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Unit information: Infrastructure Systems Management in 2020/21

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Unit name Infrastructure Systems Management
Unit code CENGM0072
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Carhart
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Civil Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


Infrastructure underpins every aspect of modern life. It shapes our economies, environments, and societal well-being. Railways, roads, bridges, airports, hospitals, schools, ports, water and sanitation systems, energy generation and distribution (gas and electricity); its components are varied but fundamentally interconnected.

Infrastructure Systems Management (ISM), when performed effectively, remains invisible to many, but its criticality is highly visible when it fails.

The aim of this unit is to give students an advanced understanding of the sustainable, whole-lifecycle management of infrastructure. It covers the planning, acquisition, design, delivery, operation, maintenance, renewal and disposal of infrastructure projects and programmes. These range in scale from the complexity of interconnected ‘system-of-systems’ to the detail of individual assets. ISM will develop the critical thinking processes which, allied with a deep understanding of needs and performance measurement principles, are required to manage the resilient performance of infrastructure systems.

The ISM unit has three main themes, while also highlighting the role infrastructure plays in both sustainable development and climate breakdown:

  1. Systems Knowledge and Understanding
  2. Context of International Infrastructure 
  3. Leadership and Change management 

Intended learning outcomes

Systems Knowledge and Understanding

1. Describe and apply a systems approach to technical and managerial thinking. 

2. Identify modelling issues. 

3. Demonstrate creative and innovative thinking in the approach to systems design. 

Context of International Infrastructure

4. Identify the ethical dilemmas of international business. 

5. Understand and apply the key principles of asset management and the engineering activities required to promote and contribute to effective asset development. 

6. Understand and analyse basic asset and related investment performance indicators. 

7. Understand and apply the principles of asset health monitoring and condition-based maintenance. 

8. Describe and begin to use tools for the measurement of the performance of processes. 

Leadership and change management

9. Identify various forms of uncertainty, risk, hazard, vulnerability, turbulence and surprise, and their impact on decision making.

10. Understand the framework of relevant legal requirements governing asset condition including integrated management systems for health, safety, environment, and quality. 

11. Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the key challenges inherent in changing complex systems to become more sustainable. 

12. Establish an implementation process that will recognise unintended consequences and provide opportunities for significant improvement in systems performance through synergy. 

13. Begin to lead change  

Teaching details

The unit is delivered through a mixture of:

  • Synchronous & Asynchronous Lectures (approx. 42 hours)
  • Seminars (approx. 11 hours)
  • Workshops (approx. 2 hours)
  • Guided Independent Study and Research

Assessment Details

A mid-sessional assessment (30%) provides an opportunity to implement tools and reflect on the issues covered by the first semester. Feedback from this assessment will inform the group project (70%) which offers an opportunity to develop a Strategic Asset Management Plan for an element of an infrastructure system such as buildings, rail, road, marine, energy, water or sanitation based on the principles of the international Asset Management standard ISO55001.

Mid-Sessional Assessment – 30%

The mid-sessional short-form assignment will assess performance against ILOs 1-6. It will comprise a 2000-word individual essay responding to a question reflecting on the material covered across TB1.

Coursework Submission - 70%

The main assignment will be the development of a Strategic Asset Management Plan for a major infrastructure programme or project working in groups. (All ILOs)

Reading and References

Blockley D I, Godfrey P S (2017), Doing It Differently: Systems for Rethinking Infrastructure, Thomas Telford

Lloyd C (2010) Asset Management - Whole-Life Management of Physical Assets, ISBN-13: 978-0727736536. Unit Core Text

Lloyd C (2012) International Case Studies in Asset Management (digital access)

Asset Management – An anatomy Version 3 December 2015 (Institute of Asset Management)

ICE (2020) State of the Nation 2020: Infrastructure and the 2050 Net-Zero Target (digital access)

Flyvbjerg, B (editor) (2018) Oxford Handbook of Megaproject Management

deWeck, O (2011) Engineering Systems: Meeting Human Needs in a Complex World (digital access)