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Study abroad : Subject Guides

Why study project management?

With the requirement for great organisational and planning acumen, project management offers a challenging study path. However, the rewards can be a varied and exciting career. We take a closer look.

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Are you a person with an eye for detail and excellent organisational skills? Have you envisaged yourself leading a team and delivering top-quality work on time and within budget? If you answered yes to both of these questions then project management is worth investigating as a study option. We’re here to guide you through what project management entails and what it’s like to be a project manager. We also give you a good idea of what you will study in a project management course and where you could end up working. 


What is project management?


Let’s start with the definition of project management. Project management is defined as the process by which key goals for a project are achieved. This includes the deployment and application of knowledge, methods and skills to reach objectives. 


As projects themselves are always time-constrained and temporary, delivering results within a distinct timeframe is essential. Further, project management requires a close watch of the balance sheet, ensuring that things come in on budget. 


You’ll often hear about the “phases of project management”. Although this sounds like a lot is going on, don’t let it put you off. It’s not that complicated. Project management is loosely divided into five phases namely:


  • Initiation and discussion
  • Planning
  • Execution 
  • Monitoring
  • Reporting and closing


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Are there different types of project management?


This question is more detailed than it first appears. Surely project management is fairly standard? Not so. Several project management methodologies are deployed, which depends on the nature of the project and the industry. For example, a methodology used in construction engineering may not be applicable in a software development environment.


So, what are the types of project management? Let’s take a look at some key methodologies.


Waterfall project management


Often described as the old and reliable method of project management, the waterfall approach treats a project as distinct and sequential phases. Each phase depends on the former to continue project work, much like a relay race. It is a linear process. 


Agile project management 


It’s all in the name. Agile project management is best described as iterative and non-linear. The focus is on adaptation, cross-functionality and prioritisation. The idea is to allow a project to flow more easily and respond efficiently to any changing requirements. 


Scrum project management 


If you’ve investigated project management, you would have come across scrum. This is an agile project management method that involves smaller, focused teams led by what is known as the ‘scrum master’. The project is achieved through the use of short work cycles which are called sprints.


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What is the role of a project manager?


Being a project manager is much like being the conductor of an orchestra. You take overall responsibility for making sure everything is coordinated and running smoothly. As the manager, the success or failure of a project will be on your head. 


While there is a lot of responsibility there is also a lot of opportunity and reward. You can positively influence your team, chart an innovative direction for an organisation, discover new solutions to problems. You have to make sure that you keep a watch on the key metrics for any project like deadlines, budget, resources and critically communication. 


Day-to-day what you’ll get up to as a project manager can depend on the industry you’re working in, as well as the company or organisation. However, you’ll have oversight for all the essential five phases of a project as outlined earlier in this article. 


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What do you study in a project management course?


Project management can be studied in a variety of ways, from certificate and diploma level to a master’s degree in the subject. Often project management may form part of a degree in business, economics, finance and engineering as a specific module. This is also the case with an MBA qualification.


However, when pursuing a course or degree in project management there are some concepts, themes and ideas that you will need to become familiar with. These may include:


  • Decision-making
  • Business analytics
  • Accounting
  • Data analytics 
  • Project management methodology 
  • Project management processes 
  • Conflict resolution 
  • Human resources 
  • Risk management 
  • Communication 
  • Actuarial science
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Information systems 
  • Corporate social responsibility 
  • Organisational development 


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How do you become a project manager?


If you’re interested in becoming a project manager then qualifying in the field will help you get started. This can also be the case in you have qualified in a related subject area that included project management in the curriculum. 


However, many successful project managers embark on a postgraduate qualification in the subject and also continue to pursue accredited project management specific courses, to keep up to date with the latest methodologies. 


To become a project manager, you’ll also be looking for industry certification. For example, in the UK this is done through the Association of Project Managers (APM) and Project Management Institute. If you choose to pursue a career in Canada then this would be the Project Management Professionals of Canada or the Project Management Institute. 


What type of project management jobs are there?


While it does help to have a background in a specialised industry, not having this does not preclude you from working in many fields as a project manager. You may have to do a bit of extra homework, but it’s well worth it. A career in project management can be varied and exciting. It may also allow you to travel. Some of the industries where you could find work include:



Don’t forget that looking for work experience and internships while you study can have a significant influence on your employment prospects when you graduate. 


We’ve got some other great articles you’ll find interesting including the top five degrees for the futurewhy you should study abroad and how studying abroad can help your career. If you’re already geared to search for a degree of qualification, you can use our course matcher to help. 


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