UCL Home

MSc Construction Economics & Management

Overview

Accredited by RICS, this course is designed to equip its graduates with the economics and management skills to analyse the kinds of problems that will confront senior managers, policy advisers and decision-makers in any branch of the construction industry. It is also highly suitable for professional academic development of teachers and researchers in these subject areas.

The course works with a concept of the construction industry as the whole sector of activity concerned with the production of the built environment. Students therefore are drawn from, and go on to work in, all branches of this sector, from client organisations, research and consulting organisations through professional practices, to construction firms in the narrower sense of the term.

This distinctive approach not only means that students are challenged to step outside of the particular perspective implied by their professional training and experience to date; it also equips them to think flexibly and openly about the future roles of organisations in an industry that is becoming much more prone to change than hitherto.

Aims

  1. To prepare and equip professionals for the transition into managerial careers, and develop the managerial competence of professionals moving into their first management position.
  2. To broaden the educational base of students whose previous education has taken the form of professional training, and to do this in two directions:

    1. to establish and deepen students’ knowledge and understanding of some of the social science disciplines
    2. to raise their awareness of the range of practical perspectives from which the construction industry and process can be viewed
  3. To provide a specialisation in the study of the construction sector for graduates of economics, business, finance or related subjects.
  4. To apply a course philosophy that the study of construction economics and management is an application of the more general study of economics and management, and not a self-contained intellectual field. At the same time we demonstrate ways of exploring and analysing the peculiarities of the construction industry, and of focusing and adapting the powerful analytic tools developed in those general disciplines to this particular context.
  5. To provide a rigorous and theoretically informed approach to the study of construction economics and management that will serve the students throughout their subsequent careers, and will equip them either for a senior management position or an academic career.
  6. To produce students capable of building upon and extending the research base of the two subject areas.

Learning Objectives

  1. Develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the impact of economic factors on the management of a construction firm.
  2. Develop students ability to apply management and economic theory to the analysis of a broad range of actual construction management problems.
  3. Introduce students to the latest developments in research, in the fields of construction economics and management.
  4. Introduce students to important recent and classic literature in the range of social sciences, wherever in our view that work has implications for construction research, and draw out what those implications are, for theory and method.
  5. Develop the skills required for updating knowledge of the subjects and understanding of the construction industry over students’ subsequent careers.
  6. Develop the skills required for interpreting and reacting to changes in the environment of construction firms, and for adapting and applying knowledge in new contexts.
  7. Produce students capable of integrating their pre-existing professional knowledge and their knowledge of the two disciplines of management and economics in application to the analysis of real construction industry problems and issues and recommending action thereon.
  8. Develop the ability, tested through the MSc dissertation, to identify, design and execute an original piece of research on a well-defined problem, requiring empirical research. Reviews of secondary literature are not sufficient. One key aim of the core and module courses is to prepare students and develop the intellectual skills required for this task.

Teaching Objectives

  1. To conduct core and option module teaching of integrated groups of students from a wide range of countries and from all the built environment professions, in a way designed to maximise opportunities for inter-professional learning and exchange of ideas, both in class and in study groups.
  2. To conduct teaching mainly by interactive lectures as students are new to the disciplines and there is a need to introduce students to a very large and diverse body of theory and literature; lectures are made interactive in order to benefit from the range of backgrounds of the student cohort, and in order to ensure that their relevance to a wide range of contexts is brought out.
  3. To encourage formation of active study groups amongst our current students.
  4. Given that students on the course are drawn from a wide range of countries, to ensure that all students can see the relevance of the ideas and examples used to their countries, and that they have plenty of chances to comment and reflect upon the application of the ideas taught to those contexts. It follows that material on the UK construction sector should be used in teaching only in an illustrative and not in a prescriptive way.
  5. Given that we believe that appropriate managerial policy and organisation is contingent upon the context, to teach in a way which stresses the need for students to make judgements as to appropriateness to the proposed context of application of all they are taught.
  6. To provide three very different main modes of teaching and learning used in the course, respectively in the core modules, the option modules and the Dissertation.
  • The core modules are taught through relatively formal lectures related to set texts, so as to establish students’ initial grasp on the disciplines, their methods and theories.

    • Assessment is by a mix of term papers and examination papers, designed to test students’ grasp of fundamentals across the whole syllabi.
  • In option modules, by contrast, the (more interactive, smaller class-size) lectures should introduce students to opportunities of self-directed programmes of specialist study, in a range of topics potentially of special interest to some students. The module topics should be problematic and areas of controversy, active research, etc.

