Course Overview

UK Fees £11,500 *
International Fees £14,000 *
Alumni Discount See details
Duration 1 year

* Price per academic year

Course summary

The global environmental and energy challenge facing current and future generations of architects and building professionals calls for a deeper understanding of the principles of environmental design, and their effective application into architectural practice worldwide. Over the last decades Environmental Design as a subject area has developed, responding to new research and experimentation, both in academia and in practice. However, buildings claiming to be environmentally conscious do not perform to the expected standards, still heavily contributing to global CO2 emissions and often providing unsatisfactory comfort conditions to occupants. The same can be said for the existing built environment which is largely outdated and underperforming, requiring urgent implementation of effective retrofit strategies not only to improve energy performance, but also comfort, health and wellbeing. This is due to a lack of comprehensive performance prediction and feedback protocols, which are still not common practice in architectural design.

Students on this course will take a fresh critical look at this subject. Here you will gain the knowledge and tools to make informed design decisions based on post-occupancy feedback and performance analysis, towards a new paradigm of environmental architecture, which is environmentally and energy conscious, yet sensitive to the contextual and socio-cultural landscape we live in. You will learn environmental design methods which relate to the various stages of architectural design for a healthier and less energy and carbon intensive built environment. You will be able to evaluate existing buildings and design new ones following a combined bioclimatic and building occupant-focused approach. In the core design modules you will follow an evidence-based design approach where the acquisition of specialised software and analytical tools will be directly applied to an evaluation or design project.

This interdisciplinary and international course will provide you with skills that can be applied to diverse building typologies and global climatic, environmental and contextual issues. On completion of this course, you will have a thorough understanding of the principles and methodology of environmental design and will develop critical thinking skills to challenge established practices. You will hold the knowledge and the practical tools to better understand existing buildings for retrofit and to design new ones – positively driving change in this field and moving towards a truly environmentally conscious architecture.

The course covers both the wider contextual and sustainable approach to environmental design, and the more technical aspects of environmentally and energy conscious building design and performance. As well as taught modules, you will take design-based modules where you will apply quantitative and qualitative analysis to the study of existing built environments and to new design projects. This includes methods for the quantification of aspects related to health and wellbeing such as the relationship between air quality and the built environment.

The Architecture and Environmental Design MSc benefits from having strong links with the Research Community for Sustainable Cities and Urban Environments. This vibrant research community focuses on the planning of cities towards a sustainable and low-energy future and the exploration of the environmental and social impact of concentrating people and economic activity in cities and urban areas.

Also, the course embeds the BREEAM Approved Graduate course, which provides facilitated access to a BREEAM AP qualification. In recent years the course has also developed a very successful Collaborative Thesis Programme with Industry, which has allowed our students to be mentored and partnered with some of the leading organisations in the sector of environmental design consultancy and sustainable architecture. As a Higher Education institution, we are members of the UK Green Building Council and a Learning Affiliate of the Energy Institute.

Course structure

Full-time postgraduate students study 180 credits per year. The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course.

Core modules

This module develops an historical overview of Environmental Design discipline and identifies the determinants of the so-called Post-Carbon Culture. The module will examine the main concepts, promoters, practitioners and theorist of the discipline. This will contribute to the formulation of a common and current definition of Environmental Design and clarification of its various synonyms in the current international landscape. It will also contribute to reflect upon and develop a vision for a post-carbon society in the current and future projected contexts.

This module examines the salient political, socio-economic, statutory, legislative, planning framework which, to varying degrees, has shaped, and will continue to shape, the formulation of environmental policies and strategies in the global context. The importance of raising awareness and ensuring sustained recognition of ethical and environmental issues, such as Climate Change and Sustainable Development, through enhanced public and professional debate will be examined, as will the value of productive collaboration between policy-makers, clients, multi-disciplinary design teams and end-users. The need to embrace a low-energy and sustainable approach to the conservation, restoration and remodelling of existing, as well as to the design of new built environments, will be underscored.
 

