The course is organised on a modular credit system, 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 basic 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 in relation to the built environment within the natural world. Sustainable design is of critical importance in tackling climate change creatively and providing dynamic environments for all lifeforms.
Post-occupancy Building Evaluation (20 credits) focuses on the complex task of assessing the actual performance of existing buildings in respect of energy use, environmental impact and occupant satisfaction, known as post-occupancy evaluation (POE).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.
Sustainable Design in Context (20 credits) provides the opportunity to apply in practice the design principles gained in previous modules. It focusses 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 learning and assessment
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. Students 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.
The course content is informed by research conducted through OISD, which has a world-renowned reputation for excellence.
The key staff members teaching on the course are:
- Dr. Paola Sassi, Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer. Author of Strategies for Sustainable Architecture (Taylor and Francis 2006), specialist in ecological closed loop material cycle design and partner of Sassi Chamberlain Architects.
- Professor Rajat Gupta, Professor in Climate Change and Director of the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development: Architecture Unit (OISD:A). Specialist in carbon-counting and post-occupancy evaluation.
- Mary Hancock, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Design. Expert in passive thermal design and monitoring of building performance.
- Maria Rita (Maita) Kessler, Associate Lecturer, architect and urban planner. Expert in sustainable urban planning and building design.
- Professor Michael Hutchins, Associate Lecturer and Head of the Solar Energy Society. Specialist in advanced glazing materials, electrochromic devices and spectrophotometric optical properties measurement techniques, solar energy, solar heating and cooling, windows and day lighting.
- Professor Michael Humphreys and Professor Fergus Nicol, guest lecturers. International leaders in the field of thermal comfort.
Regular reviews and external examiners ensure the course's high quality is maintained.
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.
We make one major field trip each year. In the past we have travelled to Scotland, Sweden, Austria and Germany where there is a wealth of sustainable buildings. Field trips give students the opportunity to experience sustainable buildings first hand and talk to building owners and operators of low energy buildings. It helps 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 less than £500.
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.