Architecture and Environmental Design MSc
Alternative attendance modes for this course
Courses start in September, unless otherwise stated
View course-specific entry requirements
Generally, a good undergraduate degree (ie First or Upper-Second Class Honours) 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 comprehensive written account of relevant experience, and a personal statement which clearly articulates why you wish to study for the award.
You will need fluent written and spoken English to study at postgraduate level. If your first language is not English, you will need an IELTS score of at least 6.5 (or equivalent) with a minimum score of 6.0 in each component. The University offers pre-sessional summer programmes if you need to improve your English before starting your course.
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 The same can be said for the existing built environment which is largely outdated and underperforming, requiring urgent implementation of effective retrofit strategies. 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. 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.
Images from top to bottom: Image 1: Global Ecology Research Centre, Stanford, California. Image 2: Sun path diagram projection on site map. Image 3: Computational Fluid Dynamic simulation showing temperature stratifications in refurbishment project in Mumbai.
The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course. For more details on course structure and modules, and how you will be taught and assessed, see the full course document.
Evaluation of Built Environments
You will be involved in practical workshops on the use of tools and on the development of analytical methods, which will be directly applied to a design studio project on the evaluation of case studies. In this module you will learn about climate and microclimate analysis and fieldwork methods for the measurement of environmental and energy parameters, thermal comfort surveys and post-occupancy evaluations.
Principles of Environmental Design
You will look at the principles of passive solar design and strategies for bioclimatic architecture (eg enhanced thermal performance of building envelope, solar control, natural ventilation, day-lighting, passive solar heating and cooling etc). The module will provide, through practical experimentation and laboratory exercises, fundamentals of building physics, energy and environmental foundations, including heat exchange and energy balance of buildings, and thermal and visual comfort.
Theory and History of Environmental Design
You will look at the ethical and environmental drivers of environmental design; climate change, energy conservation and economy; standards and regulations; history of environmental design; and its various past and present definitions.
Environmental and Energy Modelling
You will undertake software workshops and design applications of dynamic thermal modelling, Computational Fluid Dynamic (CFD) modelling and day-lighting. The software used will be tailored to the various stages of the design process and will range from climate data analysis to daylighting and thermal modelling. These will be directly applied to a design studio project running in parallel to the workshops.
Semester two and three
You will explore advanced topics and contexts of research applicability. The topic chosen can depend on your individual interests and aspirations, ranging from analytical projects to design proposals. The module will provide you with the background on research methods and advanced technical skills appropriate to your topic of choice. Dissertations can be formulated as a written thesis or as a hybrid written and design-project thesis.
Dr Rosa Schiano-Phan, course leader, is Principal Lecturer in Architecture and Environmental Design in the Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment of the University of Westminster. Rosa has 18 years experience in the field of environmental design devoting most of her career to consultancy and research, working for global organisations and with international partners. She was formerly Senior Lecturer at the Architectural Association teaching in the MSc and MArch in Sustainable Environmental Design and contributing to the PhD Programme in Environment and Energy. She is co-director of Natural Cooling Limited and co-author of The Architecture & Engineering of Downdraught Cooling, published in 2010 and recipient of a commendation by the RIBA President's Awards for Research in December 2011.
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:
- Dr Colin Gleeson, chartered building services engineer, academic, Deputy Director of ProBE research centre. Colin's recent work includes the ESF European Retrofit Network and the impact of 'green construction' on vocational education and training.
- Dr Nasser Golzari, architect, academic and practitioner with project experience in the UK and Middle East. Nasser was part of the design team for the project 'Revitalisation of Birzeit Historic Centre' in Palestine which received the Aga Khan award 2013.
- Dr Jon Goodbun, whose career embraces architecture and the academy. Jon has worked in both practice and in the exploration of cultural theory. He was a member of the EU HERA funded SCIBE research project into scarcity, and co-authored The Design of Scarcity published in 2014 by Strelka.
- Juan Vallejo, architect from University of Granada and MSc SED at the AA School of Architecture, London. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Nottingham researching in the field of natural ventilation and passive evaporative cooling. He regularly lectures and consults on building environmental simulation tools and passive design techniques in the UK and abroad.
- Zhenzhou Weng is a building services engineer with an MSc in Sustainable Environmental Design at the AA, London. His research focuses on computational tools for environmental design education and parametric optimization. As part of his PhD at Bath, he is currently developing a web-based e-learning tool on building physics which features interactive demonstrations.
The course will also draw on the skill and range of the established design studios and visiting practitioners, and the workshops and laboratories shared by the Departments of Architecture and of Property and Construction. The visiting professors associated with this course are Professor Joana Goncalves and Professor Peter Sharrat.
This course will give you skills which 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.
