Study Building (Quantity Surveying): A Comprehensive Subject Guide

A building degree typically refers to an academic programme or degree in the field of construction or building construction. These programmes are designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to work in various aspects of the construction industry. This subject guide will discuss all you need to know about studying courses such as quantity surveying and construction management. 


Table of Contents

What is Building?

Building degree is often related to building construction management and quantity surveying. These are two important fields within the construction industry, and they involve different aspects of project management and cost estimation. 

Construction management involves the planning, coordination, and supervision of construction projects from inception to completion. Construction managers ensure that projects are completed on time, within budget, and meet quality standards. Meanwhile, quantity surveying (QS) is a profession within the construction industry focused on managing project costs. Quantity surveyors are responsible for estimating and monitoring project expenses, managing contracts, and ensuring value for money throughout the construction process.

Why Study Building?

  • Job Opportunities: The construction industry offers a wide range of job opportunities, from construction managers and quantity surveyors to architects, engineers, and skilled tradespeople. As populations grow and infrastructure ages, there is a constant demand for professionals who can plan, design, manage, and construct buildings and infrastructure.
  • Job Stability: The construction industry tends to be less susceptible to economic downturns compared to some other sectors. There is always a need for construction and infrastructure projects, making it a relatively stable field.
  • Creativity: Building projects, especially in architectural design, allow for creativity and innovation. Architects, for example, have the opportunity to design structures that are not only functional but also aesthetically pleasing.
  • Contribution to Communities: Working in building and construction often involves projects that have a direct impact on communities. Whether it’s constructing homes, schools, hospitals, or infrastructure, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing your work contributes to the well-being of society.

Best Universities for Building in the UK

Here is a list of the top UK universities in this field according to the Complete University Guide:

RankUniversity Name
1University of Nottingham
2Loughborough University
3University of Reading
4Aston University, Birmingham
5Ulster University
6Heriot-Watt University
7Sheffield Hallam University
8University of Plymouth
9Nottingham Trent University
10Northumbria University, Newcastle
11Oxford Brookes University
12Bristol, University of the West of ...
13University of South Wales
14UCL (University College London)
15Leeds Beckett University
16Edinburgh Napier University
17University of Salford
18University of Westminster, London
19University of Portsmouth
20Liverpool John Moores University
21Anglia Ruskin University
22University of Brighton
23University of Wales Trinity Saint David
24University of Greenwich
25University of Central Lancashire
26Glasgow Caledonian University
27Birmingham City University
28University of Huddersfield
29Coventry University
30London South Bank University
31University of Derby
32University of West London
33Kingston University
34Robert Gordon University
35University of Wolverhampton
36University of East London
37De Montfort University

Entry Requirements for a Building Degree

  • Academic Qualifications:
    • High School Qualifications (A-Levels, Scottish Highers, or equivalent): Most universities and colleges in the UK require applicants to have completed certain high school qualifications. For example, you may need A-levels or Scottish Highers in relevant subjects such as mathematics, physics, design and technology, or construction.
  • Subject Requirements:
    • Some courses may have specific subject requirements. For example, a building or construction management programme may require A-levels or equivalent qualifications in mathematics or a science subject.
    • For architectural programmes, you might need a strong background in subjects like mathematics, physics, and art or design.
  • Aptitude Tests: Some universities may require applicants to take aptitude tests like the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) or the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) for certain building-related programmes.
  • English Language Proficiency: If you are an international student or your first language is not English, you may need to demonstrate proficiency in the English language through tests like IELTS or TOEFL.
  • Portfolio (for Architectural Programmes): If you’re applying for an architectural programme, you may need to submit a portfolio showcasing your design and creative work.

Jobs for Building Graduates

Here are the career prospects for graduates in this field:

  • Construction Manager: Construction managers oversee construction projects from planning to completion. They coordinate and manage resources, schedules, budgets, and personnel to ensure projects are delivered successfully.
  • Quantity Surveyor: Quantity surveyors are responsible for cost estimation, budgeting, and financial management of construction projects. They prepare bills of quantities, negotiate contracts, and monitor project costs.
  • Architect: Architects design buildings and structures, considering both functional and aesthetic aspects. They work on residential, commercial, and public projects, collaborating with clients and construction teams.
  • Civil Engineer: Civil engineers design, plan, and oversee construction projects related to infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and utilities. They ensure that projects comply with safety and regulatory standards.
  • Structural Engineer: Structural engineers focus on designing the structural systems of buildings and ensuring their safety and stability. They work closely with architects and construction teams.

