Welsh School of Architecture

MSc in Theory and Practice of Sustainable Design

Scope and Aims of the Scheme

As environmental and social problems become ever more prominent in our global community, there is an increasing need for attention to the principles of sustainability in the procurement, design, and realisation of construction developments in the built environment. This course addresses this need by preparing professionals for bringing to their field of work a pro-active approach to change in the built environment informed by the principle of sustainability.

The course presents the principles of sustainable practice and methods for applying them, from setting sustainable development targets as part of project briefs to realising them through design and sustainable procurement and site practice. The practical aspects of the programme are supported by an introduction to the philosophies that underpin sustainability and project work plays an important part in relating the theory to real situations.

The programme is designed to support reflective learning, providing opportunities for students to articulate their values and beliefs and their personal standpoint on sustainability. Lectures, seminars and project work help students clarify their thinking, test their views and develop working skills. By debating issues relating to sustainability and applying methods for achieving sustainable design to practical situations students become better able to identify opportunities and overcome barriers to promoting sustainability in their field of work. A live development project offers a venue for challenging the students’ values and priorities and examining the reality of applying sustainable development principles into practice.

MSc Theory and Practice of Sustainable Design

Scheme Suitability

The course is designed for built environment professionals from the disciplines of architecture, town and country planning, engineering, construction and client representatives. It is also appropriate for people from social sciences, ecology, environmental sciences, politics, management studies etc without a design background but working in relation with or having an interest in the built environment.

The global dimension of sustainability and the global relevance and application of the learning to be gained makes the course relevant internationally. The course will value and build upon the perspectives of participants form different cultures.

Scheme Details

As part of the School’s Architectural Science Master suite, this scheme is delivered in two stages. In stage 1 students sit a number of taught and project modules, for 120 credits, while in stage 2 each student undertakes an individual piece of research; the 60 credit dissertation.

Course Structure

Core modules - shared between all courses (60 credits)

In stage 1, the scheme shares a set of common core modules. These are taken by all ASM Masters students and comprise:

Click the module names for more information

Module name: Site and Environment (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Millennium Housing

In this module, an analytical approach is taken to the physical environment experienced by users outside buildings. The theme is the ambient environment of the site. The module discusses basic physics needed to understand physical environments in general, climatic processes involved in creating the local environment of a site, procedures for analysing environmental data to provide designers with objectives, and the physical needs that users have for their environments. Successful environmental design must start with an understanding of the ambient environment, of how it arises, of its short and long term variation, of its affect on comfort, and of how it can be harnessed and moderated.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate an understanding of basic concepts in environmental physics;
  • discuss in principle the physics of building environmental performance;
  • explain the environmental and human factors affecting thermal comfort;
  • explain the relationship between types of sky and available thermal and visible radiation;
  • explain the factors influencing global and local climate;
  • show how these matters affect the objectives that environmental designers should pursue.

Discipline specific skills

  • solve problems in environmental physics using basic numerical and graphical procedures;
  • gauge relationships between local climate and landscape in specific circumstances;
  • conduct an environmental site analysis;
  • estimate the availability and nature of sun, light and wind at a site;
  • calculate the daylight factor and the changes in solar orientation at any location;
  • interpret design objectives from climatic and environmental data using graphic techniques;
  • operate satisfactorily the software for climatic analysis used in the module.

Module name: Earth and Society (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Law faculty

This module introduces the principal concepts of sustainability and the values, beliefs and assumptions that underpin them. It considers the historic development of the 'green' movement and how social frameworks, which influence people's behaviour and lifestyles, impact on sustainability as well as introducing Climate Change as an important context for sustainable development. It identifies different positions relating to sustainability adopted today, both at a theoretical and practical level and encourages students to question these as well as their own views. It also ensures an awareness of sustainability at a variety of development scale, from individual buildings through communities to the broader urban scale including health and comfort in the built environment. The module provides a structure for students to develop, discuss and formulate their personal sustainability standpoint.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate familiarity with the theories, concepts and context of sustainability;
  • discuss the influence of different frameworks impacting on society and the built environment and their effects on sustainability;
  • illustrate the interrelation of the different frameworks on sustainability;
  • identify historic stages of the 'green' movement;
  • identity influences on and ambitions for a healthy and comfortable building environment
  • show awareness and understanding of leading examples and issues of sustainable design at a building, community and urban scale;
  • appreciate the complexities and interdependencies of sustainable design and the constraints involved in applying the theories of sustainability into practice at a variety of development scales;
  • identify potential and appropriate methods for enhancing the sustainability of personal lifestyles and local and global communities with relation to the built environment;

Discipline specific skills

  • clearly articulate their sustainability standpoint;
  • critically assess ideas, concepts and approaches relating to sustainability.

Module name: Building Fabric (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Students talking

A building's fabric provides the means for forming an enclosure and separating it from the external environment. It can therefore act as a shelter from external environmental conditions, or a means for moderating and taking advantage of them, in order to improve comfort within buildings. Understanding the principles by which a building interacts with the external environment through its fabric, is therefore key in understanding building performance. This module will introduce those principles as well as novel and established techniques to achieve a successful design for comfort, health and energy efficiency.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • describe the basic thermal properties of building materials
  • describe the properties of glazing in relation to thermal and visual parameters
  • explain the issues relating to the provision of comfortable and healthy air in building spaces
  • explain the main techniques for predicting and measuring performance for faƧade and ventilation design and for estimating thermal load
  • discuss constructively the collection, storage, distribution, and utilisation of energy in a passive building
  • demonstrate the dynamic heat transfer processes in facades and spaces
  • evaluate how heat loss and surface heat transfer can be controlled by glazing, insulation and thermal mass;
  • illustrate how ventilation systems can provide good air quality with the efficient use of energy
  • evaluate how sunlight and daylight can be controlled through facade engineering
  • demonstrate an understanding of core building physics principles thought in the module

Discipline specific skills

  • interpret and act on the information produced by modelling methods.
  • solve problems in building physics using basic numerical and graphical procedures
  • identify appropriate techniques for predicting faƧade and ventilation performance for specific designs
  • engage in the integrated design process in relation to fabric and ventilation design.

Module name: Primitives (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Group of students

Fundamental skills in three areas can be identified which are necessary for satisfactory completion of these schemes of study and for which many students will need tuition. They are sufficiently important to be taught and assessed as part of the schemes, rather than left to induction and private study. These are skills in basic mathematics, research methods, and environmental evaluation using Ecotect.

On completion of the module, a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, geometry and descriptive statistics, to the level needed for the schemes of study served;
  • understand the purpose, process and standards of academic research;
  • understand how research knowledge advances collectively and how research is distinguished by different methodological approaches;
  • explain the content and structure required of a dissertation;
  • explain the criteria that make a good research proposal;
  • distinguish between fair and unfair practice in research conduct and research reporting;
  • explain the capabilities and limitations of Ecotect software in evaluating the environmental performance of buildings;

Discipline specific skills

  • evaluate the environmental performance of buildings using Ecotect across a wide range of the predictive techniques it offers, particularly as follows;
  • build a valid 3D geometrical model from plans or description;
  • produce accurate shadow maps for a given building;
  • produce accurate daylight factors for a given space;
  • produce, and interpret, a passive energy breakdown, for a given zone;
  • produce seasonal heating/cooling, for a given whole building.

Generic skills

  • demonstrate an ability to solve basic problems in the mathematical areas listed above;
  • conduct a literature research satisfactorily;
  • distinguish between good and bad research;
  • conduct numerical and statistical evaluation of data at a basic level;
  • write a satisfactory research proposal;

Module name: Efficient Services (Core teaching - 10 credits)

The design of 'environmentally friendly' buildings depends critically on the choice of appropriate servicing strategies - an inappropriate servicing strategy can negate all the work undertaken on the form and fabric of the building. This module explores the principles behind current low energy solutions to servicing strategies, and deals with basic application information and strategies. The course is designed to complement information provided in all the other modules.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • describe how, why and where buildings services consume energy;
  • describe the current techniques available to minimise this energy use;
  • present a reasoned argument in favour of efficient building services;
  • describe the interaction between the building services and the building fabric and form.
  • explain the principles behind a range of low energy servicing solutions for buildings;
  • recognise when and where it is appropriate to apply these solutions.

Discipline specific skills

  • assess the impact of the various building services options on a building design problem.

Module name: Low Carbon Footprint (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Low carbon design requires an holistic approach to the energy use of a building. The designer needs to understand in principle how buildings use energy and to supplement this understanding with evidence on energy use from the field. He or she needs to be able to work with goals for building design, such as zero carbon standards, and with ways of off-setting energy consumption with renewables.

The aims of the module are therefore;

  • to introduce the ways buildings use energy;
  • to introduce methods of matching these demands through renewables and low energy systems;
  • to introduce techniques for assessing the energy footprint and sustainable performance of the building using benchmarking and monitoring.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • explain how buildings use energy, the demands and loads with buildings and the impact of occupancy on energy use;
  • explain use of renewables technologies and low energy cooling technologies within buildings;
  • show a basic knowledge of the concept of embodied energy;
  • show an understanding of assessment tools for sustainable design;
  • explain the benefits monitoring and calculate benchmarks for buildings;
  • show an understanding of zero-carbon buildings.

Discipline specific skills

  • evaluate how well a building attains low carbon design;
  • assess the impact of the various building services options on a building design problem.

Specialist Modules (60 credits)

Click the module names for more information

Module name: Sustainable Building (Specialist teaching - 10 credits)

Sustainable Building

Sustainable building design aims to create resource-efficient buildings that are comfortable and healthy places to live and work. Materials, water and energy are used for the construction and the running of buildings and the use of resources can be associated with environmental and social impacts. Sustainable design ensures that the impacts associated with resources are kept to a minimum while also considering issues of light, temperature, indoor air quality and psychological aspects of buildings that affect health. This module focuses on the design to minimise resource use, while considering the need to create healthy environments.

