MSc Civil Engineering and Construction Management

The course

Online learning
Course award
Entry date
September, January



Modern civil engineering professionals often require an extensive understanding of construction management due to the strategic benefits it can bring to both individuals and project teams.

As the industry becomes more competitive, organisations and their clients are increasingly demanding the combined time, cost and quality assurances that good project management practice provides. Furthermore, the industry now recognises that there is a need for engineers to gain specialist technical knowledge which compliments their academic and professional background.

The course uses experience from our internationally recognised Construction Project Management course and combines it with our high-profile Civil Engineering postgraduate course to provide a broad and valuable education. As a result, our recent graduates have been employed by a range of both national and international employers.

Programme duration

Online Learning: The fastest this MSc can be completed is in 2½ years. The maximum completion timeframe is 8 years. On average, most students complete a MSc in 3-4 years.

Our students and graduates

Our students are recruited mainly from the civil engineering profession and are typically looking to broaden their knowledge base, extend their technical expertise or gain further learning to meet the needs of the professional institutions. Applicants from other backgrounds planning to develop a career in civil engineering and construction management will also be considered. Graduates of this course are much sought after by employers, working in areas such as transport, water and wastewater engineering and the energy sector.

Flexible study options

This course can be studied via Online Learning, ideal for those in employment or with other commitments, providing flexible study options that fit around work or family. It is also available on-campus for full-time or part-time study.

Delivery of online programmes

Our up-to-date and progressive course materials are made available online through the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE links you with our expert academics and course materials through videos, webinars, articles, journals, assessments and discussion boards. Tutors will provide you, by phone, Skype or email, with academic support similar to that received by our on-campus students.

To find out more about time requirements, support and exams, view our How online learning works pages to find out more. 

Industry links

This course is supported by the Civil Engineering Industry Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from major multi-national employers AECOM, Arup, Atkins, Balfour Beatty, Halcrow, Jacobs and WSP Group. This committee convenes regularly and advises on the course content and structure, ensuring quality, up-to-date content and relevance to industry needs.


This degree is accredited as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for a Chartered Engineer (CEng) for candidates who have already acquired an Accredited CEng (Partial) BEng(Hons) or an Accredited IEng (Full) BEng/BSc (Hons) undergraduate first degree. See JBM for further information.

Course content

The MSc/Postgraduate Diploma in Civil Engineering and Construction Management, led by Dr. Benny Suryanto, consists of up to three mandatory construction management courses (CM). Students also choose up to six civil engineering (CE) courses from a list of specialist options as detailed below. MSc students also complete a research dissertation.

(1) Construction Management courses (choose a minimum of two)

  • Project Management: Theory and Practice (Semester 1)
  • Value and Risk Management (Semester 1)
  • Construction Financial Management (Semester 2)
  • Project Management Strategic Issues (Semester 2)

(2) Technical Civil Engineering courses (choose a minimum of five)

  • Ground Engineering (Semester 1)
  • Structural Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering (Semester 1)
  • Structural Materials (Semester 1)
  • Environmental Hydrology and Water Resources (Semester 1)
  • Advanced Design of Steel and Steel-Concrete Composite Structures (Semester 2)
  • Computational Modelling of Concrete and Steel (Semester 2)
  • Foundation Engineering (Semester 2)
  • Plastic Analysis of Structures (Semester 2)
  • Coastal Engineering (Semester 2)
  • Urban Drainage and Water Supply (Semester 2)
  • Water and Waste Water Treatment (Semester 2)
  • Safety, Risk and Reliability (Semester 2)

(3) Non-technical Civil Engineering courses (choose a maximum of one)

  • Environmental Geotechnics (Semester 1)
  • Sustainability for Construction Professionals (Semester 1)

Course descriptions

Please find below the course descriptions. For more information on courses, please contact the programme leader.

(1) Construction management courses

Project Management: Theory and Practice

Semester 1 

This course aims to provide the student with an understanding of the concepts and practices of construction project management used to provide value added services to clients. The course develops understanding of the issues related to the management of construction clients and other project stakeholders and how their needs can be co-ordinated, managed and delivered from the project’s design stage through production to occupation and maintenance within the context of client satisfaction and the overarching construction project constraints of time, cost, quality sustainability, health and safety management.

Subjects covered in the course syllabus include: construction project management concepts; standards and services; organisational structures for delivery of project management services; management strategies for clients and stakeholder briefing; issues related to management of construction project design process, and budget setting; tools/techniques for construction project planning and control of costs, time, risk and quality; issues relating to TQM and health and safety; teamwork and leadership roles.

