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Sustainable Building - Performance and Design

MSc, PGDip

School of Architecture

This unique multi-disciplinary Sustainable Building - Performance and Design (SBPD) course at Oxford Brookes is taught by architects, engineers and physicists involved in practice and research.This successful course has been running for over 20 years in different formats, keeping up to date with changes in sustainability, policies and advancement in the construction industry. It focuses on the theory and practice of developing low carbon and sustainable buildings. 
The SBPD course benefits from direct links to two of the best research groups in the university, recognised nationally and internationally. The research directly informs the teaching with the latest and the most up to date knowledge and innovation in the area of sustainability.  

The course includes a number of interlinked modules that simulate the design and development of a sustainable project. This enables students from different disciplines to develop skills and understanding relevant to their own discipline, be it design or  consultancy, and in relation to a national and international context.

We have teamed up with Passivhaus Trust UK this year, allowing our students to participate in the Passivhaus student competition and benefit from access to the UK Passivhaus conference as well as vast knowledge and material in relation to Passivhaus design and standard.  
The students were also trained in using PHPP as well as Design PH tool provided by the Trust. 

Available start dates

September 2017 / September 2018

Teaching location

Headington Campus

Course length

  • Full time: MSc: 12 months, PGDip: 9 months
  • Part time: MSc: 24 months, PGDip: 18 months

UCAS Postgraduate code

08081

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • The course is run by the School of Architecture, which is recognised as one of the country's leading schools of architecture and is consistently ranked by The Architect's Journals one of the five best schools in the UK.
  • The course benefits from direct involvement and input by Professor Rajat Gupta, Professor of Sustainable Architecture and Climate Change, Director of Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD), Director of OISD: Low Carbon Building Group;  Professor Ray Ogden, Professor and Associate Dean Research and Knowledge Transfer, Director - Architectural Engineering Research Group, Director of the Tata Steel Europe Centre for the Building Envelope Tata Steel Europe Chair of the Building Envelope; and Matt Gaskin, Head of School of Architecture.
  • You will gain an advanced understanding of the key sustainability issues related to buildings enabling them to strategically influence feasibility and design processes within the built environment.
  • The course attracts some of the best students in the field from a diverse range of ages, backgrounds, gender and nationalities. This offers opportunities for interdisciplinary, globally aware teaching and learning.
  • The range of subjects draws on the research strengths of the teaching staff and enables research to inform the teaching modules. You are encouraged where possible to take part in staff research projects.
  • You will have the opportunity to go on an annual field trip. This is an opportunity to directly experience some of the very best of sustainable design projects in another culture. Previous field trips have been to Germany, Scotland and Denmark.
  • Students from this course have gone on to work in a wide range of occupations from architectural and engineering practices and research consultancies to development work, furniture design, owning and operating electricity utilities, and even carbon trading.

The course is organised on a modular credit system, 60 credits for postgraduate certificate, 120 credits for the postgraduate diploma (9 months full-time, 20 months part-time) and 180 credits for the master's degree (12 months full-time, 24 months part-time). 

Modules combine a ratio of taught to self-led study. For example, a module of 20 credits approximates to 200 hours of student effort, up to 36 hours of which will normally be devoted to lectures, seminars, individual tutorials or other staff contact. The remainder of the time is devoted to student-led study and assessment.

Please note: as courses are reviewed regularly, the module list you choose from may vary from that shown below.

The core modules for the MSc and PGDip are:

Building Physics  (20 credits) provides an introduction to the physics required to help develop low-carbon buildings which are both energy-efficient and comfortable.

The Sustainable Built Environment (20 credits) introduces the philosophy, theories and key concepts underpinning the principles of sustainable development and sustainability and quality of life in relation to the built environment within the natural world. 

Post-occupancy Building Evaluation (20 credits) focuses on the complex task of assessing the actual performance of  buildings in respect of energy use, environmental impact and occupant satisfaction, known as post-occupancy evaluation.

Advanced Low Carbon Building Technologies (20 credits) introduces the principles of building design and construction that minimise the carbon impact of a building including: building form and configuration and building envelop and construction to reduce energy requirements; highly-efficient heating, cooling and ventilation systems and energy-efficient appliances to minimise energy use; renewable energy (zero carbon) systems; and subtle human control systems that empower occupants to become part of the building energy operation systems.

The module emphasises the influence of the climatic context of the building, and considers techniques to achieve low carbon buildings in different climates experienced around the world.

Modelling and Passive Strategies (20 credits) provides a theoretical and practical introduction to systematic building modelling as it is related to design with climate and location. We will be providing a students' license, valid for one year, to upload DesignBuilder onto their laptops for this module. Students will be expected to have a laptop suitable for DesignBuilder software.

Sustainable Design in Context (20 credits) provides the opportunity to apply in practice the design principles gained in previous modules. It focuses on the challenge of reconciling regional identity and tradition with contemporary needs in building design and performance, relating to technological change and social transformation arising from globalisation, climate change and other factors.