Knowledge and understanding

  • discuss the principal aims and strategies of sustainable building design
  • identify the impact of resource use of a development
  • explain the typical environmentally preferred construction systems that minimise environmental impacts associated with resources
  • explain the main principles of designing for health and well-being
  • explain the environmental impacts of different materials
  • explain basic environmental and social impacts of resource use locally and globally
  • discuss approaches to minimising resource use adopted by a number of case studies
  • be aware of sources of information on the selection of materials, the design for water and energy efficiency and the design to ensure the health and well-being of the inhabitants

Discipline specific skills

  • evaluate the environmental information on materials provided by different sources
  • investigate and present environmental profile of a building material
  • develop an outline green specification for a particular development
  • assess the options for material specification and design in respect of individual buildings' characteristics and propose an appropriate outline specification
  • assess the opportunities for saving water and energy appropriate for different development types and situations and propose appropriate strategy

Module name: Sustainable Design Practice (Specialist project - 40 credits)

Sustainable Design Practice

The project module in this course allows students to apply to a live situation principles of sustainable design learned in the taught modules. It will provide an opportunity for professionals from different disciplines in the built environment to find out how they each define and approach problem solving in relation to sustainable design, and to explore new working relationships which will require new ways of thinking. Holistic thinking will be encouraged through integrated action, with the emphasis on an individual's transformation through collaboration rather than on team-working itself. This will be a learning-by-doing approach within which a critical reflective learning process will be employed.

The module will incorporate a single development project in co-operation with a local/regional authority, development agency, community group or practice. Students will form multi-disciplinary groups, liaising with officials and with an identified client. Depending on the subject and / or building type there will be indirect or direct participation of user and community groups. The project will be a mutually beneficial activity, with the 'live-project supplier' gaining a significant input, and the students learning from engaging with a real problem.

Knowledge and understanding

  • illustrate how sustainability philosophy, theory and principles can be applied to a practical design problem
  • understand sustainable development principles at pre-contract, procurement and design phases
  • describe his/her own and his/her discipline's role in, and contribution to, a collaborative design process
  • illustrate that he/she has followed a reflective learning process and has identified his/her own transformation and self-development
  • demonstrate ability to model complexity and relationships within a built environment development problem and process
  • show an awareness of the significance and characteristics of interdisciplinary thinking when addressing sustainability design issues

Discipline specific skills

  • identify key issues and action criteria for sustainable design
  • develop strategic approaches which incorporate vision and practical actions
  • illustrate new paradigm sustainability thinking.

Module name: Building Procurement and Performance (Specialist teaching - 10 credits)

Building Procurement and Performance

This module focuses on sustainable buildings in use, as well as the processes required to deliver buildings which will perform as anticipated. In addition it aims to introduce case studies and methodologies for post occupancy monitoring, in the context of targets set through modelling and occupant interaction with buildings. Sustainable development requires the collaboration of all parties involved in the construction process, from the clients, planners and designers to the contractors, subcontractors and suppliers. This module introduces the roles of the different parties involved in the construction process and the approaches that can be adopted to achieve sustainable buildings in use. Research and monitoring methods will be introduced applicable at both building and community scale considering, health, comfort, and wider building performance factors including energy, water, light, noise and waste.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • explain the principles and the benefits of sustainable development, including the environmental performance, cost and productivity benefits, user benefits and marketing advantages
  • identify key parties involved in the construction process and describe their roles in the delivery of sustainably performaning buildings in use
  • identify the legal responsibilities of each party that contribute positively towards sustainable development in use
  • discuss the barriers to the adoption of sustainable construction principles
  • be aware of government and other initiatives supporting sustainable development
  • explain the mechanisms by which sustainable development is encouraged throughout the building development process
  • explain how monitoring and research can be undertaken to help improve building performance
  • identify appropriate monitoring and research techniques to evaluate building and development performance in use
  • discuss case studies of good practice
  • be aware of publicly available sources of information on sustainable development

Discipline specific skills

  • develop and present a plan of action including relevant documents for a theoretical project to ensure building performance meets targets set during the briefing and design stage.
  • discuss merits of and prioritise approaches to procurement to ensure delivery of sustainable development in use
  • discuss the characteristics of performance indicators and assessment methods in respect to sustainable development with the view of making use of one of the methods
  • develop and implement appropriate research and monitoring strategy to exlore building performance.

Dissertation (60 credits)

This final module in the scheme is intended to give students an opportunity to focus on some aspect of the subject matter about which there is insufficient published knowledge to be found. All practitioners working in the forefront of their field find themselves from time to time extending knowledge with original ideas and novel applications. They need to feel secure moving in new territory, to be able to come to reliable conclusions, to pass their experience on to others, and to learn from other people's advances. In this module, students choose some aspect of the programme's subject that needs further study, and conduct academic research in order to make a small advance in knowledge. This will help them to consolidate their capacity for independent study, to develop a critical stance towards standards of research supporting new contributions to knowledge, and to learn some of the techniques needed to conduct academic research proficiently themselves.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate, through the dissertation, systematic knowledge in a selected aspect of the subject area of the scheme of study;
  • have made a critical evaluation and analysis of a body of knowledge, or an original contribution to knowledge, in the subject area of the scheme of study;
  • interpret cogently and convincingly the results of the research in relation to the research objectives;

Discipline specific skills

  • define objectives pertinent to the chosen research problem and make an effective plan for pursuing them;
  • apply established techniques of research and enquiry productively in pursuing the research objectives;

Transferable skills

  • exercise initiative and personal responsibility in planning and implementing the research;
  • communicate the aims and methods and results of the research with clarity and in a style appropriate to the expected audience;
  • show a thorough and systematic approach to planning, implementing, and reporting the research.

MSc in Environmental Design of Buildings

Scope of the Programme

We spend most of our lives in and around buildings, where we enjoy the comfort and utility they provide. These benefits, it is sobering to reflect, are created at a cost to the rest of the world. The materials of which buildings are made, the services they incorporate, their siting and configuration, and the way they are run have an effect on our economy, on the sustainability of our global resources, on the conservation of the natural environment, and on the wellbeing of society. This trade-off between immediate local advantage and longer term sustainability places a responsibility on building designers. They must learn to create an enhanced environment for buildings in a way that minimises their wider global impact.

At the wsa we offer a taught postgraduate programme that is intended to help those involved in the design of building environments to assume this responsibility. It introduces designers to the knowledge they will need and provides them with opportunities to practice the necessary skills. They are introduced to techniques for making more informed decisions, for evaluating their results, and for drawing lessons from the work of others.

Project work is an important component of the scheme, and is intended to emphasise practicalities and develop the necessary working skills. The scheme encourages an understanding of both the principles and application of its subject, giving attention to design in diverse climates, serving many needs, commercial and domestic.

Programme Suitability

We are pleased to accept both mature candidates with working experience and the newly qualified. This is not a scheme solely for architects. The responsibility for building environments is shared between many members of the design team. Architects, building services engineers, architectural engineers, surveyors and building technicians have all found the scheme valuable in the past. It is by bridging the gap between these disciplines that the adverse impacts of artificial environments can be minimised.

Students taking this programme over the last decade have come from all over the world, and the syllabus has evolved to adopt an international perspective of relevance to students from all countries.

There are both local and distance versions of this programme.

MSc Degrees Suite

Programme aims

The knowledge and skills that students gain are those needed to become specialists in environmental design. In most cases, they are likely to continue their careers in their original disciplines, but with the advantages the new specialism will bring.

The principal aims of the programme are:

  • to develop in students the knowledge and ability needed to design healthy, comfortable and secure environments in and around buildings that place a minimal strain on global resources;
  • to prepare students for adopting the role of an environmental designer in the building team, and adapting to changing demands on this role as sustainable policies are increasingly supported by the public and by governments;
  • to encourage in students an understanding of both the principles and application of the subject, using project work to emphasise practicalities and develop necessary working skills and a research dissertation to emphasise the ongoing development of knowledge.

More specifically the programme aims:

  • to draw on the School’s long experience in research and consultancy in the United Kingdom and overseas;
  • to address the different requirements for environmental design raised by the globe’s diverse climates;
  • to meet the learning needs of students from diverse academic and professional backgrounds.

Course Structure

Core modules - shared between all courses (60 credits)

In stage 1, the scheme shares a set of common core modules. These are taken by all ASM Masters students and comprise:

Click the module names for more information

Module name: Site and Environment (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Millennium Housing

In this module, an analytical approach is taken to the physical environment experienced by users outside buildings. The theme is the ambient environment of the site. The module discusses basic physics needed to understand physical environments in general, climatic processes involved in creating the local environment of a site, procedures for analysing environmental data to provide designers with objectives, and the physical needs that users have for their environments. Successful environmental design must start with an understanding of the ambient environment, of how it arises, of its short and long term variation, of its affect on comfort, and of how it can be harnessed and moderated.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate an understanding of basic concepts in environmental physics;
  • discuss in principle the physics of building environmental performance;
  • explain the environmental and human factors affecting thermal comfort;
  • explain the relationship between types of sky and available thermal and visible radiation;
  • explain the factors influencing global and local climate;
  • show how these matters affect the objectives that environmental designers should pursue.

Discipline specific skills

  • solve problems in environmental physics using basic numerical and graphical procedures;
  • gauge relationships between local climate and landscape in specific circumstances;
  • conduct an environmental site analysis;
  • estimate the availability and nature of sun, light and wind at a site;
  • calculate the daylight factor and the changes in solar orientation at any location;
  • interpret design objectives from climatic and environmental data using graphic techniques;
  • operate satisfactorily the software for climatic analysis used in the module.

Module name: Earth and Society (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Law faculty

This module introduces the principal concepts of sustainability and the values, beliefs and assumptions that underpin them. It considers the historic development of the 'green' movement and how social frameworks, which influence people's behaviour and lifestyles, impact on sustainability as well as introducing Climate Change as an important context for sustainable development. It identifies different positions relating to sustainability adopted today, both at a theoretical and practical level and encourages students to question these as well as their own views. It also ensures an awareness of sustainability at a variety of development scale, from individual buildings through communities to the broader urban scale including health and comfort in the built environment. The module provides a structure for students to develop, discuss and formulate their personal sustainability standpoint.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate familiarity with the theories, concepts and context of sustainability;
  • discuss the influence of different frameworks impacting on society and the built environment and their effects on sustainability;
  • illustrate the interrelation of the different frameworks on sustainability;
  • identify historic stages of the 'green' movement;
  • identity influences on and ambitions for a healthy and comfortable building environment
  • show awareness and understanding of leading examples and issues of sustainable design at a building, community and urban scale;
  • appreciate the complexities and interdependencies of sustainable design and the constraints involved in applying the theories of sustainability into practice at a variety of development scales;
  • identify potential and appropriate methods for enhancing the sustainability of personal lifestyles and local and global communities with relation to the built environment;

Discipline specific skills

  • clearly articulate their sustainability standpoint;
  • critically assess ideas, concepts and approaches relating to sustainability.

