Course syllabus

Course-PM (preliminary programme)

Msc course ACE115 Project management in construction lp1 HT20 (7.5 hp)

Course is offered by the department of Architecture and Civil Engineering (ACE)

Course specific prerequisites

Only for students admitted to Chalmers Master's programme in Design and Construction Project Management.

Contact details

Christian Koch, CK, professor Construction Management ACE (examiner, presenter and supervisor)

Stefan Gottlieb, SG, senior lecturer and guest researcher at Construction Management ACE  (course responsible and teacher) 

Antoine Manès, AM, PhD student at Construction Mangement ACE (teacher and course assistant)

Dimosthenis Kifokeris, DK,  assistant professor at ConstructionManagment ACE, lecturer

Martine Buser MB, associate professor at Construction Management ACE, lecturer

Mathias Gustafsson, associate professor at Construction Management ACE, lecturer 

Course purpose

Construction projects are the central unit of production of the built environment. Managing a construction project is probably the single most important competence for the critical and skilled design and construction project manager. Project management is the most widespread management task that DCPM scholars and students are engaged with. Management of construction projects is a mature area with numerous standards, certifications, and educations. Yet projects are often delayed, run over budget and do not deliver the expected quality.

The course introduces the diversity and complexity of the construction sector and the role of projects and project manager. The course familiarizes the students with the vocabulary, paradigms and concepts of project management. It presents aspects of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and presents both prescriptive and analytical tools, methods and theories. In doing so, the course will provide the necessary basis for understanding the discipline and practice of project management – theoretically as well as practically. The moreover course illustrates the application of various tools and understandings in concrete cases and projects, and presents aspects of power, politics, sustainability, ethics and social responsibility as elements of project management in a modern construction industry.


ACE115 PM in construction: Course plan 2020/21 (Study period 1: Mon 2020-08-31 to Sun 2020-11-01) TimeEdit








Monday 31 Aug.





Introduction to course

Group formation and expectations

Introduction to assignment and student-led presentations



Thursday 3. Sep.




Project management paradigms and PMBOK

Q &A regarding assignment and student-led presentations

No teaching in week 37. Students prepare presentations



Monday 14. Sep.



Supervision of group work (students book time slot with their designated teacher) *)



Wednesday 16. Sep.




Student presentation seminar (round 1). First 7 groups will present +)



Thursday 17. Sep.




Student presentation seminar (round 2). Last 8 groups will present +)



Monday 21. Sep.




Estimating, budgeting and cost management (lecture)

Multiple choice on PMBOK (exam)



Thursday 24. Sep.



Project based organization (lecture)



Monday 28. Sep.



PM and digitalization

Scandinavian approach to project management (lecture)



Thursday 1. Oct.



Power, authority, and politics in PM (lecture)



Monday 5. Oct.



Stakeholder management (exercise)



Thursday 8. Oct.



Social sustainability and diversity in PM (lecture)

Deadline literature review and preliminary case analysis: Monday 12. Oct. 12.00



Monday 12. Oct.



Scope and Quality



Thursday 15. Oct. (09.00-11.45)




Ethics in PM and construction (lecture)



Monday 19. Oct.



Governance of projects and institutional apporaches (lecture)



Tuesday 20. Oct.




Project work seminar in parallel sessions (exam) ++)

Plenary wrap-up and participant feedback (plenary session) 


*) With an estimated 75 students on the course, there will be 15 groups of 5 students. For the presentations and subsequent group work / assignment, the students will be assigned one recurrent teacher that they will keep throughout the study period. There will be three teachers to choose from: SG, AM, CK.

+) For purposes of the student presentations in week 38, CK’s group will present on the Wednesday and SG's groups will present on the Thursday. AM’s groups will be split on the two days. Each seminar will be attended by SG and either CK or AM. Each group will prepare a 10 minute presentation of their assigned PM knowledge area. This will be followed by 15 minutes of facilitated discussion between the group, teacher and other participants.  Participation by all students are mandatory, also the groups not presenting on the day.

++) The project work seminar is conducted in three parallel sessions under guidance of SG, CK and AM. Focus is on stimulating discussions and provide in-depth feedback. Each session is attended by five groups that present their preliminary work (12-15 minutes) followed by opposition questions and feedback (10-15 minutes) and general discussions for app. 30 minutes in total. Each group will have to read and provide feedback to one other group. After the parallel seminars, all students joins the plenary wrap-up.

Course literature

The literature will primarily consist of scientific papers, but exerts from books will also be used. The students should familiarize themselves with the “Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge” by the Project Management Institute. Chalmers Library provides full text access to the 6th edition of the guide. Most literature is available through Chalmers Library. Further literature will be uploaded on Canvas before the course starts including handouts from lectures. Literature should be read before the listed date.

Course day 1:

  • None

Course day 2:

  • Garel, G. (2013). A history of project management models: From pre-models to the standard models. International Journal of Project Management, 31(5), 663-669.
  • Pollack, J. (2007). The changing paradigms of project management. International journal of project management, 25(3), 266-274.
  • Project Management Institute (2017). Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) (6th Edition). Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI).