What do Building graduates do?

An overwhelming majority of quantity surveying graduates (84%) employed in the UK are working in roles such as architects, chartered architectural technologists, planning officers, surveyors, and construction professionals 15 months after graduation. Additionally, business associate professionals, business, research and administrative professionals, functional managers and directors, and production managers and directors are also among the top reported roles.

Salary for Building Graduates

Check out the average salary for graduates in this field: 

Low skilled: £20,000

Medium-skilled: £24,000

High-skilled: £27,500


Topics for Building Dissertation

Below, we present a diverse array of research areas, each offering an opportunity to delve into the complexities of building and make a significant contribution to its advancement:

  1. Sustainable Building Practices: Investigate the latest sustainable building materials and techniques and assess their environmental and economic impacts on construction projects.
  2. Green Building Certification Systems: Analyse the effectiveness and adoption of green building certification systems such as LEED, BREEAM, or Green Star in different regions.
  3. Energy-Efficient Building Design: Explore strategies for designing and retrofitting buildings to maximise energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, and meet energy performance targets.
  4. Innovative Construction Materials: Investigate the development and application of innovative construction materials, such as self-healing concrete, aerogels, or advanced composites.
  5. Building Information Modelling (BIM): Assess the benefits and challenges of BIM implementation in construction projects, focusing on improved collaboration and project management.

How Much Does it Cost to Study in the UK

One of the most important things to consider is how much the degree is going to cost. Here is a general guide for 2023/2024:

  • For home students in England, universities can charge up to a maximum of £9,250 per year for an undergraduate degree.
  • In Wales, institutions can charge up to £9,000 for home students. However, Welsh students can apply for a fee grant to cover some of the cost of their tuition fees. This grant is currently not repayable or income-assessed.
  • Northern Irish universities will charge up to £4,275 for home students and may charge up to £9,250 for students from elsewhere in the UK.
  • Scotland does not charge home students fees at the undergraduate level; however, students from England, Wales, or Northern Ireland are expected to pay up to £9,250 per year. International students from outside of the UK will pay significantly more to study in Scotland.
  • International students can expect to pay between £10,000 and £26,000 annually for lecture-based undergraduate degrees at universities across the UK. An undergraduate medical degree can cost overseas students up to £58,600 per year. As for postgraduate degrees, the average cost is estimated to be around £17,109 per year.
Besides the tuition fees, there are also several other cost considerations such as food, accommodation, phone bills, books, social life, memberships, and others. Remember to check out our free student budget calculator

Other Subjects to Consider

Given that you are interested in this subject area, you might also want to consider the following options: 

  • Environmental Science: Topics could include climate change mitigation, conservation efforts, biodiversity, renewable energy, or environmental policy analysis.
  • Urban Planning: Investigate urbanisation trends, sustainable city development, transportation planning, or smart city technologies.
  • Architecture: Focus on architectural history, theory, design principles, or the relationship between architecture and culture.
  • Civil Engineering: Study civil engineering aspects like transportation systems, geotechnical engineering, or water resources management.
  • Energy Studies: Explore energy efficiency, renewable energy sources, energy policy, or the transition to a low-carbon energy system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Consider your interests, passions, and career goals. Research various degree programmes and their content to see which aligns best with your aspirations.

While earning potential is important, it’s also crucial to select a degree that you’re passionate about and suits your skills. A balance between your interests and potential career prospects is ideal.

Location can impact your overall university experience. Consider factors like cost of living, proximity to industry hubs, and personal preferences.

Evaluate tuition fees, available scholarships, and potential for part-time work. Create a budget to ensure you can manage your finances during your studies.

Consider combining your passions with practical skills. For example, if you love art but want job security, explore fields like graphic design or digital marketing.

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