Module name: Building Fabric (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Students talking

A building's fabric provides the means for forming an enclosure and separating it from the external environment. It can therefore act as a shelter from external environmental conditions, or a means for moderating and taking advantage of them, in order to improve comfort within buildings. Understanding the principles by which a building interacts with the external environment through its fabric, is therefore key in understanding building performance. This module will introduce those principles as well as novel and established techniques to achieve a successful design for comfort, health and energy efficiency.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • describe the basic thermal properties of building materials
  • describe the properties of glazing in relation to thermal and visual parameters
  • explain the issues relating to the provision of comfortable and healthy air in building spaces
  • explain the main techniques for predicting and measuring performance for faƧade and ventilation design and for estimating thermal load
  • discuss constructively the collection, storage, distribution, and utilisation of energy in a passive building
  • demonstrate the dynamic heat transfer processes in facades and spaces
  • evaluate how heat loss and surface heat transfer can be controlled by glazing, insulation and thermal mass;
  • illustrate how ventilation systems can provide good air quality with the efficient use of energy
  • evaluate how sunlight and daylight can be controlled through facade engineering
  • demonstrate an understanding of core building physics principles thought in the module

Discipline specific skills

  • interpret and act on the information produced by modelling methods.
  • solve problems in building physics using basic numerical and graphical procedures
  • identify appropriate techniques for predicting faƧade and ventilation performance for specific designs
  • engage in the integrated design process in relation to fabric and ventilation design.

Module name: Primitives (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Group of students

Fundamental skills in three areas can be identified which are necessary for satisfactory completion of these schemes of study and for which many students will need tuition. They are sufficiently important to be taught and assessed as part of the schemes, rather than left to induction and private study. These are skills in basic mathematics, research methods, and environmental evaluation using Ecotect.

On completion of the module, a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, geometry and descriptive statistics, to the level needed for the schemes of study served;
  • understand the purpose, process and standards of academic research;
  • understand how research knowledge advances collectively and how research is distinguished by different methodological approaches;
  • explain the content and structure required of a dissertation;
  • explain the criteria that make a good research proposal;
  • distinguish between fair and unfair practice in research conduct and research reporting;
  • explain the capabilities and limitations of Ecotect software in evaluating the environmental performance of buildings;

Discipline specific skills

  • evaluate the environmental performance of buildings using Ecotect across a wide range of the predictive techniques it offers, particularly as follows;
  • build a valid 3D geometrical model from plans or description;
  • produce accurate shadow maps for a given building;
  • produce accurate daylight factors for a given space;
  • produce, and interpret, a passive energy breakdown, for a given zone;
  • produce seasonal heating/cooling, for a given whole building.

Generic skills

  • demonstrate an ability to solve basic problems in the mathematical areas listed above;
  • conduct a literature research satisfactorily;
  • distinguish between good and bad research;
  • conduct numerical and statistical evaluation of data at a basic level;
  • write a satisfactory research proposal;

Module name: Efficient Services (Core teaching - 10 credits)

The design of 'environmentally friendly' buildings depends critically on the choice of appropriate servicing strategies - an inappropriate servicing strategy can negate all the work undertaken on the form and fabric of the building. This module explores the principles behind current low energy solutions to servicing strategies, and deals with basic application information and strategies. The course is designed to complement information provided in all the other modules.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • describe how, why and where buildings services consume energy;
  • describe the current techniques available to minimise this energy use;
  • present a reasoned argument in favour of efficient building services;
  • describe the interaction between the building services and the building fabric and form.
  • explain the principles behind a range of low energy servicing solutions for buildings;
  • recognise when and where it is appropriate to apply these solutions.

Discipline specific skills

  • assess the impact of the various building services options on a building design problem.

Module name: Low Carbon Footprint (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Low carbon design requires an holistic approach to the energy use of a building. The designer needs to understand in principle how buildings use energy and to supplement this understanding with evidence on energy use from the field. He or she needs to be able to work with goals for building design, such as zero carbon standards, and with ways of off-setting energy consumption with renewables.

The aims of the module are therefore;

  • to introduce the ways buildings use energy;
  • to introduce methods of matching these demands through renewables and low energy systems;
  • to introduce techniques for assessing the energy footprint and sustainable performance of the building using benchmarking and monitoring.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • explain how buildings use energy, the demands and loads with buildings and the impact of occupancy on energy use;
  • explain use of renewables technologies and low energy cooling technologies within buildings;
  • show a basic knowledge of the concept of embodied energy;
  • show an understanding of assessment tools for sustainable design;
  • explain the benefits monitoring and calculate benchmarks for buildings;
  • show an understanding of zero-carbon buildings.

Discipline specific skills

  • evaluate how well a building attains low carbon design;
  • assess the impact of the various building services options on a building design problem.

Specialist Modules (60 credits)

Click the module name for more information

Module name: Outside Inside (Specialist teaching - 10 credits)

Environmental Design of Buildings

Earlier modules have introduced the fundamentals of environmental design to the student. One of its objectives is to adapt the ambient environment to make more desirable living conditions: the designer starts with a given climate and tries to achieve specified environmental targets. This module offers advanced treatment of aspects of the environment outside and inside: of both the climatic environment and the internal building environment. Included in this is the main treatment of the acoustic environment offered in the course.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate understanding of the material taught in the module;
  • use climatic data to estimate the availability of sun and wind at a particular site or building surface;
  • estimate how much energy and power the available wind and sun can provide;
  • show how the form and envelope of the building can be used to admit solar radiation selectively;
  • extend the basic metrics of physics to deliver more complex environmental concepts relevant to comfort;
  • discuss quantitative and qualitative standards for lighting, thermal and acoustic comfort;
  • select and explain design tactics for achieving satisfactory internal environments;
  • discuss the theory supporting these standards and design tactics.

Discipline specific skills

  • demonstrate the ability to use effectively the skills introduced in the module;
  • operate satisfactorily the building environmental evaluation software used on the module;
  • use drawings and scale models to investigate the access of built surfaces to sun and wind;
  • select and utilise appropriate techniques from those taught to solve a range of environmental design problems.

Transferable skills

  • present his or her knowledge and understanding in an organised and cogent way.

Module name: Passive Design (Specialist teaching - 10 credits)

Environmental Design of Buildings

Passive Design refers to the practice of designing buildings so that their form and fabric make use of ambient energy to reduce the load on building services. Principles of building physics that need to be understood have been introduced in earlier modules, and it will be assumed that students understand how to apply them in a general approach to this end. In this module specific strategies will be explained, with guidance on when to apply them and what level of performance to expect from them.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate familiarity with the main principles of passive design;
  • discuss constructively the collection, storage, distribution, and utilisation of energy in passive strategies;
  • propose suitable implementations of daylighting, heating and cooling strategies in specific contexts;
  • explain in principle the relative suitability of alternative strategies that could be proposed for these contexts.

Discipline specific skills

  • estimate how the performance of strategies is affected by the selection and sizing of design parameters;
  • use simple techniques to compare the energy and environmental performance of alternative design proposals.

Module name: Environmental Design Practice (Specialist project - 30 credits)

Environmental Design of Buildings

One of the aims of this module is to provide students with the opportunity of learning how to apply the ideas taught in class to problems which, whilst not real, will exercise a similar range of skills to a real problem. The knowledge they require will be taught in the core modules that run in parallel, and which they share with other degree schemes. Another aim of the module is to channel the understanding and skill that students gain from these core modules into problems that call on the more specialist perspective adopted in their specialist area of study in the environmental design of buildings. Because the students are from varied professional backgrounds with different practice needs to meet, another aim is to keep the project brief flexible enough for students to be able to choose problems that suit this variety.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate an understanding of the material taught in the supporting modules through its application;
  • demonstrate extension of his or her knowledge beyond the taught material in investigating the project.

Discipline specific skills - first stage (site)

  • estimate the availability and nature of sun, light, wind and other environmental elements at a site;
  • devise effective methods of harnessing and moderating the existing environment with minimal intervention in the built landscape;
  • show how these matters affect the objectives that environmental designers should pursue;
  • operate satisfactorily the software for climatic analysis used in the module.

Discipline specific skills - second stage (fabric)

  • investigate the potential for environmental design of a specific brief for a building;
  • interpret climatic and environmental data in ways useful for indicating design objectives;
  • propose daylighting, heating and cooling strategies appropriate to a specific site and brief;
  • evaluate the environmental performance of design proposals.

Discipline specific skills - third stage (services)

  • show how building service loads are influenced by the use, form, fabric, and setting of a building
  • estimate the building service loads for a particular building proposal
  • propose appropriate building service systems to meet loads efficiently
  • justify your choice of one building services proposal over another.

Module name: Environmental Design Application (Specialist project - 10 credits)

Environmental Design of Buildings

The students taking the previous project module were able to apply the ideas delivered in the parallel core modules to their specialist interest of environmental design. This module allows them to apply the more advanced ideas that they learn in the specialist teaching modules at the end of Stage One. The knowledge they require will be taught in those modules, so that this module can focus more closely on its application to problems which, whilst not real, will exercise a similar range of skills to a real problem. One of the aims of the module is to provide students with the opportunity of testing out their ability to apply in practice what they have learned in class and of learning the skills involved in doing so. The students are from varied professional backgrounds and will have varied practice needs to meet. Another aim of the module is to keep the project brief flexible enough for students to be able to choose problems that suit this variety.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate an understanding of the material taught in the supporting modules through its application;
  • demonstrate an advanced understanding of how to estimate a building's access to wind and sun;
  • show an advanced understanding of how to use a building's form and fabric to harness the sun and wind;
  • demonstrate extension of his or her knowledge beyond the taught material in investigating the project.

Discipline specific skills

  • devise effective methods of harnessing and moderating the existing outside environment;
  • integrate various passive daylighting, heating and cooling strategies in a single proposal for a particular brief;
  • specify closely the environmental requirements for a given activity;
  • make appropriate provision for the building fabric and services to achieve the environmental requirements;
  • select and deploy appropriate output from the environmental software used in the course to demonstrate achievement of environmental performance;
  • argue how the planned and accidental operation of a building by its occupants might affect its environmental performance.

