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Advanced Building Performance Evaluation (MSc)

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Mode: Full time

Course options See other modes of study
Start date

Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

This programme aims to give students a solid foundation in the evaluation of the operational performance of buildings for energy and environmental aspects.

Our MSc in Advanced Building Performance Evaluation aims to give students a solid foundation in the evaluation of the operational performance of buildings for energy and environmental aspects.

The programme focuses on the investigation of energy and environmental performance in existing buildings, integrating technical and occupants’ data. The programme equips professionals with the interdisciplinary skills needed to promote the efficient and effective operation of existing buildings. It will prepare you for a future career across a range of roles in facilities and building management, consultancy, energy and environmental performance assessment and research.

Most existing programmes in this subject area focus on the design of new buildings. However, the efficient operation of existing buildings is becoming more important. There is a need to improve the quality of environments and, at the same time, to reduce the energy that they consume and their carbon dioxide emissions. You will learn from interdisciplinary approaches, as the programme draws on bodies of theories from building science, social sciences and humanities.

On successful completion of the programme, you should be able to conduct sound evidence-based environmental and energy performance assessments of buildings in operation. You should also be able to analyse and integrate technical and social aspects of performance using methods of energy and environmental monitoring and human studies.

Our structured curriculum will enable you to develop essential knowledge and practical skills in building evaluation. We will support you to become an independent learner, able to undertake and understand the industry and policy challenges and to respond to them effectively. The Welsh School of Architecture at Cardiff University is a friendly, supportive and culturally diverse environment in which to study.

Distinctive features

  • Looks at buildings evaluation in a holistic way by considering both technical and human aspects that affect the performance of existing buildings.
  • Develops an advanced knowledge of investigation methods and techniques to conduct performance evaluation exercises, integrating technical and human data.
  • Broadens students’ perspectives to include considerations related to energy and environmental goals from multiple stakeholders, such as occupants’ satisfaction, comfort and well-being as well as building operators’ concerns about the performance of existing buildings.
  • Uses case studies and live project to develop knowledge of building energy and environmental performance.
  • Includes management strategies to improve the building performance and to meet energy and environmental goals.
  • Draws on the internationally recognised expertise in energy, environment and socio-technical research at the Welsh School of Architecture.  
  • Benefits from our close links with industry and other building clients to boost your employability.

Where you'll study

Welsh School of Architecture

We aim to make the world a better place through contextually sensitive, sustainable and beautiful architecture.

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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 4430
  • MarkerKing Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3NB

Admissions criteria

This course is suitable for graduates or experienced practitioners in related disciplines, such as architecture, construction, engineering, facilities management, building surveying, social science or planning.

Applicants should normally hold a first- or second-class Honours degree in a relevant subject area or have completed a minimum of three years’ appropriate professional experience, at the discretion of the admissions team.

Typical IELTS offer: 6.5 (no less than 5.5 in any individual component).


Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

This programme is available on a one year full-time basis.

The taught element of the programme consists of modules to the value of 120 credits taken over one year. After successfully completing the taught modules, you will undertake a dissertation to the value of 60 credits. The dissertation will provide you with the opportunity to follow your professional and academic interests in the field, supported by experts in different aspects of building performance evaluation. This gives you the flexibility to follow your personal interests.

Through the programme’s taught modules, you will gain fundamental knowledge around energy and environmental aspects of the built environment. Several of these modules are shared with some of our other postgraduate master’s courses, which will enable you to network with other students. You will also undertake most specialist modules which focus on developing discipline-specific skills and knowledge in conducting sound evidence-based building performance evaluations.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2021/22 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2021.

You will complete all taught modules in year one. During the summer, you will work on your dissertation. 

