Project Management

Module aims

  • To give students ‘know-how’ of forming and handling teams, tasks, time and concepts.
  • To provide a ‘know-how-it-feels’ experience of being “on the spot” in front of a demanding client who is asking questions about a real-life infrastructure project, dear to the heart of the client. 
  • To expose students to the mindset of industry specialists who are current practitioners.
  • To inculcate reflective self- and peer-evaluation practices.

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing this course unit, students will be able to:

  • Discuss key elements of their own experience of forming, participating in and delivering output from a team which is functioning as a firm of engineering infrastructure consultants.  
  • Reflect on the benefits and challenges of working in a multidisciplinary workforce on complex tasks involving conflicting data and attracting policy-debate.
  • Discuss the concepts of ‘the client’. ‘the brief’, ‘scoping the project’, ‘programme of projects’ and the difficulty of handling/applying the concepts, from the perspective of the team and the personal perspective of a learner/practitioner.
  • Find, weigh and characterise evidence for and against an argument relating to a complex infrastructure project.

The summer examination question aligns to the intended learning outcome of the module: students must reflect individually on their learning throughout the module and provide an analysis of their main lessons from the module, for future application.

Module syllabus

The module is project-based learning designed around the project carried out during the spring term. 

Glossary

  • The [project] Brief is based on an actual existing project or concept, with real issues/controversy. The Brief directs students to online sources of information.
  • The Client is The Secretary of State for Transport (SoST).
  • The Client Team includes the Client and other experts and invited guests.  They, in whole or in part, participate in the Clinics and the Interim and Final Crit sessions.
  • The Firm is the student group, drawn from across the MSc programmes in Environmental Engineering; Hydrology; Soil Mechanics and Transport.   This provides a broad range of technical background and experience.   
  • Crit is a critical review by the Client Team and a panel of experts of the presentations by the Firms.   
  • Clinic is in-class project working time, staffed by members of The Client Team who are available for consultation.
  • Peer Assessment is a process whereby students evaluate their own contribution and that of their peers.  The output is used by the supervising academic to monitor participation and contribution.

 Topics

  • Introduction to the concepts of project management; rehearsal of groupwork; allocation of human resources within ‘Firms’.
  • Delivery of “The Brief” from the client.  Preparatory briefings.
  • ‘Firms’ take control of their project plan and agree team roles, identify tasks, set deadlines, determine the scope of the brief (put ‘realistic’ boundaries on the workload) and liaise with the Client.
  • Perform and review progress on the project plan against actual performance, as per Milestones below.

Learning Methods

  • Timetabled hours allow time for team meetings, however, members are required to carry out significant amounts of research outside the classroom.
  • Balancing the workload of B3 module with that of other modules is a key management challenge for individual members and for the Firm.
  • The scale of the workload is such that all members must develop trust in each other and devise efficient methods for communication, active listening, allocation and scheduling of work, quality control of work, and on agreeing advice for the Client.
  • Members will rehearse the art of giving and receiving critical feedback [critique/crit]. 
  • Both the Interim and Final Crit sessions requires each firm to offer a ‘starter-question’ to kick-off the Q&A session for another designated firm; this promotes active listening,  attention to the detail, and the ability to ‘critique’ in a professional and constructive manner.
  • [Assessed] Interim Presentation to Client [and Panel] with client feedback on presentation and expectations for ‘Final Crit’.  Sessions are recorded for the purposes of feedback, self-learning, and review by the External Examiner.
  • [Assessed] Final Presentation to Client [and Panel] with Q&A.  Sessions are recorded for the purposes of feedback, self-learning for exam preparation, and review by the External Examiner.
  • As individual Firms do not address identical issues, they are not in direct competition and are therefore free to collaborate with each other and to share resources, in order to offer the best advice to the Client.  There is no single right answer; this is a form of management consultancy about a future project, not a review of an existing project.

Milestones

  • [Formative] Agree and submit initial project plan and team organisation outline one week from assignment of The Project Brief (using template provided) updates to be provided to coincide with interim and final presentations. 
  • [Assessed] Weekly “Peer Assessments”, the output from which are digested and shared with the senior management of each Team. 
  • [Formative] Timetabled Clinics, where senior management can consult with the Client and advisors;
  • [Formative] Update Client Teams via 2-minute progress presentations. 
  • [Assessed] “Interim Crit” is formative assessment; the session functions as both coursework (presentation/delivery/effort) and formative examination (technical merit of the advice given to the Client).
  • [Assessed] “Final Crit” is both formative and summative; the session functions as both formative coursework (presentation/delivery/effort) and summative examination (technical merit of the advice given to the Client).

Pre-requisites

Co-Requisites: CIVE97019 Microeconomic Theory, CIVE97025 Innovation in Civil Engineering, CIVE97023 Business Environments and Construction Law

Teaching methods

A combination of lectures, project-based learning, an enabling exercise, feedback sessions, interactive and reflective assessments aligning to the intended learning outcomes.

Assessments

Full details are provided in a separate assessment document.  

Reading list

Module leaders

Mr Bill McElroy