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Meet Your Academic - Simon Murray

The programme lead for our Surveying Masters, Simon Murray, tells us more about his successful career in the industry, and how he believes this course could help others to build one of their own.

Can you tell us a little bit about your educational background?

I studied extensively between the 1970s and 1990s: I have two undergraduate qualifications – one in Building and Surveying and the other in Civil Engineering – as well as two postgraduate qualifications in Construction Management and Economics. I then went on to spend 12 years in practice as a chartered surveyor, before making the transition to teacher in the 1990s. I worked in academic institutions originally on a part time basis and then full time until 2002, when I returned to the business sector. After selling my businesses interests, I returned to academia in late 2017 and have taught at both undergraduate and postgraduate level on a range of surveying programmes since. I became the current programme leader for this distance learning Masters in 2018.

What is your professional background in relation to this course?

As mentioned before, I am a chartered surveyor with a specialism in the field of contract administration, law and practice. I have experience of working both in the public sector, as well as in private practice, and I also have a limited amount of experience working on site. In addition to being a chartered surveyor and a senior lecturer, I also worked as a regional strategy adviser and as a national education manager for ConstructionSkills – the former sector skills council for construction and civil engineering. As well as all of that, in the last 10 years, I found time to own and manage two businesses of my own. One was an eLearning training firm for the surveying sector, while the other was a company that used unmanned aerial vehicles for surveying film and photography purposes – one of the first businesses in the UK to use such technologies.

Do you have any involvement with the surveying industry more widely?

I have always been actively involved with the wider surveying profession, and I have strong links with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). This has included me being a regional board member, a regional chair, a member of the Council for England plus a member of International Governing Council. I’ve served on a number committees within the institution over the last few decades, was formerly a teaching and research fellow and I’m currently an APC assessor.

Outside of RICS, I have served as a board member for Constructing Excellence and I’m currently chair of the regional awards panel and a national judge for this organisation. For the last two years, I have also been actively involved with engaging employers and businesses about our Surveying Apprenticeship degree at the University.

Why should people choose one of our distance learning Surveying MSc programmes and how will completing one transform their lives?

In the UK, and beyond, there is a skills shortage for certain types of surveyors. This is despite it being a rewarding career; the latest RICS salary survey indicates the average annual salary for surveyors in the UK is just over £50,000.  Northumbria University is one of the leading UK universities for the provision of built environment courses, and we are passionate about helping people to break into this exciting, fulfilling and challenging sector. All of our surveying qualifications are recognised worldwide and are accredited by RICS. This particular distance learning Surveying MSc programme is great as it enables both people who are currently working in the sector and those that wish to join to acquire a recognised postgraduate award that provides a direct route to the globally recognised, chartered status (MRICS).  

Studying by distance learning can be seen as a difficult method of studying, especially when balanced with full time employment and the other demands of life. However, as a university we recognise these difficulties and, having spent many years as a student myself, I also understand of the impact that learning can have on people’s lives. The curriculum and delivery techniques we use on the programmes are constantly being reviewed and changes brought in to improve the student learning experience to reduce this.

Why are you passionate about teaching surveying?

I have over 40 years’ experience in the built environment industry, in a range of positions and organisations at a regional, national and, at times, international level. I take pleasure in being able to pass on some of that experience and acquired knowledge to my students, so that they can build successful, fulfilling careers of their own.

Aside from being able to meet the entry requirements, is there anything else that you would like to see in your students?

Other than meeting the entry requirements for the Surveying Masters programmes, ideally we would like to see a personal drive, motivation and ambition to meet the demands of a two year, or more if you choose to take a break in your studies, distance learning programme.   

Tell us about a passion of yours, outside of Surveying...

I have been involved in a lot of sport, both as participant and as a manager, for over 50 years at an area, regional and national level. I’m currently president of one of the oldest athletic clubs in the UK, and I’m a secretary and treasurer of a cricket club. I have played in various leagues for a number of decades and eventually ‘hung up’ my boots some 5 years ago due to long term injuries.


Discover more about our RICS Surveying Masters pathways:

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