Wednesday, 7 March 2018

MSc Real Estate: Bicester Village 2018

Bicester Village by Mike Patrick

At the end of February the MSc Real Estate students went on the annual field trip to the international shopping destination that is Bicester Village. Bicester Village is one of a number of Chic Outlet Shopping® Villages that are operated and owned by Value Retail. There are now nine 'villages' in Europe and two in China and each is defined by its luxury brands and open-air ‘village’ setting.

The purpose of trip is to highlight the link between business, marketing, branding and real estate. The day started with breakfast which was followed by presentations from the management team and from Miranda Markham, Community Relations Director for Value Retail, which was followed by a lively Q&A session. The MSc students go to Bicester Village each year (read about the 2017 visit here) what's new for 2018? Click on the red links for more information.

Phase 4 of the development has now opened (in October 2017) and includes more 30 new shops and 450 new parking spaces as well as a traffic management system. Bicester Village remains a major tourist destination in the UK and is now the second most visited tourist attraction in the UK. The development of the Bicester Village rail station reflects this - offering a direct route from central London as well as luxury surroundings and uniformed staff. This attention to detail has been crucial to the success of Bicester Village.

The uniform at Bicester Village

Bicester Village places a lot of importance on the use of social media for advertising and promotion and is using it very successfully, particularly Instagram. Take a look...

Instagram - 75.4k followers (compared with 45.1k in March 2017)
Facebook - 233.8k likes (compared with 189k in March 2017)
Weibo - (the Chinese microblogging site which is similar to Twitter) has 45k followers

After breakfast and the presentations the students walked from the John Paul II Centre through Bicester town centre and entered Bicester Village through the new railway station. They had time to take a look at the development and then indulge in some serious retail therapy with a VIP card kindly provided by Bicester Village.

And what of Bicester itself? The town continues to expand with the UK's first eco-town taking shape in NW Bicester. Take a look at the timeline and the development of Elmsbrook and Himley Village.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

BSc Real Estate Management: Bristol 2018

The students outside the Premier Inn (where they stayed for the field trip)

This year (on 19 February), the third year students on the BSc Real Estate Management headed off to Bristol for the annual PPT (Professional Practice Test) residential visit. The visit provides the students with an opportunity to study a local property market (in a location away from the south-east) and to apply all aspects of the real estate management subject disciplines to locally based case study problem solving. Thanks to Albert Cao and David Shiers for the photos.

And so to Bristol...Bristol is a city straddling the River Avon in the southwest of England with a prosperous maritime history. Amongst (many) other things, Bristol is home to the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge and (was home) to its equally famous engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It is also home to Bristol Blue, a great harbourside and some rather famous street art (and Banksy). Take a look a the red links to find out a bit more.

Bristol Blue by David Shiers

On the first day, the students started with a visit to The Mall, Cribbs Causeway, a shopping centre managed by Intu, where they went on a walking tour of the site and listened to a talk on the development from Greg Wilson (from Intu). After lunch the students visited Lakeshore, a residential development by Urban Splash...which has been in the local news recently. In the evening they attended a presentation about the Retail Market in Bristol and were given the coursework briefing, before going out for a group meal.

On the second day, the students listened to a presentation about the Office Market in Bristol...

...and were given a guided tour of the commercial areas in Bristol

The next two days were spent working in groups, researching sites and preparing project presentations for the PPT vivas which were held on the final day. And then back to Oxford.

Interested? More information about the BSc Real Estate Management here.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Real Estate Mentoring Scheme 2018

Ian Norris speaking about his experience of being a Mentor at the Mentoring Scheme launch in March 2017

We are about to launch the OBREMS/OBU Real Estate Mentoring Scheme for 2018. The Mentoring Scheme is managed jointly by OBREMS (which, by the way, is our alumni association) and the School of the Built Environment at Oxford Brookes University. For those of you who still haven't heard of it, take a look here.

This year, I asked two of the students who were mentored in 2016 (and graduated in 2017) to answer my questions and inspire you to take part:

Paige Collins at Graduation 2017

Max Hulse

The students are: Paige Collins (PC) who is now working as a Graduate Surveyor for Crest Nicholson and Max Hulse (MH).

What is your background and why did you choose to study Real Estate? 
PC: My background is that I did A levels at school and worked part  time in an estate agents. I chose to study real estate because it is something that I have always enjoyed doing and I had previous experience in doing it through my part time job.

MH: I chose Real Estate Management because of my initial curiosity about property, fueled by work experience.

And why did you choose Oxford Brookes? 
PC: I chose Brookes because it is one of the best places to study Real Estate and I like Oxford as a city.