Transferable skills

  • present his or her knowledge and understanding in an organised and cogent way.

Dissertation (60 credits)

This final module in the scheme is intended to give students an opportunity to focus on some aspect of the subject matter about which there is insufficient published knowledge to be found. All practitioners working in the forefront of their field find themselves from time to time extending knowledge with original ideas and novel applications. They need to feel secure moving in new territory, to be able to come to reliable conclusions, to pass their experience on to others, and to learn from other people's advances. In this module, students choose some aspect of the programme's subject that needs further study, and conduct academic research in order to make a small advance in knowledge. This will help them to consolidate their capacity for independent study, to develop a critical stance towards standards of research supporting new contributions to knowledge, and to learn some of the techniques needed to conduct academic research proficiently themselves.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate, through the dissertation, systematic knowledge in a selected aspect of the subject area of the scheme of study;
  • have made a critical evaluation and analysis of a body of knowledge, or an original contribution to knowledge, in the subject area of the scheme of study;
  • interpret cogently and convincingly the results of the research in relation to the research objectives;

Discipline specific skills

  • define objectives pertinent to the chosen research problem and make an effective plan for pursuing them;
  • apply established techniques of research and enquiry productively in pursuing the research objectives;

Transferable skills

  • exercise initiative and personal responsibility in planning and implementing the research;
  • communicate the aims and methods and results of the research with clarity and in a style appropriate to the expected audience;
  • show a thorough and systematic approach to planning, implementing, and reporting the research.

MSc in Environmental Design of Buildings
Distance Learning option

Scope of the Programme

We spend most of our lives in and around buildings, where we enjoy the comfort and utility they provide. These benefits, it is sobering to reflect, are created at a cost to the rest of the world. The materials of which buildings are made, the services they incorporate, their siting and configuration, and the way they are run have an effect on our economy, on the sustainability of our global resources, on the conservation of the natural environment, and on the wellbeing of society. This trade-off between immediate local advantage and longer term sustainability places a responsibility on building designers. They must learn to create an enhanced environment for buildings in a way that minimises their wider global impact.

At the wsa we offer a taught postgraduate programme that is intended to help those involved in the design of building environments to assume this responsibility. It introduces designers to the knowledge they will need and provides them with opportunities to practice the necessary skills. They are introduced to techniques for making more informed decisions, for evaluating their results, and for drawing lessons from the work of others.

Project work is an important component of the scheme, and is intended to emphasise practicalities and develop the necessary working skills. The scheme encourages an understanding of both the principles and application of its subject, giving attention to design in diverse climates, serving many needs, commercial and domestic.

Programme Suitability

We are pleased to accept both mature candidates with working experience and the newly qualified. This is not a scheme solely for architects. The responsibility for building environments is shared between many members of the design team. Architects, building services engineers, architectural engineers, surveyors and building technicians have all found the scheme valuable in the past. It is by bridging the gap between these disciplines that the adverse impacts of artificial environments can be minimised.

Students taking this programme over the last decade have come from all over the world, and the syllabus has evolved to adopt an international perspective of relevance to students from all countries.

There are both local and distance versions of this programme.

MSc Degrees Suite

Programme aims

The knowledge and skills that students gain are those needed to become specialists in environmental design. In most cases, they are likely to continue their careers in their original disciplines, but with the advantages the new specialism will bring.

The principal aims of the programme are:

  • to develop in students the knowledge and ability needed to design healthy, comfortable and secure environments in and around buildings that place a minimal strain on global resources;
  • to prepare students for adopting the role of an environmental designer in the building team, and adapting to changing demands on this role as sustainable policies are increasingly supported by the public and by governments;
  • to encourage in students an understanding of both the principles and application of the subject, using project work to emphasise practicalities and develop necessary working skills and a research dissertation to emphasise the ongoing development of knowledge.

More specifically the programme aims:

  • to draw on the School’s long experience in research and consultancy in the United Kingdom and overseas;
  • to address the different requirements for environmental design raised by the globe’s diverse climates;
  • to meet the learning needs of students from diverse academic and professional backgrounds.

Programme delivery

The distance learning Programme is offered in one year full-time, 2 year part-time or 3-year part-time modes. Applicants should follow the links to the more detailed pages on Study Options to make sure that they understand the options available to them.

Each module employs a different mix of these methods as is appropriate to the subject matter and the method of assessment. Access to teaching material is through the Cardiff University's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE); Learning Central. Reading material is supplied through links on the VLE and includes textbooks, extracts, papers, or web-based material. Where possible required reading is available digitally though the Cardiff University Library. There is a range of services, some specific to distance learners, that students on this course could use throughout their studies, including access to local (to them) university libraries and IT services. Online demonstrations and interactive exercises are also available through VLE. Students have access to recordings of lectures or demonstrations given at Cardiff University that are related to the locally offered MSc Environmental Design of Buildings programme. Assessment is done entirely from a distance, either through participation at online examinations and online 'crits', or by using the online assignment submission system of VLE.

Communication with tutors and with peers is done using online discussion forums. In each project module, a task is set spanning the whole module, which offers students the opportunity to put into practice many of the ideas they are studying and so to reinforce their understanding and skills in the subject area as well as exercise their more generic problem-solving and presentation skills. A platform consisting of an internet-based communication software and a virtual canvas tool is used for hosting these activities.

Distance students have the opportunity to join local students on study visits, if it should be possible for them. Local attendance on some modules can be arranged if desired. Please contact the Course Leader, Dr Eleni Ampatzi (Ampatzie@cardiff.ac.uk) if you require any further information on this course.

Course Structure

Core modules - shared between all courses (60 credits)

In stage 1, the scheme shares a set of common core modules. These are taken by all ASM Masters students and comprise:

Click the module names for more information

Module name: Site and Environment (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Millennium Housing

In this module, an analytical approach is taken to the physical environment experienced by users outside buildings. The theme is the ambient environment of the site. The module discusses basic physics needed to understand physical environments in general, climatic processes involved in creating the local environment of a site, procedures for analysing environmental data to provide designers with objectives, and the physical needs that users have for their environments. Successful environmental design must start with an understanding of the ambient environment, of how it arises, of its short and long term variation, of its affect on comfort, and of how it can be harnessed and moderated.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate an understanding of basic concepts in environmental physics;
  • discuss in principle the physics of building environmental performance;
  • explain the environmental and human factors affecting thermal comfort;
  • explain the relationship between types of sky and available thermal and visible radiation;
  • explain the factors influencing global and local climate;
  • show how these matters affect the objectives that environmental designers should pursue.

Discipline specific skills

  • solve problems in environmental physics using basic numerical and graphical procedures;
  • gauge relationships between local climate and landscape in specific circumstances;
  • conduct an environmental site analysis;
  • estimate the availability and nature of sun, light and wind at a site;
  • calculate the daylight factor and the changes in solar orientation at any location;
  • interpret design objectives from climatic and environmental data using graphic techniques;
  • operate satisfactorily the software for climatic analysis used in the module.

Module name: Earth and Society (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Law faculty

This module introduces the principal concepts of sustainability and the values, beliefs and assumptions that underpin them. It considers the historic development of the 'green' movement and how social frameworks, which influence people's behaviour and lifestyles, impact on sustainability as well as introducing Climate Change as an important context for sustainable development. It identifies different positions relating to sustainability adopted today, both at a theoretical and practical level and encourages students to question these as well as their own views. It also ensures an awareness of sustainability at a variety of development scale, from individual buildings through communities to the broader urban scale including health and comfort in the built environment. The module provides a structure for students to develop, discuss and formulate their personal sustainability standpoint.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate familiarity with the theories, concepts and context of sustainability;
  • discuss the influence of different frameworks impacting on society and the built environment and their effects on sustainability;
  • illustrate the interrelation of the different frameworks on sustainability;
  • identify historic stages of the 'green' movement;
  • identity influences on and ambitions for a healthy and comfortable building environment
  • show awareness and understanding of leading examples and issues of sustainable design at a building, community and urban scale;
  • appreciate the complexities and interdependencies of sustainable design and the constraints involved in applying the theories of sustainability into practice at a variety of development scales;
  • identify potential and appropriate methods for enhancing the sustainability of personal lifestyles and local and global communities with relation to the built environment;

Discipline specific skills

  • clearly articulate their sustainability standpoint;
  • critically assess ideas, concepts and approaches relating to sustainability.

Module name: Building Fabric (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Students talking

A building's fabric provides the means for forming an enclosure and separating it from the external environment. It can therefore act as a shelter from external environmental conditions, or a means for moderating and taking advantage of them, in order to improve comfort within buildings. Understanding the principles by which a building interacts with the external environment through its fabric, is therefore key in understanding building performance. This module will introduce those principles as well as novel and established techniques to achieve a successful design for comfort, health and energy efficiency.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • describe the basic thermal properties of building materials
  • describe the properties of glazing in relation to thermal and visual parameters
  • explain the issues relating to the provision of comfortable and healthy air in building spaces
  • explain the main techniques for predicting and measuring performance for faƧade and ventilation design and for estimating thermal load
  • discuss constructively the collection, storage, distribution, and utilisation of energy in a passive building
  • demonstrate the dynamic heat transfer processes in facades and spaces
  • evaluate how heat loss and surface heat transfer can be controlled by glazing, insulation and thermal mass;
  • illustrate how ventilation systems can provide good air quality with the efficient use of energy
  • evaluate how sunlight and daylight can be controlled through facade engineering
  • demonstrate an understanding of core building physics principles thought in the module

Discipline specific skills

  • interpret and act on the information produced by modelling methods.
  • solve problems in building physics using basic numerical and graphical procedures
  • identify appropriate techniques for predicting faƧade and ventilation performance for specific designs
  • engage in the integrated design process in relation to fabric and ventilation design.

Module name: Primitives (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Group of students

Fundamental skills in three areas can be identified which are necessary for satisfactory completion of these schemes of study and for which many students will need tuition. They are sufficiently important to be taught and assessed as part of the schemes, rather than left to induction and private study. These are skills in basic mathematics, research methods, and environmental evaluation using Ecotect.

