Year 2. The MSc is gained on completion of a dissertation.

    A postgraduate certificate may be gained after completing three modules (one academic year part-time) and a postgraduate diploma after six modules.
    Course structure
    Year 1

    The course starts at a distance in late September. The initial activities, which introduce Brookes Virtual (our virtual learning environment), culminate in a week at Oxford Brookes in October. During this first study week, we aim to develop through lectures, workshops and exercises:

        * interpersonal skills such as problem solving, team building, leadership, negotiation and assertive behaviour
        * academic skills such as referencing and the use of the electronic library.

    The first study week in Oxford also introduces the PBL method. Practitioner tutors normally take part in this week.

    Project Planning and Procurement The module moves from project participants and their roles on diverse projects to procurement routes, forms of contract and current trends. It also covers planning techniques such as barcharts and critical path analysis. The latter is used to analyse and model the stages of project development including financing, procurement and construction.

    Management Theory and Human Behaviour The module covers, with special reference to project environments:

        * management theory and approaches
        * organisational and human behaviour
        * conflict theory and resolution
        * learning from experience.

    Technology and Design Management introduces design and technology as factors to consider at the inception and briefing stages of a project - in relation to identification of building need, suitable procurement and processes and priorities. This is in contrast to later consideration when options have been closed down, or problems have emerged. The module relates to design and building processes and the end product - buildings (for example) in use as continuing and changing entities. Problems are thus linked wherever possible to other modules.

    Field Trip Abroad The aim of this field trip is to integrate knowledge gained in the early part of the course and to develop team and other relationships. Another aim is to expose you to European project management practices. During this field trip, you will be undertaking assessed tasks.

    Closing Week at Oxford Brookes and Launch of Remaining Modules The three first year modules will end in May in Oxford. You will be required to reflect on your learning. The Applied Research Methods module will start and the requirements of the dissertation will be explored. You will embark on research and developing research proposals for your dissertation. Finally we will launch the Year 2 modules and start building the knowledge and skills involved.
    Year 2

    Applied Research Methods is delivered over the summer of Year 1. It allows you to develop a detailed research proposal describing in depth a suitable research question, the context and appropriate research tools.

    Project Management and the Law The module ranges across legal disciplines, but starts with the basic framework. Areas of law which impact particularly on development are the focus. These include:

        * basic planning law, and the requirements of building regulation
        * contract and tort with primary attention to development projects
        * construction law, with special consideration of the standard forms of building and civil engineering contract
        * health and safety, pollution and disability discrimination.

    The module develops knowledge and awareness of appropriate legal requirements and interpretation. It also shows how good practice in project management may prevent problems from arising and allows risks and liabilities to be recognised and managed.

    Opportunity and Risk Management provides an opportunity for you to explore how risk and uncertainty can be managed in both organisations and projects. Risks may be posed by:

        * markets and competition
        * technology, geotechnical, construction or production processes
        * organisational, financial, legal or environmental concerns.

    Project managers often have to achieve goals set before all the risks are known. To do so entails planning for and carrying out risk management - the identification, assessment, quantification, monitoring and control of risk, using appropriate response strategies.

    Project Evaluation and Finance examines the assessment of projects in terms of environmental and social sustainability, life-cycle costs and finance. It considers the whole financial cycle associated with a project, building on topics included elsewhere. Techniques include environmental impact assessment, social cost-benefit analysis, the BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) and the sustainability checklist developed by BRE/SEEDA. The module includes:

        * company and project governance
        * companies' financial structures
        * sources of company and project finance
        * cost estimating and managerial economics
        * structures associated with private finance initiative (PFI) contracts.

    Local Study Tours We intend to take you to major projects in the south-east of England to develop insights into project management practices in the UK and the cultural issues arising in multinational teams and firms. You will again undertake assessed tasks during these study tours.

    Dissertation This module builds on Applied Research Methods. You are encouraged to undertake research in an area of interest to your employers. Suitable forms of dissertation could include:

        * an investigation based on primary and secondary data of a project management or organisational practice
        * testing or development of an existing project management model
        * application of theories or concepts to the solving of a project management or organisational problem
        * the comparison and evaluation of international practices or approaches to an aspect of project management.

    The module aims not only to generate new knowledge or insights but also to develop your capacity to undertake rigorous research, to plan and execute an extended project and to communicate complex ideas effectively in words and graphically.
    Teaching, learning and assessment

    Assessment is 100% coursework, which includes a great variety of types of work, including quizzes taken remotely on Brookes Virtual. This provides a virtual learning environment to help you keep contact with the course, the tutors and fellow participants. Through Brookes Virtual you will also be using closed discussion groups and will be able to download course materials and upload work to be submitted.

    Distance learning will be the primary mode of learning but there are also short periods of contact at Oxford Brookes and on study field trips (one abroad and one in the UK). Communication will be supplemented through normal email and telephone during the periods outside the University.

    Some of the learning will be using problem-based learning (PBL). We feel 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.

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