MH: Brookes is known for the quality Real Estate Management course and also for the successful grad job rate.

Why did you choose to take part in the Real Estate Mentoring Scheme?
PC: I chose to take part in the mentoring scheme because it is good to have contacts in the industry. It is also good to use a mentor's knowledge about the market.

MH: I had no connections in the property industry beforehand. Property is a people focused industry and the more people you meet the better I believe.

What kind of support  did your Mentor offer?
PC: My mentor helped me with my dissertation and with CV

MH: Ran through CV and suggested edits; internship interview advice; introduced me to contacts who I could apply for work experience with; constant contact throughout and regular lunch meetings and finally, work experience.

What were the highlights/challenges about the mentoring relationship?
PC: It was just great to have close links with someone in the industry.

MH: Highlights were work experience and the networking opportunities. The challenge was maintaining the relationship whilst being at mentor was very good at encouraging me to keep in touch.

Would the Mentoring Scheme to other students?
PC: Yes it's really beneficial to have a contact in the industry who can aid you in your career.

MH: 100% yes. There is so much potential for amazing opportunities both at uni and after if you maintain contact. There's no easier way of building your first professional relationship. My advice is to be as active as possible and treat the mentoring relationship both professionally and personally.

The 2018 Mentoring Scheme will launch for student applications in January 2018 - check your email and our Facebook page for more information.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

MSc Real Estate Investment Finance: our students

The MSc/PGD Real Estate Investment Finance (REIF) has now been running for 3 years and our first students will graduate from the MSc and PGD REIF in June 2018. I caught up with three of our MSc REIF students who are currently taking the MSc Dissertation to find out more about them and why they decided to take the MSc at Oxford Brookes. The students (see below) are: Ivana Gazivoda Vucinic who works for Chestertons and is based in Dubai, Freda Rutere who works in Commercial Real Estate and is based in Kenya and Mark Allen who works for Nationwide Building Society and is based in the UK.

Ivana Gazivoda Vucinic (IGV)

Freda Rutere (FR)

...and Mark Allen (MA)

And now, here's how they answered my questions:

What is your background? 

IGV: I graduated with a degree in Economics in 2008 and was planning to pursue a career in the accounting/audit field. In 2009 there was an opening in the Finance Department at Colliers, and I was recommended by my University for the role. By joining Colliers I developed a passion for the real estate industry and after a while moved to a property management division to take care of leasing and marketing of the asset we had under PM agreement. After several years at Colliers, I moved to Belgrade for a year where I worked in a similar capacity before moving to Dubai in 2013. Dubai, being one of the most dynamic real estate markets, triggered me to consider a slightly different career path - so after a period of working on a developer side,  I moved to the advisory side of the business in 2016. Since January 2017 I've been working with Chestertons in the Advisory & Research Department.

FR: My background is in Real Estate Development Management and prior to that Structural Engineering.

MA: My path in academia was the reverse to most students. I went straight into work from school and then found myself in commercial property finance. I enjoyed the work so much I started to look at ways to add to my skills so spent 5 years taking banking exams ending with a degree in Banking Practice and Management and Chartered Associateship.

Why did you decide to do a course in Real Estate Investment Finance?

IGV: My degree in Economics together with my work experience provides a solid foundation to assess the clients' requirements and add value to the projects. However, I believe that getting a RE-related degree gives an additional edge when it comes to dealing with the complexity of the assignment and clients' requirements, hence I decided to enroll.

FR: It has been my experience that there is often a disconnect between the decision drivers of investors (in real estate) and the engineering fundamentals that technical teams are driven by. Combining a solid background learning in engineering with REIF equips me with the right tools to better steer commercial real estate development decision making at strategic level.

MA: Having always focused on finance, I wanted to gain insight to the investment side of property whilst complementing my existing skillset and experience.

Why did you choose the MSc REIF at Oxford Brookes?

IGV: I was evaluating several options and MSc REIF at Oxford Brooks provided a good blend of the following criteria: online learning delivery (with a dynamic working schedule it means a lot to have a certain flexibility, unlike with part-time or full-time programs); the length of the program (18 months compared to some other options taking up to 30 months); the fee-to-ranking ratio (I thought it was a reasonable fee for the course with a reasonable ranking).

FR: The course is RICS accredited and offered in a flexible format; the institution and is an elite ranked and has a history dating back to Victorian England.

MA: First of all I needed a distance learning course to work round my existing work commitments which the Oxford Brookes course offered. Secondly, I came across some of the tutors work in a book on property sustainability that was forward thinking and thought provoking. Thirdly, the way the course was structured covered the topics I wanted more insight into.

