Sustainable Architecture: Evaluation and Design

MSc or PGDip

Start dates: September 2024 / January 2025 / September 2025

Full time: September Start: MSc: 12 months, PGDip: 9 months. January Start: MSc 18 months.

Part time: September Start: MSc: 24 months, PGDip: 18 months/ January Start: MSc 30 months, PGDip: 24 months

Location: Headington

Department(s): School of Architecture

Find a course



The buildings we inhabit say a lot about our society. With climate emergency being the pressing issue of our time, sustainable architecture is more important than ever to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Here at Oxford Brookes, you will take a broad view of what it takes to design and operate low-carbon energy efficient buildings. You’ll explore everything from heating and ventilation systems to the behaviour of users. You’ll keep up to date with developments in policy and construction techniques. And you’ll examine the industry’s biggest challenges so you can work to solve them and contribute to a sustainable future.

We use our industry links and research connections to give you the latest insights and the greatest opportunities – whether you want to learn more about new technologies or network with the biggest players in the consultancy business. You’ll find plenty of ways to personalise the course to your own interests and career goals too.

With accreditation by the Energy Institute, you can access a huge range of resources and training to boost your career.

Attend an open day or webinar Ask a question Order a prospectus

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Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Be ahead of the curve

    We started the course in 1994 and we’ve gained a lot of experience in that time. Join us and always be up to date with the latest developments.

  • Flexibility to follow your interests

    We’ve designed the course to allow you to personalise your studies based on your skills and interests.

  • Discuss and debate

    Our collaborative environment allows you to explore subjects with your peers and staff, learning from each other’s insights and experiences.

  • Broaden your skills

    The course is equally suitable for architects looking to specialise or others looking to add new skills to their CV.

  • Experts on hand

    The course is taught by leading researchers, academics and sustainability consultants – and you’ll hear from practising professionals in guest lectures and other events.

  • Accreditation(s)

    Accredited by the Energy Institute

    • Energy Institute

Course details

Course structure

Your modules cover the key topics you’ll need to know about as a sustainability-focused architect or consultant. From urban microclimates to renewable energy production, we cover a lot of ground. You can choose to focus on the particular topics or approaches that suit your interests and there is built-in flexibility to specialise.

As well as the taught modules, you’ll also complete a dissertation. You can use it to further your knowledge in a particular area and bring together what you’ve learned on the course.

You can join us full time or part time. If you do not complete the full MSc, you have the option to exit early with a postgraduate certificate or diploma.

Two male students studying in a quiet space

Learning and teaching

Our teaching reflects the wide variety of topics and techniques associated with sustainability, low-carbon and resource efficient design. Methods include:

  • staff-led lectures 
  • professional and staff-led workshops
  • group and one-to-one tutorials
  • student-led seminars
  • case studies
  • practical work that anticipates the design project.

Students come from a diverse range of ages, backgrounds and nationalities. This contributes to interdisciplinary, globally aware teaching and learning. We use international case studies for a variety of cultural perspectives and issues. You can draw on their diverse strengths with peer learning and group work.

You can experience some of the very best of sustainable design projects on the annual field trip. Previous trips have been to Germany, Scotland and Denmark.

Our research informs our teaching so the range of subjects draws on the research strengths of our teaching staff. We encourage you, where possible, to take part in staff research projects.


The course benefits from a variety of formative and summative assessments including presentations, class tests and reports.

Field Trips

The course includes one optional major field trip each year alongside shorter local trips. Field trips give you the opportunity to:

  • experience sustainable buildings first hand
  • talk to building owners and operators of low energy buildings.

This helps you understand some of the practical difficulties and rewards of achieving sustainable buildings.

This carries an additional cost. Please see the Additional costs section of this page for details.

Study modules

The modules listed below are for the master's award. For the PGDip award your module choices may be different. Please contact us for more details.

