Course syllabus

Course-PM (Preliminary)

ACE115 Project management in construction study period 1 HT21 (7.5 hp)

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

Contact details

Course assistant / communicator: Oliver Disney, Construction Management, ACE (contact person for general questions)

Examiner: Martine Buser MB, associate professor at Building Design, ACE, examiner/lecturer


Antoine Manès, AM, PhD student at Btech Aarhus University

Dimosthenis Kifokeris, DK, assistant professor at Building Design, ACE, lecturer

Kim Jacobsen, KJ, Consultant Ph.D. K-Jacobsen A/S.

Mathias Gustafsson, associate professor at Construction Management, ACE, lecturer 

Stefan Gottlieb, SG, senior researcher Department of the Built Environment, Aalborg University

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.

Schedule (Preliminary)

ACE115 PM in construction: Course plan 2021/22 (Study period 1: Mon 2021-08-30 to Sun 2021-10-31) TimeEdit Schedule (timetable below is the most current version)

Attendance online and onsite at Chalmers will be recorded, a minimum attendance of 80%+ is required, in addition to the mandatory sessions.


Course day







Monday 30. Aug.



Introduction to course

Group formation and expectations

Introduction to assignment and student-led presentations




Thursday 2. Sep.




Project management paradigms and PMBOK

Q&A regarding assignment and student-led presentations


No teaching in week 36. Students prepare presentations




Monday 13. Sep.



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




Wednesday 15. Sep.




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

SB-H7 Groups 1-7

Online Groups 8-15



Thursday 16. Sep.




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

SB-M500 Groups 8-15

Online Groups 1-7



Monday 20. Sep.





Estimating, budgeting and cost management (lecture)

Multiple choice on PMBOK (exam)




Thursday 23. Sep.



Project based organization (lecture)

SB-H5 Groups 1-7

Online Groups 8-15



Monday 27. Sep.



PM and digitalization

SB-H6 Groups 8-15

Online Groups 1-7



Thursday 30. Sep.



Scope and Quality

SB-M500 Groups 1-7

Online Groups 8-15



Monday 4. Oct.



Power, authority, and politics in PM (lecture)

SB-H6 Groups 8-15

Online Groups 1-7



Thursday 7. Oct.




Stakeholder management (exercise)


SB-H5 Groups 8-15

SB-L308 Groups 1-7

Deadline literature review and preliminary case analysis: Monday 11. Oct. 12.00




Monday 11. Oct.



Governance of projects and Scandinavian approach to project management (lecture)




Thursday 14 Oct.



Ethics in PM and construction (lecture)




Monday 18. Oct.



Social sustainability and diversity in PM (lecture)

SB-H6 Groups 1-7

Online Groups 8-15



Tuesday 19. Oct.




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

Plenary wrap-up and participant feedback (plenary session) 

ML4, ML2, ML1, / Online
(see announcement)

Deadline literature review and preliminary case analysis: Friday 29. Oct. 12.00

*) With an estimated 70 students on the course, there will be 15 groups of 4-5 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. The four supervisors are: DK, AM, KJ, OD.

+) For purposes of the student presentations in week 37, 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 is mandatory, including for those not presenting on the day.

++) The project work seminar is conducted under guidance of DK, KJ and AM. Focus is on stimulating discussions and provide in-depth feedback. Groups present their preliminary work (12-15 minutes) followed by opposition questions and feedback (10-15 minutes) and general discussions for approximately 30 minutes in total. Each group will have to read and provide feedback to one other group. All students participate in 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:

  • None

Course day 10:

  • 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 11:

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

Course day 12:

  • 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 13:

  • TBA

Course day 14:

  • 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 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.


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 (Links to an external site.)

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