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Sustainable Architecture: Evaluation and Design

PGDip or MSc

Key facts


Start dates

September 2020

Location

Headington

Course length

Full time: MSc: 12 months, PGDip: 9 months

Part time: MSc: 24 months, PGDip: 18 months

Department

School of Architecture

  • Energy Institute

Overview


Our Sustainable Architecture: Evaluation and Design (SAED) MSc is a unique, multi-disciplinary course. It was established in 1994 and continues to grow and evolve. We keep up to date with changes in sustainability, policies and advancement in the construction industry.

The course focuses on the theory and practice of developing low carbon and sustainable buildings. You will gain an advanced understanding of the key sustainability issues related to buildings. So you can strategically influence feasibility and design processes within the built environment.

Our strong links with industry give you:

  • the opportunity to learn from the latest challenges in the industry
  • chances to participate in competitions to win prizes
  • possible future employment opportunities.

Some of the practices contributing to the course include; Method Consulting LLP, Eco Design Consultants Ltd, Max Fordham, Passivhaus Trust UK.

Our graduates have found work in a wide range of occupations in areas such as:

  • architectural and engineering practices
  • research
  • sustainability consultancies
  • academic, PhD
Female students working on laptops

How to apply


Entry requirements

Specific 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

If your first language is not English you will require a minimum academic IELTS score of 6.5 overall with 6.0 in all components.

OR

An equivalent English language qualification acceptable to the University.

Please also see the University's standard English language requirements.

International qualifications and equivalences

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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.

Pathways courses for international and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you meet the entry requirements for your postgraduate course and also familiarise you with university life in the UK.

Take a Pre-Master's course to develop your subject knowledge, study skills and academic language level in preparation for your master's course.

If you need to improve your English language, we offer pre-sessional English language courses to help you meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s course.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Application process

Tuition fees


Please see the fees note
Home/EU full time
£9,390 (Masters); £8,450 (Diploma)

Home/EU part time
£4,780

International full time
£14,000

Home/EU full time
£9,500 (Masters); £8,500 (Diploma)

Home/EU part time
£4,750

International full time
£14,700

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees


2019/20
Home/EU full time
£9,390 (Masters); £8,450 (Diploma)

Home/EU part time
£4,780

International full time
£14,000

2020/21
Home/EU full time
£9,500 (Masters); £8,500 (Diploma)

Home/EU part time
£4,750

International full time
£14,700

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

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.

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 below.

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, if any, are detailed below.

Field trips are not included in your course fees. You will need to cover the costs which range from £400 to £800.

Learning and assessment


The course uses a modular credit system, you will need:

  • 60 credits for postgraduate certificate
  • 120 credits for the postgraduate diploma (9 months full-time, 20 months part-time)
  • 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 usually consists of:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • individual tutorials
  • other staff contact

The remaining time is devoted to student-led study and assessment.

Two male students studying in a quiet space

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

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.

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. 

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 that shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

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.

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.

In the past we have travelled to Scotland, Sweden, Austria and Germany where there are a wealth of sustainable buildings.

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

Assessment

Assessment methods used on this course

Research


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:

  • Matt Gaskin, Head of School of Architecture
  • 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.

After you graduate


Career prospects

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:

  • architectural and engineering practices
  • research consultancies
  • development work
  • sustainability consultancies 
  • owning and operating electricity utilities
  • carbon trading.

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.