    • Assessment is by term paper, using briefs that should be broad enough to enable students to choose which aspects to explore in greatest depth. However, the term paper, and the option module teaching generally, should also serve to help the student build upon, deepen and practise or apply core skills and knowledge. It is central to our teaching objectives that students have an effective choice of modules in which to specialise.
  • The Dissertation is taught by one-to-one tutorials with supervisors. However, we try to ensure that students learn and benefit both from the work done by their predecessors on the course, and from exposure to the initial research proposals of their fellow students. We regard it as important that all such proposals are presented to and discussed by the whole student cohort as well as the course staff. We set up an interactive process of idea and staff response from an early point in the course, but we regard it as important that initial ideas for Dissertation topics come from the students, and that in the development of these ideas into a final proposal the student’s role is pro-active and the staffs’ role is responsive.

Structure

The course is divided into three equal parts:

Term 1 – Four Core Modules (60 credits)

These are compulsory modules which form the basic knowledge areas of the course and develop the fundamental approach that characterises the course. These are intensive modules which consist of lectures and group exercises or discussions. These are taught from 10:30am to 6:00pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the first term. There is a high degree of contact time under the direction of the module leader.

Two of these modules are assessed by 3,000 word term papers due in November. The other two are assessed by an unseen two hour examination which takes place on a date in April-May during the first four weeks of Term 3.

Term 2 – Four Option (Elective) modules (60 credits)

These are optional or “elective” modules which allow students to build up an individual specialisation based on their own interests and career objectives. These have rather less contact time and a much greater proportion of the time is in self-directed reading. This is often combined with a certain level of desk research which you may be required to do in order to complete the assessment.

There are some restrictions on the different combinations of options you can take and you will be advised of these. You will need to choose two modules from a list of Economics-based Option Modules, one from a list of Enterprise-based Option Modules and a final free choice from either of the two preceding lists or a list of Project-based Option Modules also offered to students of the MSc in Project and Enterprise Management (PEM).

In addition to their four assessed option modules, each student may, with the approval of the Course Director and the Module Leader, audit up to two other option modules, for which they can attend teaching events and receive teaching materials but on which they will not be assessed.

Not all modules may be offered in any one year. From year to year new modules may be offered and existing ones withdrawn.

All option modules are assessed by 3,000 word term papers. Term papers for modules taught during the first half of the second term have to be submitted towards the end of the second term. Those for modules taught during the second half of the second term have to be submitted during the first week of the third term.

Full year – Dissertation (60 credits)

This is a piece of original research carried out by the student. Essentially the contact time here is almost entirely directed by the student and it is up to the student themselves to manage the progress of their work although each student is assigned a supervisor to guide them through the process.

It is an important principle of the course that each student chooses their own dissertation topic and collects original data.

There are two parts of the assessment. A 1,000 word Dissertation Topic outline has to be submitted in late February (November for part-time students) and the full 10,000 word dissertation in early September.

Non-Assessed Modules

There are also other short modules in Management Skills, Research Methods and Project Planning Software which take place during the first two terms.

Mode of study

The course is available full-time over a full academic year (September to September) or part-time over 2-5 academic years. Part-time students completing the course over two years take two core and two option modules each academic year with the Dissertation also in the second year.

Timetable

All lectures and seminars are grouped into two days per week, Tuesday and Thursday, to assist part-time students. Students taking the course over two years attend either on Thursdays in their first year and Tuesdays in their second year. A few additional days of attendance are required on other days for the non-assessed modules including one full weekend.

In total students have a minimum of 175 hours of delivered events, comprising: 120 hours of lectures in the compulsory core courses; 40 hours of lectures and seminars in the optional module courses; 35 hours of lectures/seminars and events in the non-assessed management and research skills modules. In addition there are group tutorial events linked to the core courses, individual tutorials, and supervision of dissertations.

Content

Assessment

Each student is assessed in three ways.

1] The Core Modules are assessed by written examinations. The examinations for modules CM01-Economics of Construction and PE01-Project Management take place in January. Examinations for modules CM02- Economic Institutions of the Construction Industry and PE08-Principles of Enterprise Management are in April/May. There are four two-hour exams in total.

2] The Option Modules are assessed by term papers, one for each of the four assessed Modules that a student must take, making four in all. Each paper is around 3,000 words long.

3] Each student presents at the end of the course a Report on a research question of their own choosing. This Report will be of 10,000 words.
The Additional Modules are not assessed.

Choice

1] In addition to their four assessed Option Modules, each student may, with the approval of the Course Director, attend up to two other Course Option Modules, on which they will not be assessed.

2] Not all modules may be offered in any one year. From year to year new modules may be offered and existing ones withdrawn.

