What is the difference between the three MSc degrees

The Theory and Practice in Sustainable Design course is at one end of the spectrum. It aims to change the way its students think about their jobs. It considers all aspects of sustainability that concern the built environment in general. It is not exclusively for building designers, but also for any professionals whose work impacts on the sustainability of the built environment, including policy-makers and developers. The single project module in this programme runs the full length of the course and involves students in a live problem originating in a practice or local authority, monitoring and advising on issues of sustainability. The idea is to learn how to identify opportunities for sustainable intervention.

The Environmental Design of Buildings course teaches what practitioners need to know in order to design buildings with attention to their internal environments and to the environments around them. It covers a broad spectrum of skills within that aim, and aims to be of practical use. The theme of sustainability underlies all that is taught. Its main project module tackles an environmental problem in three stages: first by adapting the site without a building, then by using only the building fabric to moderate the climate, and finally by correcting the deficiencies efficiently using building services. Its specialist teaching modules look in more detail at designing with the climate, at environmental targets, and at using building form and fabric to achieve them.

One of the skills learnt on both these programmes is the use of Ecotect, which is a general-purpose program for evaluating the environmental performance of buildings. The Building Energy and Environment Performance Modelling course is devoted to modelling, mostly digital but also physical. In addition to Ecotect, students learn to use programs of other types that are in current use. Learning to use a wide range of software is only possible on a devoted course such as this, because of the time it takes to become proficient. The course covers the underlying principles of modelling, the range of outputs that can be expected, and the limitations, whilst giving students hands-on skill in using the software. It pays particular attention to the demands on practitioners being created by legislation calling for them to demonstrate that their buildings meet new environmental standards.

Someone returning to their profession after completing the Theory and Practice in Sustainable Design course should find themselves bringing a new attitude to all aspects of their work. Someone returning after completing the Environmental Design of Buildings course would expect to specialise in environmental design. Someone returning after completing the Building Energy and Environment Performance Modelling course would hope to become a specialist in modelling the environmental performance of buildings in all its aspects.

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