On completion of the module, a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, geometry and descriptive statistics, to the level needed for the schemes of study served;
  • understand the purpose, process and standards of academic research;
  • understand how research knowledge advances collectively and how research is distinguished by different methodological approaches;
  • explain the content and structure required of a dissertation;
  • explain the criteria that make a good research proposal;
  • distinguish between fair and unfair practice in research conduct and research reporting;
  • explain the capabilities and limitations of Ecotect software in evaluating the environmental performance of buildings;

Discipline specific skills

  • evaluate the environmental performance of buildings using Ecotect across a wide range of the predictive techniques it offers, particularly as follows;
  • build a valid 3D geometrical model from plans or description;
  • produce accurate shadow maps for a given building;
  • produce accurate daylight factors for a given space;
  • produce, and interpret, a passive energy breakdown, for a given zone;
  • produce seasonal heating/cooling, for a given whole building.

Generic skills

  • demonstrate an ability to solve basic problems in the mathematical areas listed above;
  • conduct a literature research satisfactorily;
  • distinguish between good and bad research;
  • conduct numerical and statistical evaluation of data at a basic level;
  • write a satisfactory research proposal;

Module name: Efficient Services (Core teaching - 10 credits)

The design of 'environmentally friendly' buildings depends critically on the choice of appropriate servicing strategies - an inappropriate servicing strategy can negate all the work undertaken on the form and fabric of the building. This module explores the principles behind current low energy solutions to servicing strategies, and deals with basic application information and strategies. The course is designed to complement information provided in all the other modules.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • describe how, why and where buildings services consume energy;
  • describe the current techniques available to minimise this energy use;
  • present a reasoned argument in favour of efficient building services;
  • describe the interaction between the building services and the building fabric and form.
  • explain the principles behind a range of low energy servicing solutions for buildings;
  • recognise when and where it is appropriate to apply these solutions.

Discipline specific skills

  • assess the impact of the various building services options on a building design problem.

Module name: Low Carbon Footprint (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Low carbon design requires an holistic approach to the energy use of a building. The designer needs to understand in principle how buildings use energy and to supplement this understanding with evidence on energy use from the field. He or she needs to be able to work with goals for building design, such as zero carbon standards, and with ways of off-setting energy consumption with renewables.

The aims of the module are therefore;

  • to introduce the ways buildings use energy;
  • to introduce methods of matching these demands through renewables and low energy systems;
  • to introduce techniques for assessing the energy footprint and sustainable performance of the building using benchmarking and monitoring.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • explain how buildings use energy, the demands and loads with buildings and the impact of occupancy on energy use;
  • explain use of renewables technologies and low energy cooling technologies within buildings;
  • show a basic knowledge of the concept of embodied energy;
  • show an understanding of assessment tools for sustainable design;
  • explain the benefits monitoring and calculate benchmarks for buildings;
  • show an understanding of zero-carbon buildings.

Discipline specific skills

  • evaluate how well a building attains low carbon design;
  • assess the impact of the various building services options on a building design problem.

Specialist Modules (60 credits)

Click the module name for more information

Module name: Outside Inside (Specialist teaching - 10 credits)

Environmental Design of Buildings

Earlier modules have introduced the fundamentals of environmental design to the student. One of its objectives is to adapt the ambient environment to make more desirable living conditions: the designer starts with a given climate and tries to achieve specified environmental targets. This module offers advanced treatment of aspects of the environment outside and inside: of both the climatic environment and the internal building environment. Included in this is the main treatment of the acoustic environment offered in the course.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate understanding of the material taught in the module;
  • use climatic data to estimate the availability of sun and wind at a particular site or building surface;
  • estimate how much energy and power the available wind and sun can provide;
  • show how the form and envelope of the building can be used to admit solar radiation selectively;
  • extend the basic metrics of physics to deliver more complex environmental concepts relevant to comfort;
  • discuss quantitative and qualitative standards for lighting, thermal and acoustic comfort;
  • select and explain design tactics for achieving satisfactory internal environments;
  • discuss the theory supporting these standards and design tactics.

Discipline specific skills

  • demonstrate the ability to use effectively the skills introduced in the module;
  • operate satisfactorily the building environmental evaluation software used on the module;
  • use drawings and scale models to investigate the access of built surfaces to sun and wind;
  • select and utilise appropriate techniques from those taught to solve a range of environmental design problems.

Transferable skills

  • present his or her knowledge and understanding in an organised and cogent way.

Module name: Passive Design (Specialist teaching - 10 credits)

Environmental Design of Buildings

Passive Design refers to the practice of designing buildings so that their form and fabric make use of ambient energy to reduce the load on building services. Principles of building physics that need to be understood have been introduced in earlier modules, and it will be assumed that students understand how to apply them in a general approach to this end. In this module specific strategies will be explained, with guidance on when to apply them and what level of performance to expect from them.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate familiarity with the main principles of passive design;
  • discuss constructively the collection, storage, distribution, and utilisation of energy in passive strategies;
  • propose suitable implementations of daylighting, heating and cooling strategies in specific contexts;
  • explain in principle the relative suitability of alternative strategies that could be proposed for these contexts.

Discipline specific skills

  • estimate how the performance of strategies is affected by the selection and sizing of design parameters;
  • use simple techniques to compare the energy and environmental performance of alternative design proposals.

Module name: Environmental Design Practice (Specialist project - 30 credits)

Environmental Design of Buildings

One of the aims of this module is to provide students with the opportunity of learning how to apply the ideas taught in class to problems which, whilst not real, will exercise a similar range of skills to a real problem. The knowledge they require will be taught in the core modules that run in parallel, and which they share with other degree schemes. Another aim of the module is to channel the understanding and skill that students gain from these core modules into problems that call on the more specialist perspective adopted in their specialist area of study in the environmental design of buildings. Because the students are from varied professional backgrounds with different practice needs to meet, another aim is to keep the project brief flexible enough for students to be able to choose problems that suit this variety.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate an understanding of the material taught in the supporting modules through its application;
  • demonstrate extension of his or her knowledge beyond the taught material in investigating the project.

Discipline specific skills - first stage (site)

  • estimate the availability and nature of sun, light, wind and other environmental elements at a site;
  • devise effective methods of harnessing and moderating the existing environment with minimal intervention in the built landscape;
  • show how these matters affect the objectives that environmental designers should pursue;
  • operate satisfactorily the software for climatic analysis used in the module.

Discipline specific skills - second stage (fabric)

  • investigate the potential for environmental design of a specific brief for a building;
  • interpret climatic and environmental data in ways useful for indicating design objectives;
  • propose daylighting, heating and cooling strategies appropriate to a specific site and brief;
  • evaluate the environmental performance of design proposals.

Discipline specific skills - third stage (services)

  • show how building service loads are influenced by the use, form, fabric, and setting of a building
  • estimate the building service loads for a particular building proposal
  • propose appropriate building service systems to meet loads efficiently
  • justify your choice of one building services proposal over another.

Module name: Environmental Design Application (Specialist project - 10 credits)

Environmental Design of Buildings

The students taking the previous project module were able to apply the ideas delivered in the parallel core modules to their specialist interest of environmental design. This module allows them to apply the more advanced ideas that they learn in the specialist teaching modules at the end of Stage One. The knowledge they require will be taught in those modules, so that this module can focus more closely on its application to problems which, whilst not real, will exercise a similar range of skills to a real problem. One of the aims of the module is to provide students with the opportunity of testing out their ability to apply in practice what they have learned in class and of learning the skills involved in doing so. The students are from varied professional backgrounds and will have varied practice needs to meet. Another aim of the module is to keep the project brief flexible enough for students to be able to choose problems that suit this variety.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate an understanding of the material taught in the supporting modules through its application;
  • demonstrate an advanced understanding of how to estimate a building's access to wind and sun;
  • show an advanced understanding of how to use a building's form and fabric to harness the sun and wind;
  • demonstrate extension of his or her knowledge beyond the taught material in investigating the project.

Discipline specific skills

  • devise effective methods of harnessing and moderating the existing outside environment;
  • integrate various passive daylighting, heating and cooling strategies in a single proposal for a particular brief;
  • specify closely the environmental requirements for a given activity;
  • make appropriate provision for the building fabric and services to achieve the environmental requirements;
  • select and deploy appropriate output from the environmental software used in the course to demonstrate achievement of environmental performance;
  • argue how the planned and accidental operation of a building by its occupants might affect its environmental performance.

Transferable skills

  • present his or her knowledge and understanding in an organised and cogent way.

Dissertation (60 credits)

This final module in the scheme is intended to give students an opportunity to focus on some aspect of the subject matter about which there is insufficient published knowledge to be found. All practitioners working in the forefront of their field find themselves from time to time extending knowledge with original ideas and novel applications. They need to feel secure moving in new territory, to be able to come to reliable conclusions, to pass their experience on to others, and to learn from other people's advances. In this module, students choose some aspect of the programme's subject that needs further study, and conduct academic research in order to make a small advance in knowledge. This will help them to consolidate their capacity for independent study, to develop a critical stance towards standards of research supporting new contributions to knowledge, and to learn some of the techniques needed to conduct academic research proficiently themselves.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate, through the dissertation, systematic knowledge in a selected aspect of the subject area of the scheme of study;
  • have made a critical evaluation and analysis of a body of knowledge, or an original contribution to knowledge, in the subject area of the scheme of study;
  • interpret cogently and convincingly the results of the research in relation to the research objectives;

Discipline specific skills

  • define objectives pertinent to the chosen research problem and make an effective plan for pursuing them;
  • apply established techniques of research and enquiry productively in pursuing the research objectives;

Transferable skills

  • exercise initiative and personal responsibility in planning and implementing the research;
  • communicate the aims and methods and results of the research with clarity and in a style appropriate to the expected audience;
  • show a thorough and systematic approach to planning, implementing, and reporting the research.

MSc in Building Energy and Environmental Performance Modelling

Scope of the Programme

The use of simulation and analysis software is becoming increasingly common at all stages of the building design process. One important reason for this is a continual tightening of legislation governing building performance - a result of the obligations of many governments under the Kyoto agreement and the recent EU Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings due to be implemented in January 2006. This directive specifically calls for the development and implementation of methodologies for calculating and modelling the energy performance of buildings.

In this course, Students will be exposed to a wide range of building simulation and analysis software, applying them to both large and small scale problems in areas as diverse as lighting, thermal simulation and air-flow. They will be expected to gain a high level of proficiency in at least one of these applications and demonstrate this in a detailed design and analysis project.