Value and Risk Management

Semester 1 

The course aims to introduce the concepts of value and risk management, apply them to strategic and tactical problems and illustrate their tools and techniques through case studies.

Subjects included in the course syllabus include: VRM and the construction procurement process; introduction to value management; value engineering (function analysis and other VE tools); risk and uncertainty in the construction industry; Risk and procurement of PPP projects; risk management framework; sources, events and effects of project risk; tools and techniques of risk management; risk response and mitigation; client briefing.

Construction Financial Management

Semester 2 

The aim of the course is to enable students to appreciate and make an intelligent contribution towards the managerial and financial aspects of construction companies in general and construction projects in particular. This includes developing awareness and understanding of the need for financial planning and monitoring and the cost control process.

The following subjects are covered within the course syllabus: Financial management and control in contracting; corporate strategies in construction; financial management at company level; cash flow forecasting; costing; cost/value reconciliation at project level; production of financial accounts for construction companies; corporate analysis and ratio analysis; economic comparison; profitability measurement; construction plant financial appraisal; development appraisal techniques.

Project Management: Strategic Issues

Semester 2 

This course aims to further develop the learners’ theoretical and practical knowledge in the implementation of Project Management Principles in the construction industry. The course is designed to raise student awareness as to why the construction industry under-performs when compared to other industries. This enables learners to appraise and critically analyse the performance of the project management discipline in order to explore what is needed to improve this performance, with emphasis on the UK construction industry.

The following units are included in the course syllabus: The construction industry; the manufacturing industry; lean construction and process mapping; lean planning; performance measurement and benchmarking; project management evaluation; power, politics and influence; supply chain management.

(2) Technical Civil Engineering courses

Advanced Design of Reinforced Concrete Structures

Semester 1 

This course aims to provide a comprehensive description of the behaviour of structural concrete under different loading conditions based on the relevant published test data. It also aims to provide a comprehensive description of the mechanics underlying the response of reinforced concrete structural forms when subjected to different loading conditions based on the available test data and describe the different modes of failure exhibited. The course also aims to introduce the learner to the concepts underlying reinforced concrete design and the available assessment methods, to enable the learner to develop a deep understanding of the physical models and their assumptions (adopted for describing the mechanics underlying RC structural behaviour) that form the basis for the development of the available design/assessment methods. It also gives the learner the opportunity to apply different methods for developing design solutions for a range of RC structural configurations capable of safeguarding specific performance requirements set by the relevant standards/codes. The course also introduces students to the methodology adopted for the design of RC structures under seismic and dynamic actions, and the methods available for enhancing the performance of existing reinforced concrete members.

Topics include: concrete material behaviour under different loading conditions; the behaviour of reinforced concrete structural configurations subjected to different loading conditions; examples of structural failures; the assumptions and mechanics underlying the behaviour of reinforced concrete structures upon which the available assessment methods is based upon; various physical models available for describing the mechanics underlying the behaviour of reinforced concrete structural configurations; assessment of the behaviour of a range of reinforced concrete structural configurations and comparison with the predictions obtained from the available test data; use of the different methods employed in practice and research to develop design solutions for specific problems; assess experimentally and/or numerically the ability of the design solutions to safeguard the structural performance requirements set by the relevant standards.

Ground Engineering

Semester 1 

The overall aim of this course is to provide the students with detailed knowledge and understanding in ground engineering for geotechnical engineers, extending the knowledge gained in undergraduate geotechnical courses to allow the learners to apply theoretical design and analysis to practical problems.

Subjects covered in this course include: site investigation and soil sampling techniques; analysis of slope stability problems and failure modes; earth pressure analysis and retaining walls; application of geotextiles in geotechnical, highway and railway engineering; methods of ground improvement through compaction, grouting, consolidation and drainage.

Structural Dynamics and Earthquake Engineering

Semester 1 

This course aims to provide students with an understanding of the nature of seismic forces and the response of structures subjected to such loading, as well as to provide learners with an introduction to earthquake-resistant design and the seismic assessment of structures.

Topics include: introduction to engineering seismology; waves in elastic media; introduction to Eurocode 8; simplified and multi-modal response spectrum analyses; elastic and inelastic systems; time history and frequency domain analyses; soil-structure interaction – transmitting boundaries; methods of seismic structural assessment; structural repair and strengthening techniques.

