There are two modes of delivery for the MSc PMBE: full-time on campus or distance learning, and there are two entry points - September and January. PGCert and PGDip are offered as 'exit' awards. Candidates who are wishing to graduate with one of these awards, should also apply for a MSc place in the first instance.
Extensive on-line learning material is provided to all students via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) - our own intranet site. Students have access to this site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The course is assessed by 100% coursework submitted via the VLE. Module leaders can be contacted via the VLE, e-mail, telephone and Skype.
Intensive Study Periods - all students can attend four intensive study periods during their programme and these are normally around 3 days long. Students (and staff) enjoy these intensive sessions as they are able to share experiences and knowledge as well as renew friendships and make connections that extend into the industry. The open-learning students get the opportunity to meet face-to-face with staff. The organisation and the collaborative nature of these intensive study periods is always praised by our students who particularly like the site visits, workshops and guest lectures from industry experts that are among the key features.
must find their own accommodation and are asked to cover expenses for travel to Oxford, accommodation and food.
Field Trips and Site Visits - there are a number of field trips and site visits which take place mainly during the intensive study periods. There is one European field trip during the MSc programme and this normally takes place at the end of January each year - usually to the Netherlands. As well as bringing together full-time and open-learning students, the aim of this field trip is to integrate knowledge gained in the early part of the programme, to develop team skills and to build relationships. With the European field trip we also expose students to project management practices outside the UK and encourage them to observe and report on the different approaches to managing projects in the UK, their own countries and overseas.
Field Trip takes place at the end of January for the duration of five days and
four nights. Heavily subsidised by the
School, a coach is also provided to transport students and staff from Oxford
Brookes to the field trip destination. Please read the details further down the page for information about additional costs for the field trip.
In order to
attend site visits as part of the programme of study, we ask that students
provide their own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
- Safety boots
- Hard hat
- High visibility vest
- Eye protection
Problem Based Learning - the programme will develop knowledge of current practice and issues in the built environment sector as well as building real-life skills including the exploration of interdisciplinary problems. We have responded to requests from industry to make our masters more practical by using an applied approach to learning, sometimes called “Problem Based Learning” or PBL. This approach encourages learning by allowing students to actively puzzle through problems that are adapted from complex real situations. As real problems cross discipline boundaries and require research and collaboration, we use our links with industrial practitioners to help devise the problems we use in class. This leads to a more exciting and relevant student experience.
People, Leadership and Organisations aims to develop the students’ knowledge and understanding of how behavioural and organisational issues influence project performance and how they can be harnessed to effectively deliver projects. It includes an overview of management approaches, an exploration of the issues around understanding self and understanding others, team theory and leadership, communication, conflict resolution strategies and negotiation; and learning from experience in project environments. These themes are studied in the context of personal and cultural differences.
To a large extent the module adopts a problem-based learning (PBL) approach. Here, PBL is facilitated through problem-solving exercises that are based on prominent case studies and game play exercises.
Project Planning, Control and Risk prepares students to manage projects within the built environment through the use of advanced planning and control techniques. Students will learn and apply a range of skills in project planning, scheduling, monitoring and control that includes cash flow and capital expenditure analysis, value management, risk and opportunity management and the use of software-based decision support tools as used in industry.
Construction Law and Procurement starts with the consideration of project procedure and participants and their roles in different types of projects in the built environment. Through the aspects of law needed to understand construction procurement and contracts, to the various forms of building contracts and procurement procedures, the module covers alternative procurement routes and current trends in procurement in both the public and private sectors, placing a particular emphasis on collaboration and best practice. Furthermore, it covers the basics of planning law and building regulations and looks at specific issues related to contract terms, professional liability and property torts.
Managing Technology for Sustainable Environments - design techniques and technological innovations and how they are used and managed are key elements in the development of our built environment. This module introduces these as considerations that should be made at the inception and briefing stages of a project, not as afterthoughts later in the process. It also recognises that design and construction are not devoid of the human dimension - the contexts within which a construction project is situated, including influences of climate, culture, and surrounding and supporting infrastructures are also important. There is also an examination of the design and building processes, and the end-product-buildings, as continuously changing entities. Students should not study developments in design and technology in isolation, but as part of a continuously innovating industry. In this respect, managing Building Information Modelling (BIM), developments in off-site construction and low carbon construction are covered as part of the module.
Applied Research Methods provides students 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 students with an overview of particular research techniques such that they can choose and develop those tools most appropriate to their Dissertation.
