Programme Structure

MSc in Sustainable Design of Built Environment Modules

Following is an outline of the module requirements for the different degrees on offer. PGCert students are required to take three Core modules (SDBE501, SDBE502 and SDBE504). PGDip and MSc students are required to take six modules (all four Core modules and an additional two Elective modules). MSc students are required to also take the Dissertation RES507).

Requirements for the different degrees
Concentration Architectural Design (AD) Interior Design (ID) Smart Buildings (SB) Urban Design (UD) General (no concentration)
Level 1Common core (80CR) SDBE501 Climate and ComfortSDBE502 Renewable and Sustainable ResourcesSDBE503 Investigations in the Built Environment *SDBE504 Sustainable Built Environment
Level 2 Concentration core (40CR) SDBE505 Skins and SpacesSDBE 506 Passive Design SDBE510 Sustainable Indoor EnvironmentSDBE517 Sustainable Interior Design SDBE507 Efficient Building ServicesSDBE514 Intelligent Building Design SDBE508 Sustainable Urban DesignSDEB518 Sustainable Urban Transport Elective 1Elective 2
Level 3A  Dissertation track (60CR) Dissertation (60CR) which is relevant to the concertation Dissertation (60CR)
Level 3B Design/ Research Project track (60CR) Elective 1Elective 2SDBE519 Advanced Design Project (20CR) Elective 1Elective 2SDBE516 Research Project (20CR) which is relevant to the concentration Elective 3Elective 4SDBE516 Research Project (20CR)

Core modules

Module Module Title Credits
SDBE501 Climate and Comfort 20
SDBE502 Renewable and Sustainable Resources 20
SDBE503 Investigations in the Built Environment 20
SDBE504 Sustainable Built Environment 20

Climate and Comfort

The primary focus of this course will be the study of the thermal, luminous and ventilation performance of buildings within the Built Environmental context. The course will examine the basic scientific principles underlying these phenomena and introduce students to a range of technologies and analysis skills for designing comfortable indoor environments. Students will be challenged to apply these skills and explore the role light, energy and air can play in shaping a Built Environment. The course format will consist of a series of lectures that are accompanied by software tutorials. A number of individual and group assignments relevant to the topic, in which will aid students to better perceive the topics covered in class. The assignments for this class will be closely interlinked with the real world (from profession) and students will be challenged to integrate what they have learnt in this class within Profession.

Renewable and Sustainable Resources

This module focuses on the resources needed to construct and operate buildings, and on their significance for a sustainable future.  The construction industry is one of the largest consumers of resources among all industries, from its supply chain of materials producers and fabricators, through to its influence on the operation of buildings.  Making construction activity sustainable in the long term is a major challenge.  The module emphasizes the links between sustainability, improved performance and resource management in terms of what resources are used and the way they are used with emphasis on sourcing and using renewable materials.  It examines the principles of reuse, recycling and renewal in achieving sustainability in the Built Environment.  It looks at the consumption of materials, energy and water and at the production of waste through the whole life cycle of the building.  Special attention is paid to the different renewable energy resources with focus on technology and economics. The role of energy policy, politics and regulations in promoting the use of renewable resources will be discussed.

Investigations in the Built Environment

The module is based on the belief that evaluation, feedback and critique are all vital components to the progress of sustainable design. Progress can only be achieved when this assessment loop is completed using credible and appropriate methods. Investigations in the Built Environment aims to reinforce this message and introduce the student to a number of investigative and analytical methods and techniques, including prediction, simulation, experimental and measurement.  It will consider both physical and human perspectives of the Built Environment and draw on methods appropriate to both academic and practice based investigations. The module content is backed up by self-learning material on the web specifically written for the module.  Further support for the learning will come from a planned sequence of assignments, in which students are encouraged to think through the issues involved in each stage of making an investigation; written feedback on these from the tutors will contribute to the module content.  The students will also be introduced and trained to use some handheld instruments that are used to assess thermal comfort as air quality. There is a high degree of class interaction and group working involved in this process.

Sustainable Built Environments

This module emphasizes the need for a symbiotic and functional relationship in which ecology, culture and technology evolve and adapt.  The module introduces the fundamental principles guiding sustainable development of the built environment including Avoidance or minimization of negative impacts on the environment; Conservation and efficient use of natural resources; preservation of cultural patterns; and Ecological harmony and respect for biodiversity.  The concept of sustainable development is discussed within the limitations imposed by the present state of technology and social organization on environmental resources and by the ability of the biosphere to absorb the effects of human activity.  The module introduces tools for measuring and evaluating the impact of urban development on the environmental as well as the social, economic well being of the urban system. Also discusses relevant issues relating to contractual procedures and construction law.