This module will introduce the fundamental principles of environmental design in relation to the integration of zero-carbon and passive design strategies in architectural design. The module will cover elements of: building physics and energy foundations, including fundamentals of heat exchange and energy balance of buildings; adaptive comfort theories; natural vs mechanical ventilation, passive vs mechanical heating and cooling, daylight, solar control and artificial light in architecture. An overview of the environmental and energy performance of building materials and their integration into building design will be offered, which will be discussed in the context of their discrete application prior to the minimisation of the building’s energy demand. The principles of environmental design will be explored from the building inhabitant’s requirements perspective and for a variety of building typologies and climatic contexts.

This module will introduce the concept of Climate Positive Environments and its appreciation through direct observation and analysis of existing built environments which either have a climate positive impact or can be modified to achieve it. In doing so the module will introduce the methodological and practical tools for the performance evaluation of buildings and the space between and around buildings. Fieldwork methods and post-occupancy evaluation protocols will be introduced for the appraisal of existing case-study built environments. 

Existing built environments, of a variety of typologies and ages, will be the subject of a semester long case study analysis including the assessment of their current environmental and energy performance, against best practice standards, as well as of the occupants’ satisfaction and behaviour in relation to energy use, comfort and spatial interaction. These assessments will allow the appreciation of performance feedbacks from design to operation of buildings and will form the reflective and critical background for the proposition of new design agendas in the Semester 2 Design studio. The module will comprise of lectures and workshops where the students will be appraised with the latest fieldwork methods, use of relevant instrumentation and analytical skills, including climate data analysis and simplified steady state computations for the assessment of the environmental and energy performance of buildings. These simplified computations will consolidate the understanding of the principles of Environmental Design applied to the evaluation of real buildings and their projected performance in future climate change scenarios. The module will specifically address issues of environmental retrofit towards a climate positive impact. Additionally, a design studio will be run in parallel to the workshops where the aforementioned skills and tools will be applied to a case study analysis project. 
 

This module will introduce the concept and practice of environmental architecture and methodologies for the evidence-based design of buildings and built environments. These will comprise of digital and analogue modelling and simulation tools necessary for the environmental design of new buildings as well as the spaces between and around buildings. Both quantitative and qualitative methodologies will be introduced for the design and the performance prediction of new built environments.

Drawing on the fundamental principles and rule-of-thumbs introduced in Semester 1, this module explores an evidence-based approach to design by using a range of tools including specialist software to carry out performance analysis. This exploration provides the basis to test and refine the initial design intuitions developed in a design studio project. 

The design studio project will be focusing on a site in London (or other suitable location), which, similarly to the Semester 1 design project is used as a live laboratory for design studies. This allows an in-situ exploration of the site and of the mutual relationship between buildings and their urban surroundings. Specifically, it will allow exploration of the synergic effect of an environmental design agenda on the quality of the built environment and on the lifestyles of inhabitants’ in both the present and projected future climatic and contextual scenarios.

The module will comprise of workshops where the students will be introduced to the latest modelling and simulation methods for the generation of new designs and their performance analysis. The software will include Dynamic Thermal Simulation, Daylighting Analysis and two-dimensional Computational Fluid Dynamics. The main objective of the module is not only to teach a series of simulation software but to include them in a wider design methodology, which includes their responsible and measured application in the context of the various phases of the architectural design. Hence a design studio will be run in parallel to the workshops where this methodology and its supporting analytic skills will be applied to the site specific project for which the students must define and respond to a well-developed brief. The new design agendas will be based on reflections and critical observations undertaken in the semester 1 design studio and on performance feedbacks related to relevant design trends, typological and programmatic requirements, climatic, microclimatic and siting conditions, operational and post-occupancy conditions, including current and projected users behaviour determining the final environmental and energy performance.

This module deals with the research, development, synthesis and resolution of the area(s) of study identified in the course via the previous and parallel modules. The module will establish the type of submission most relevant to the students’ respective academic and professional backgrounds, current and future interests and anticipated career development. Assistance from a range of teaching and research disciplines in the College may be enlisted if required. 