Course day 3:

  • Work with the PMBOK

Course day 4:

  • Work with the PMBOK

Course day 5:

  • Work with the PMBOK

Course day 6:

  • Flyvbjerg, B. (2008). Curbing optimism bias and strategic misrepresentation in planning: Reference class forecasting in practice. European planning studies, 16(1), 3-21.
  • Flyvbjerg, B., Holm, M. S., & Buhl, S. (2002). Underestimating costs in public works projects: Error or lie? Journal of the American planning association, 68(3), 279-295.
  • Lichtenberg, S. (1974). The successive principle. In Proceedings of the PMI International Symposium, Project Management Institute, Washington, DC, USA (pp. 570-578).

Course day 7:

  • Engwall, M. (2003). No project is an island: linking projects to history and context. Research policy, 32(5), 789-808.
  • Koch, C. (2004). The tyranny of projects: Teamworking, knowledge production and management in consulting engineering. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 25(2), 277-300.

Course day 8:

  • Hällgren, M., Jacobsson, M., & Söderholm, A. (2012). Embracing the drifting environment: The legacy and impact of a Scandinavian project literature classic. International Journal of Managing projects in business, 5(4), 695-713.
  • Kreiner, K. (1995). In search of relevance: project management in drifting environments. Scandinavian Journal of management, 11(4), 335-346.

Course day 9:

  • Hodgson, D. (2002). Disciplining the professional: the case of project management. Journal of management studies, 39(6), 803-821.
  • Hodgson, D. (2005). ‘Putting on a professional performance’: performativity, subversion and project management. Organization, 12(1), 51-68.
  • Koch, C., & Friis, O. (2015). Operations strategy development in project based production–a political process perspective. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management.

Course day 10:

  • Winch, G. M., Morris, P., & Pinto, J. (2007). Managing project stakeholders. The Wiley guide to project, program, and portfolio management, 271-289.

Course day 11:

  • Colantonio, A., & Dixon, T. (2010). Social sustainability and sustainable communities: Towards a conceptual framework. Urban Regeneration & Social Sustainability: Best Practice from European Cities, 18-36.

Course day 12:

  • None

Course day 13:

  • TBA

Course day 14:

  • Gottlieb, S. C., & Jensen, J. S. (2012). Making sense of partnering: Discourses, governance and institutional change. Engineering project organization journal, 2(3), 159-170.Kadefors, A. (1995). Institutions in building projects: implications for flexibility and change. Scandinavian journal of management, 11(4), 395-408.
  • Klakegg, O. J., Williams, T., Magnussen, O. M., & Glasspool, H. (2008). Governance frameworks for public project development and estimation. Project Management Journal, 39(1_suppl), S27-S42.
  • Müller, R., Zhai, L., Wang, A., & Shao, J. (2016). A framework for governance of projects: Governmentality, governance structure and projectification. International Journal of Project Management, 34(6), 957-969.

Course day 15:

  • None

Course design


  • Introduction to project management, what it involves in the modern construction industry, and its historical development.
  • The Project Management Body of Knowledge
  • The specificities of project-based organizations
  • Actors and stakeholders in contemporary construction projects
  • Power, authority, and politics in Project Management.
  • CSR, sustainability, ethic and social responsibility concerns in the construction industry.


The course includes lectures, exercises, tests, student-led presentations and seminars. The course

Changes made since the last occasion

The course has been reorganized and the assignments more clearly defined.

Learning objectives and syllabus

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

Learning objectives:


  • Describe basic project management (PM) concepts and tools
  • Have knowledge of different PM knowledge areas, paradigms and traditions
  • Identify PM issues in specific cases
  • Understand specific characteristics of construction projects


  • Identify and synthesize relevant PM literature
  • Analyze and evaluate organizational aspects of PM practice
  • Analyze, evaluate and interpret PM practice
  • Evaluate the impact of PM practices on actors and stakeholders


  • Define, formulate and solve PM related problems through process-based pedagogy
  • Critically evaluate project management models
  • Critically review and discuss peer students work
  • Reflect on power, politics and ethical issues in PM practice
  • Reflect on issues of uncertainty, complexity and bias for PM practice

Link to the syllabus on Studieportalen.

Study plan

Examination form

Intermediate test consists of:

  • An oral presentation of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)
  • An intermediate individual multiple choice test in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)

Project exam consists of:

  • A completed group project assignment
  • A presentation and peer-review feedback at a literature seminar

The final course grade is calculated as a weighted average of the points achieved on the different parts of the examination as described below.

Assessment criteria 

Point range

Oral presentation of the PMBOK

0-10 (10 points for presentation, 0 points for non-attendance)

Individual multiple choice test


Presentation and peer-review feedback at project work seminar

0-10 (10 points for presentation and feedback, 0 points for non-attendance)

Group project assignment





Grade limits are as follows:


Point range








< 40

Course summary:

Date Details Due