The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction


Andrew Edkins comments on SMP for 2011-12

4 April 2012

SMP Overview

2011-12 was another milestone year for MSc Strategic Management of Projects. It was the first time that SMP had taken on students studying full-time and thereby taking all ten modules that comprise this truly challenging executive development masters. During the two teaching terms there have been a rich and wide set of learning events organised and some of the highlights are featured below.

Starting back in early October the opening ‘capstone’ module featured a veritable galaxy of project management stars. These were drawn from both industry and academe, with industry presentations from Rolls Royce, Siemens, and the Association for Project Management, together with academic lectures from UCL, Imperial College, Manchester Business School and Birmingham Business School. SMP students themselves wrapped the module up with presentations to the course team and guest Donnie MacNichol.

The rest of the first term saw the delivery of the following modules:

Exploring Project Requirements – some its highlights were:

    • A day spent with Gary Griggs over from the US where he works jointly for Parsons Brinkerhoff and Stanford University
    • A reflective case study presentation on the origins of Transport for London’s (TfL) Oyster Card
    • The vision and development of the Virgin Galactic – the first commercial space tourism project

In the Management of Design module a selection of highlights were:

    • A presentation on the development of the highly successful design management tool – ADEPT from Professor Simon Austin of Loughborough University
  • An in-depth exploration of the way that System Engineering tackles the management of Design, led by Professor Keith Robinson
  • Two interlinked presentations and discussion about the management of design of the new Queen Elizabeth class of aircraft carrier for the Royal Navy and the way that leading product design consultancy Seymour Powell handles its range of international commissions

In the Governance & Control module the events included:

    • A lecture on risk, uncertainty and opportunity management by Professor Stephen Ward from Southampton University Business School
    • A presentation from Bechtel on the complexity of one of Crossrail’s most challenging station upgrade and expansion projects – Farringdon
    • A pre-launch overview and ‘road test’ of the Association for Project Management’s new project assurance toolkit – as tested by SMP students on the Edinburgh Tram project
    • A full day with Guy Giffin and the truly excellent Prendo project computer simulation working on the various issues that arise on any project – in this case the construction of a football stadium.

Finally and to complete the teaching in term one, the module on Economics & Finance was delivered. This started with two sets of day long academic lectures with the Bartlett’s own Graham Ive – one of the most highly respected academic economists specialising in the construction sector. Then the other highlights were:

  • A dizzying and dazzling overview of the finance markets by UCL’s Donald Lawrence
  • A ground-breaking bespoke workshop on project finance delivered with the massive assistance of both management consultancy KPMG and leading corporate lawyers Ashurst (and involving delegates from both firms as well as the SMP students)
  • An introduction to the UK’s recently launched version 2 of the National Infrastructure Plan by a senior representative of HM Treasury’s Infrastructure UK (IUK).

Term two delivered five more full modules plus a 1 day non-assessed module on leadership and teams. The set of highlights for this second term matched the standard set for the first term, but switched the emphasis to developing and testing the SMP students’ presentation skills.

Highlights included three site visit trips, an all day workshop on what is expected to be a landmark and iconic project in London, discussion on the implications of the UK building more nuclear power stations, a debate stimulated by a bespoke SMP case study on knowledge management, and an insight into the operational world of managing a modern prison!

Students studying SMP bring to the classroom their own set of unique project management experiences gathered from their working in a variety of project sectors around the world. This rich set of knowledge forms the basis for the lively discussion that takes place with the range of distinguished speakers that the SMP course and UCL arranges. SMP therefore demands the active engagement of its students. It makes no secret of being a highly demanding masters course, which in return provides a unique and world-class opportunity to appreciate the diversity and complexity of what it means to strategically manage a project today and in the future.