Quantity Surveying MSc/Diploma

  • Delivery: Full Time, Part Time, Distance Learning
  • Programme type: Taught Programme
  • Study location: Edinburgh
  • Entry date: September, January (DL only)


The need for quantity surveyors is vital for the efficient financial management of construction projects. The Quanitity Surveying programme at Heriot-Watt is designed using principles that are applicable in many quantity surveying and financial management industrial sectors. The degree provides students with a solid theoretical base coupled with current and future approaches to practical quantity surveying practice.

As a partner university of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Heriot-Watt University is instrumental in meeting the educational needs by building on students' previous education and experience to prepare them for the demands of the profession.

Professional recognition

The MSc is accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Students in relevant structured employment whilst studying on the programme may register for the Assessment of Professional Competence (APC) and work towards obtaining their relevant competencies.

On successful completion of the MSc in Quantity Surveying graduates may then complete their RICS membership and on successful completion of the APC will achieve full chartered status.

Career opportunities

Our students are recruited by international construction and quantity surveying practices and graduates develop careers across many sectors of industry and commerce.

Whatever your career aspirations are for the future, i.e. to be involved in the mega-projects of international reputation or to provide expertise in sustainable cost savings or present cost advice on the development and use of innovate building technologies and material components or to run your own organisation; the skills and knowledge delivered in the MSc Quantity Surveying programme provide the fundamental competencies to take you on your own individual career path.

Industry links

The Quantity Surveying programme focuses on industrial relevance, ensuring that graduates are quickly able to make a positive and effective contribution to the success of their working environment, and the development of their own professional careers. The programme is taught using principles that are applicable in many quantity surveying and financial management industrial sectors.

Flexible study options

This programme can be studied full-time, part-time or via Independent Distance Learning (IDL), ideal for those in employment or with other commitments, providing flexible study options that fit around work or family. As an IDL student you will not be required to attend any lectures, tutorials or other events at any of Heriot-Watt University’s campuses.

Programme duration

Mode of studyDuration



Independent Distance Learning (IDL)

1 year

2 years

2-7 years*

*An IDL programme - whether at PgDip or MSc level - can be completed in a minimum of 2 years. On average, our PgDip programmes studied via IDL are completed in 2-3 years, while MSc programmes are completed in 2.5-7 years. Most students intend to complete their studies via IDL within 2-3 years.

Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design  

Royal Academy of EngineeringThis programme is delivered by the Royal Academy of Engineering Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design. This is one of four such Centres established at UK universities that jointly form a national network to demonstrate and exchange best practice in teaching and research for the sustainable built environment. 

The Centre has excellent industry links. Staff within the Institute are actively engaged in a variety of research projects relating to building design, specification, management and operation.

Teaching and research excellence

The School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society has a strong record in built environment research. In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2014), more than 70% of our overall rating was classed ‘internationally excellent’ or ‘world-leading’.

Programme content

For the MSc, students undertake eight taught courses plus the research dissertation. Students on the Postgraduate Diploma programme take the eight taught courses only.

Students study seven mandatory courses and choose one optional course from a choice of electives.

Semester 1

Semester 2


  • Construction Technology
  • Contracts and Procurement
  • Value and Risk Management

Students choose 1 course from a range of optional courses, including:


  • Sustainable Design and Development
  • Real Estate Economics
  • Sustainability in Civil Engineering
  • Spatial Planning


  • Quantity Surveying Financial Management
  • Construction Financial Management
  • People and Organisation Management in the Built Environment
  • Construction Practice and Information Technology

Course descriptions

Please find below the course descriptions. For more information on courses, please contact the Programme Leader.

People and Organisational Management in the Built Environment


This course aims to develop a high level of interdisciplinary understanding about complex organisational and personal management processes and how important they are in underpinning technical skills to deliver high quality services as a professional. Students will learn about and explore management theory and practice and will have a chance to reflect on their own personal development in a synoptic way. This will be valuable in terms of career development, as management competences and self-reflection are increasingly sought in practice.

