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Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management

MSc / PGDip / PGCert

School of the Built Environment

Accredited by Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB).

The MSc in Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management (QSCM) programme is designed to meet the challenging demands of the modern learner and the rapidly evolving needs of the construction industry. It employs an innovative teaching structure that is integrated with Brookes’ Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The result is the delivery of a flexible and exciting programme of study.

Starting in either January or September, the MSc programme may be studied either full time over one year, or as a distance learner over two years. You may choose to exit at the PGCert or PGDip stage, but please note that these exit awards are not accredited by RICS or CIOB.

Available start dates

January 2019 / September 2019 / January 2020 / September 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus / Distance learning

Course length

  • Full time: 13 months (Sept start), 17 months (Jan start)
  • Part time: Part time: Distance learning only - 25 months (Sept start), 29 months (Jan start)

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • Accredited by the ​​Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)​ ​and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)​,​​ this ​demonstrates professional recognition of the quality of our programme and as such our programme is your first step towards becoming a chartered Quantity Surveyor​. 
  • Our staff sit on professional committees including CIOB and Constructing Excellence.
  • Our longstanding links with prominent companies in the sector, such as Mace, Willmott Dixon and BAM Construction, and our strong links with local companies such as Beards, Kingerlee and Bidwells together ensure that the programme is directly tailored towards the employment skills needed by the construction Industry.
  • The coursework only programme uses an applied learning approach to study. This ensures that it is real-world focused and holistic. Not only is this more effective teaching, it is much more engaging than the traditional study and examination approach.
  • Students develop a broad range of quantity surveying and management skills and knowledge including Building Information Modelling (BIM), project finance, technology, and procurement by working on real life problems as experienced by the construction industry. 
  • Our innovative programme structure which was commended at validation provides a flexible pattern of study that brings together both distance and full-time learners.  Students can start either in September or January, easily switch between distance learning and full time modes of study and, if needed, extend their study up to 5 years.

There are two modes of delivery for the MSc QSCM: full time on campus or distance learning, and there are two entry points - September or January.

Extensive online learning material is provided to all students via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) - our own intranet site to which students have access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Module leaders can be contacted via the VLE, e mail, telephone and Skype.

Intensive Study Periods - all students attend four intensive study periods during their programme each being around three 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 within the industry and the distance earning 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.

European Field trip -To expose our students to the international nature of the construction industries, we also run a week long subsidised fieldtrip to Europe (usually Holland) every year in January. Feedback shows our students highly value this opportunity get to know how construction in other countries works to different management cultures.

Applied or Problem-Based Learning - We have responded to requests from industry to make our postgraduate education more practical and industry focused by using an ‘applied’ approach to learning, sometimes called “Problem-Based Learning” or PBL. This approach encourages learning by allowing you to actively puzzle through problems that are adapted from complex real-life situations. We use our links with industrial practitioners to help devise these problems and, as construction problems often cross discipline boundaries, they require research and collaboration to find their solutions. This leads to a more exciting and relevant student experience.

Module Outlines

People, Leadership and Organisations: aims to develop your knowledge and understanding of how behavioural and organisational issues influence project performance.

It includes an overview of management approaches, an exploration of the issues around understanding self and understanding others, team theory and leadership, communication, conflict theory and resolution, conflict resolution strategies and learning from experience in project environments and also conflict and negotiation 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 you to manage projects within the built environment through the use of advanced planning and control techniques. You 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.

Managing Technology for Sustainable Environments: Technological innovations and how they are 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. It also recognises that construction is 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. Thus you don’t study developments of 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.

Quantity Surveying Practice: The financial management of project design and construction, whether for client or contractor, is an essential skill in the construction industry. This module helps you to develop this skill. It is designed to initially develop your understanding of the fundamental principles for building and civil engineering measurement. You will gain a good understanding of the standard methods of measurement such as NRM2 and CESMM4, develop quantity take-off skills and understand the key roles and responsibilities of a professional quantity surveyor with particular reference to the construction tendering process and use of BIM.

Examination and production of costs associated with a range of construction operations and projects are covered in the latter part of the module. You study the principles and methodology in the computation of construction costs throughout a project’s life cycle, including relevant commercial factors and risk. This involves identifying and assessing all direct and indirect costs related to construction works as well as developing an understanding of the factors to be considered at tender adjudication.

The module also equips you to administer and manage building contracts. A wide range of contractual issues are discussed including: payment valuation, variation assessment and claims evaluation. You learn and apply a range of skills in basic contract law and tort, identifying and choosing alternative procurement methods, dispute resolution techniques used in construction and supply chain and commercial management. Professional ethics and employers’ protection mechanisms such as performance bond, guarantee and insurance provisions under common contract conditions are also explored.

Applied Research Methods provides you 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 you with an overview of particular research techniques such that they can choose and develop those tools most appropriate to their particular research project.

The dissertation follows on from Applied Research Methods and aims not only to generate new knowledge or insights but also to develop your capacity to undertake rigorous research, to plan and execute an extended project and to communicate complex ideas effectively in words and graphically. By conducting your own primary research, you work with a supervisor from within the department to produce an original piece of work of publishable quality.

Please note: as our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, modules available may differ from those shown here.

Teaching and learning

Teaching, learning and assessment methods are to a considerable degree shaped by the use of the applied learning approach. This 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 weekly with intermediate tutorial or seminar sessions. The intensive study weeks and a European field-trip, wherein students in both modes of study come together, complement this delivery pattern.