Structural Materials

Semester 1 

The course aims to provide students with an appreciation of traditional and new cement-based materials, their applications in construction, and the recognition of the importance of durability. It also aims to provide an understanding of the core principles in designing a structure using a novel material where the design specification is not available and thus requiring the students to work using fundamental methodologies. The course also aims to provide students with an integrated knowledge about the key engineering properties of structural concrete and relevant design specifications.

More specific topics covered in the course include: development in cement based materials, concrete mixtures, mechanical/durability/performance assessment, examples of application, and practical laboratory based exercises.

Environmental Hydrology and Water Resources

Semester 1 

This course aims to achieve a thorough understanding of the hydrological basis of water resources assessment, planning and management.

Topics covered in the course include: introduction to hydrology and water resources, meteorological data collection and analysis, surface water; low streamflow data analysis for reservoir planning and design, uncertainty analysis in water resources planning, groundwater occurrence, evaluation and management.

Advanced Design of Steel and Steel-Concrete Composite Structures

Semester 2 

This course aims to introduce the learner to the advanced analysis and design of steel and steel-concrete composite structures, to allow the learner to model the structural behaviour of steel and composite structures using commercial software. It also aims to provide the learner with a variety of techniques to analyse and detail steel and steel/concrete composite structures and to strengthen the learner's ability to model structures and to understand the relationship between the mathematical models used in analysis and the behaviour of the real-world structures.

Topics covered include: introduction to Eurocodes 3 and 4 with focus on multi-storey buildings, nonlinear behaviour in cross-section, member, and structural level, nonlinear analysis including p-delta effects, design of multi-storey moment-resisting frames, design of multi-storey braced frames, design of steel-concrete composite slabs, beams and columns; design of steel-concrete composite joints, seismic design of steel and steel-concrete composite structures to Eurocode 8, advanced seismic-resistant structural systems, and modelling of steel and composite structural behaviour using the finite element method.

Computational Modelling of Concrete and Steel

Semester 2 

This course aims to allow the learners to develop a deep understanding of the behaviour of structural concrete and steel under different loading conditions, and to introduce students to the available material models capable of describing the behaviour of structural concrete and steel under different loading conditions. The course also aims to introduce students to the numerical strategies employed when carrying out nonlinear finite element analysis for predicting the structural response under different loading conditions, in order to enable students to develop numerical models representative of the actual structural configurations considered.

Subjects and topics covered include: the behaviour of concrete and steel under different loading conditions, the mechanics underlying the response of reinforced concrete and steel structural forms when subjected to different loading conditions, modes of failure, material models and constitutive relations, strategies for performing nonlinear finite element analysis, modelling of structural configurations under different loading conditions, comparisons of numerical predictions and experimental data.

Foundation Engineering

Semester 2 

The overall aim of this course is to provide the student with knowledge and understanding of the geotechnical design process, equipping learners with appropriate methods of analysis for settlement and bearing capacity calculations, as well as in examining appropriate national codes and Eurocodes and their implications in geotechnical design.

The syllabus includes the following topics: Introduction to foundation types (e.g. shallow footings; piled foundation types); deformation due to surface loading (e.g. stress distributions; elastic displacement; settlement theory; bearing capacity; consolidation); bearing capacity of foundations (e.g. shallow footings; active/passive pressures; general bearing capacity methods); Piles (e.g. forces and load transfer; capacity; soil types; pile group behaviour).

Plastic Analysis of Structures

Semester 1 

This course aims to introduce the learner to plastic analysis of beams, frames and plated structures, and to allow the learner to model structural behaviour in a laboratory environment where s/he is aware of the health and safety risks. It also aims to provide the learner with a variety of techniques to analyse and detail plate/slab elements of structures, and to strengthen the learner's ability to model structures and to understand the relationship between the mathematical models used in analysis and the behaviour of the real-world structures.

Specific topics covered in the course syllabus include: plastic behaviour at cross-sectional level, plastic analysis of beams and frames using the static, kinematic and step-by-step methods, theorems of plastic analysis and applications, plastic analysis and design of plates and slabs using the Yield line method, systematic methods of plastic analysis, moment redistribution design methods, capacity design, seismic design using plastic analysis.

Coastal Engineering

Semester 2 

This course aims to introduce the wider concepts involved in coastal engineering design, the theory of waves and the practical considerations related to design, environmental impacts and sustainability issues.

