Find a Degree Postgraduate Taught Programmes Project Management (distance learning)

Programme Details

Proj Mgt


The programme has been running successfully since 1993 with distance learning being introduced in 1997. Each year the programme grows in reputation as graduates apply their learning to their work environments.

The programme can boast of graduates and students in almost every part of the world, from Jamaica in the west to New Zealand in the east and from Alaska in the north to Australia in the south. The degree is designed to engage across industry borders, teaching and exploring project management skills and issues equally applicable to our students who come themselves from a wide range of industry background (including education, I.T., banking, oil, rail, local government and atomic energy). Our students and graduates recognise that this is one of the great strengths of the programme with many of them experiencing it first hand as they move between industries as their careers progress.

From the Heart of the European Oil & Gas Industry

A part-time and distance Masters programme in Project Management from the heart of the Oil and Gas Industry in Europe.

  • Part-time study
  • Available as fully distance learning across the internet
  • Can be studied to degree level or taken as CPD modules
  • From the Heart of the European Oil and Gas Industry
  • Developing International Skills and Business Links
  • Flexible, Modular Options

The University is a Corporate Member of the Association for Project Management. Applicants holding APM qualifications may be eligible for exemption from some elements of the programme. Advice on possible exemptions will given during the application process.


This programme is accredited by the Association for Project Management (APM).


The Master of Science degree in Project Management has been designed to meet the requirements of practicing professionals and is taught in a flexible manner. It is offered on a part time basis by distance learning through the University's online virtual learning environment.

The courses are completely modular in structure and have been carefully developed to articulate to each other to provide a variety of levels of provision, suiting the needs of the participants. Each module can be taken as a stand alone credit bearing unit for the purposes of Continuing Professional Development. A choice of exit levels is provided to suit the needs of the participants thus leading to the award of a postgraduate Certificate, Diploma or MSc qualification. Each level is a necessary requirement for entry to the next one. Each of the levels can be taken over a minimum period of one year of part time study although they can be taken over a longer period if it is more convenient. The minimum time to complete the whole programme is three years.

Flexibility and a firm grounding in current practice are the principal features of the MSc in Project Management, which is taught by and visiting lecturers who are practicing professionals.

Contact Information

For further information about the programme or to discuss your application, please contact the Graduate School Admissions Unit.


Programme Structure

Two modules are taught in each of the University of Aberdeen's semesters, which start in September and January.

The flexible nature of the programme allows for students to undertake individual modules or the complete MSc. Regardless of the approach that students wish to take, the initial route of entry onto the programme is to apply to the MSc.

Each module represents approximately 12-15 hours study per week. 


Postgraduate Certificate

The Certificate qualification is taught in year 1 of the programme and consists of four taught modules:

Project Management Essentials 1

This course gives an overall picture of project management and introduces students to the main subject areas which make up this area of study. Emphasis is placed on practical skills, including writing and presentation. Students are given an overview of project management terms and definitions with practical applications of computer software and IT systems for project management also being covered. An introduction to project budgeting in the context of company finance is addressed and the area of risk management (including probability, risk attitudes and risk analysis methods) introduced. There is also an introduction to the important area of safety management as well as an introduction to managing project teams. All these topics will be covered in greater depth at a later stage of the course.

Organisations and People

Students are expected to draw on, and share, personal experiences of the topics covered and small interactive group activities over the internet are a prominent feature of the distance learning course. These activities are designed to help student develop knowledge and problem-solving skills relating to the management of human resources within a business context. Main subject areas covered are: human aspects of strategic change management; the student as a manager; organisational cultures; and management of technology.

Project Planning and Control

Students studying this module explore the different techniques adopted by Project Management Teams to plan activities, estimate their durations, exercise project control, and to assess overall performance. The control of documentation to satisfy the demands of current industry practice is a feature of this module, as is the use of industry standard software . The main topics covered are: Introduction to Project Networks; Project Networks; Project Estimating; and Project Control.

Budgets and Financial Control

This course gives an introduction to the sources and complexity of Project resourcing.  Key elements of budgeting, cost control and financial information systems are explored.  The language and concepts of finance and accountancy are introduced and discussed, and the relationship between accounting measurement and other methods of project appraisal and measurement is explored.  An appreciation of the distinction between profit and cash is given and a key part of the course is the development of an understanding of Investment Appraisal Techniques and complexities based on cash flow projections.


Postgraduate Diploma

The Diploma qualification is taught in year 2 of the programme. Students wishing to study towards a Diploma must first have completed year 1 of the programme (Certificate Level). There are three more taught modules at this stage and a fourth which consists of a group project. The modules studied are summarised below:

Project Management Essentials 2

This module is based very heavily on group work. The dynamics of each group are discussed by the students forming an important part of the learning process and focusing on how project teams operate. The main topic areas are covered are: teamwork; definitions of project success; design; procurement and risk. Case studies form the basis of the learning experience with peer assessment forms contributing an important part of the feedback process.

Commercial and Contractual Issues

Students are introduced to the principle roles, functions and the legal obligations of managers. On completion of this module, students should be able to plan the management of a business (or project), be able to critically analyse the strategy of a company, and develop a business plan including a simple profit and loss account for the venture. Contract law, business strategy, planning and marketing, the roles and functions of management and economic and business development from macro to micro levels are all examined as part of this module.

