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UCD master’s courses offer students flexibility to build up their project management and management skills

UCD Smurfit School launches two new part-time programmes that equip students with key skills

Busy professionals seeking to add to their skill sets and progress their careers will find the UCD Smurfit School MSc in project management part-time hybrid online programme and MSc in management part-time programme particularly appealing.

The new part-time MSc in project management will launch in August and offers students the option of participating online, in person on campus or through a combination of both. The programme has been devised to hone the planning, organisational, control and leadership skills required to pursue or continue a high-level project management career. It aims to equip participants with a broad perspective of project and programme management, as well as key business and interpersonal skills.

The part-time MSc in management is primarily aimed at professionals from a non-business academic background with a keen interest in the business world who are seeking to build upon their previous qualifications with a management specialisation but who do not wish to put their careers on hold while studying. The course is suitable for graduates from a wide range of academic backgrounds, including arts, engineering, law, science, agriculture and the social sciences.

“Project management is the process of effecting change in organisations,” says programme director Joe Houghton. “The programme allows participants to become more professional in making change happen effectively. Project management is about getting things done. If at the end of the programme you are not better at getting this done and right first time, the programme has failed.”


Real-world project work forms a key element of the programme. “We bring in 10 to 12 companies with particular business issues. We divide the class into project teams who engage with the companies over a period of around 14 weeks. The output of that is a professional-level consultancy report.”

The option to take the course virtually is a new departure. “We are learning from the Covid experience that we have all come through. We had a lot of time to talk to students and the strong feedback was that people don’t want to have to fight their way through traffic after a long day in work to go to class.”

The virtual option is already having an impact. “We have an ex-student who had completed her first year of the MSc in project management and then got her dream job in Berlin a few years ago. She is now able to complete her second year online. Flexibility makes a huge difference for busy professionals.”

“We have a brand new curriculum for the MSc in management part-time programme starting in September,” says Dr Orna O’Brien, director at the Centre for Distance Learning at UCD College of Business. “It’s a great programme which attracts a very diverse group of students. They are all non-business graduates with backgrounds in science, law, engineering and so on. And they have generally done very well in their careers. They now feel they need to understand business better and want to augment their specialist skills with practical hands-on management skills in areas like general management, HR, accountancy, finance, project management and digital business. Each year we get a brilliant group of students to work with and get so many different perspectives in the classroom.”

The customised part-time format is taught over two years through eight weekends of on-campus classes. “This format suits people who are working full-time and may have families but who want the campus experience,” she says. “That flexibility opens it up geographically as well. We have had people from Germany, the UK and France travelling in for weekends. That’s a really nice dimension to the programme.”

While part-time studies allow people to accommodate busy work and personal lives it can still be challenging, says O’Brien. “That’s why we have a learning support officer (LSO) whose role is fully dedicated to working with part-time mature students.

“The LSO is available to provide students with support and advice on all course matters through our telephone, email and drop-in support service. The LSO is available each weekday, and during course weekends to offer individual advice throughout students’ time on the programme,” she says.

The LSO can advise on a variety of areas including essay planning, assignment feedback and time management. “The programme starts in the last week in August and students get their study materials for each module at the very beginning of the course. That helps them manage the workload. We try to make it as painless as possible where we can.”

Applications are open now for both programmes.