Topics covered in the course syllabus include: introduction to Coastal Engineering: the historical context, the coastal environment, understanding coastal behaviour systems; small amplitude wave theory: basic definitions, derivation of airy wave equations, water particle motions, approximations for 'deep' and 'shallow' water; energy, power and group velocity; wind wave generation and forecasting; coastal water level variations and coastal hazards: storm surge, tsunami, long term water level changes; conceptual coastal design: the wider context of design, hard and soft engineering options for coastal defence and their effects on the coastal environment.

Urban Drainage and Water Supply

Semester 2 

This course introduces the learner to the broad theme of Urban Drainage and Water Supply, with the aim of providing understanding of the following topics: runoff estimation, rainfall estimation, system layout/design, pump system design, sediment transport, Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems, the role of computer simulations, service reservoirs, water distribution practice and groundwater supply. The course includes instruction on the use of Infoworks CS.

Subjects covered in the course syllabus include: Performance requirements (e.g. technical, public safety, whole-life operational, amenity and sustainability); combined and separate sewerage systems; rainwater quantification/climate change; overview of sewer sediments; storm Sewer Design; hydrodynamic flow models; SuDS; service reservoirs; water distribution practice; groundwater supply; leakage.

Water and Wastewater Treatment

Semester 2 

The aim of this course is to enable learners to understand the processes and technologies for water treatment including conventional and advanced wastewater treatment and the sizing of various treatment units. The course also provides awareness for the learner of the importance of effective wastewater treatment for river pollution control.

Specific topics covered in the course syllabus include: Introduction to water and wastewater characteristics; fresh water treatment (e.g. coagulation and sedimentation, filtration, disinfection); desalination technologies for sea water treatment; wastewater treatment (e.g. preliminary treatment design, primary tank design/secondary treatment, advanced wastewater treatment); land-based, low-energy and sustainable wastewater treatment systems; sludge handling, treatment and disposal; effluent disposal (including re-use).

Water Supply System Analysis

Semester 2 

This course aims to provide students with an understanding of the analysis and design aspects of water distribution system. The course is structured to enable students to design least-cost functioning water distribution systems.

Topics covered in the course include: basic principles of pipe flow, pipe network analysis techniques, cost considerations of pipe network design, general principles of network synthesis, water transmission lines design (gravity mains and pumping mains), water distribution mains (gravity-sustained distribution mains and pumped distribution mains), single-input source, branched and looped systems, modelling of water distribution using computer software (EPANET or Infoworks).

Safety, Risk and Reliability

Semester 2 

This course aims to provide the students with an appreciation and understanding of the basic principles of structural reliability theory. It provides an introduction to concepts of structural safety and risk, as well as probability theory and probability distributions.

Specific topics covered in the course include: probabilistic modelling of strength and loads; first order second moment and first order reliability methods; reliability-based code calibration; Monte-Carlo simulation and variance reduction techniques; Introduction to causes of structural deterioration (corrosion, fatigue and fracture); risk based inspection strategies using Bayesian methods.

(3) Non-technical Civil Engineering courses

Environmental Geotechnics

Semester 1 

This course aims to give students an appreciation of the role of contaminated land within geotechnical engineering, developing understanding of current UK legislation and government policy relating to methodologies for dealing with contaminated land. In this regard, the course enables learners to understand the practical relevance of the remediation technologies within the context of site contamination and to gain knowledge of the engineering measures adopted at landfill sites for the safe disposal of waste.

Subjects and topics covered include: Historical pollution sources and extent; qualitative and quantitative risk assessment; site investigation; remediation methods; legislative background; characteristics of landfill sites and wastes.

Sustainability for Construction Professionals

Semester 1 

This course aims to equip students with the contextual awareness, self-reflective abilities and interdisciplinary Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge necessary to allow them to contribute to the delivery of Sustainable Development as part of their professional role in the Built Environment Sector. It also aims to develop an understanding of the role of the Construction Professional in supporting a holistic approach to development, which emphasises Stakeholder Engagement in options appraisal. The course also aims to develop Consultation and Consensus building skills.

More specific topics covered in the course syllabus include: overview of broad concepts; history of sustainable development strategies, including legislation, monitoring, auditing, and tools for the same; overview of 'Sustainable Urban Design'; relevant Case Studies; planning frameworks, eg: strategic environmental assessment, environmental impact assessment, environmental impact statements; project design and planning: commercial and organisation-based plans and frameworks for Sustainability; sustainability indicators: policy framework for international and national indicators, use of indicators in project decision making, ecological/carbon footprints, best practicable environmental option; audit and certification: environmental management systems, international assessment tools, life cycle analysis. Examples of a variety of contemporary tools for measuring sustainability; supplementary units: sustainability in action, systems methodologies to aid decision making, and digital developments in sustainability tracking; the use of portfolios in professional development.


