Detailed course guide
For the MSc, students undertake 8 taught courses plus a research dissertation. Students on the Postgraduate Diploma programme take the 8 taught courses only.
Students study 7 mandatory courses and choose 1 optional course from a choice of electives.
Contracts and Procurement
Value and Risk Management
Students choose 1 course from a range of optional courses, including:
Sustainable Design and Development
Real Estate Economics
Sustainability in Civil Engineering
Quantity Surveying Financial Management
Construction Financial Management
People and Organisation Management in the Built Environment
Construction Practice and Information Technology
Please find below the course descriptions. For more information on courses, please contact the
Programme Leader. People and Organisational Management in the Built Environment
This course aims to develop a high level of interdisciplinary understanding about complex organisational and personal management processes and how important they are in underpinning technical skills to deliver high quality services as a professional. Students will learn about and explore management theory and practice and will have a chance to reflect on their own personal development in a synoptic way. This will be valuable in terms of career development, as management competences and self-reflection are increasingly sought in practice.
Topics covered by the syllabus include:
What is management and why is it important for professional practice? Good and bad examples of management and their effect on individuals, organisations and service delivery. A critical evaluation of management theories. In depth understanding of the complexities of team building, organisational culture, recruitment and selection, staff appraisal, motivation, leadership, communication, co-ordination, and managing change and diversity. Contracts and Procurement
The aim of this course is to help students understand advanced procurement practices, the situations in which their use is appropriate and the contractual principles upon which they are based. The course will also introduce students to the mechanisms used by a typical standard for of construction contract (from the JCT05 suite) to control the risk exposure arising from the liabilities of contracting parties created by the contract and common law, as well as the flow of money and information between contacting parties. Subjects covered by the syllabus include:
Introduction to Construction Project Procurement; Procurement Arrangement Options; Construction Contract Use in the UK; Principles of Contract Law; Partnering; Procurement through Public Private Partnerships; Claims; Negotiating; Managing Conflicts and Disputes; Towards Better Contracting Practices. Value and Risk Management
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 study. The syllabus covers:
VRM and the construction procurement process, An Introduction to Value Management, Value Engineering - Function Analysis and other VE tools, Risk, uncertainty and the construction industry, Risk and procurement of PPP projects, The Risk Management framework., Sources, events and effects of project risk, Tools and techniques of Risk Management, Risk response and mitigation, Client Briefing, A Review of North American Practice. Quantity Surveying Financial Management
The aim of this course is to develop the experience and capability of graduates in relation to the built environment. The objective is to enhance the students’ understanding of the cost and measurement practices and the organisation and processes of the cost control and development process in the construction industry.
Construction Financial Management
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. Construction Technology
The overall aim of this course is to provide students with a basic understanding of the different elements that make-up a building so that they can communicate effectively with construction professionals in the design and construction of buildings. Subjects include:
Structural Requirements for Buildings; Substructure Design – Foundations; Substructure Design – Basements; Structural frames and suspended floors; Superstructure - External walls and cladding Superstructure – Roofs; Services in Buildings; Offsite construction; Low carbon construction. Construction Practice and Information Technology
The overall aim of this course is to provide an insight into the development of information systems in the construction industry. The course will help students to evaluate the use of modern ICT means and their impact on business performance in construction; study relevant IT concepts and appraise its applicability to construction process re-engineering and develop adequate research skills in reviewing and preparing academic publications. Subjects covered by the syllabus include:
Management Information systems for integrated work environment; Electronic Documents Management; Development strategy for information systems; Introduction to IT Infrastructure and EDI; E-business in construction; Building Information Modelling (BIM); Mobile computing in construction; Smart/Intelligent Building and Information systems and Knowledge Management. Programme leader
Dr Graeme Bowles is programme leader and is also an active member of the RICS as an APC Assessor. Additional information
Recommended textbook for background reading:
Willis's Practice and Procedure for the Quantity Surveyor.
Masters (MSc) level entry applicants must have one of the following:
Minimum of 2:2 honours degree or equivalent academic qualification in a cognate or semi-cognate subject area
Minimum of 2:2 honours degree or equivalent academic qualification in a non-cognate subject area but demonstrates an interest in the discipline (supported by a personal statement, detail of work experience)
Corporate (or chartered) membership of relevant professional institutions will also be considered
PG Diploma level entry applicants must have an ordinary degree in a related subject area and relevant post qualification industry experience.
Candidates who do not meet the above entry requirements or have no formal academic qualifications will be considered individually based on their CV and possibly interview. Admission via this route will be at the discretion of the Director of Recruitment.
Recognition of Prior Learning
Heriot-Watt University is committed to providing opportunities to applicants who have a wide range of prior experiences through
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Prior learning at postgraduate level is normally recognised to gain exemption from individual courses within a programme based on an existing academic qualification. Note that the prior learning must have been rated at the level of the courses for which RPL is sought, yet credits from an award already held by an applicant can only contribute to a higher award in the same discipline, e.g. from PG Diploma to MSc. If you believe that you qualify for RPL, please contact the Learning and Teaching Support Team via firstname.lastname@example.org, who will guide you through the RPL application procedure.
The school will only consider students' requests for RPL at the time of application for their programme 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. Please refer to
English language requirements for further details.
Some applicants may be asked for alternative evidence in line with UKVI recognised English speaking countries. 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. A minimum of at least one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required.
All evidence of English language needs to be dated within two years of the commencement of study.
We also offer a range of
English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your master’s programme:
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)