What do you hope to gain from the course and how will it help you in your career?

IGV: I hope to get a deeper understanding of concepts that are applied in day-to-day work. Furthermore, the course allows me to come up with certain out-of-box solutions in certain situations and to generate additional value for my clients.

FR: I hope to gain exposure to the Real Estate asset class across various jurisdictions globally.

MA: The course offers a balanced and detailed insight into real estate investment finance and will be a real advantage for me in my role as a Senior Relationship Manager having exposure to a wide range of clients and property portfolios.

What have you chosen/did you choose for your dissertation topic and why?

IGV: I've decided to analyze the performance of US REIT compared to S&P 500 index. There are two reasons why I choose this topic - the first one is that the REIT concept in Dubai is very new so I opted to gain some deeper understanding/knowledge at this stage to be able to be ahead of the curve once the concept starts gaining interest and more expert knowledge in certain aspects will be needed. Other reasons are private interest and curiosity - knowing where and when to invest and how to leverage the risk of a personal investment portfolio.

FR: In my dissertation, I seek to compare and contrast the REIT market perspectives of mature investment markets of Asia to the emerging African markets. I believe there are learning opportunities for the latter.

For more information on the MSc/PGD Real Estate Investment Finance, take a look at our website:


Wednesday, 29 November 2017

The PropTech Conference 2017

In the beginning...

On Friday 24 November, the School of the Built Environment joined with the School of Architecture to hold the 2017 PropTech Conference for students and staff.

The first session was chaired by Damian Wild, Editor of the EG and focused on 'how to get a job in property and keep it in this age of automation'. The panel discussing the issues around this topic comprised: Alex Bailes (Head of Product Engineering at CBRE), Eden Dwek (Manager - Tech Growth at KPMG), Savannah de Savary (Founder and CEO of Built-ID) and Brittany Hurley (Senior Director UK at VTS). There was a lively discussion and a number of questions from the audience.

The Panel with Damian Wild and...

...the audience

The next session was led by Dave Ramsey, Director of Data Standards at the RICS and focused on the future for surveyors 

The first session after lunch was led by Ross Raftery from Deloitte LLP and focused on
the impact of PropTech on the real estate industry

The rest of the afternoon focused on the impact of PropTech on other aspects of the built environment including: planning and development, architecture, design and construction. The sessions were led by:

Neil Goldsmith, Senior Director, Lichfields Planning and Development Consultancy
Mark Greatrix and Victoria Ruby from Waldeck Consulting
Scott Sworts from Avatar Design and Oxford Brookes University
Nigel Mehdi, author of the RICS Insight Paper on Big Data

The sessions were followed by a panel debate and Q&A session which was chaired by Professor Joe Tah, Head of the School of the Built Environment.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

MSc Real Estate: Birmingham 2017

(some of) the MSc Real Estate students at Snow Hill with Rebecca Gee

During the second week of November, the students on the MSc Real Estate went on a field trip to one of the contenders for the title of England's second city: Birmingham (although not everyone in Manchester would agree). The field trip is designed to introduce the postgraduate students to issues of sustainable use and development in the context of specific commercial and residential property markets and to:

  • develop an understanding of sustainable use and development
  • examine the use, investment and development of commercial and residential property
  • set commercial  and residential property in a wider economic, social and legal context

Birmingham has traditionally been regarded as England’s second city, but has long been thought of as a less-than-glamorous destination. The major development plan for Birmingham was launched in 2010 and lays out a 20-year vision known as The Big City Plan. Birmingham is changing and has a lot more to offer than previously thought...the Guardian has produced the 'Alt City Guide to Birmingham'. Click on the red links for more information. Photos by Danielle Sidoli and David Shiers.

After arriving in Birmingham, the students attended a presentation from David Smeeton (Cushman & Wakefield) which gave an investment overview of Birmingham. Then they walked to Snow Hill and visited the marketing suite at 3 Snow Hill for a talk by Richard Proctor from the Ballymore Group, on the development taking place at Snow Hill - which has been likened to Canary Wharf - click on the link and judge for yourself or watch the video. After checking into their hotel, the students met at Pizza Express in Brindley Place for the group meal.

On tour in the city centre: the ICC (and Symphony Hall), the Library of Birmingham and the Selfridges building

Brindley Place


The next day, the students split into two groups: for a walking tour of the city centre (see photos above) and to visit the development sites at 2 and 3 Snowhill (see photos below).

Inside 3 Snow Hill

...for a guided tour and talks on the structural design of the building, its cladding/curtain walling system, the energy and other building services systems used... well as sustainability issues and the importance of flexible office areas.