Quality Systems and Risk Management

In study this module students are introduced to the links between quality and quality systems. Statutory standards are investigated (e.g. ISO9000, EFQM) and their value discussed and the roles of statistics and statistical control in both quality and risk addressed. The risk management process and its importance in the area of project management is discussed in a holistic way, with practical examples of how this works in industry.

Group Project

Students are encouraged to form groups and work together to demonstrate their understanding of project management skills through the integration of theory into a work-oriented project. The assessment of the project will be by presentation and written report.


Master of Science

The Master of Science is awarded following the successful completion of a third year of study to an acceptable level. Students wishing to study towards a Master of Science must first have completed years 1 & 2 of the programme (Certificate & Diploma Levels).The Masters year consists of 2 modules which students are required to take and, following completion of the taught elements, an individual dissertation:

Managing Project Teams

Basic disciplines of managing project teams is studies. Students are given the opportunity to enhance their individual skills in these areas and recognise the basic training requirements in project teams. This module covers the psychological aspects of leadership, stress and managing teams with human resource issues and legislation also being discussed. The module finishes by putting the theory into a working context.

Programme & Portfolio Management

Students undertaking study within this module are introduced to the use of Portfolio Management to ensure that project investments are well-balanced in terms of size, risk and projected payoff, and that they are aligned to business objectives. The module addresses the use of portfolio management to view each initiative in terms of risk and payoff to the business and then to prioritise them accordingly. The five steps of portfolio management are covered within this module.

Individual Project (Dissertation)

The individual project (dissertation) enables students to gain first hand experience of the practice of project management. Projects are generally undertaken the student's own company, with the oversight of a designated academic supervisor. The content of the project should be wholly within the industrial environment, and should introduce participants to the essential practical elements of project management. Assessment is by dissertation.


The modules are assessed by a combination of coursework and written examination. The distance learning coursework is submitted to the course tutor through the web-site and marks and comments will be sent back, also via the web. Each module has a timetable which details when the coursework is due and when the exam is scheduled to take place. Distance learning students who are unable to take their exams at the University of Aberdeen campus will need to arrange a suitable examination venue at a convenient Higher Education Institution or British Council Office.

Examinations are generally taken in pairs and are held on a morning and afternoon towards the end of December and the end of May. The programme office tries to select a date that ensures maximum accessibility for examination venues across the world. Students sit the examination within their own timezone (e.g. 9am local time).


Approximately 10-12 hours of study is expected per module per week.

Distance Learning

The distance learning version of the course is delivered entirely using the world wide web. There is no requirement to attend the University of Aberdeen. On registration, students will be issued with a user id and password to gain access to the site.


Craig Gowdy "The degree helped me to develop my knowledge of certain aspects of project management and allowed me to incorporate ‘best practice’ project management into my day to day work. It also allowed me to question certain processes and procedures within my workplace and develop more structured ways of working." [More]
Craig Gowdy "Despite having 20 years of on-the-job experience, I learned a great deal. I also made some good friends along the way...High quality course material and first class tutors, who are supportive and patient. They make it easy for people of all ages and educational backgrounds to succeed." [More]
Craig Gowdy "When I reviewed the curriculum modules on offer and profiles of those teaching the modules, I thought it would be a good opportunity to both strengthen and widen my Project Management knowledge base...The degree allows you to understand some theoretical aspects & best practice elements of Project Management; you can take this knowledge and apply this to real world projects within your organisation." [More]
Craig Gowdy "The MSc in Project Management has given me a far more rounded appreciation of Project Management than the study of any one methodology could provide. Working in a large corporate organisation I feel better able to run project discussions on a strategic level." [More]


Academic Requirements

In general, applicants are expected to hold a degree; however alternative/lower qualifications, combined with an appropriate level of significant and relevant experience, may also be considered as a means for entry. For more advice on this please contact the Graduate School Admissions Team.

Document requirements

For this application we need at least:

  • academic/professional qualifications certificate(s)
  • detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
  • current CV/resume
  • reference letter from your employer, ideally current employer, discussing your relevant experience
  • ideally - a second reference letter from someone else in your current employment or a previous employer discussing your relevant experience

It is important when submitting an application that you ensure you have completed all the necessary sections and enclosed all the relevant documentation to ensure that your application can be processed as quickly as possible. 


Even if you have been educated in the medium of English you must meet our English Language requirements. These are located at This programme requires that you meet the 'Postgraduate Standard' level of English proficiency. If you are in doubt about your proficiency in English, contact the British Council office or its equivalent in your country. If your first language is not English, it is important that your proficiency in English is good in order for you to study successfully at the University of Aberdeen . Without this ability you will find great difficulty in understanding lectures, producing written work and sitting examinations. 


We have two intakes of students each year - September & January. Late applications may be asked to wait until the next intake should the programme coordinator feel there is insufficient time to consider the application. Please apply as soon as possible and no later than one month prior to the start of term.


Information on tuition fees, including the current fee level, can be found on the University Registry website.



Funding opportunities can be found in our searchable Funding Database. You are advised to search the database as a broad range of funding exists much of which you may be eligible for.

A list of funding opportunties is also maintained on the College of Physical Sciences Funding Page.


Related Information

General Information

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