There are two modes of delivery for the MSc Infrastructure and Sustainable Development:
full-time on campus or open learning (distance learning). The course consists
of four core modules, plus research methods and a final dissertation. The modules
are entirely self-contained so that participants may enter the program either
in September or January.
Teaching takes place at our Oxford based Headington campus for full-time participants
and online for our open learning participants through a series of webinars, recorded
lectures, discussion forums and other activities. Extensive online learning material
is provided to all participants via our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and
the course is assessed by 100% coursework submitted via the VLE.
All participants have the option to participate in one international field trip
and four intensive study periods (one per module). The international field trip
take place at the end of the Spring semester each year and the intensive periods
take place at our Oxford campus in week 6 of each semester for three days. Please
note that, although subsidized by the University, there are additional costs
associated with the international field trip and intensive study periods to reflect
the fact that some students prefer not to take up these options.
Sustainable Development explores the relationships between urban
infrastructure delivery, pro-poor development, environmental change and local
economic growth. This provides the grounding for a more holistic approach to
infrastructure planning. A key element to this is the teaching of new ways of
thinking about infrastructure delivery that draw on emerging global thinking
based on systems theory; circular models, decentralised approaches; collaboration
Urban Governance and Political Economy aims to provide participants
with a firm understanding of governance and decision-making processes involved
in the planning and delivery of different types of infrastructure. It is informed
by political economy and institutional frameworks and grounded in theories and
practices of different methods for addressing broader societal impacts that arise
from infrastructure delivery. It will explore different approaches to participation
of stakeholders to enable more informed and inclusive decision-making based on
optimum compromises for infrastructure delivery that is to the benefit of the
local and wider urban communities.
Infrastructure Finance takes a problem based learning approach
to equip participants with the grounded understanding of the theory and practice
of financing the development, renewal, repair and maintenance of infrastructure.
It examines how infrastructure is financed as well as alternative funding models,
cost recovery options, and sources of finance. The module also examines the roles
of key actors and reviews the approaches, methods and tools used for decision
making in a variety of different contexts and under conditions of uncertainty.
Development in Practice: The aims of this module are to develop
participants' understanding of the role of infrastructure in development, and
to equip them with a working knowledge of the key frameworks and approaches used
to design and implement local development programmes and projects. The module
allows participants to experiment with bringing together their broad knowledge
base and skills and applying it to an actual project. Participants begin by learning
how to research and critically assess a development context using participatory
and other approaches. This critical analysis is then used to design an infrastructure
project which takes into account development goals and addresses the challenges
of infrastructure delivery on the project site.
Applied Research Methods provides participants with the fundamentals
of research design highlighting the difference between qualitative and quantitative
research paradigms and demonstrates how data can be both gathered and analysed
and how deductive arguments can be used to produce valid generalisations from
data. It also provides participants with an overview of particular research techniques
such that they can choose and develop those tools most appropriate to their Dissertation.
The Dissertation follows on from Applied Research Methods and
aims not only to generate new knowledge or insights, but also to develop participants'
capacities to undertake rigorous research, to plan and execute an extended project
and to communicate complex ideas effectively in words and graphically. Each participant
will work with a supervisor from within the School to produce an original piece
of work of publishable quality, generally, through conducting their own primary
research and presenting their findings in a professional manner.
Teaching and learning
The learning and teaching on this MSc include a variety of activities that enable
us to support you to develop the knowledge and skills needed to engage in professional
practice. Methods include lectures, webinars, online discussion forums, skills
workshops, seminars, and practical and project work. The programme makes particular
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 industry relevant experience than the traditional lecture approach. Learning
takes place through groups of students working through problems, often adapted
from real situations with much of the complexity and context intact, using published
resources, or reference to practitioners who are available to offer advice.
As a full-time participant, in a typical week, your time will be divided
between attending two 2 hourly sessions per week for each of the two core modules
(usually a mixture of lectures, seminars or workshops) and one 1½ hour
session for research methods in your first semester (reduced to approximately
two, 2 hourly sessions in the second semester). Outside the module contact hours,
you will undertake independent learning (for example, library visits, research,
review of online material and online individual and group collaborative learning)
to construct and develop your coursework assignments.
As an open learner in a typical week, your time will be divided between:
attending online seminars (approximately fortnightly); participating in 'Question
and Answer' sessions (approximately once a week); engaging in on online discussion
forums; collaborating online with peers for assessments and independent study.
Your independent study is guided by a number of formative online exercises including
online quizzes and academic support through discussion forums and the regular
'Question and Answer' sessions.
All participants also have the opportunity to participate in an optional international
field trip. This will involve evaluating the governance processes on an actual
infrastructure development project engaging with a wide range of stakeholders
and learning about the challenges of working in different social, cultural and
regulatory contexts. All participants are also invited to take part in four three-day
on-campus intensive study sessions. Again, these are not compulsory but participants
find them enjoyable and useful.
Approach to assessment
Our approach to assessment aims for rigor, variety and the support of learning. Due to the “problem solving” nature of our teaching, there are no examinations, instead we use coursework to help promote a deep learning approach.
A variety of coursework types is used so that students can develop and practice different skills. Examples include: report writing, verbal presentations, essays, reflective work (journal entries and essays), quizzes to test knowledge and collaborative group assignments. All coursework is submitted online via the Virtual Learning Environment.
The International Field Trip takes place during the Oxford Brookes
Easter break. This is a great learning opportunity which we anticipate will be
attended by the majority of the class. The field trip is partially subsidized
by the University but participants need to cover the cost of their travel to
the destination and make a contribution to the accommodation and and food costs.
These costs are additional to the programme fee to reflect the fact that some
students prefer not to take up this option. The total additional cost will be
in the region of £600-800 but may vary depending on flight and visa costs
from the participant's location to the destination.
Intensive Study Periods
Twice a year open-learners are invited to join the full-time students on campus
for a three-day intensive study period. Open-learners must find their own accommodation
and need to cover expenses for:
- Accommodation (to give an indication of the cost- the University's Scott House
offers single en suite rooms with self-catering facilities at £50.40
per night subject to availability (2018 rates). Alternatively, B&B accommodation
or rooms in Oxford University Colleges can be found starting from approximately
£40 per night or hotel accommodation starting from approximately £100
This has been addressed above under Teaching and Learning.
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published
on the website. For more information, please visit our
Changes to programmes