Potential themes, including specific areas of research and development, will be identified together with attendant design and performance targets, working methodologies and appropriate predictive/analytical modelling techniques. Suitable strategies, concepts, agendas and time management/programming requirements will also be discussed and agreed. The module will require a focused response to the principal Thesis Project agenda(s)/themes in the form of a Learning Contract (dissertation outline prepared to a standardised format for students taking the Thesis Topic option module), or of an individual thesis plan identified with tutors or Collaborative Thesis Programme with Industry partners. 

Significantly, the module is intended to act as a vehicle for demonstrating a student’s cumulative knowledge, understanding and skills gained during the Course and to ‘showcase’ attendant representational and other presentation abilities. Projects must encapsulate one, or more, of the major themes explored in the constituent modules. The precise nature of the submission will be subject to scrutiny by members of Course Team and external contributors, as will the chosen research and working methodologies. As far as practicable, proposals should be ‘future-proofed’ against climatic uncertainties, diminishing natural resources, escalating fuel prices, increasingly stringent environmental legislation and similar determinants.

Option modules

This module prepares a student for the third semester Thesis Project by establishing the type of submission (design project, design study) most relevant to their respective academic and professional backgrounds, current and future interests and anticipated career development. Assistance from a range of teaching and research disciplines in School may be enlisted if required. Potential themes, including specific areas of research and development, will be identified together with attendant design and performance targets, working methodologies and appropriate predictive/analytical modelling techniques. Suitable strategies, concepts, agendas and time management/programming requirements will also be discussed and agreed. The module will require a focused response to the principal Thesis Project agenda(s)/thematic in the form of a Learning Contract (comprehensive annotated report prepared to a standardised format), the preparation and submission of which will be supervised through a number of inter-disciplinary seminar and tutorial sessions.

This module will introduce the principles of energy and carbon assessment in the relation to current energy and carbon reduction policies in the national and international context. The module will cover elements of: advanced energy systems, control systems, mechanical systems, building services, renewables systems. An overview of the environmental and energy performance of buildings and their carbon footprint will be offered as well as an overview of building integrated renewables, which will be discussed in the context of the building’s whole life cycle analysis. Issues of capital, operational and life cycle costing will be explored with the specific objectives of identifying a methodology for energy and carbon assessments.

Programme Specification

For more details on course structure and modules, and how you will be taught and assessed, see the programme specification.

Course Team

You will be taught by a team of academics with an international track record and expertise in the field of environmental design. External contributors from industry and practice will enrich the lecture-based courses and the design studio activities.

Internal contributors to the course and module leaders will include:

Entry Requirements

A minimum of an upper second class honours degree (2:1) in architecture or a related subject within the context of the construction industry and built environment disciplines. Applicants with qualifications in other subject areas which may be relevant to the award are encouraged to apply, each case being considered on merit. You will need a portfolio of work, or a comprehensive written account of relevant experience, and a personal statement which clearly articulates why you wish to study for the award.

If your first language is not English you should have an IELTS 6.5 with 6.0 in one component.

Applicants are required to submit one academic reference.

View more information about our entry requirements and the application process

A minimum of an upper second class honours degree (2:1) in architecture or a related subject within the context of the construction industry and built environment disciplines. Applicants with qualifications in other subject areas which may be relevant to the award are encouraged to apply, each case being considered on merit. You will need a portfolio of work, or a comprehensive written account of relevant experience, and a personal statement which clearly articulates why you wish to study for the award.

If your first language is not English you should have an IELTS 6.5 with 6.0 in one component.

Applicants are required to submit one academic reference.

More information

Careers

This course will give you skills that can be used both in architectural practice and in environmental design consultancy. The research issues explored in your final thesis project could also lead to further research and an academic career through the path of a PhD degree in a number of related fields. So far alumni have found employment in architectural practices where they lead a sustainability group, in consulting engineering companies where they cover the role of environmental consultants or in academia where they have started a PhD in various UK universities or become research assistant in international research institutes.

Our Careers and Employability Service is here to support you to achieve your full potential.

With a growing network of over 3,000 employers around the world and a team of experienced careers consultants, we provide you with a variety of opportunities to work and develop new skills. As a University of Westminster student, you’ll have access to our services throughout your studies and after you graduate.

