The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction


People: in focus - Dr Aeli Roberts on NSS 2016 success and advice to incoming students

1 September 2016


The School has obtained outstanding scores in the National Student Survey 2016, with the overall satisfaction score climbing to 97%, making BSc Project Management for Construction the fourth highest scoring undergraduate degree programme at UCL. We spoke to the programme leader, Dr Aeli Roberts, about this success, her current activities, and how incoming students should prepare for university.

What would you like incoming students to know about BSc Project Management for Construction?

At the moment we are putting together the induction programme and we are sorting out timetabling. We have been looking at the course as a whole and seeking to introduce new non-assessed classes for our new first years. This is being done with a view to better orientate them and to help them transition from studying at school – albeit not all the students are school leavers – into being at university. I think that studying is tougher at university and I think, in some ways, schools prepare students for exams but they are not always preparing them for university education.

So, there is greater the emphasis on independent study outside of the classroom at university?

Yes, and it is very much that a lot of people think that they have heard everything they need to know to pass an exam in lectures. However, this is only part of university in that university should be preparing you to be somebody who carries on being educated once you leave. We provide students with a foundation of knowledge, and impart the tools for students to build on that knowledge and hopefully grow as they progress through their careers.

What should they know about the need to think critically?

By the time students go into third year, they should be able to question other peoples’ ideas, particularly as they will hopefully be contributing and changing things in the future. If you just accept everything that you are told as being the way it has to be done, things won’t evolve.

In addition to preparing for the new term, what else are you working on currently?

I have two bits of research ongoing at the moment which, long term, will feed into what is taught to students. For example, in the past I did research with Dr Niamh Murtagh and Richard Hind looking at eco design. Now, within my sustainability module in the second year, and Richard’s materials module in the first year, we have fed elements of eco design into the syllabus. I am also doing research with Professor Hedley Smyth and Kamran Razmdoost looking at organisational culture as related to health and safety. This may later feed into my teaching, although probably sits outside of the key areas that I lecture in.

In addition to this, Niamh and I have a project with UCL Geography that is just coming to its conclusion. This looked at decision making in small architectural practices and examined the relationship of the architect to the client in terms of how an architect could influence a clients’ decisions to make housing more sustainable. This will eventually go into my teaching on the BSc Project Management for Construction.

What do you think students can receive from UCL and BSc Project Management for Construction that they can’t elsewhere?

The course I direct has just received our National Student Survey results, where we achieved 97% overall satisfaction. For the third year running, we have achieved one of the highest scores for the NSS in the whole of UCL. In addition, for the last couple of years, we have been the top course by subject and the only one by subject at UCL. That is in part due to the staff, but also the students where we have very small and close knit cohorts. We look to have an intake of around 36 students which means that students get to know each other and the staff very well. By the end of the course, I see them as good friends in the sense that a lot of our ex-students come and visit and give support to the School. Once they have left, they will often come in to lecture students. Also, if we have students applying for jobs, they will support them and give them advice. In terms of why you would want to come to UCL, we are very lucky in that we are in the middle of London. There are many active construction projects happening, including within UCL Estates, which we are increasingly getting involved with.

Find out more about BSc Project Management for Construction on our website.