Programme Suitability

This course is suitable for applicants from all areas of the building and construction industries as well as urban planning and related fields. Obviously the focus is on the design of buildings and their environments so a genuine interest in built form is essential.

The principles learned will be relevant also to applicants from any country. Every effort is made to make the programme international in its relevance.

The programme is available to students studying locally at Cardiff, either full-time or part time. See the MSc Degrees Suite column alongside for information on the options - Study Options.

Programme Aims

As a graduate course, it takes a very hands-on approach requiring students to not only learn to use new applications, but to apply them to accurately solve complex design problems. Furthermore, specific emphasis is placed on communication skills. The ability to understand and clearly explain the significance of simulation and analysis results is critical if they are to effectively influence the design process.

The objective of the programme is the acquisition by students of appropriate knowledge, understanding and skills in the following areas:

  • the principles of science, physics, mathematics and technology which are fundamental to computer modelling and simulation;
  • the theory and practice of the solution of problems encountered in the application of computer modelling and simulation to the design of the built environment;
  • the theory and practice of sustainable design concepts, as a context for modelling;
  • the personal skills required in practice such as good written, visual and oral communication.
  • demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the range of computer simulation software available as well as their capabilities and limitations,
  • formulate appropriate models within several of these applications in response to very specific performance problems,
  • generate reasonable conclusions and recommendations from simulation results,
  • generate written reports that communicate the results of their analysis clearly and concisely, and in a manner appropriate to their intended audience, and
  • understand the range and variation in metrics used to objectively assess building performance - sufficient to be able to quickly identify and reject invalid simulation results.

Programme content

The structure within which the modules are delivered is discussed in the MSc Degrees Suite column alongside - Programme Format.

The scope of performance modelling is too vast for students to be able to learn skills in all available types of software or to become familiar with all types of application. Decisions on what to include and what to leave out of the masters programme will not suit everyone. Consequently, an opportunity is provided in the final study module in Stage One for students to select a subject which is not otherwise included in the programme and which they would like to study. Two areas in which the School specialises that students could consider for extra study are daylight and sunlight modelling and modelling at an urban scale.

Course Structure

Core modules - shared between all courses (60 credits)

In stage 1, the scheme shares a set of common core modules. These are taken by all ASM Masters students and comprise:

Click the module names for more information

Module name: Site and Environment (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Millennium Housing

In this module, an analytical approach is taken to the physical environment experienced by users outside buildings. The theme is the ambient environment of the site. The module discusses basic physics needed to understand physical environments in general, climatic processes involved in creating the local environment of a site, procedures for analysing environmental data to provide designers with objectives, and the physical needs that users have for their environments. Successful environmental design must start with an understanding of the ambient environment, of how it arises, of its short and long term variation, of its affect on comfort, and of how it can be harnessed and moderated.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate an understanding of basic concepts in environmental physics;
  • discuss in principle the physics of building environmental performance;
  • explain the environmental and human factors affecting thermal comfort;
  • explain the relationship between types of sky and available thermal and visible radiation;
  • explain the factors influencing global and local climate;
  • show how these matters affect the objectives that environmental designers should pursue.

Discipline specific skills

  • solve problems in environmental physics using basic numerical and graphical procedures;
  • gauge relationships between local climate and landscape in specific circumstances;
  • conduct an environmental site analysis;
  • estimate the availability and nature of sun, light and wind at a site;
  • calculate the daylight factor and the changes in solar orientation at any location;
  • interpret design objectives from climatic and environmental data using graphic techniques;
  • operate satisfactorily the software for climatic analysis used in the module.

Module name: Earth and Society (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Law faculty

This module introduces the principal concepts of sustainability and the values, beliefs and assumptions that underpin them. It considers the historic development of the 'green' movement and how social frameworks, which influence people's behaviour and lifestyles, impact on sustainability as well as introducing Climate Change as an important context for sustainable development. It identifies different positions relating to sustainability adopted today, both at a theoretical and practical level and encourages students to question these as well as their own views. It also ensures an awareness of sustainability at a variety of development scale, from individual buildings through communities to the broader urban scale including health and comfort in the built environment. The module provides a structure for students to develop, discuss and formulate their personal sustainability standpoint.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate familiarity with the theories, concepts and context of sustainability;
  • discuss the influence of different frameworks impacting on society and the built environment and their effects on sustainability;
  • illustrate the interrelation of the different frameworks on sustainability;
  • identify historic stages of the 'green' movement;
  • identity influences on and ambitions for a healthy and comfortable building environment
  • show awareness and understanding of leading examples and issues of sustainable design at a building, community and urban scale;
  • appreciate the complexities and interdependencies of sustainable design and the constraints involved in applying the theories of sustainability into practice at a variety of development scales;
  • identify potential and appropriate methods for enhancing the sustainability of personal lifestyles and local and global communities with relation to the built environment;

Discipline specific skills

  • clearly articulate their sustainability standpoint;
  • critically assess ideas, concepts and approaches relating to sustainability.

Module name: Building Fabric (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Students talking

A building's fabric provides the means for forming an enclosure and separating it from the external environment. It can therefore act as a shelter from external environmental conditions, or a means for moderating and taking advantage of them, in order to improve comfort within buildings. Understanding the principles by which a building interacts with the external environment through its fabric, is therefore key in understanding building performance. This module will introduce those principles as well as novel and established techniques to achieve a successful design for comfort, health and energy efficiency.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • describe the basic thermal properties of building materials
  • describe the properties of glazing in relation to thermal and visual parameters
  • explain the issues relating to the provision of comfortable and healthy air in building spaces
  • explain the main techniques for predicting and measuring performance for faƧade and ventilation design and for estimating thermal load
  • discuss constructively the collection, storage, distribution, and utilisation of energy in a passive building
  • demonstrate the dynamic heat transfer processes in facades and spaces
  • evaluate how heat loss and surface heat transfer can be controlled by glazing, insulation and thermal mass;
  • illustrate how ventilation systems can provide good air quality with the efficient use of energy
  • evaluate how sunlight and daylight can be controlled through facade engineering
  • demonstrate an understanding of core building physics principles thought in the module

Discipline specific skills

  • interpret and act on the information produced by modelling methods.
  • solve problems in building physics using basic numerical and graphical procedures
  • identify appropriate techniques for predicting faƧade and ventilation performance for specific designs
  • engage in the integrated design process in relation to fabric and ventilation design.

Module name: Primitives (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Group of students

Fundamental skills in three areas can be identified which are necessary for satisfactory completion of these schemes of study and for which many students will need tuition. They are sufficiently important to be taught and assessed as part of the schemes, rather than left to induction and private study. These are skills in basic mathematics, research methods, and environmental evaluation using Ecotect.

On completion of the module, a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, geometry and descriptive statistics, to the level needed for the schemes of study served;
  • understand the purpose, process and standards of academic research;
  • understand how research knowledge advances collectively and how research is distinguished by different methodological approaches;
  • explain the content and structure required of a dissertation;
  • explain the criteria that make a good research proposal;
  • distinguish between fair and unfair practice in research conduct and research reporting;
  • explain the capabilities and limitations of Ecotect software in evaluating the environmental performance of buildings;

Discipline specific skills

  • evaluate the environmental performance of buildings using Ecotect across a wide range of the predictive techniques it offers, particularly as follows;
  • build a valid 3D geometrical model from plans or description;
  • produce accurate shadow maps for a given building;
  • produce accurate daylight factors for a given space;
  • produce, and interpret, a passive energy breakdown, for a given zone;
  • produce seasonal heating/cooling, for a given whole building.

Generic skills

  • demonstrate an ability to solve basic problems in the mathematical areas listed above;
  • conduct a literature research satisfactorily;
  • distinguish between good and bad research;
  • conduct numerical and statistical evaluation of data at a basic level;
  • write a satisfactory research proposal;

Module name: Efficient Services (Core teaching - 10 credits)

The design of 'environmentally friendly' buildings depends critically on the choice of appropriate servicing strategies - an inappropriate servicing strategy can negate all the work undertaken on the form and fabric of the building. This module explores the principles behind current low energy solutions to servicing strategies, and deals with basic application information and strategies. The course is designed to complement information provided in all the other modules.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • describe how, why and where buildings services consume energy;
  • describe the current techniques available to minimise this energy use;
  • present a reasoned argument in favour of efficient building services;
  • describe the interaction between the building services and the building fabric and form.
  • explain the principles behind a range of low energy servicing solutions for buildings;
  • recognise when and where it is appropriate to apply these solutions.

Discipline specific skills

  • assess the impact of the various building services options on a building design problem.

Module name: Low Carbon Footprint (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Low carbon design requires an holistic approach to the energy use of a building. The designer needs to understand in principle how buildings use energy and to supplement this understanding with evidence on energy use from the field. He or she needs to be able to work with goals for building design, such as zero carbon standards, and with ways of off-setting energy consumption with renewables.

The aims of the module are therefore;

  • to introduce the ways buildings use energy;
  • to introduce methods of matching these demands through renewables and low energy systems;
  • to introduce techniques for assessing the energy footprint and sustainable performance of the building using benchmarking and monitoring.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • explain how buildings use energy, the demands and loads with buildings and the impact of occupancy on energy use;
  • explain use of renewables technologies and low energy cooling technologies within buildings;
  • show a basic knowledge of the concept of embodied energy;
  • show an understanding of assessment tools for sustainable design;
  • explain the benefits monitoring and calculate benchmarks for buildings;
  • show an understanding of zero-carbon buildings.

Discipline specific skills

  • evaluate how well a building attains low carbon design;
  • assess the impact of the various building services options on a building design problem.

Specialist Modules (60 credits)

Click the module name for more information

Module name: Building Performance Modelling (Specialist teaching - 20 credits)

Building Energy and Environmental Performace Modelling

This module will expand the knowledge and skill-set of the student in two key modelling areas;

  • Dynamic thermal modelling, and
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics modelling.

These two areas are arguably the most important in the development of a sustainable built environment, and so form the core of the specialism for this scheme. Both areas will be studied in terms of their theoretical and mathematical backgrounds, of their applicability to problems in the built environment, and of appropriate methodologies of application.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • explain the advantages and disadvantages of detailed modelling methods;
  • explain the modelling approaches for dynamic thermal modelling;
  • explain the modelling approaches for computational fluid dynamic modelling;
  • formulate an evaluation strategy to solve a specific assessment problem;
  • create model descriptions, in a format appropriate to thermal and CFD model methods;
  • run or implement thermal and CFD methods to obtain information on a problem.