MSc students are also required to submit a research dissertation, the research topic normally aligns with the research interests of the staff in the School but can be tailored to suit the interests of the student or student’s employer. Distance learning and part time students are encouraged to suggest project topics based on their own work experience.


In the MSc marks are gathered from a combination of examination and project work – overall 66% examination and 33% project work. Students are supported and guided by coursework to prepare them for taught course examination assessments.

Additional information

The MSc course consists of eight taught courses and a dissertation. To progress to the dissertation, you must get an average mark of at least 50% and have no course marks below 40% in the taught courses.

The postgraduate diploma course consists of the same taught courses but does not continue to the dissertation phase. PG Diploma students must achieve an average mark of 40% or more and have no marks below 35%. PG diploma students may choose to transfer to the MSc cohort if they meet the MSc progression standards stated above.


Why Heriot-Watt Online?


Study towards the same high-quality qualification as if you were studying in-person, with no difference in degree certificate or transcript, including an Edinburgh campus graduation ceremony.

Flexibility and affordability

Study at a time and pace that suits you, and even while you work. HW Online offers pay-as-you-study courses and fees inclusive of exams and study materials, meaning you can focus on success, not extra costs.

Online community and help

Studying with us means you join an online community of over X students, allowing you to chat and learn from your fellow students through our virtual learning environment.

Employability and careers

Heriot-Watt produces more CEOs than any other University in Scotland, and 95% of graduates are in employment or further study within 6 months of graduation.

Lifelong connections

Upon completing your studies you will automatically join the UK’s oldest alumni association The Watt Club, with 147k members worldwide.

Track record

We’ve been providing high quality online and distance learning across the world for over 25 years.


Be part of a Business & STEM renowned University with over 200 years of heritage. We’re proud to be ranked #1 by The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022 for a number of our Engineering subjects, including Chemical, Civil, Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Entry requirements

For MSc level entry applicants must have:

  • Minimum of 2:2 honours degree or equivalent academic qualification in cognate and semi-cognate subject area. 
  • Corporate (or chartered) membership of relevant professional institutions will also be considered.

For PG Diploma level entry applicants must have:

  • Third class honours degree in a cognate or semi-cognate subject area PLUS 2 years of relevant experience at an appropriate level completed post qualification.
  • Cognate or semi-cognate ordinary degree PLUS 3-4 years of relevant experience at an appropriate level following graduation.
  • Candidates who do not meet the above entry requirements or have no formal academic qualifications will be considered individually based on their CV and interview. Admission via this route will be at the discretion of the Director of Admissions and the number of successful applicants will be restricted.

There is no entry at PG Certificate level except through exceptional agreement with approved learning partners.

Non-graduating study at masters level:

  • Entry is based on CV or on formal academic qualifications or graduate (or incorporated) membership of a relevant professional institution.

January or September entry

Distance learning students can choose to start their studies in January or September. The January intake is not available to students studying on-campus.

Recognition of Prior Learning

We are committed to providing study opportunities to applicants who have a wide range of prior experiences through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). For more information on RPL, please contact the Online Admissions Team ( ahead of application. We can only consider requests for RPL at the time of application to a course of study. 

English language requirements

If English is not the applicant’s first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above.

Applicants who have previously successfully completed courses delivered in the medium of English language may be considered and will be required to provide documentary evidence of this. Examples would be secondary school education or undergraduate degree course. A minimum of at least one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required.

We offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your masters course:

  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no more than one skill at 4.5);
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum of 5.0 in all skills);
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with minimum of 5.5 in reading and writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking and listening)

Online learning students

Please note that distance learning students who access their studies online will be expected to have access to a PC/laptop and internet.


Tuition fees for 2022 entry
Status Per course Dissertation
UK / EU / Overseas £1440 £1850

Additional fees information

Students pay £1440 per course and £1850 for the Dissertation. This programme consists of 8 courses (modules). MSc students are also required to submit a Masters dissertation.

For questions about Heriot-Watt Online fees, please contact

Financial support

Tuition fee loans of £5,500 are available to Scottish distance learning students on taught postgraduate courses. Full-time distance learning postgraduate students can also access a £4,500 living cost loan. Find out more from the Students Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS)

Scholarships and bursaries

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.

Additional scholarship information

Fully funded scholarships for some of the courses contained within the MSc are available to people living and working in Scotland. To find out more information visit the Upskilling Scotland page.

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