MSc in Sustainable Building Performance and Design

Oxford Brookes University, Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment

Program Description

MSc in Sustainable Building Performance and Design

Oxford Brookes University, Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment

MSc in Sustainable Building Performance and Design - September 2016

This unique multi-disciplinary course is taught by architects, engineers and physicists involved in practice and research. It focuses on the theory and practice of developing low carbon and sustainable buildings.

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.

Why choose this course?

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.

Distinctive aspects of the course include:

  • A complete module in post-occupancy evaluation, based on our groundbreaking research in this area, is available.
  • We offer a sustainable built environment strategies module focusing on sustainable lifestyles and quality of life and a sustainable building design module.
  • Our advanced low carbon building technology module uniquely combines strategic decision making with practical application within international climatic context.
  • Our international standing as research leaders in thermal comfort is directly reflected in our teaching of building design.

This course in detail

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 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 and quality of life in relation to the built environment within the natural world. The module introduces skills to research and formulate development strategies to create sustainable and high quality of life built environments.

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.

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 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. 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.

Field trips

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.

Entry requirements

Candidates are required to fulfil one of the following:

  • Hold an approved undergraduate honours degree (or equivalent) at first or upper second class 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.

Applicants are encouraged to submit a digital portfolio of their design or other work related to the built environment and GRE General Test results if available.

English language requirements

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

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.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

Last updated August 28, 2016
Duration & Price
This course is Campus based
Start Date
Start date
Sept. 2017
12 - 24 months
Part time
Full time
8,670 GBP
United Kingdom - Oxford, England
Start date: Sept. 2017
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
Sept. 2017
United Kingdom - Oxford, England
Application deadline Request Info
End date Request Info
- UK and EU; £12,870 - Non-EU