3] It is an important principle of the course that each student chooses their own Report topic.

Students are encouraged and assisted to undertake investigations in their Reports of topics of immediate concern to them or their sponsoring institutions, and to collect and use their own data.

Dissertation

The MSc Dissertation is a 10,000 word piece of original research which students undertake throughout the later part of their course and which has essentially to be (project) managed by them.

It is best practice to start consideration of the dissertation as soon as (or even before) the start of the course. Part-time students are advised to start thinking about the dissertation in May of the first year after the first set of taught modules has been completed. Although departmental staff are available to supervise dissertations on any relevant topic, certain staff have research expertise in different areas.

The MSc Dissertation must demonstrate a sound theoretical basis (or at least a sound understanding of relevant research conducted to date) which is then applied to primary data in a way which makes the results applicable to more than one organization in answering a specific research question. Alternatively the research may contribute to theory-building from the data collected. Either way it would be expected that students collect at least some primary data.

Each student will present the chosen Dissertation topic in a special seminar session, in a way that covers: why it was chosen; what it is hoped to find out; and what methods of research will be used. This will give an opportunity to improve and adapt the proposed research in response to comments in the seminar and by staff in tutorials.

Dissertation stages
cemdissertationstages.jpg
Dissertation Supervisors

Based on the topic presentations, each student will be allocated a Dissertation Supervisor following submission of the 1,000 word Dissertation Topic Outline. It will be the responsibility of the student to make and maintain contact with dissertation supervisors.

Examples of recent dissertation topics

Non-assessed modules

Research methods

This consists of two full day sessions which will be held on Mondays in the first half of the first term. This will introduce you to thinking critically about applied social science research. Most research carried out in the School of Construction and Project Management falls into this category.

Management skills

This consists of two full day workshops held over one weekend in Term 1 or 2. It encourages students to think critically about their own management skills, including their interpersonal skills and their place in teams and other working groups. There are self-tests, group discussions, exercises and management simulations. Students generally find this a very stimulating and worthwhile module.

Project Planning Software

This consists of a full day session of hands-on training in the use of the project planning software MS Project which takes place during Reading Week of Term 2.

Staff

Programme Director

John Kelsey
View John's profile
Send John an email

Programme Administrator

George Burridge

Send George an email

Module Teachers

Dr Michelle Baddeley

View Michelle's profile

Send Michelle an email

Prof Tim Broyd

View Tim's profile

Send Tim an email

Dr Chen-Yu Chang

View Chen-Yu's profile

Send Chen-Yu an email

David Coles

View David's profile

Send David an email

Sarah Earl

View Sarah's profile

Send Sarah an email

Dr Andrew Edkins

View Andrew's profile

Send Andrew an email

Dr Taha Elhag

View Taha's profile

Send Taha an email

Dr Joana Geraldi

View Joana's profile

Send Joana an email

Graham Ive

View Graham's profile

Send Graham an email

Alex Murray

View Alex's profile

Send Alex an email

Dr Stephen Pryke

View Stephen's profile

Send Stephen an email

Dr Aeli Roberts

View Aeli's profile

Send Aeli an email

Dr Hedley Smyth

View Hedley's profile

Send Hedley an email

Dr Satu Teerikangas

View Satu's profile

Send Satu an email

Applying

Application procedures, fees, funding and scholarships

For information, please see the faculty admissions information here.

Opportunities

Given that students should be able to critically:

a) appraise and interpret the importance of trends and developments in the construction industry of the country in which they work.

b) appraise continuing developments in research and in the literature of construction economics and management.

c) apply theory and best practice to a wide range of construction industry problems and contexts.

Graduates of the course will go on to become future innovators, leaders, senior managers, researchers and teachers in the fields of construction management and construction economics as well as other areas of the Built Environment. Other graduates also move into project/asset finance and management. Necessarily, not all our graduates will achieve careers of these kinds, but many will.

The course is accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and graduates are encouraged, where appropriate, to progress to full membership.

Careers Events

Careers-related events will be held during the year to enable students to meet prospective employers.

Potential Prospective Employers

Major construction clients including:

  • Major retailers
  • Transport infrastructure managers and developers
  • Housing developers and managers
  • Commercial property developers and managers
  • Banks and other financial institutions

Suppliers:

  • Building and civil engineering contractors
  • Architectural firms and other building design consultants
  • Building cost consultants
  • Management consultants
  • Major subcontractors and materials/components/plant suppliers

Research, Education and Policy:

  • Government agencies related to construction and infrastructure
  • University departments in construction, civil engineering and the built environment.
  • C&PM Research
  • Other research/policy institutions