For the distance learner, the virtual learning environment is the primary mode of delivery. Communication with distance learning students will be supplemented by email, Skype and telephone.

Approach to assessment

Assessment is 100% coursework, which includes a great variety of types of work, including quizzes taken remotely on Moodle (Brookes online learning environment). Material can be downloaded from our virtual learning environment and closed discussions can take place. It also enables on campus and distance learning students to remain in contact with each other.

Field trips

There are a number of field trips and site visits which take place mainly during the intensive study periods.

The European field trip is compulsory and organised by the School. Students pay £100 towards the costs. Fees for the study periods are inclusive, but distance learners would need to budget for travelling to the University, and for accommodation and food.

Student body

The programme attracts students from diverse backgrounds and locations. Our students hail from as far afield as Nigeria, Russia and India, with backgrounds ranging from the recently graduated, to employees of small local companies, to fully established managers in large international construction companies. This diverse group brings a plethora of individual responses to the applied learning approach that is at the core of our course delivery.

Typically distance learning students are employed in many different countries by a range of organisations from both the private and public sectors. By coming together in the intensive study periods, they have the opportunity to share their experiences in order to gain a broader understanding of the industry and the range of challenges that Construction Project Managers face. Correspondingly our full time students benefit from contact with the distance learning students, whilst our distance learning students benefit from the inclusion in a learning culture that the full time students bring.

Programme changes

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 page.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2019/20: £6,360 2020/21: £9,000

Home/EU - distance learning fee: 2019/20: £3,460 2020/21: £4,500

International - full time: 2019/20: £14,000 2020/21: £14,700

International - distance learning fee: 2019/20: £6,080 2020/21: £7,350

Where part time fees are quoted this is for the first year only. Fees will increase by up to 4% each year.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Funding and scholarships

Entry requirements

The course is open to applicants who hold a 2.1 undergraduate honours degree (or international equivalent) in any discipline.
We will actively consider applications from candidates with lower degrees - who can evidence relevant experience, or a sustained managerial role in another profession.

Industry professionals with relevant practice qualifications (e.g MRICS, MCIOB) - demonstrating ability to study at master's level, are also encouraged to apply.

For Distance-Learning study, it is recommended that applicants have at least six months work experience in the built environment sector.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English you will require a minimum academic IELTS score of 6.5 overall with 6.0 in all components.


An equivalent English language qualification acceptable to the University.

Please also see the university's standard English language requirements

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the university's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

There is no formal application deadline (recruitment closes when teaching capacity is reached). However, we advise applying in good advance to secure places, and allow sufficient time for applications to be reviewed. 
Applicants should also factor any time needed to meet offer conditions, arrange accommodation, and obtain a UK Tier 4 visa (if applicable).

Distance-Learning study requires additional Faculty preparation - therefore this mode can sometimes close sooner than on-campus study.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

How this course helps you develop

Many construction and development companies visit the department annually to meet students for graduate positions. Our graduates are recognised as having an excellent level of communication, presentation and problem-solving skills.


Graduates of our postgraduate construction programmes have an outstanding employment record. Our graduates are recognised as having excellent levels of communication, presentation and problem-solving skills. Consequently, our students go on to be employed across the broad spectrum of the construction industries both locally and internationally.

Many of these companies visit the department annually to meet students for graduate positions whilst all of our distance learning students are employed full time by prominent companies in the sector.

As our programmes are accredited by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Chartered Institute of Builders (CIOB), our graduates are firmly on the path to become professionally chartered opening up excellent recognition for future career progression.

Graduates from the course will normally go on to become Quantity Surveyors within the construction industries, for which currently there are excellent job opportunities.

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

We work closely with our International Centre to help students whose first language is not English. All international students are registered on appropriate courses during the first semester so that they can develop their academic writing skills. They then take extra classes on dissertation writing in the second semester. 

Continuous assessment and feedback are other means through which we support our students. The PGCert modules in particular are designed so that our students have the opportunity to learn from the feedback that they receive in order to improve their academic performance.

You will be assigned an academic adviser who will help guide your academic development.  In addition we provide specialist subject librarians to help you find the right material for your coursework and other learning support staff to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

In addition to your academic advisor, you will have access to student support coordinators who are there to provide pastoral care.

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Research highlights

Many of our academic staff are involved in academic research and/or professional/commercial consultancy work. In the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), our Unit of Assessment (UoA 16) ranked 4th within the University in terms of its Grade Point Average (GPA). We hold the 11th position in terms of Research Impact and Power Rating (GPA x number of full-time equivalent staff submitted) among the 45 institutions that submitted to our unit of assessment.

Many members of staff are part of the Oxford Institute of Sustainable Development (OISD). This research and promotional organisation is noted for its work on sustainable technology in buildings and sustainable urban form among many ongoing projects.

A recent HEFCE report into sustainable development in higher education in England suggests that the OISD is one of the key players in sustainable development research.

Research areas and clusters

Areas of interest include:

  • sustainability, adaptation and resilience to climate change
  • Building Information Modelling (BIM)
  • collaborative supply networks for procurement and delivery of project
  • building economics
  • forecasting techniques
  • risk management
  • social networks in project environments
  • managing complex projects
  • management of knowledge and innovation as a source of competitive advantage
  • adaptive re-use of existing buildings
  • facilities management
  • health and safety.