And the outside, showing the development of 2 and 3 Snowhill (2 Snowhill will house the new HS2 team in Birmingham

Exploring the city and its nightlife

The next (and final day) and the students walked to Paradise Circus for a presentation about the development from Rob Groves of Argent. Then it was on to Knight Frank (Birmingham Office) to meet Hannah Badger for a walk around the residential development on Pershore Street and the building at 1 Colmore Row, part of the Colmore Business District. And then home to Oxford.

For more information on the MSc Real Estate, take a look at our website, or the MSc Real Estate section on the blog:

MSc Real Estate on the Brookes website
MSc Real Estate on the Hot Property blog

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Careers in Real Estate 2017

Getting ready for the Careers Day 2017

The job application season is well underway for both our final year undergraduates and our MSc students. A number of careers events have already taken place, with more to follow. The first event was held on 10 October when students and staff were joined by members of our alumni society OBREMS and the Real Estate Professional Liaison Group for a whole day dedicated to careers. The day consisted of a series of presentations with plenty of breaks for networking and discussions. The morning and afternoon sessions featured presentations from some of our recent graduates: Chris Green, who started off at Savills and now works for Glenny LLP and Georgia Eckert, who works for Jones Norris Adams.

Philip Parnell, from Deloitte presenting on 'Life in the Corporate World'

The other presentations were:

  • Working in the Real World, by Georgia Eckert from Jones Norris Adams
  • Working in the Residential Market, by Elaine Tooke from Oxford Brookes
  • The APC Process, by Chris Green from Glenny LLP
  • Working for a “smaller” firm, by Harry Pruden from Hanover Green
  • Working “client side”, by Natalie Orde from Grosvenor Estates
  • Working for the “big” firms, by Savills

The day finished with 'Conclusions and General Questions' and a drinks reception (sponsored by Savills) in Taylors Yard at Oxford Brookes.

The next event was the Built Environment Careers Fair which took place on 16 October. This year more than 50 companies attended the fair as well as staff from Oxford Brookes Careers and quite a lot of our alumni who were representing the firms they now work for. Another great day for networking. I took a few photos...

The Oxford Brookes Careers team

For more information about how the Oxford Brookes Careers team can help you, take a look at their website. Once you are out in the world of work, or whilst you are looking for a job, join one of our LinkedIn groups where we post jobs and where you can keep in touch with your fellow graduates:

Real Estate Management (over 900 members)
Oxford Brookes Construction, QS and Project Management (nearly 300 members)

Finally, if you are a graduate of Real Estate Management (BSc or MSc) and would like to be involved in our Real Estate Mentoring Scheme please get in touch with

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

BSc Real Estate Management: the Oxford tour 2017

The new students on the BSc Real Estate Management and the BA Planning and Property Development were treated to a guided walking tour of Oxford (with Footprint Tours) during Freshers' Week. The tour focused on the history of Oxford and its buildings. Our tour guide was a History/English student at the University of Oxford, so the students had plenty of information stored in their heads for the Oxford Quiz. The rain stayed away until the end of the tour when the students went back up the hill for the Quiz and a BBQ at Oxford Brookes. Here is the tour in photos (by the Ed). Click on the red links for bits of history.

5 tour guides from Footprints (and Sally)

Broad Street...

...and Balliol College

Crossing over to...

the Museum of the History of Science...

...where some of the heads were wearing boaters.

The Bridge of Sighs, linking two sections of Hertford College over New College Lane
(although it's quicker to walk between the two buildings using the outside route)

New College, one of the oldest colleges of Oxford University

New College Lane...virtually all the buildings in Oxford turned this colour as a result of pollution during the late 19th and early 20th century, although many have now been cleaned up or refaced

Walking down Queen's Lane (home to Queen's College) and back onto
the High Street which hasn't changed much over the last 200 years

Magpie Lane which opens out onto...

...Merton Street. Home to Merton College which has the best food in Oxford University (thanks to a wealthy donor who thought the food was so bad he asked that his donation was spent on improving the catering).
The kitchen even has its own Facebook page.

Through the Meadow Gate and into...

Christchurch College, with its beautiful meadow and gardens

Blue Boar Street...

...home to The Bear, the oldest pub in Oxford (with an massive collection of ties)

The heart of Oxford University - the cobbled area surrounding the Radcliffe Camera.
A library funded by John Radcliffe, a doctor who apparently hated books.

So many tourists down here :)

All Souls College. A postgraduate college with a legendary entrance exam.

The Bodleian Library

The Clarendon Building

Looking past the heads to the Weston Library 

And back to Broad Street, where a cross marks the scene of the burning of the Oxford Martyrs.