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Project Management (MSc)

About the Programme

Project Management is a key growth area. It is recognised as the most appropriate form of management for the new generation of managers who are asked to handle multi-disciplinary projects in a rapidly changing business environment. Its benefits are increasingly being used to improve management performance in areas that were not previously thought of as project driven.

The course is underpinned by the standards and processes set out in the Project Management Body of Knowledge and the PRINCE2 methodology. The content is built up from the academic research literature and encompasses construction, engineering, information technology, and business projects in its scope. The programme seeks to maintain a balance in its content to meet the needs of the public sector, utilities and the private sector.

Course Modules

The five compulsory modules are presented every year at approximately twelve week intervals, commencing in January/February. Exact dates may be obtained from the department. The MSc in Project Management runs over three years. Each module typically comprises, a 40-hour contact week at the university and 120 hours of assignment work. Candidates registered for the MSc in Project Management  are required to take the two self-study courses and the five compulsory modules plus one elective module.

For the 20 credit courses, there is no set order in which these must be taken. However, the first courses that a student must register for are CON5036Z (Introduction to Research) and CON5041Z (Introduction to Applied Statistics). These short courses are delivered through directed learning of set materials and are concerned with ensuring that every student on the MSc course is familiar with writing in an academic style and has a familiarity of interpreting basic statistics. Two short exams are then held at the beginning of the first 20 credit module in January and again in June. CON5037Z (Research Methodology) is also a pre-requisite to completion of CON5023Z (Research Report) as the student will use the knowledge gained in CON5037Z in his/her research.

The compulsory modules are as follows:

  • Project Management and Systems Theory – CON5014Z (20 credits)
    The body of knowledge and its place in management and systems theory. The impact of external forces and change trends, including: economic cycles, customer demands, sustainability and the law.

  • Project Planning & Implementation – CON5016Z (20 credits)
    Includes important aspects such as: Conception and definition, risk management, project strategy, organisation, methodology, planning, programming, implementation and project finance. The procurement, scheduling and control of resources in a project.

  • Human Resource Management & Interpersonal Communication – CON5018Z (20 credits)
    Leadership, communication, motivation and methods of achieving project objectives through others in a people-intensive environment.

  • Total Quality Management – CON5022Z (20 credits)
    The theory and application of TQM in a project environment, including several quantitative techniques.

  • Minor Dissertation Project Management – CON5023Z (60 credits)
    Statistics: data modelling using the Statistica software package. Methodology: selection of the research problem; preparation of the research proposal. Research Report: conducting empirical research; analysis of findings; drawing conclusions; making recommendations; presentation of a research report.

  • Introduction to Research – CON5036Z (4 credits)
    Research and writing skills; plagiarism; research ethics; critical analysis of literature; creating an argument; writing in an academic style; referencing conventions.

  • Research Methodology – CON5037Z (6 credits)
    Research methodology, the research experience; knowledge and problems; the proposal chapter; designing the research; theoretical frameworks; overview of research methods – from quantitative to qualitative; case studies; writing the literature review, data presentation and analysis; concluding the research.

  • Introduction to Applied Statistics – CON5041Z (4 credits)
    Data presentation: Identifying an appropriate population; drawing a sample from the population; organising data; discreet and continuous data types; graphical presentation of data. Descriptive statistics: exploratory data analysis and summary statistics. Applied mathematics: simple interest; equivalence; compound interest; present value; annuities; general annuities; sinking funds; amortisation.

  • Further Applied Statistics – CON5042Z(6 credits)
    Design of a questionnaire: defining the “target” population, drawing a sample from the population, organising the data into an appropriate format for further analysis. Presenting the results: Summarising the data, and interpreting the results. Statistical methods: Contingency tables; Chi Square tests; multiple regression; t-test and Anova; confidence interval equivalence.

  • Project Risk Management – CON5029Z (20 credits)
    The Nature of Risk: Definitions of risk; risk as a social construct; risk contexts; mathematical concepts of risk; behavioural concepts of risk; risk and decision-making; risk and uncertainty; classifying risk. The Nature of Projects: The nature of projects; project complexity; mapping project risks; risky projects. Project Organisations: Organisational theory; organisational structures; project organisations; stakeholder organisations; stakeholder management; organisational behaviour and organisational life-cycles. Decision-making, Risk Perception and Risk Communication: decision-making environment of the organisation; communication environment of the organisation; project team decision-making and communication; external stakeholder communication; risk perceptions and the communication of risk. Systematic Risk Management: Stakeholder risks not project risks; features of systematic risk management; risk management systems. Risk Analysis: Risk allocation; A three-dimensional risk magnitude perspective; risk assessment techniques. Risk Decisions and Actions: Risk response options; strategic risk response; risk monitoring and control; risk disaster planning and risk recovery; post-project risk evaluation and risk recording; communicating risk messages. Building a Risk Management System: Organisational maturity in risk management; creating a project risk management framework; establishing risk registers; reviewing risk management performance. Opportunity Management: Perspectives on opportunity management.

  • Project Finance and Procurement – CON5030Z (20 credits)
    Areas covered by the course include: the break-even point for a proposed project, net present value, the underlying concepts and principles behind these calculations (such as: risk adjusted discount rates, Capital Asset Pricing Model). In addition the use and understanding of the business case and its relevance to project initiation and control method, including Earned Value Management. The procurement / supply chain cycle in the context of the project. Finally, the concepts of project funding for complex projects and how these impact on project structure and risk are addressed (This includes: Public Private Partnerships, marketing solutions by coalitions of vendors).


Students must select any two approved Masters level 20-credit modules, or combination of courses totaling 40 credits offered by the university.

Entry Requirements

The minimum requirement is a four-year bachelor or honours degree in an appropriate field, obtained from a recognised University. Examples of appropriate qualifications include, but are not limited to: construction management; quantity surveying; architecture; engineering; and planning. Other fields outside the construction / engineering fields are also eligible provided they involve project management, for instance in the fields of ITC or commerce, In addition, candidates should have work experience and should preferably be currently employed.

Applicants who do not meet this requirement, may be accepted if they possess recognised tertiary qualifications and have appropriate experience.

Applications and Enquiries

Ms Mareldia Fagodien
Administrative Officer (Postgraduate)
Department of Construction Economics and Management
University of Cape Town
Private Bag, Rondebosch, 7701
South Africa

Tel: (021) 650 5753/3443
Fax: (021) 689 7564