On the integration of Building Information Modelling in undergraduate civil engineering programmes in the United Kingdom.

  • Anas Bataw

Student thesis: Phd


The management of data, information and knowledge through the project life cycle of buildings and civil infrastructure projects is becoming increasingly complex. In an attempt to drive efficiencies and address this complexity, the United Kingdom (UK) Government has mandated that Building Information Modelling (BIM) methods must be adopted in all public sector construction projects from 2016. Emerging from the US Department of Defence, BIM is an approach to the co-ordination of design and production data using object-oriented principles as described in ISO 29481-1:2010. The underlying philosophy of BIM is to ensure the "provision of a single environment to store shared asset data and information, accessible to all individuals who are required to produce, use and maintain it" (PAS 1192-2:2013). A key aspect of BIM lies in the notion of 'interoperability' between various software applications used in the design and construction process and a common data format for the efficient exchange of design information and knowledge. Protagonists of BIM argue that this interoperability provides an effective environment for collaboration between actors in the construction process and creates accurate, reliable, repeatable and high-quality information exchange. This UK Government mandate presents numerous challenges to the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) professions; in particular, the characteristics of BIM Level 2 remain explicitly undefined and this has created a degree of uncertainty amongst the promoters and those professionals charged with delivering projects. This uncertainty is further reflected in UK higher education; contemporary undergraduate programmes in civil engineering across the UK are, on the whole, at the bottom of the BIM 'maturity curve'. UK higher education institutions are increasingly being challenged to embrace BIM through appropriate pedagogies and teaching practices but the supporting guidance is emergent and variable. In the case of civil engineering programmes in the UK, the Joint Board of Moderators (JBM) has issued a 'good practice guide' as have the Higher Education Academy (HEA) under the auspices of the 'BIM Academic Forum'. Nevertheless, a clear demand for further research to explore the technical and pedagogical issues associated with BIM integration into degree programmes remains.The research described in this thesis casts a critical lens on the current literature in the domains of object-oriented modelling of infrastructure and the associated implications for procurement and project management. A mixed-methods approach using questionnaire analysis, focus groups and secondary case study analysis was used to enact an inductive research approach that captures a range of data on pedagogic issues and considerations associated with the integration of BIM into the design of a new civil engineering curricular. The findings include recommendations for the 'up-skilling' of university teachers and academics, enhancing student employability and the development of suitable learning and learning techniques. A framework for the incorporation of BIM principles, concepts and technologies into civil engineering programmes is proposed. The findings of the research suggest that the first two years of study in a typical, accredited civil engineering degree programme should focus on the technical concepts relating to design from a modelling and analysis perspective. The latter years of the degree should focus on the development of 'soft-skills' required to enable effective teamwork and collaboration within a multidisciplinary project environment. Further studies should seek to test the proposed framework in a 'live' environment, particularly in the context of the necessity to balance the demands of summative and formative assessment regimes.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRichard Kirkham (Supervisor)


  • Building Information Modelling (BIM)
  • Civil Engineering
  • Universities
  • Higher Education
  • Pedagogy

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