Taught modules

Compulsory modules

  • Building Physics (20 credits)

    Building Physics module provides fundamental understanding of the applied principles of physics to the built environment. Understanding Building physics is crucial to more efficient and sustainable building design, providing the knowledge of how buildings work. This module, in particular, studies heat, air and moisture transfer in buildings allowing designers to explore energy efficient solutions/buildings whilst also providing thermal comfort for its occupant.

    This module explores energy balance through understanding gains and losses allowing better fabric energy efficiency and consequently more efficient buildings. The different climatic conditions and their effect on the overall energy demand of buildings are also investigated. 

  • Urban sustainability and microclimates (20 credits)

    The impact of urbanisation and its effect on microclimate is undeniably increasing the burden on resources and energy demand, contributing to the rate of climate change. This module sets to explore the issues arising from urban development and its implication on district energy generation and distribution, infrastructures, urban microclimates and the additional emphasis on the buildings’ energy demand.

    The module introduces the philosophy and theories of sustainable development considering energy supply and demand, water, natural resources, sustainable transport and the local economy.

  • Building Performance Evaluation (20 credits)

    This unique module focuses on the complex task of assessing the actual performance of buildings in respect of energy use, environmental impact and occupant satisfaction. This module provides the opportunity for students to monitor and assess real buildings’ performance after building completion, understanding the performance gap and propose possible improvements.

  • Services and Systems for Net Zero Energy Buildings (20 credits)

    The module introduces the principles of building design and construction that minimise the carbon impact of buildings. This includes advanced construction detailing, highly-efficient heating, cooling, ventilation systems and energy-efficient appliances in addition to the production of renewable energy through different available technologies.

    A unique comprehensive construction detailing workshop is offered in this module.

  • Building Simulation and Design in Context (40 credits)

    This module allows students to apply the knowledge gained from other modules within the course, to one practical module. The module provides a theoretical introduction to a systematic building energy performance simulation and analysis in relation to different climatic conditions. The underlying theory and principles of software related to the predictive modelling of buildings is described and the merits of state of the art software modelling packages debated. Students are therefore able to examine their ideas in relation to particular types of climate and explore the effectiveness of applied strategies as climate modifiers, using predictive modelling techniques. The students are also encouraged to look beyond the oil age and traditional construction methods and materials and look into future proofing their proposal. This can be undertaken either by a more design based or alternative research approach. 

  • Research Methods and Design (10 credits)

    This module aims to advance the students’ knowledge and understanding of research methods available. It presents a variety of qualitative and quantitative methodologies providing an opportunity to gain practical research skills.

Final project

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation

    The synoptic research or a ‘research-led’ design dissertation gives the opportunity for application and expansion of the material presented in the programme through independent research projects. (50 credits)

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from those shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.


We are a major player in international research in the fields of architecture and the built environment and town and country planning. You are encouraged where possible to take part in staff research projects. 

The course benefits from direct links to two of the best research groups in the university, recognised nationally and internationally:

The course also has direct input from:

  • 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.


If you have an architectural background, you’ll probably be joining the course to specialise and learn more about how to make your practice more sustainable. You could open up new opportunities and become an expert in this important field.

But the course isn’t just for architects – we welcome engineers, physicists, and more. You could change your career or add specialist knowledge to your current role. Your skills will be valuable in areas like sustainability consultancy or policy making.

You’ll have up-to-date knowledge of everything from building regulations to environmental models. You’ll have practical experience and critical thinking skills that will allow you to adapt to new technologies we can’t yet predict.

Careers include:

  • architectural and engineering practices
  • research or sustainability consultancies
  • development work
  • utilities
  • carbon trading
  • academia.

Entry requirements

International qualifications and equivalences

How to apply

Application process

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time
£10,700 (Masters); £9,700 (Diploma)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time
£10,700 (Masters); £9,700 (Diploma)

Home (UK) part time

International full time

2025 / 26
Home (UK) full time

Home (UK) part time

International full time

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400

Fees quoted are for the first year only. If you are studying a course that lasts longer than one year, your fees will increase each year.

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support.

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

Programme changes:
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our changes to programmes page.