Module titleModule codeCredits
DissertationART09960 credits
Earth and SocietyART02210 credits
Low Carbon BuildingsART03510 credits
Climate Comfort and EnergyART04120 credits
Architectural Science ResearchART04910 credits
Perspectives on PerformanceART10120 credits
People and BuildingsART10210 credits
Advanced Monitoring Tools and TechniquesART10310 credits
Post Occupancy Evaluation for Sustainable Building ManagementART10430 credits

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials, workshops, seminars, practical exercises, field trips and a live project. There will be on-line support available, for example, reading materials and learning resources. In some instances, pre-recorded lectures will be posted online.

Lectures will be delivered face-to-face to introduce key concepts and convey relevant up-to-date information. You will be given access to online material to support the development of knowledge and your understanding of the subject. You are expected to develop a critical understanding of the theoretical base to the subject through self-led study and reading of relevant authors and postulates in the fields of building science, humanities and social sciences.

In tutorials, workshops and seminars you will have the opportunity to critically discuss the subject matter, to consolidate and get feedback on your individual learning and to develop skills in environmental and energy performance evaluation. Practical skills are developed in tutorials, workshops and hands-on exercises, where you will make individual contributions to individual or group-based projects, for example by identifying appropriate investigation methods to explore the building performance, use monitoring equipment, design surveys of building occupants, interrogate and interpret the data (including benchmark data, monitoring and human studies). The practical skills will equip you with the knowledge to conduct appropriate investigations and propose effective management strategies for building operation.

You will practise and develop analytical, practical, intellectual and research skills by participating in diverse learning activities, such as carrying building performance investigations, analysing problems and proposed remedial action/interventions that address different aspects of building performance in use: building level, systems level, occupant factors, small-group discussions, debates, oral presentations, independent research tasks and written assignments.  Group work will help you to develop your team-working skills.

How will I be assessed?

Taught and project-based modules are assessed in a variety of different ways depending on the module content and learning outcomes (found in the module descriptions). We use class tests, course work (both written assignments and oral presentations or critical assessments/ reviews), and project work, or a combination of these to assess your progress on the module.

In the dissertation stage, your dissertation is the sole object of assessment. The dissertation is a written report on a piece of research which you have carried out in an agreed subject area under supervision.

How will I be supported?

A range of staff members are available to provide further support to out postgraduate students. You will usually be allocated an academic support tutor, who you can approach if you are have any problems of an academic nature. You are also supported by a scheme co-ordinator. A member of academic staff acts as a designated Disability and Diversity Officer and ensures that reasonable adjustments are made for students with disabilities.

You will have a personal tutor who will help you reflect on your performance on the course and advise you on study techniques. You will also have an academic advisor who will support you in the development of your dissertation.

While you are studying with us, you will have access to our bespoke Architecture Library, as well as to materials in the other Cardiff University Libraries.

You will be given access to the University’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central, where you can access discussion forums and find course materials including recordings of lectures, links to related materials, reading materials, references, online resources.

Additional support provisions are delivered by the Student Support Centre which offers range of services such as counselling and wellbeing, disability and dyslexia services, international student support and English language support. Detailed information about the support services is described in the Student Handbook.

Formative Feedback

Formative feedback is feedback that does not contribute to progression or degree classification decisions.  The goal of formative feedback is to improve your understanding and learning before you complete your summative assessment. More specifically, formative feedback helps you to:

  • identify your strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work;
  • address the problems identified with targeted strategies for improvement.

Formative assessment will be given during the progress of the modules and it comes from the feedback that you receive during the ongoing course work.  The formative feedback will not be a predictor of your final marks. It is related to the periodic assignments and exercises during the course work that will help you to develop your knowledge and skills. Examples of formative feedback include:

  • Immediate face-to-face feedback during the practical workshops, the module exercises and the development live project by the faculty staff, in particular, by the module leader and facilitators, as relevant depending on the module structure (further details in the Module Description)
  • Formative face-to-face feedback on the draft of your dissertation by your project supervisor (further details in the module description).