Discipline specific skills

  • operate HTB2 (or other dynamic thermal method) sufficiently to carry out a detailed simulation of thermal behaviour of a design and produce meaningful results in support of a design recommendation;
  • operate WinAir (or other Computational Fluid Dynamics method) sufficiently to carry out a detailed simulation of air flow behaviour of a design and produce meaningful results in support of a design recommendation;
  • interpret and act on modelling results to produce design conclusions or recommendations

Module name: Environmental Design Modelling (Specialist project - 30 credits)

Building Energy and Environmental Performace Modelling

An aim of this module is to provide students with the opportunity of learning how to apply the ideas taught in class to problems which, whilst not real, will exercise a similar range of skills to a real problem. The knowledge they require will be taught in the core modules that run in parallel, and which they share with other degree schemes. Another aim is to channel the understanding and skill that students gain from these core modules into problems that call on the more specialist perspective adopted in their specialist area of study in the environmental design of buildings.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate an understanding of the material taught in the supporting modules through its application;
  • demonstrate extension of his or her knowledge beyond the taught material in investigating the project.

Discipline specific skills - first stage (site)

  • estimate the availability and nature of sun, light, wind and other environmental elements at a site;
  • evaluate the effectiveness of methods of harnessing and moderating the existing environment;
  • appreciate how these matters affect the objectives that environmental designers should pursue;
  • operate satisfactorily the software for climatic analysis used in the module.

Second stage (fabric)

  • investigate the fabric performance of design of a building;
  • propose improvements or alternative modifications to that design;
  • propose and evaluate daylighting, heating and cooling strategies appropriate to a specific site and brief.

Third stage (services)

  • show how building service loads are influenced by the use, form, fabric, and setting of a building
  • estimate the building service loads for a particular building proposal
  • propose appropriate building service systems to meet loads efficiently
  • justify your choice of one building services proposal over another.

Transferable skills: all stages

  • present his or her knowledge and understanding in an organised and cogent way.

Module name: Explorations in modelling (Specialist project - 10 credits)

Building Energy and Environmental Performace Modelling

The main aim of this module is to provide the opportunity for the student to study, and develop skills in using, a modelling method not otherwise featured in the scheme; this may be a package not previously discussed (such as EPSr), a method in a modelling area not explored in the main scheme (such as lighting), or even involve the development and testing of a new method. Each student will focus on a simulation method individually and produce a written report on the application of that method to the assessment of the performance of building and/or environment. The method to be studied will be selected by the student, in conjunction with the module tutor. The student will be guided and supported by a member of staff in their study (topics may be restricted to those where support is possible), but largely the material will be self-taught.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • outline, in detail, the capabilities, limitations, and operation of a particular modelling method;
  • explain, in detail, the advantages and disadvantages of the method studied, as applied to the simulation of the built environment, and as compared to other methods studied in the scheme;

Discipline specific skills

  • assess and evaluate previously unknown modelling tools;

Transferable skills

  • study independently and produce a product to a strict timescale;
  • construct a formal, informative, written report

Dissertation (60 credits)

This final module in the scheme is intended to give students an opportunity to focus on some aspect of the subject matter about which there is insufficient published knowledge to be found. All practitioners working in the forefront of their field find themselves from time to time extending knowledge with original ideas and novel applications. They need to feel secure moving in new territory, to be able to come to reliable conclusions, to pass their experience on to others, and to learn from other people's advances. In this module, students choose some aspect of the programme's subject that needs further study, and conduct academic research in order to make a small advance in knowledge. This will help them to consolidate their capacity for independent study, to develop a critical stance towards standards of research supporting new contributions to knowledge, and to learn some of the techniques needed to conduct academic research proficiently themselves.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate, through the dissertation, systematic knowledge in a selected aspect of the subject area of the scheme of study;
  • have made a critical evaluation and analysis of a body of knowledge, or an original contribution to knowledge, in the subject area of the scheme of study;
  • interpret cogently and convincingly the results of the research in relation to the research objectives;

Discipline specific skills

  • define objectives pertinent to the chosen research problem and make an effective plan for pursuing them;
  • apply established techniques of research and enquiry productively in pursuing the research objectives;

Transferable skills

  • exercise initiative and personal responsibility in planning and implementing the research;
  • communicate the aims and methods and results of the research with clarity and in a style appropriate to the expected audience;
  • show a thorough and systematic approach to planning, implementing, and reporting the research.

MSc in Sustainable Mega-Buildings

Scope of the Programme

The principles of designing in the context of climatic variations have been well advanced for the design of low-rise and medium-rise buildings; these, however, have yet to be developed in the case of the high-rise and mega-buildings. The current sustainability agenda raises the significance of mega-buildings in line with the targets set by environmental and energy agenda. The phenomenal increase in the number of large-scale buildings worldwide during the last few decades has generated increasing awareness of the importance, uniqueness and impact of this built form on urban life and environmental sustainability. Until recently, large buildings have been viewed as mega-scale energy consumers with little regard for sustainable design and performance. However, this is changing with a new generation of mega-buildings that have been designed with energy conservation and sustainability as their principal criteria. The programme focuses on principles of sustainable planning and design of mega-buildings.

The Welsh School of Architecture is a world leader in the research and development of sustainable building design and performance and has worked in partnership with Chinese and Middle Eastern institutions in the design and research of large-scale sustainable buildings. This programme is the first MSc of its kind in the UK and, as such, will provide graduates with excellent career opportunities in the UK and abroad.

Programme Suitability

The programme is suitable for candidates with degrees in architecture, urban design, engineering, environmental science or other related disciplines, or relevant professional experience in the field of sustainable mega-buildings. The programme would also attract mature applicants and applicants with a range of qualifications and experience. This programme is taught to full-time students as a one-year programme and to part-time students as a two-year programme.

Programme Aims

This interdisciplinary programme aims to prepare students for professional autonomy and excellence in mega-building design and planning. The programme aims to train students for adopting the role of planners and designers of sustainable mega-buildings, and adapting to shifting demands on this role as sustainable policies are increasingly supported by the public and by governments worldwide. Taught modules, project work and dissertations are aimed at equipping students with cognitive, experiential, analytic and synthetic skills, thus enabling them to engage in interdisciplinary design and practice of sustainable mega-buildings.

The programme offers students valuable discipline-specific skills where they undertake self-directed research that builds on advanced scholarship in the field. In addition, the programme provides learners with new transferable skills. Among those is learning to be analytical and innovative in the formulation of solutions to complex problems and demonstrate greater initiative and personal responsibility when doing so.

Course Structure

Core modules - shared between all courses (60 credits)

In stage 1, the scheme shares a set of common core modules. These are taken by all ASM Masters students and comprise:

Click the module names for more information

Module name: Site and Environment (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Millennium Housing

In this module, an analytical approach is taken to the physical environment experienced by users outside buildings. The theme is the ambient environment of the site. The module discusses basic physics needed to understand physical environments in general, climatic processes involved in creating the local environment of a site, procedures for analysing environmental data to provide designers with objectives, and the physical needs that users have for their environments. Successful environmental design must start with an understanding of the ambient environment, of how it arises, of its short and long term variation, of its affect on comfort, and of how it can be harnessed and moderated.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate an understanding of basic concepts in environmental physics;
  • discuss in principle the physics of building environmental performance;
  • explain the environmental and human factors affecting thermal comfort;
  • explain the relationship between types of sky and available thermal and visible radiation;
  • explain the factors influencing global and local climate;
  • show how these matters affect the objectives that environmental designers should pursue.

Discipline specific skills

  • solve problems in environmental physics using basic numerical and graphical procedures;
  • gauge relationships between local climate and landscape in specific circumstances;
  • conduct an environmental site analysis;
  • estimate the availability and nature of sun, light and wind at a site;
  • calculate the daylight factor and the changes in solar orientation at any location;
  • interpret design objectives from climatic and environmental data using graphic techniques;
  • operate satisfactorily the software for climatic analysis used in the module.

Module name: Earth and Society (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Law faculty

This module introduces the principal concepts of sustainability and the values, beliefs and assumptions that underpin them. It considers the historic development of the 'green' movement and how social frameworks, which influence people's behaviour and lifestyles, impact on sustainability as well as introducing Climate Change as an important context for sustainable development. It identifies different positions relating to sustainability adopted today, both at a theoretical and practical level and encourages students to question these as well as their own views. It also ensures an awareness of sustainability at a variety of development scale, from individual buildings through communities to the broader urban scale including health and comfort in the built environment. The module provides a structure for students to develop, discuss and formulate their personal sustainability standpoint.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate familiarity with the theories, concepts and context of sustainability;
  • discuss the influence of different frameworks impacting on society and the built environment and their effects on sustainability;
  • illustrate the interrelation of the different frameworks on sustainability;
  • identify historic stages of the 'green' movement;
  • identity influences on and ambitions for a healthy and comfortable building environment
  • show awareness and understanding of leading examples and issues of sustainable design at a building, community and urban scale;
  • appreciate the complexities and interdependencies of sustainable design and the constraints involved in applying the theories of sustainability into practice at a variety of development scales;
  • identify potential and appropriate methods for enhancing the sustainability of personal lifestyles and local and global communities with relation to the built environment;

Discipline specific skills

  • clearly articulate their sustainability standpoint;
  • critically assess ideas, concepts and approaches relating to sustainability.

Module name: Building Fabric (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Students talking

A building's fabric provides the means for forming an enclosure and separating it from the external environment. It can therefore act as a shelter from external environmental conditions, or a means for moderating and taking advantage of them, in order to improve comfort within buildings. Understanding the principles by which a building interacts with the external environment through its fabric, is therefore key in understanding building performance. This module will introduce those principles as well as novel and established techniques to achieve a successful design for comfort, health and energy efficiency.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • describe the basic thermal properties of building materials
  • describe the properties of glazing in relation to thermal and visual parameters
  • explain the issues relating to the provision of comfortable and healthy air in building spaces
  • explain the main techniques for predicting and measuring performance for faƧade and ventilation design and for estimating thermal load
  • discuss constructively the collection, storage, distribution, and utilisation of energy in a passive building
  • demonstrate the dynamic heat transfer processes in facades and spaces
  • evaluate how heat loss and surface heat transfer can be controlled by glazing, insulation and thermal mass;
  • illustrate how ventilation systems can provide good air quality with the efficient use of energy
  • evaluate how sunlight and daylight can be controlled through facade engineering
  • demonstrate an understanding of core building physics principles thought in the module

Discipline specific skills

  • interpret and act on the information produced by modelling methods.
  • solve problems in building physics using basic numerical and graphical procedures
  • identify appropriate techniques for predicting faƧade and ventilation performance for specific designs
  • engage in the integrated design process in relation to fabric and ventilation design.

