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Project management

Designed for anyone working in a project team environment or engineers who see an increasing management component in their work, this module will equip you with general project management skills to help you to deal with problems that can occur. It’s applicable to any field of work, especially those with a high technological content. You’ll also gain practical experience of using project management techniques, including the use of a software tool, with a real project of your own. The topics covered include project initiation, risk, estimating and contracts, planning, human factors, project execution, and standard methods.


Start End Fee
- - -

No current presentation - see Future availability

This module is expected to start for the last time in May 2014.

What you will study

Every day we hear of a project that has escalated in cost or has been repeatedly delayed. Worse still, and often unreported, many completed projects leave their users dissatisfied. Could we do better? There is no simple answer, but this project management module should enable you to anticipate and cope with some of the problems that you may meet. The module is split into seven module texts, or ‘units’ as follows:

The most important decision in any project is what project to undertake. Project initiation explains the factors that should be considered to give the best chance of a successful outcome. It also discusses the life cycle of typical projects and the need for project management.

Risks, estimates and contracts: Before too much money is committed to a project, estimates are needed to determine how much it will cost, how long it will take and how risky it is. In this unit you will learn about work and product breakdown structures and tendering and contracting processes.

Planning: Planning should be a reiterated process throughout the life of a project. The most intense phase occurs when the project plan is prepared, between the definition of the project and authorisation of its execution. You will learn how a formal project plan contains much more than just a schedule of activities, and you will use the Project Scheduler package to help with planning.

Building and leading the team: All projects are carried out by people. In this unit we emphasise the importance of teamwork in projects and you will study the vital interpersonal skills required by project managers: leadership; dealing with clients, sponsors and other stakeholders; selecting, building and motivating teams.

Project execution: This double-length section discusses the crucial tasks that a project manager must perform during the execution phase of a project to ensure that quality is maintained, that customers get what they want, and that limits of time and cost are met. You will learn how to use techniques for measuring progress against plan, such as the earned value system, and how configuration management should be applied as a tool to maintain quality.

Standards, methodologies and reflections: Now that you have finished looking at the practices, principles and theories of managing a single project, it is time to take a step back and reflect upon the management of projects. Standards and methodologies are important aspects of project management in the global economy. You will be given an overview of two standard methods, BS 6079 and PRINCE 2. BS 6079 is the British Standard guide to project management, and PRINCE is the government-sponsored method of project management.


There are no entry requirements, but we do assume that you have already studied to HNC/HND level or have equivalent experience from your employment. You need to have had some experience of working in a project environment, though not necessarily as a project manager.

The use of a computer is compulsory for this module, so you will need the skills to install and operate software. You may choose to complete assignments with the aid of your computer, which would require the skills to assemble an electronic document using an office package for the text, tables and diagrams that you want to include. If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.

You do need to have a reasonable standard of spoken and written English to study successfully with us. Poor language skills will make study more difficult, and it will take longer. The normal requirements for English language skills are explained on our website.

If you have any doubts about whether your level of English is good enough for you to study this module you may find it helpful to look at our Skills for OU Study site.

Discount for Open University Graduates

If you are a graduate of The Open University (holding either an undergraduate or masters degree), you are eligible for a discount of £100 towards the cost of this module. You can claim this discount when you register, please contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service.


M865 is an optional module in our:

This module can also count towards C02, C69, D69, E10, E19, F05, F26, F37, F42 and F43, which are no longer available to new students.

Some postgraduate qualifications allow study to be chosen from other subject areas. We advise you to refer to the relevant qualification descriptions for information on the circumstances in which this module can count towards these qualifications because from time to time the structure and requirements may change.

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content.  To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with our Student Registration & Enquiry Service before registering.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

You will need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer and the internet.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.

Study materials

What's included

Module books, other printed and online materials, project management software, dedicated website, optional online forums.

You will need

Access to the internet is essential, since some study materials are available only on the M865 website. You also need to use the internet to submit your assignments to your tutor.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will be responsible for monitoring your progress on the module, marking and commenting on your written work and whom you can contact for advice and guidance. There is usually a lively student online forum. Contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

You will take your examination in one of the University’s examination centres.

Professional recognition

The OU has been awarded academic accreditation status for this module, Project management (M865). Association for Project Management (APM) academic accreditation is designed to help students and professionals choose the best academic education in support of their professional project management career. Only qualifications and modules which have a significant element of project management that can be mapped to the APM Body of Knowledge (5th edition) can receive accreditation. If you are interested in finding out more about APM, please visit the APM website.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in May 2014 when it will be available for the last time. A new 30-credit module – Project management (M815) – is available from May 2014.

How to register

We regret that we are currently unable to accept registrations for this course. Where the course is to be presented again in the future, relevant registration information will be displayed on this page as soon as it becomes available.

Distance learning

The Open University is the world's leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you're at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you'll be supported throughout your studies - your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information about distance learning at the OU read Study explained.

Course facts
About this course:
Course code M865
Credits 15
OU Level Postgraduate
SCQF level 11
FHEQ level 7
Course work includes:
3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
No residential school

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