Summative Feedback

Summative feedback is feedback that contributes to progression or degree classification decisions.  The goal of summative assessment is to indicate how well you have succeeded in meeting the intended learning outcomes of a module or programme and will enable you to identify any action required in order to improve.  All feedback should directly link to the module grading / assessment criteria.

We offer written and oral feedback, depending on the coursework or assessment you have undertaken. You will usually receive your feedback from the module leader. If you have questions regarding your feedback, module leaders are usually happy to give advice and guidance on your progress.

What skills will I practise and develop?


The learning outcomes include:

Knowledge & Understanding:

On successful completion of this programme, you will be able to:

  • Describe the issues in building performance as determined by legislation, best practice and different stakeholders’ expectations.
  • Explain the aspects where policy, standards and practice diverge in the context of energy and environmental performance of buildings in operation; based on the critical understanding of the theories from building science, social sciences and humanities.
  • Investigate problems of poor building performance in detail using methods of energy and environmental monitoring, and human studies.
  • Analyse and integrate technical and social data related to issues in energy and environmental performance and to suggest probable causes.
  • Explain the relationships between environmental conditions in buildings and occupant satisfaction, comfort, well-being and performance.
  • Assess levels of satisfaction with energy and environmental performance amongst different groups of stakeholders for a given building — users, client, managers, etc.
  • Develop management strategies for effective operation of buildings to meet environmental and energy performance targets.

Intellectual Skills:

On completing the programme you will be able to:        

  • Discuss and critique the bodies of theories from building sciences, social sciences and humanities that are relevant to the context of energy and environmental performance of buildings
  • Explain the different concepts of performance gaps and the origins of deviations between expected, desired and actual performance
  • Describe the industry and policy context of building performance evaluation, the relevant legislation, initiatives and tools to assess in-use performance
  • Describe and apply the appropriate techniques to investigate energy and environmental performance of buildings, ranging from physical monitoring to human studies

Professional Practical Skills:

On completing the programme, you will be able to:

  • Collect, interpret and integrate environmental monitoring and human studies data on building performance
  • Communicate in a professional manner and liaise with different building stakeholders
  • Summarise the practicalities and challenges of conducting building performance evaluation exercises
  • Propose management strategies that lead to the effective building operation

Transferable/Key Skills:

On completing the programme, you will be able to:

  • Apply problem solving skills to address poor building performance
  • Manage, analyse and integrate complex information about energy and environmental performance of buildings in-use
  • Evaluate and interpret data on technical and social aspects that affect operational performance

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2021/22)

Fees for entry 2021/22 are not yet available.

Students from outside the EU (2021/22)

We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2021/22 academic year.

Additional costs

The University will cover any additional costs that are essential for you to pass the programme.  For this reason, you will be provided with a small financial allocation as required.  The details of this will be provided by your Programme Lead throughout the academic year.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

We will provide any equipment that is essential to the course. However, we recommend that you bring a laptop computer with appropriate software (e.g. word processing), USB or a hard drive, general stationery and some basic drawing equipment.

We provide students with student licenses for most of the specialist simulation software we use on the course, however we can currently only guarantee that these work on computers with a Windows operating system. All necessary software is available on University networked computers. We will also provide you with the monitoring and measuring instruments required.

During the course, you will have access to the specialist Architecture Library, and other University libraries, and study spaces across campus. Within the School, you may use our computing suite and other facilities which include large-format plotters, a digital laser cutter and a well-equipped workshop.

Career prospects

Typically graduates from this type of programme will have employability opportunities in energy and environmental consultancy, building management, facilities management, architectural and engineering firms, and research.


Master's Excellence Scholarship

This award worth £3000 is open to UK and EU students intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

Postgraduate Master’s Finance

If you’re starting your master’s degree in September 2020 or later, you may be able to apply for postgraduate student finance to support your study at Cardiff University.


An important element of this course is a live project on a real building or development. This will entail study trips to the area in question.

Next steps


Open Day visits

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