Topics covered by the syllabus include: What is management and why is it important for professional practice? Good and bad examples of management and their effect on individuals, organisations and service delivery. A critical evaluation of management theories. In depth understanding of the complexities of team building, organisational culture, recruitment and selection, staff appraisal, motivation, leadership, communication, co-ordination, and managing change and diversity.

Contracts and Procurement


The aim of this course is to help students understand advanced procurement practices, the situations in which their use is appropriate and the contractual principles upon which they are based. The course will also introduce students to the mechanisms used by a typical standard for of construction contract (from the JCT05 suite) to control the risk exposure arising from the liabilities of contracting parties created by the contract and common law, as well as the flow of money and information between contacting parties. Subjects covered by the syllabus include:

Introduction to Construction Project Procurement; Procurement Arrangement Options; Construction Contract Use in the UK; Principles of Contract Law; Partnering; Procurement through Public Private Partnerships; Claims; Negotiating; Managing Conflicts and Disputes; Towards Better Contracting Practices.

Value and Risk Management


The course aims to introduce the concepts of value & risk management, apply them to strategic and tactical problems and illustrate their tools and techniques through case study. The syllabus covers:

VRM and the construction procurement process, An Introduction to Value Management, Value Engineering - Function Analysis and other VE tools, Risk, uncertainty and the construction industry, Risk and procurement of PPP projects, The Risk Management framework., Sources, events and effects of project risk, Tools and techniques of Risk Management, Risk response and mitigation, Client Briefing, A Review of North American Practice.

Quantity Surveying Financial Management


The aim of this course is to develop the experience and capability of graduates in relation to the built environment. The objective is to enhance the students’ understanding of the cost and measurement practices and the organisation and processes of the cost control and development process in the construction industry.

Construction Financial Management


The aim of the course is to enable students to appreciate and make an intelligent contribution towards the managerial and financial aspects of construction companies in general and construction projects in particular. This includes developing awareness and understanding of the need for financial planning and monitoring and the cost control process. The following subjects are covered within the course syllabus:

Financial management and control in contracting; corporate strategies in construction; financial management at company level; cash flow forecasting; costing; cost/value reconciliation at project level; production of financial accounts for construction companies; corporate analysis and ratio analysis; economic comparison; profitability measurement; construction plant financial appraisal; development appraisal techniques.

Construction Technology


The overall aim of this course is to provide students with a basic understanding of the different elements that make-up a building so that they can communicate effectively with construction professionals in the design and construction of buildings. Subjects include:

Structural Requirements for Buildings; Substructure Design – Foundations; Substructure Design – Basements; Structural frames and suspended floors; Superstructure - External walls and cladding Superstructure – Roofs; Services in Buildings; Offsite construction; Low carbon construction.

Construction Practice and Information Technology


The overall aim of this course is to provide an insight into the development of information systems in the construction industry. The course will help students to evaluate the use of modern ICT means and their impact on business performance in construction; study relevant IT concepts and appraise its applicability to construction process re-engineering and develop adequate research skills in reviewing and preparing academic publications. Subjects covered by the syllabus include:

Management Information systems for integrated work environment; Electronic Documents Management; Development strategy for information systems; Introduction to IT Infrastructure and EDI; E-business in construction; Building Information Modelling (BIM);  Mobile computing in construction; Smart/Intelligent Building and Information systems and Knowledge Management.

Programme leader

Dr Fiona Grant is Director of Study for the Construction Management and Surveying discipline and Programme Leader for the postgraduate and undergraduate degrees in Quantity Surveying. 

Dr Grant is also an active member of the RICS as an APC Assessor, she has involvement at national and international level in the institution.

Additional information

Recommended textbook for background reading: Willis's Practice and Procedure for the Quantity Surveyor.