The compulsory modules for the MSc are:

Research Methods and Design (10 credits) aims to advance your knowledge and understanding of research methods available to those wishing to improve buildings in terms of their sustainable design and performance. It presents a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods and provides a forum for debate about research as well as giving the opportunity to gain practical research skills.

MSc Dissertation (50 credits) The synoptic research or design dissertation gives the opportunity for application and expansion of the material presented in the programme through independent research.

Teaching and learning

The teaching and learning methods reflect the wide variety of topics and techniques associated with sustainability, low-carbon and resource efficient design. 

Staff-led lectures provide the framework, background and knowledge base, and you are encouraged to probe deeper into the topics by further reading and review. Analysis, synthesis and application of material introduced in the lectures are achieved through professional and staff-led workshops, group and one-to-one tutorials, student-led seminars, case studies, and practical work that anticipates the design project.

The course attracts students from a diverse range of ages, backgrounds, gender and nationalities. This offers opportunities for interdisciplinary, globally aware teaching and learning. You are exposed to a variety of cultural perspectives and issues through the use of international case studies and draw on their diverse strengths through peer learning and group work.

An annual field trip is an opportunity to directly experience some of the very best of sustainable design projects in another culture. Previous field trips have been to Germany, Scotland and Denmark.

The range of subjects draws on the research strengths of the teaching staff and enables research to inform the teaching modules. You are encouraged where possible to take part in staff research projects.

We attract some of the best students in the field, drawn by the integrating basis of the programme and its solid theoretical foundation on expertise within the University.

Field trips

We make  one optional major field trip each year alongside shorter local trips. In the past we have travelled to Scotland, Sweden, Austria and Germany where there is a  wealth of sustainable buildings. 

Field trips give you the opportunity to experience sustainable buildings first hand and talk to building owners and operators of low energy buildings. This helps you understand some of the practical difficulties and rewards of achieving very sustainable buildings. 

Field trips are not included in the cost of the fees and generally cost in a range of  £400 to £800.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2017/18: £8,850

Home/EU - part time fee: 2017/18: £4,510

International - full time: 2017/18: £13,200

International - part time fee : 2017/18: £6,730

Where part time fees are quoted this is for the first year only. Fees will increase by approximately 2% each year.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088
finance-fees@brookes.ac.uk

Funding and scholarships

Entry requirements

Candidates are required to fulfil one of the following:

  • Hold an approved undergraduate honours degree minimum 2.2, or equivalent overseas qualification, in a relevant discipline ie architecture, engineering or physics and other subjects related to the built and natural environments.
  • Possess an appropriate professional background and experience in architecture, building or building servicing design.

Applications are also considered from potential candidates who wish to seek accreditation for their prior experiential learning or earlier qualifications, particularly those who have worked on projects in related fields.

A number of our applicants use the programme as a means of facilitating a career change or progression.

Please also see the university's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

At least 6.5 in IELTS, with a minimum of 6.0 across all four components of the test.

Please also see the university's standard English language requirements

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the university's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

You apply for this course through UCAS Postgraduate.

Through UCAS Postgraduate, you should use the UKPASS portal to make your application, which will then be forwarded directly to our Admissions Office. You should send supporting documentation to us directly using the email addresses on the UKPASS application form.

To apply for individual modules, as part of Continuing Professional Development, please contact Dr Paola Sassi on psassi@brookes.ac.uk

Conditions of acceptance

When you accept our offer, you agree to the conditions of acceptance. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Careers

Graduates will possess an advanced understanding of the key sustainability issues related to buildings enabling them to strategically influence feasibility and design processes within the built environment. They will be familiar with a range of models, tools and methods with which to quantify, predict, evaluate and manage building performance, and will be able to use them and switch to other tools based on an understanding from first principles.

Drawing on a working knowledge of how to minimise energy, carbon emissions and resource consumption in buildings through the various stages of their life cycles, they will be able to take account of changing, incomplete and uncertain information related to the environment. They will also have well developed skills in auditing, analysis, reporting and presentation and a thorough understanding of the interdisciplinary subject area.

Students from this course have gone on to work in a wide range of occupations from architectural and engineering practices and research consultancies to development work, furniture design, owning and operating electricity utilities, and even carbon trading.

Free language courses for students - the Open Module

Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

Please note that the free language courses are not available if you are:

  • studying at a Brookes partner college
  • studying on any of our teacher education courses or postgraduate education courses.

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Personal support services

We want your time at Brookes to be as enjoyable and successful as possible. That's why we provide all the facilities you need to be relaxed, happy and healthy throughout your studies.

Research highlights

Brookes is a major player in international research in the fields of Architecture and the Built Environment and Town and Country Planning. The School includes the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD) as its primary built environment research vehicle.