Elective modules

Eleven elective modules are available out of which the students have to choose two elective modules, depending upon the area they want to specialise in. As electives, the availability of each of these modules is subject to student numbers and staff availability. The electives are:

Module Code Module Title Credits
SDBE505 Skin and Spaces 20
SDBE506 Passive Design 20
SDBE507 Efficient Building Services 20
SDBE508 Sustainable Urban Design 20
SDBE510 Sustainable Indoor Environment 20
SDBE513 Liveable Landscape 20
SDBE514 Intelligent Building Design 20
SDBE517 Sustainable Interior Design 20
SDBE518 Sustainable Urban Transport 20
MGT522 Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility 20

Skins and Spaces

The environmental design of the space and its enclosing and surrounding skin has received much attention in recent years as concern has grown over building occupants’ health and comfort and the rate in which buildings use energy to maintain the required environmental conditions. The concern also includes an ongoing topic of investigation dealing with the relationship between built form and environmental performance. A number of recent projects have focused on aspects of mixed-use development as part of a zero carbon emission strategy for urban environments. Results of research are beginning to inform new ideas in building design, in relation to innovative facades, chilled/heated surfaces and mixed-mode ventilation systems. In order to achieve successful design for comfort, health and energy efficiency, architects, urban planners and services engineers need to have a common understanding of the basic principles and techniques involved in integrating the environmental performance of the envelope, surrounding enclosure and space. The aim of this course is to provide such understanding in order to encourage a good overall environmental design.

Passive Design

The module will prepare students for playing a participatory role in the practice of designing passive buildings. It will demonstrate techniques for selecting strategies appropriate to climate and brief, and introduce passive methods of lighting, heating, and cooling buildings. It will introduce simple manual ways for assessing the effectiveness of design decisions, as well as giving students opportunities for furthering their use of current environmental software.  The discussion of strategies will be given an international context for a wide applicability scope. The module content is backed up by self-learning material for both manual and simulation techniques.  Further support for the learning will come from the module final project assignment.

Efficient Building Services

The design of ‘environmentally friendly’ buildings depends critically on the choice of appropriate servicing strategies – an inappropriate servicing strategy can negate all the work undertaken on the form and fabric of the building. This module explores the principles behind current low energy solutions to servicing strategies, and deals with basic application information and strategies.  Students will have an opportunity to extend their use of current environmental software to take into account service loads.  The course is designed to complement information provided in all the other modules. In particular, ventilation system design is covered in detail elsewhere. Support for the learning will come from the module project.

Sustainable Urban Design

The module aims to address and discuss the critical issue of our Urban Environment and the need not only to speak to the attention that needs to be paid to the fragility of the planet and its resources, but also our Urban Environments which are places that we present a large part of our political, social, cultural, technical and creative achievements and inspirations. Democracy and Democratic values within this context are not abstract concepts, but are situated relational conditions that are deeply embedded within the physical space of our every day actions, our homes, our places of work and our spaces of social and public gathering. The module tries to contribute into providing the ground for new forms of spatial democracy. These are structurally organized as a series of speculations within the lecture topics and assignments given, and are indispensible components of the development of future cities, which therefore is intended to be projective in character.

Sustainable Indoor Environment

The module gives an overview of general requirements needed for achieving healthy indoor environment and investigates the role of sustainability within indoor environment design. The primary objective of this course is to foster knowledge and understanding of building technology systems that support people’s activities and well-being in indoor environment. In addition to this, the module also teaches students the minimization of negative impacts and maximization of positive impacts of indoor environment facilities on economic, environmental, and social systems over the life cycle of the building. A total building performance framework for sustainable interior design delivery is used to achieve this purpose. The primary objective is not necessarily to teach students  interior design, rather to assist and give the students’ knowledge, understanding and skills of achieving sustainable indoor environment.

Liveable Landscape

This module will engage the students in a series of investigations, emphasizing methods in the analysis and response to the role of landscape architecture in turning public spaces into civic places to achieve more sustainable landscape performance, using both biophysical and social criteria to define sustainability.  The focus is on the intersection of physical and biological landscape processes, with cultural, social and political processes, and design theories and techniques in shaping the design of public spaces, such as waterfronts, public squares, neighbourhoods, public markets, transportation nodes, streets, civic plazas, city and local parks.  It engages concepts from environmental psychology, ecology, anthropology, and the arts to locate and demonstrate fundamental organizing principles in the human perception and use of space, and its effect on interpersonal relations.

Intelligent Building Design

This course provides an overview of all aspects of intelligent buildings including: history, design, components, construction, management strategies, economic implications, effects on the environment and future trends. An intelligent building is inherently of an efficient and environmentally friendly design. There is a very strong synergy between an intelligent building design and the environmental certification requirements of buildings as per the BREAM and LEED programs. An intelligent building also optimizes occupants’ circulation and networking enhancing their collaboration, productivity and creativeness (Total Building Performance).

