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Case study - The Bartlett (UCL) - APM Academic Accreditation case study


As one of the oldest but most radical faculties of its kind, The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment has built a reputation for education and research that draws students and academics from across the world. In 1841 this multi-disciplinary college became the global faculty of the built environment at University College London (UCL). Today, its departments are recognised as world leaders in their fields, which range from architecture and planning to energy and development. The Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management was established in 2002 under the leadership of APM Hon Fellow, Professor Peter Morris, to bring together The Bartlett’s established research into the managerial and economic aspects of construction. It was  created as a centre of excellence of intellectual knowledge and criticism around projects and their management and economics, particularly in the built environment.

The School collaborates on both applied and fundamental research with businesses, government departments and agencies, non-governmental organisations and charities on transfer of knowledge, research projects, training courses and teaching collaborations.

Its vision is to be recognised globally as a centre of excellence in the management of projects and construction economics, delivering research-informed teaching on leading theories and practice. In 2019 The Bartlett topped the QS World University Rankings by subject for architecture/built environment. It is also anticipated that its research will score even higher than its 2014 four-star, ‘world leading’ rating in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework.

Responding to a changing world

Responding to a changing world The Bartlett has a global reputation for developing and delivering new responses to pressing world issues, together with innovative approaches to the challenges facing the built environment. With the increasing growth in and use of digital technology in the rapidly changing construction sector and after identifying a demand through industry engagement, the School of Construction and Project Management developed a course that would improve the management of the emerging discipline of digital engineering to create, capture and integrate digital technologies in projects. Digital engineering includes building information modelling, virtual reality, augmented reality, blockchain technology and big data analytics approaches that transform the way the construction sector operates.

The result was a new MSc in Digital Engineering Management (DEM). Believed to be the only one of its kind, it is designed to meet an industry need for greater understanding and analysis of how these pioneering digital technologies shape and are shaped by organisations, projects and supply chains in construction.

The course has gone through UCL’s rigorous scrutiny and approval process and has been designed under the leadership of Dr Eleni Papadonikolaki and a number of academics, with input from industry collaborators. It was awarded APM accreditation at the beginning of 2020 and the first students are due to start the programme in September 2020. The course has attracted interest from professionals with 5 to 10 year’s experience and recent graduates from around the globe. It will begin its first academic year with a small cohort, a balanced mix of full-time and part-time students who are encouraged to bring their experiences in the class. “The built environment faces an unprecedented transition towards a digital economy. Our vision for the MSc in Digital Engineering Management is to educate and train the new generation of leaders in the built environment capable to harness digital technologies and lead transformations in businesses and projects,” said Dr Papadonikolaki.

Innovative thinking 

The MSc in Digital Engineering Management aims to equip students with the foundations of innovative digital technologies in the built environment at both a practical skills level and developing critical thinking to understand the managerial implications.

It focuses on learning through a mix of lectures, case teaching method, seminars, prototyping and collaborative project work. Modules are both scenario- and projectbased, and organised around the three themes of: project, organisation and engineering. 

The course can be studied full-time over one year or part-time over two to five years and comprises eight taught modules and an original piece of independent research leading to a dissertation. Of the eight modules, four have been mapped directly to the APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition and all are aimed at providing the breadth and depth needed to manage any kind of project. This strategy ensures that the APM Five Dimensions of Professionalism and key APM competencies are addressed through the course.

Additionally, the course leader, Dr Papadonikolaki, obtained the APM Project Management Qualification (PMQ) to further strengthen alignment with the association’s standards and values.

“We subscribe to the vision of the APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition, on including a breadth of areas in the project professionals as well as professing accountable leadership in project environments,“ she explained.

Course topics include:

  • Organising for digitalisation
  • Management of digital innovation
  • Digital briefing and scope management
  • Integrated and industrialised
  • Big data and business analytics
  • Engineering of the digital thread across lifecycle
  • Agile and hybrid project management
  • Management of major programmes with digital

Digital learning platforms are used throughout for learning and assessment. Assessment is through analytical essays, coursework (either individual or in groups), examination and the MSc dissertation. Through the research track record and industry engagement of Dr Papadonikolaki and school academics, the programme will continuously align with industry needs and be proactive as well as reactive in bringing fresh ideas and change to the industry. 

Students, too, will be encouraged to continue their development through a commitment to continuing professional development, such as through APM and PRINCE2 qualifications and following the APM Code of Professional Conduct. Learn more about getting accredited.

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