Module name: Primitives (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Group of students

Fundamental skills in three areas can be identified which are necessary for satisfactory completion of these schemes of study and for which many students will need tuition. They are sufficiently important to be taught and assessed as part of the schemes, rather than left to induction and private study. These are skills in basic mathematics, research methods, and environmental evaluation using Ecotect.

On completion of the module, a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, geometry and descriptive statistics, to the level needed for the schemes of study served;
  • understand the purpose, process and standards of academic research;
  • understand how research knowledge advances collectively and how research is distinguished by different methodological approaches;
  • explain the content and structure required of a dissertation;
  • explain the criteria that make a good research proposal;
  • distinguish between fair and unfair practice in research conduct and research reporting;
  • explain the capabilities and limitations of Ecotect software in evaluating the environmental performance of buildings;

Discipline specific skills

  • evaluate the environmental performance of buildings using Ecotect across a wide range of the predictive techniques it offers, particularly as follows;
  • build a valid 3D geometrical model from plans or description;
  • produce accurate shadow maps for a given building;
  • produce accurate daylight factors for a given space;
  • produce, and interpret, a passive energy breakdown, for a given zone;
  • produce seasonal heating/cooling, for a given whole building.

Generic skills

  • demonstrate an ability to solve basic problems in the mathematical areas listed above;
  • conduct a literature research satisfactorily;
  • distinguish between good and bad research;
  • conduct numerical and statistical evaluation of data at a basic level;
  • write a satisfactory research proposal;

Module name: Efficient Services (Core teaching - 10 credits)

The design of 'environmentally friendly' buildings depends critically on the choice of appropriate servicing strategies - an inappropriate servicing strategy can negate all the work undertaken on the form and fabric of the building. This module explores the principles behind current low energy solutions to servicing strategies, and deals with basic application information and strategies. The course is designed to complement information provided in all the other modules.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • describe how, why and where buildings services consume energy;
  • describe the current techniques available to minimise this energy use;
  • present a reasoned argument in favour of efficient building services;
  • describe the interaction between the building services and the building fabric and form.
  • explain the principles behind a range of low energy servicing solutions for buildings;
  • recognise when and where it is appropriate to apply these solutions.

Discipline specific skills

  • assess the impact of the various building services options on a building design problem.

Module name: Low Carbon Footprint (Core teaching - 10 credits)

Low carbon design requires an holistic approach to the energy use of a building. The designer needs to understand in principle how buildings use energy and to supplement this understanding with evidence on energy use from the field. He or she needs to be able to work with goals for building design, such as zero carbon standards, and with ways of off-setting energy consumption with renewables.

The aims of the module are therefore;

  • to introduce the ways buildings use energy;
  • to introduce methods of matching these demands through renewables and low energy systems;
  • to introduce techniques for assessing the energy footprint and sustainable performance of the building using benchmarking and monitoring.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • explain how buildings use energy, the demands and loads with buildings and the impact of occupancy on energy use;
  • explain use of renewables technologies and low energy cooling technologies within buildings;
  • show a basic knowledge of the concept of embodied energy;
  • show an understanding of assessment tools for sustainable design;
  • explain the benefits monitoring and calculate benchmarks for buildings;
  • show an understanding of zero-carbon buildings.

Discipline specific skills

  • evaluate how well a building attains low carbon design;
  • assess the impact of the various building services options on a building design problem.

Specialist Modules (60 credits)

Click the module name for more information

Module name: Sustainable Mega-Buildings Overview (Specialist teaching - 10 credits)

Sustainable Mega-Buildings Overview

The module aims to establish the foundation for understanding the key concepts, principles and methodological perspectives of planning and designing sustainable mega-buildings. The module starts with an historical overview of the evolution and development of large-scale buildings globally. It proceeds with an outline of diverse typologies of mega-buildings, introducing innovative functions that provide creative places for the community including recreational, commercial, and educational facilities amongst other multi-functional typologies of large-scale buildings. The module provides an appreciation of the implication of large buildings upon the urban context and the city skyline, and those of function on form and aesthetics of the building. It identifies the complex relationship between large-scale buildings and the physical, environmental and cultural attributes of its context.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of principles and concepts of sustainability (environmental, social and economic) in the context of large-scale building planning and design;
  • demonstrate familiarity with implications in designing large-scale buildings of different and multi functions;
  • define and identify generic environmental attributes of sustainable mega-buildings in a global perspective;
  • critically evaluate concepts, methods and outcomes in relation to sustainable mega-building design and performance and their short ā€“ and long-term implications.
  • take a critical position in comparing and assessing environmental design approaches of mega-buildings.

Discipline specific skills

  • conceptualise and articulate their standpoint with regards to design approaches of urban eco-buildings;
  • critically assess ideas, concepts and approaches relating to environmental, social and cultural implications of large-scale buildings;
  • develop analytical and synthetic skills throughout the course of the module.

Module name: Sustainable Service Systems for Mega-Buildings (Specialist project - 20 credits)

Sustainable Service Systems for Mega-Buildings

The module highlights structural and construction systems associated to large-scale building typologies. It reviews the integration of passive design and the effects of wind as important aspects in environmental systems of large buildings. It also studies and explores the cutting edge, innovative façade technologies introduced in contemporary eco-buildings such as smart facades. The module aims to highlight the significance of providing a comfortable environment for occupants of mega-buildings through appropriate methodologies and approaches to the sustainable design of fabric and integrated service systems.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • identify, compare and assess environmental performance of sustainable mega-buildings using on-site observations and measurements, as well as comparative performance data and calculated results;
  • acknowledge the significance of designing for health and wellbeing of building occupants;
  • develop a critical stance on designing appropriate and sustainable integrated service systems for different mega-building typologies;
  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the significance of the building fabric in the environmental performance of mega-buildings and identify alternative options of facade systems and technologies and understand the environmental impact of different facade systems;
  • identify means of integrating renewable energy technologies to provide clean energy and reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

Discipline specific skills

  • produce clear, analytical and articulate technical reports covering principle issues of designing service systems for occupant comfort and environmental and economic sustainability;
  • exercise broad autonomy and judgement across the area of planning and designing service systems for urban eco-building typology;
  • initiate and lead complex tasks and planning processes, whilst taking responsibility for own work and, where relevant, the role of others.

Module name: Sustainable Mega-Buildings Design (Specialist project - 30 credits)

Sustainable Mega-Buildings Design

Sustainable mega-buildings require a high level of technical input in order to function properly; from architectural, environmental and engineering points of view. The main features of the sustainable mega-building, being the architectural form, fabric and building systems, function in a very different way than a small-scaled building. The differences are related to a number of issues such as maximising net-to-gross area ratios, the way the structure responds to wind loads, how the internal spaces are environmentally controlled, fire and safety design issues, vertical circulation, the way the building interacts with the immediate environment, service systems design, etc. All these challenges make the mega-building a unique architectural expression, with a significant role in urban design and planning. This requires advanced thinking on form in response to context, structure and construction, environmental strategies, active and passive systems and service systems. Students are expected to adopt a research oriented agenda in search for a comprehensive design strategy in response to their design briefs. This project module aims to provide students with the opportunity of testing out their ability to apply theory to practice and learning the skills involved in exploring the design of mega-buildings in an urban context.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • develop a critical position to current research and practice in sustainable design of mega-buildings and where appropriate, propose innovative hypotheses;
  • formulate and articulate an appropriate architectural approach based on the acquired theoretical and methodological perspectives in sustainable mega-building design;
  • critically analyse, interpret and appraise own ideas, as well as the work of others and generate modified conceptions;
  • incorporate and demonstrate a coherent understanding of interrelated issues in design proposals; climatic and socio-cultural contexts, occupancy, the use of materials, faƧade tectonics, structure and construction techniques, building services and performance of mega-buildings;
  • identify and manage personal learning needs and continue to advance knowledge and understanding through independent approaches to learning;
  • present the design proposal in an effective and professional manner; both visually and verbally.

Discipline specific skills

  • demonstrate autonomy and self-direction in tackling problems when planning and leading complex tasks and processes in the design project;
  • exercise and demonstrate personal responsibility in planning and articulating appropriate approaches to problem-solving;
  • demonstrate the ability to understand, manipulate and communicate complex information and knowledge acquired through other taught modules in a rigorous, appropriate and innovative approach;
  • developing observational, analytic and synthetic skills, questioning, scientific instruments, applying computational tools, team working skills, time management, self-directed working, adaptability/flexibility (professional standards commensurate with qualification)

Dissertation (60 credits)

This final module in the scheme is intended to give students an opportunity to focus on some aspect of the subject matter about which there is insufficient published knowledge to be found. All practitioners working in the forefront of their field find themselves from time to time extending knowledge with original ideas and novel applications. They need to feel secure moving in new territory, to be able to come to reliable conclusions, to pass their experience on to others, and to learn from other people's advances. In this module, students choose some aspect of the programme's subject that needs further study, and conduct academic research in order to make a small advance in knowledge. This will help them to consolidate their capacity for independent study, to develop a critical stance towards standards of research supporting new contributions to knowledge, and to learn some of the techniques needed to conduct academic research proficiently themselves.

On completion of the module a typical student should be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • demonstrate, through the dissertation, systematic knowledge in a selected aspect of the subject area of the scheme of study;
  • have made a critical evaluation and analysis of a body of knowledge, or an original contribution to knowledge, in the subject area of the scheme of study;
  • interpret cogently and convincingly the results of the research in relation to the research objectives;

Discipline specific skills

  • define objectives pertinent to the chosen research problem and make an effective plan for pursuing them;
  • apply established techniques of research and enquiry productively in pursuing the research objectives;

Transferable skills

  • exercise initiative and personal responsibility in planning and implementing the research;
  • communicate the aims and methods and results of the research with clarity and in a style appropriate to the expected audience;
  • show a thorough and systematic approach to planning, implementing, and reporting the research.