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Any task imaginable will benefit from good project management

A project can be a new product, service, or efficiency gain, says MSc programme director

Demand for sophisticated project management skills has been on the rise for a long time. Whether it’s the development of a new motorway, the development of a new housing strategy, the installation of a payroll system in a workplace, or creation of a sales or marketing campaign – just about any task you can think of can benefit from good project management.

"Projects are temporary endeavours aimed at accomplishing something which requires the creation of a temporary organisations to complete – a project can be a new product, a new service, an efficiency gain, you name it," says Dr Virpi Turkulainen, academic director of the UCD Michael Smurfit Business School MSc in Project Management programmes.

“Project management involves initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and completing the work of a team to achieve specific goals,” she adds. “Projects are everywhere. They are a central part of our economy and of society. One of the challenges presented by projects is the fact that no project is ever exactly the same as any other that has been executed in the past. A structured approach is very important for project managers but they also need to develop the ability to be flexible and to adapt processes and programmes to changing conditions. A big part of being a project manager is the ability to sense change and adapt to it.”

Students on the MSc Project Management programme receive comprehensive preparation in project management skills through real world examples, as well as having the opportunity to test their own knowledge and skill acquisition via their own projects. Students acquire a blend of concrete skills, theoretical grounding and best practices designed to train them in the best possible planning, organisation and control of business projects. They also gain a thorough grounding in the application of creative and innovative approaches to problem-solving, people management and delivery of business services and products.


“The course consists of seven modules designed to address the various knowledge areas involved in project management,” says Dr Turkulainen.


These core modules cover risk management, organisational dynamics, the project management lifecycle, business strategy, procurement and contract management, project scope and feasibility evaluation, and project management tools and techniques.

Students also carry out a research report which can be based on research and a thesis, a consultancy project for an organisation, or a business plan for an enterprise they intend starting up once they complete the programme.

These skills are an absolute necessity for project managers, according to Turkulainen. “Projects typically involve multiple stakeholders from a number of separate organisations all with their own goals and objectives. Project managers have to manage these separate stakeholders and their potentially conflicting objectives in a temporary setting. A big part of project management in large projects especially is about orchestrating the team. This involves resourcing, scheduling, and budgeting but, essentially, a lot of it is about the management of people. Students learn a lot of leadership and organisational skills on the course.”

These skills are learned through the practical elements of the programme. “As part of the programme students work on real live projects and get opportunities to practice the skills that need to manage teams,” says Turkulainen.

According to Dr Turkulainen the course is suitable for a wide variety of applicants. “The programme is suited to anybody who wishes to develop skills for working on projects. Students come from all sorts of backgrounds including engineering, business management, science and technology, even sociology. You name it, just about everyone can benefit from the programme.”

The full-time option of the course is suitable for graduates from all academic disciplines and it is also offered in a two year part-time format, taught via twice-weekly evening classes, to cater for people in full-time jobs.

"The part-time option facilitates students who are working at the same time," she says. "Typically, these will be people with between five and 30 years' experience working full-time and want to progress their careers. Graduates typically go to work for top companies such as the major banks, large construction concerns, the pharma industry, NGOs and State organisations. In some cases they go to work for SMEs or start-up their own businesses. Oftentimes, graduates go to work in the type of company which matches their academic or career background. The qualification helps them move sector as all. All organisations in all industries whether in Ireland or overseas require skilled project managers."

Applications are being accepted now for the full-time and part-time Michael Smurfit Business School Masters in Project Management programmes which commence in September. To learn more go to smurfitschool.ie