Sustainable Interior Design

This module, which is design oriented, teaches students comprehensive way of integrating all aspects of design- technology, environmental issues, wellbeing of building occupants, policies and regulations, and economics. It allows students various scales of investigation within design problems with an eco-pluralistic (design that tread lightly on planet) approach to the use of materials and techniques. It also provides an integrated and holistic context for building (interior) design with more emphasis placed on nature as mentor for environmentally responsible design. Design tutorials will be conducted outside the weekly class time.

Sustainable Urban Transport

This module explores the ways in which the society’s mobility needs can be met with minimum negative impacts which are associated with excessive use of private automobiles – such as impacts on the quality of our environment, social cohesion, health and traffic controls. The module has two focus points: 1) the relationship between transport and the environment and 2) the means through which sustainable mobility might be achieved. The students will be introduced to various issues related to sustainable transportation systems to develop the capability to make an effective contribution at the highest level to the planning, policy making and management of transport. A wider perspective is desirable, which starts from the premise that land-use decisions both influence and are influenced by transport objectives and performance. The students will learn related software programme to aid them to design the transport more efficient and sustainable.

Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility

This module defines the components in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the relevant dependencies and areas of overlap. The combined strategic approach in socio-environmental analysis from the economic perspective will define a baseline.  The module introduces the fundamental principles guiding sustainable development best practices ant the global level and its operational examples. The module will focus on the three thematic areas of Triple Bottom Line (TBL), namely people, planet and profits. The socio-developmental aspect will map the cultural change in society over the last decade and how the international community has responded with shifts in policy and culture, as well as practices. The environmental approach will utilize the carbon (or environmental) footprint as the core competency to assess different applications of environmental policy in reference to project and program environments. The economic dimension will consolidate the socio-environmental practices in different economic models to demonstrate the value proposition of engaging in long term CSR strategies within corporate environment.

The Dissertation (MSc degree dissertation track)


The dissertation is an essential part of the MSc degree programme contributing to 60 credits. The dissertation involves both the application of skills learnt in the past and the acquisition of new skills. It allows the students to demonstrate their ability to carry out and organise a major piece of work according to sound scientific and engineering principles.

The dissertation is an essential part of the MSc degree programme contributing to 60 credits. The dissertation involves both the application of skills learnt in the past and the acquisition of new skills. It allows the students to demonstrate their ability to carry out and organise a major piece of work according to sound scientific and engineering principles.

A list of possible topics is normally published. However, students are also strongly encouraged to propose their own topics. Students normally choose a topic related to their main programme theme or work experience.

Students can officially register for the dissertation module once they have successfully completed all of their six taught modules. Students are strongly encouraged to start thinking and preparing for their dissertation no later than their last semester of taught modules.

Advanced Design Project/Research Project (MSc degree Design/Research Project track)

MSc Research Project in Sustainable Design of the Built Environment

In this module the student will undertake a short research project. The student will focus on applying the knowledge learnt the projects submitted in the previous modules. This project could be an extension to one or more projects submitted in previous modules. Either way the student will reflect on all his research activities in the previous modules  and try to incorporate in this project including critical review of previous outcomes to be used to prepare a proposal for new research project. The student will focus on applying the knowledge learnt in several modules to analyse, revise, improve and assess a relevant topic. This could include topics on building design, interior environments, energy conservation & management, renewable resources, building services, or any other relevant built environment topic as long as it is approved by the module tutor. The student will produce an industry type report, including an executive summary and a detailed report, plus give a presentation explaining and defending the steps undertaken during the project. The jury for the presentation will include one or more jurors from the relevant industry who will take part in the assessment of the presentation as well. This module will run over two consecutive terms in order to give the student enough time to properly research, document, propose and assess their selected topic of the project.

Advanced Design Project

In this module the students will undertake advanced architectural design projects. They will focus on applying the knowledge learnt in several other modules in the course to analyse, revise, improve and assess a building design in order to make it sustainable. The students will be introduced to several key architectural ideas to develop basic design and communication skills in order to progress with their design projects on proposed sites. They will be encouraged to work together at first stages of the design, broadening their experience through research and development. They will start by preparing a professional design brief for their proposed projects and proceed to producing detailed architectural drawings, including an executive summary and a detailed report, which would also reflect on the research conducted and the strategies adopted, plus to give presentations explaining and defending the steps undertaken during their design projects. The students are also expected to create a project programming and scheduling in order to manage and meet deadlines. The jury for the presentations will include one or more jurors from the relevant industry who will also take part in the review and assessment of the presentations. This module will run over two consecutive terms in order to give the students enough time to properly develop their designs, research, document, propose and assess their final advanced design projects. This module is open to students pursuing an MSc Design Project route with AD concentration.

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