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Michael Waters is Associate Professor in Real Estate at Heriot-Watt University Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

What is a Ph.D. in real estate? This was a very common question I got asked when I was undertaking my Ph.D. research. Apart from being a common milestone in academia, it represents much more than that.

Researching real estate provides a very beneficial output, often providing solutions to real-world problems, in my case here locally in Dubai. Within the MSc Real Estate programme at Heriot-Watt University, the dissertation is extremely important. It is what you can show employers, to demonstrate all the skills gained in a master’s degree programme, especially if you do not have any work experience.

The primary objective of a good MSc dissertation is to learn what questions to ask and how to conduct a research study. It is also an opportunity to focus the research on a broad range of topics in real estate. Be it in valuation; housing and urban economics; capital markets; finance; policy — the list of topics is long and far-reaching. For example, some of my students have looked at modelling consumer behaviour when focussing on sustainability and green premiums. Others have examined the value impact of new infrastructures such as the metro line extensions, and property prices. Another research topic is managing development risk with property software.

Regardless of the actual topic, one thing in common is the use of their dissertations when graduating. Many of Heriot-Watt University Dubai graduates have used their dissertations to showcase a range of applied skills. Those skills range from data analysis, business writing, effective communication, and forward-looking analysis — which have secured them their first graduate placement or corporate job.

Undoubtedly research skills are very valuable to carry forward in your business career in real estate.