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Heriot-Watt University: Where women are supported to become tomorrow’s Built Environment experts

Cities are more than just the places we live in. Even though they make up only 3% of land on earth, UN data shows that they account for 60% to 80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions. By 2050, 70% of all humanity will be urban dwellers. As populations grow, so will cities and migration rates. The result? An expected boom in mega-cities, as seen in countries like Japan, China, and Indonesia.

What these stark facts and a rapidly warming planet are telling us is that there’s never been a better time to make a difference in the built environment industry. Heriot-Watt University’s School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society (EGIS) can help you do just that. 

While the stereotype of a construction professional is a man, EGIS is working to change that. There are excellent employment opportunities for everyone and every year, the school prepares many women to seize them. Tauhida Mazumdar, who had a deep interest in the construction industry from a young age, is one of them. “When I compared [Heriot-Watt] with other universities, I realised it offers one of the best building courses and the programmes that it offers are very industry-focused,” says the MSc Construction Project Management graduate. 

Consisting of five research institutions, EGIS’s cross-disciplinary approach ensures students are well-equipped to add value and lead the evolution of sustainable practice. “We aim to attain excellence in the teaching of the core disciplines that contribute to a sustainable, resource and energy-efficient society and are committed to undertaking high value, high impact research and knowledge transfer in topics of relevance to global challenges,” shares Professor Theodore Henry, Professor of Environmental Toxicology at EGIS.

Here, three Master of Science programmes transform students into tomorrow’s champions of sustainable development: MSc Construction Project Management, MSc Commercial Management and Quantity Surveying, and MSc Civil Engineering and Construction Management.

Core modules for the MSc Construction Project Management cover management, procurement and technology-related subjects to build your foundation in management principles while providing practical skills relevant to professional practice in construction. 

“Guest speakers came in from different companies and they add a technical, practical side to the theoretical knowledge we learn in the courses,” shares Colleen McGhee, an MSc Commercial Management and Quantity Surveying graduate. 

Source: Heriot-Watt University

EGIS has strategic collaborations with the University of Edinburgh through the Edinburgh Research Partnership in Engineering (ERPE) and the Research Alliance. Source: Heriot-Watt University

These modules are informed by research which has a global impact. The UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) of 2021 classed 86.8% of the school’s research and 88.6% of its research outputs ranked as world-leading or internationally excellent.

Industry input can be found throughout the programmes too. The MSc Civil Engineering and Construction Management is supported by the Civil Engineering Industry Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from major multi-national employers AECOM, Arup, Atkins, and many more. They convene regularly and advise on the course content and structure. 

What’s more, EGIS has been recognised by the Royal Academy of Engineering as one of the four Centres of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design in the UK, contributing to a national network focused on advancing multidisciplinary education for sustainable built environments. The Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design is a collaboration between the Institute for Sustainable Building Design and The Urban Institute (TUI). It facilitated numerous multidisciplinary student projects, ranging from week-long to semester-long collaborations.

Many EGIS programmes are professionally-accredited. Two institutes — the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Chartered Institute of Building — accredit the MSc Construction Project Management, while the RICS accredit the MSc Commercial Management and Quantity Surveying. The MSc Civil Engineering and Construction Management meets the requirements for Further Learning for a Chartered Engineer. 

Source: Heriot-Watt University

Accreditation paired with hands-on experience produce career-ready graduates, ready to tackle the challenges within the built environment. Source: Heriot-Watt University

EGIS’s industry-focus approach was what attracted Mazumdar to Heriot-Watt University. “All the courses within the programme provide practical knowledge that is applicable in daily construction practice, so I believe the programme and whatever I learned will help me to adapt to my work environment quickly and start making valuable contributions to my place of work,” shares the MSc Construction Project Management graduate. 

The school is ranked first (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024) and seventh (Complete University Guides 2023) in the UK for Building or top 18 globally (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021) for civil and structural engineering. 

“Throughout the course, the University has supplied us with a lot of opportunities for networking through guest speakers or events,” says Colleen. “I applied to two grad schemes in September and I was accepted for two different positions.” Today, she’s working as a Graduate Quantity Surveyor at Faithful+Gould.

International exposure is another unique plus. Through the university’s “Go Global” initiative, EGIS students have the chance to study across multiple international campuses in the UK, United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia. The global perspectives will be valuable for tomorrow’s urban designers, architects, or researchers who seek to build a sustainable future. 

Interested in building a better world? Thanks to EGIS, you can. Learn more about how you join the January or September intake here.

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