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Laing O'Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology

Construction Engineering Masters Themes

The CEM programme is designed to include both theoretical and applied sessions on various aspects of engineering, business, law and policy that are relevant to the UK construction sector. International practices and comparisons with innovation around the globe also shape the syllabus.

Students are given an understanding of the current context and challenges faced by the construction industry before critically evaluating the latest research in design, management and construction techniques and processes. Each residential week is focused on a specific theme, supported by an ongoing programme of communication, leadership and research skills development.

The main themes covered by the CEM are:

  1. The built environment
  2. Design for value
  3. Research and innovation
  4. Advanced construction technology and materials
  5. Advanced construction management
  6. Finance, planning and procurement
  7. The future of construction (a thought-leadership exercise)

1. The built environment: This week explores the wider context of the built environment (with a focus on the United Kingdom), providing a strategic overview of the current state of the construction industry, the national state of infrastructure and the economic and political framework within which the industry currently operates. Given the dynamic and complex operating environment in which businesses must now operate, this module also covers management of risk and uncertainty.

2. Design for value: This week aims to give the students an overview of how the construction industry equips itself to achieve value and—through exploring value in different contexts—how the industry attempts to address the needs of clients in the public sector, private sectors and wider society. Students are introduced to complexity theory and how it can be used to understand organisations (and the value they deliver).

3. Research and innovation: This week covers fundamental principles of developing, implementing and managing effective innovation techniques, processes and procedures. Examples of innovation that is emerging from current research in the department and/or in industry are explored

4. Advanced construction technology and materials: This week covers several key threads within this broad topic. It explores (at a high level) analysis methods, modelling and the development and use of different types of materials. Students will gain insight into the state-of-the-art for common materials, special novel materials and in some areas of advanced construction technologies. The week will provide students with an understanding of how these materials and technologies might contribute towards advances in construction practice.

5. Advanced construction management: This week covers advanced concepts and methods used to manage construction projects/business (as opposed to teaching basic project management processes that may be covered in more traditional construction management degrees). While some basic concepts are included in the content, the week will explore challenges of management and the methods for planning operations and improving productivity. The content will also cover leadership topics.

6. Finance, planning and procurement: This week will familiarise students with different models of financing construction projects in the UK and globally. They will learn about the necessary elements that are required to support project finance and procurement including contractual agreements, sponsors, sources of capital and financial structuring. Some elements of construction law are also covered as one of the topics of the week.

7. The future of construction (a thought-leadership exercise): This week aims to create greater awareness of the policy making process and how to engage with it. It will advance students’ skills in advocacy on relevant policy issues on behalf of the construction industry.

Throughout the course, we provide an ongoing programme to support the development of research and communication skills. There are sessions in every week associated with this programme.

Find out more

Applications for 2022 entry are now closed (Applications for the 2023 intake will open during September 2022).



Jan Wojtecki
Centre Manager and Interim CEM Course Manager


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