We can help you:

  • find work placements, graduate jobs or voluntary experience related to your course
  • discover international opportunities to enhance your employability
  • write effective CVs and application forms
  • develop your interview and enterprise skills
  • plan your career with our career consultants
  • gain insights into your chosen industry through mentoring
  • meet employers and explore your career options at our employer fairs, careers presentations and networking events 

Find out more about the Careers and Employability Service.

Find out more about other employability initiatives at the University of Westminster.

Studying Architecture and Environmental Design

What our students say

Vaishali Marlene Enos photo

Vaishali Marlene Enos

Architecture and Environmental Design MSc

The MSc course has equipped me with evidence-based tools and techniques in order to conceptualize and analyse various scales of built environments in various climatic zones. 

Daniel Owen photo

Daniel Owen

Architecture and Environmental Design MSc

The Architecture and Environmental Design MSc has provided me with an in-depth understanding of building physics and the theoretical principles of environmental design. 

Kristel Abril Zarate Leon photo

Kristel Abril Zarate Leon

Architecture and Environmental Design MSc

Architecture and Environmental Design MSc is excellent both academically speaking and in terms of the work opportunities that it provides.

Student work

Our annual exhibition of work from students on our postgraduate Architecture and Interiors courses features thesis project work and provides a fascinating insight into the nature of research in architecture and the built environment.

PG2016 catalogue

PG2015 catalogue

What our students say

Architecture student, Talia Quesada

Talia Quesada Campana

Architecture and Environmental Design MSc

The course offers a logical combination of theoretical knowledge, digital tools and fieldwork. Therefore, applying what is learned to real cases is effortless.

Architecture student, Mosaab Alaboud

Mosaab Alaboud

Architecture and Environmental Design MSc

We're very much an international group on this course this year and Dr Rosa Schiano-Phan and the other lecturers are helping us getting better and better.

Architecture student, Yutaka Sato

Yutaka Sato

Architecture and Environmental Design MSc

I chose this course because it covers not just conventional design approaches but also the quantitative approaches with which indoor and outdoor environments are considered.

Find out more

About Architecture and Interiors

Watch our video to find out more about studying Architecture and Interiors courses with us.

Meet the academic

Lecturer and practising architect Nasser Golzari talks about the University, his work and research in social commitment in architecture.

Fees and Funding

UK tuition fee: £11,500 (Price per academic year)

When you have enrolled with us, your annual tuition fees will remain the same throughout your studies with us. We do not increase your tuition fees each year.

Find out how we set our tuition fees.

Alumni discount

This course is eligible for an alumni discount. Find out if you are eligible and how to apply by visiting our Alumni discounts page.

Funding

As well as tuition fee loans, there is a range of funding available to help you fund your studies.

Find out about postgraduate student funding options.

Scholarships

The University is dedicated to supporting ambitious and outstanding students and we offer a variety of scholarships to eligible postgraduate students, which cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Find out if you qualify for one of our scholarships.

Additional costs

See what you may need to pay for separately and what your tuition fees cover.

International tuition fee: £14,000 (Price per academic year)

When you have enrolled with us, your annual tuition fees will remain the same throughout your studies with us. We do not increase your tuition fees each year.

Find out how we set our tuition fees.

Alumni discount

This course is eligible for an alumni discount. Find out if you are eligible and how to apply by visiting our Alumni discounts page.

Funding

Find out about funding for international students.

Scholarships

The University is dedicated to supporting ambitious and outstanding students and we offer a variety of scholarships to eligible postgraduate students, which cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Find out if you qualify for one of our scholarships.

Additional costs

See what you may need to pay for separately and what your tuition fees cover.

Facilities

Course Location

Our Marylebone Campus has benefitted from a multi-million-pound refurbishment resulting in new workshops, digital studios and development of the Marylebone Library. The campus is home to Westminster Business School and our award-winning Architecture, Planning and Tourism courses. For more details, visit our Marylebone Campus page.

Contact us

We have an FAQs page if you are applying this year.

Or you can contact the Course Enquiries Team:

[email protected]

Start live chat

Opening hours (GMT): 9am–4pm Monday to Friday

More information

Your Westminster

Book an open day. Order a prospectus. Sign up for newsletters.