Your career

Graduate profiles

David Fleming

  • Degree MSc Quantity Surveying
  • Present jobQuantity Surveyor with Laing O'Rourke, Australia
David Fleming

"Heriot-Watt has close ties with my previous employer, Sir Robert McAlpine, who sponsored my time there. As I was residing in Edinburgh at the time I wanted my place of study to be close to home and the part time option suited my circumstances. I believe Heriot-Watt to be the superior academic institution offering the Quantity Surveying course in Edinburgh.

"I am currently working on the McLachlan & Ann Street Project in the city centre of Brisbane, Australia. The project consists of a 12 level commercial building, 23 level residential building with recreation deck, 4 level mixed use building and an urban common consisting of retail outlets running through the ground floor. It has a construction value circa $150million.

"The MSc programme in Quantity Surveying was extremely useful to my career and has complimented my previous degree to give me an academic record that I am proud of and that employers look favourably upon."

"As one of the QS’ on the project I have been allocated sole commercial and contractual responsibility for the structure trades
on the project. Reporting to the Commercial Manager, the role includes procurement and tendering of subcontract packages, subcontract negotiation and selection, contract preparation, and the commercial management of these trades through to completion of the subcontract works.

"The programme is well rounded and covers a good mix of academic topics as well as practical. This is important so that you learn not only the day to day practicalities of being a QS but also management techniques and thinking that can be applied to many situations in the workplace as well as helping you realise that first step into management. The understanding of management techniques, principles and thinking is invaluable if you want to progress to senior roles within the construction industry.

"The MSc programme in Quantity Surveying was extremely useful to my career and has complimented my previous degree to give me an academic record that I am proud of and that employers look favourably upon. As such, I have been able to secure the job that I want, a role that is rewarding me personally as well as financially."

Entry requirements

For MSc level entry applicants must have:

  • Minimum of 2:2 honours degree or equivalent academic qualification in cognate and semi-cognate subject area. For PG conversion programmes, non-cognate degrees will be considered. Corporate (or chartered) membership of relevant professional institutions will also be considered.

For PG Diploma level entry applicants must have:

  • Third class honours degree in a cognate or semi-cognate subject area PLUS 2 years of relevant experience at an appropriate level completed post qualification.
  • Cognate or semi-cognate ordinary degree PLUS 3-4 years of relevant experience at an appropriate level following graduation. 
  • Candidates who do not meet the above entry requirements or have no formal academic qualifications will be considered individually based on their CV and interview.  Admission via this route will be at the discretion of the Director of Admissions and the number of successful applicants will be restricted. 

There is no entry at PG Certificate level except through exceptional agreement with approved learning partners.

Non-graduating study at masters level:

  • Entry is based on CV or on formal academic qualifications or graduate (or incorporated) membership of a relevant professional institution. 

Distance Learning January entry

Distance learning students can choose to start their studies in January or September. The January intake is not available to students studying on-campus.

English language requirements

If English is not the applicant’s first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above. 

Applicants who have previously successfully completed programmes delivered in the medium of English language may be considered and will be required to provide documentary evidence of this. Examples would be secondary school education or undergraduate degree programme. A minimum of at least one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required. 

We offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your masters programme:

  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no more than one skill at 4.5);
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum of 5.0 in all skills);
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with minimum of 5.5 in reading & writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking & listening)

Distance learning students

Please note that independent distance learning students who access their studies online will be expected to have access to a PC/laptop and internet.

Tuition fees

Tuition fees for 2016 entry (by residency status)
Status*Full-timePart-timeDistance Learning**
Scotland / Non-UK EU£5100£1162 / £830***
England/Northern Ireland/Wales£5100£1162 / £830***
Overseas£13800£1162 / £830***

* If you are unsure which category you fall in to, you should complete a fee status enquiry form, which allows us to assess your fees.

** Fee per course

Additional fee information

*** £1162 per course, £830 per Research Project, £1660 per Dissertation, (£2260 per Premium Course where offered). This programme consists of 8 courses.

For Independent Distance Learning fees, please check the IDL Tuition and Exam Fees document.

Scholarships & bursaries

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate taught scholarships and postgraduate research scholarships.