Taught course

Sustainable Building: Performance and Design

Oxford Brookes University · School of Architecture

Entry requirements

Candidates are required to fulfil one of the following: hold an approved undergraduate honours degree (or equivalent) at first or upper second class in a relevant discipline i.e. architecture, engineering or physics and other related subjects. Possess an appropriate professional background and experience in architecture, building or building servicing design. Applications are also considered from potential candidates who wish to seek accreditation for their prior experiential learning or earlier qualifications, particularly those who have worked on projects in related fields. A number of our applicants use the programme as a means of facilitating a career change or progression.

Months of entry


Course content

This unique multidisciplinary course is taught by a variety of professionals, experts and researchers associated with the built environment, and explores sustainable design principles and issues at an advanced level. It provides students with the knowledge, skills and tools to be able to design, plan, evaluate and advise on the creation of low-carbon, sustainable buildings as well as evaluate the environmental impacts of their decisions.

The course is specifically designed to meet the need for buildings to be judged by their actual performance as much as by their appearance and to demonstrate sustainability in terms of:

  • their global impact with regard to climate changing emissions and use of rapidly dwindling finite resources;
  • their impact on local and regional levels of pollution and waste;
  • their ability to positively contribute towards sustainable development and human well-being.

The course is organised on a modular credit system, 120 credits for the postgraduate diploma and 180 credits for the master's degree. Modules combine a ratio of taught to self-led study. For example, a module of 20 credits approximates to 200 hours of student effort, up to 36 hours of which will normally be devoted to lectures, seminars, individual tutorials or other staff contact. The remainder of the time is devoted to student-led study and assessment.

Core modules - MSc and PGDip:

Building Physics and Thermal Comfort (20 credits) provides an introduction to the basic physics required to help develop low-carbon buildings which are both energy-efficient and comfortable.

The Sustainable Built Environment (20 credits) introduces the philosophy, theories and key concepts underpinning the principles of sustainable development and sustainability in relation to the built environment within the natural world.

Post-occupancy Building Evaluation (20 credits) focuses on the complex task of assessing the actual performance of existing buildings in respect of energy use, environmental impact and occupant satisfaction, known as post-occupancy evaluation (POE).

Low Carbon Building Technologies 1 (10 credits) identifies and evaluates different low-carbon energy strategies to be incorporated whilst designing low-carbon buildings. The module will introduce different standards and benchmarks for low-carbon buildings, and highlight strategies and approaches that could be deployed in heating and cooling buildings.

Low Carbon Building Technologies 2 (10 credits) identifies and evaluates the main low and zero carbon (renewable) technologies (LZT), available for buildings.

Modelling and Passive Strategies (20 credits) provides a theoretical and practical introduction to systematic building modelling as it is related to design with climate and location.

Sustainable Design in Context (20 credits) provides the opportunity to apply in practice the design principles gained in previous modules. It focuses on the challenge of reconciling regional identity and tradition with contemporary needs in building design and performance, relating to technological change and social transformation arising from globalisation, climate change and other factors.

Compulsory modules - MSc:

Research Methods and Design (10 credits) aims to advance your knowledge and understanding of research methods available to those wishing to improve buildings in terms of their sustainable design and performance.

MSc Dissertation (50 credits).

Information for international students

Please see the university's standard English language requirements.

Qualification and course duration


part time
24 months
full time
12 months


part time
18 months
full time
9 months


AssessmentWhat kind of work will I be doing? (proportionally)
Written/ formal examinations33
Written coursework / continuous assessment33
Dissertation34 (15000 words)

Course contact details

Programme Administrator
+44 (0)1865 483230