Dissertation - follows on from Applied Research Methods and aims not only to generate new knowledge or insights but also to develop students’ capacities to undertake rigorous research, to plan and execute an extended project and to communicate complex ideas effectively in words and graphically. Each student will work with a supervisor from within the department 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.
We ask for two printed copies of the final dissertation, one soft and one
hard bound. Dissertation hard binding
costs around £35.00. Open-learning students will incur the postal charge to send hard-copies to Oxford.
Teaching and learning
Teaching, learning and assessment methods are to a considerable degree determined by the 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 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.
In full-time mode, the delivery of new material is generally bi-weekly with intermediate tutorial or seminar sessions. The intensive study periods and a European field trip, when students in both modes of study come together, complement this delivery pattern. Outside these periods, online learning is the primary mode of learning for open-learning study. Where necessary, open-learning students are supported by email, Skype, on-line lectures and telephone during the periods off-campus.
Approach to assessment
Problem-based learning (PBL), which is adopted as appropriate, results in sustainable learning when students are provided with continuous, constructive feedback. Our assessment strategy is underpinned by this need.
PBL facilitates learning through solving problems. Problem-solving underpins the assessment tasks which are designed to reflect ‘real-life’ scenarios as closely as possible. Blended/open-learning students are actively encouraged to bring their work-place experiences into the ‘classroom’.
Assessment is 100% coursework, which includes a great variety of types of work, including quizzes taken remotely on Moodle (Brookes' virtual learning environment- VLE). Material can be downloaded from our virtual learning environment and closed discussions can take place. It also enables on-campus and open-learning students to remain in contact with each other.
coursework must be submitted online via the Virtual Learning Environment. Therefore there are no required printing
costs for the core modules.
The School has a computer room dedicated to building information modelling (BIM). We run 3D, 4D and 5D applications and other relevant software packages such as Microsoft Project. Where necessary, arrangements are made for the students to have remote access to the specialist software packages.
programme of study you will be introduced to and actively use Building
Information Modelling software. We use
the Autodesk Suite, in particular Revit, Navisworks and Asta PowerProject.
While a student you may register for free use of the software, available
The following IT specifications are
required to use BIM software:
- At least 12GB Ram
- At least 1TB hard-drive
Distance learners will also need to create a Skype account for
A European field trip is a compulsory element of the PGCert modules. It typically takes place over a five-day period towards the end of January and is heavily subsidised by the School.
A coach is also provided to transport students and staff from Oxford
Brookes to the field trip destination. Students are asked to cover the following expenses:
- A contribution towards accommodation (around £100)
- Travel expenses if student chooses to fly direct to
the destination or to join the coach at Oxford Brookes
- Lunches and evening meals
- Any other personal expenditures.
The aim of this field trip is to consolidate the knowledge gained in the early part of the course and to develop team and other relationships through exposing our students to European project management practices and to assess their ability to observe and report on the different approaches to project management in the UK and in a European country.
The field trip normally consists of visits to prominent construction/engineering projects and sites, plus architectural attractions, both en route and at the destination. You are introduced to the development and planning practices at the destination, as well as having the opportunity to visit major complex projects.
The programme attracts students from diverse backgrounds and locations.
Many of our current students already hold degrees in fields outside the realm of the built environment including law, psychology and geography, and have decided to contribute to the development of the built environment around us by effectively managing projects. They hail from as far afield as Nigeria and India, with backgrounds ranging from languages to architecture.
This diverse group of students bring with them individual responses to the PBL approach that is at the core of our course delivery.
Typically the open-learning students are employed by a number of different organisations from the private and public sectors in different countries. They have the opportunity to share their experiences in order to gain better understanding of the industry, the range of challenges that project managers face, and therefore the breadth of skills that they need to develop in order to perform successfully.
Our full-time students benefit from contact with the open-learning students engaged in project management roles in a variety of built environment projects across many countries.
The University runs two semesters of 12 weeks. The last week of a semester is dedicated to revision.
Full-time (FT) students take two 30-credit modules each semester, as well as the Research Methods module which is 10 credits and runs across two semesters. Typically, each 30-credit module is delivered through two two-hour sessions each week. FT students undertake their dissertation once they complete the thought part of the course.
Distance learning (DL) students can easily fit studying around their busy schedules. Online delivery provides the flexibility for 24/7 learning. DL students are strongly advised to attend the intensive study periods, which are typically three days long. There is one each semester.
All students MUST attend the European field trip which normally takes place in late January and runs from Sunday to Thursday. The associated costs have been outlined in the field trips section.
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