Taught course

Sustainable Cities

University of Portsmouth · Portsmouth School of Architecture

Entry requirements

A minimum of a second-class honours degree in Interior Design, Architecture or a related subject, or equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. An online portfolio submission may be required as part of the selection process. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Months of entry


Course content

Why take this course?

In response to today’s climate change, this course aims to satisfy the demand for new skills in the areas of environmental sustainability and low carbon building design.

It will enable you to engage in current debates on the generation of sustainable architecture within our cities. You will examine the complexities inherent in creating well-designed sustainable settlements and get the opportunity to produce your own sustainable designs.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Get involved with some of our regional regeneration projects to test and develop your ideas.
  • Undertake studio-based design projects and engage with our other collaborative projects with academic institutions in a range of countries including Turkey, Spain and Australia.
  • Have the opportunity to ‘earn and learn’ by working on real-life contracts through our Projects Office.

What opportunities might it lead to?

If you are already working in architecture, environment or planning professions, or are a recent graduate, this course aims to train you to further develop your skills and knowledge in environmentally responsive design.

It will provide opportunities for you to pursue specialist career routes within the architecture field or in other areas such as governments and professional bodies where sustainability is of high priority. Alternatively, you can apply this new thinking to your own practice.

Module Details

The course uses the experience and skills of teaching staff with research interest in environmental sustainability, building simulation modelling, and sustainable development of historic sites and contemporary settlements. It takes place in an exciting inter-disciplinary environment, running in conjunction with programmes on historic building conservation, interior and urban design.

Here are the units you will study:


This unit enables you to develop your knowledge of the various and multi-faceted theories relating to sustainable architecture and environments. It also covers the principles that govern an appropriate and sustainable response to such designed environments, as well as the technologies that may be adopted and incorporated. You will address these issues and evaluate both the design theory and practice-based applied methodologies, along with the analysis, evaluation and reflection of this practice in sustainable design solutions.


This unit gives you an opportunity to engage with the current debate on environmental sustainability, climate change and the value of traditional buildings which inspire a more sustainable practice. It introduces the principles of low carbon passive design strategies, as well as advanced daylight and thermal modelling techniques to assess their effectiveness in achieving an environmentally responsive design. We will encourage you to look at the architecture quality and assess the visual and thermal performance of a selected building type in different regions and climatic conditions. It aims to develop your modelling skills and apply it to a real design project.

Research Methods and Research Proposal:

In this unit you will develop research skills, which will aid you throughout your course and particularly in producing your thesis. You will be asked to establish a critical position within an Outline Research Proposal. You will develop techniques, which will allow you to engage proactively within your area of study. You will be encouraged to explore methods of investigation that are responsive to, as well as inquisitive of, the conditions presented and which therefore speculate around possible critical scenarios. Implicit within these explorations is the need to investigate diverse means of representation and depiction through a variety of possible media and discourse.


This unit allows you to work in a multi-disciplinary context through groups within your own subject area and across the areas of interior design, urban design, sustainable architecture and historic building conservation, as well as explore the interrelationships of all disciplines. You will need to work collectively on given projects or problems related to staff run studios, which explore a range of given themes. This unit will introduce you to these themes at the start of the course and connect you to research areas within the School. There will be a group-based activity that is either subject specific or spans different areas of the disciplines as agreed by tutors.

Work-Based Learning:

This unit gives you the opportunity to replace a 30-credit core unit with a work-based version of that unit. Not all units can be replaced and you will need to discuss the appropriateness of a unit with tutors. Work-based learning requires you to engage in critical and reflective learning in the workplace. This will be developed through a learning contract, negotiated by you, your employer and School. The work undertaken in practice will be appraised through critical reflective writing that engages with the practice of the particular subject discipline and this will form the assessment artefacts. Where professional body criteria and attributes need to be evidenced, these will form the minimum requirements of the learning outcomes.


Your thesis is a substantial research-based project that enables you to carry out an in-depth investigation into a subject area of personal interest, which is related to or developed from a theme studied during the course. The proposed research theme should have a clearly defined focus to allow for in-depth theoretical, contextual and visual research. An initial seminar programme will help you develop your research proposal, define a research question and locate suitable primary and secondary sources. You will be allocated an appropriate supervisor on the basis of this proposal, who will work with you toward the final submission. This part of the project is self-managed, with tutorial guidance provided by the allocated supervisor and additional referencing and research support provided by the faculty librarian.

Programme Assessment

This course is lecture and studio-based, culminating in a written or design-led thesis project. It will involve case study investigations, group work, discussion and planning of sustainable environments, as well as independent study to develop design or research-based responses to sustainable problems.

Design assessment is through studio review and taught courses are assessed by various forms of evidence-based sustainable design decisions and proposals. You will also carry out an in-depth research project into an area of your choice.

Student Destinations

This course enables you to specialise in sustainable architecture and build upon your passion for the design of the twenty-first century urban environment.

On graduating, you will be adept in spatial practice and able to work within design practices, architectural firms and cross-disciplinary environments, engaging in issues from the design of details to the exploration of the urban environment.

The creative skills, professional competencies and expansive learning environment that we provide could also lead to a range of careers in disciplines such as marketing, advertising, journalism, virtual design and modelling, through to people-centred careers such as project management.

Fees and funding

UK students
full time: £5,200, part time: £1,730 in year 1 and £3,470* in year 2 *Fees are subject to annual increase.
International students
full time: £12,600, part time: £4,200 in year 1 and £8,400* in year 2 *Fees are subject to annual increase.

Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months
part time
24 months

Course contact details

Admissions Team
023 9284 5566