Full-time students on the Architecture and Environmental Design MSc course usually need to attend classes at University on Tuesday and Wednesday with additional tutorials on Monday afternoon. Part-time students usually need to attend classes at University on Tuesday in the first semester, and on a Wednesday and Monday afternoon in the second semester of their first year. In their second year, part-time students need to attend classes at University on a Wednesday and Monday afternoon in the first semester and Tuesday in the second semester. Please note, this timetable is subject to change.
The course is delivered at our central London Marylebone Campus, which is easily accessible by all forms of public transport. Design work is developed within dedicated studio spaces. In addition to an extensive CAD lab, a complete suite of 100 computers has been installed in the design studios to the highest specification and with all the latest software. Together, these facilities offer a wide range of drawing, graphics and video applications. The new Fabrication Laboratory includes state-of-the-art CAD-CAM equipment in shape of several 3D printers, laser-cutting machines and computer-controlled drilling machines. Metalworking and woodworking workshops, as well as other support facilities are also available. The course also has access to an environmental laboratory which contains a wide range of testing and monitoring equipment for assessing environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, day-lighting, air velocity and sound; and surveying equipment. An Artificial Sky for the physical modelling and analogue simulation of daylighting is also under construction
Additional costs information
To check what your tuition fees cover and what you may need to pay for separately, see our What tuition fees cover page.
Our dedicated Career Development Centre is actively working with an ever-expanding network of over 3,000 employers to provide you with exceptional employability support and guidance. As a result we were nominated as finalists for a significant industry award – the NUE Awards Most Improved Commitment to Employability 2016.
We provide our students with work placements and international opportunities to support them in becoming highly employable, globally engaged graduates, and with one million businesses operating within 20 miles of the University of Westminster, over 84% of our students are in work or further study six months after graduation. Our graduates work in a variety of sectors and organisations, from small/medium-sized companies and start-ups to large not-for-profit organisations and corporates.
During your time at Westminster you will be able to use our comprehensive online vacancy service and meet with our experienced careers consultants, providing you with thorough training and support on CV writing, application forms, interview preparation and assessment centres.
In addition to this, you will receive careers support from academic staff and faculty work placement teams, offering targeted course-specific careers advice and assistance in securing a work placement during your time at Westminster. You can find out more about course-specific career opportunities by visiting the Prospects website.
For more details, visit the employability section on our site.
Career Development Centre
Our Career Development Centre can help and support you throughout your study and after graduation.
We can help you to:
- find part-time/vacation, placement and graduate jobs, including voluntary experience
- explore how to develop the skills that employers are looking for
- plan your career development
- identify your career options
- market yourself effectively in CVs, application forms and at interviews
- develop your enterprise skills
We also organise a range of presentations and networking events with employers, professional bodies, alumni and other organisations throughout the year to help you with career planning.
Find out more about the Career Development Centre.
Our Work Placement Teams are based in your Faculty Registry Office and can help you find a suitable placement, as well as support you in making applications, writing CVs and improving your interview technique.
More details on work placements can be found on our Work placements page.
Study in the city
If you study at the University of Westminster, everything that London has to offer is on your doorstep.
Our central London campuses are ideally located for the city's fantastic learning institutions including libraries, archives and museums, as well as opportunities for shopping, eating out, enjoying London's nightlife or just simply relaxing.
After choosing your course, one of your biggest decisions will be where to live, and we aim to make that choice as easy as possible. Whether you want to apply for our Halls of Residence or live in private housing, we can help you to find the right accommodation.
Fees, funding, bursaries and scholarships
In recent years the University of Westminster's scholarship scheme has been the largest university scholarships scheme in the UK, and our Scholarships Department won the Times Higher Education inaugural Award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students.
All students on courses of a year or more and who are registered for more than three modules will be allocated a personal tutor.
Your personal tutor will be there to support you from induction onwards, helping you to integrate into the University, academically and socially, at an early stage. They will be able to give you advice and support on academic and personal matters affecting your study, as well as developmental advice through regular individual and group tutorials.
Polylang is a University-wide programme through which you can study a language as a free choice module.
Personal advice and counselling
While most students overcome any problems with help from friends, family or a personal tutor, the University's free counselling and advice services are there if you need them.
With one of the UK's largest international student populations, the University of Westminster has plenty of experience in giving you the help and support you need to make the most of your time with us.
Study Abroad and Summer School programmes
Westminster's Study Abroad programme has been running for more than 15 years, and is one of the largest in the UK – each year we welcome hundreds of visiting students from universities all over the world.
If you are already studying outside the UK, the programme offers you the opportunity to study with us for one or two semesters, or for a period in the summer.
Sport and recreation
The University has extensive sport and recreation facilities, with a sports hall and gym at Harrow, a state-of-the-art gym at Regent Campus, and the University sports ground by the River Thames at Chiswick.
University of Westminster Students' Union (UWSU) aims to make sure you have the best university experience possible by providing a range of activities and support, from sports clubs to society groups, educational advice and social events.
Upcoming postgraduate information evenings
|07 June 2017||Postgraduate Information Evening||Cavendish, Harrow, Little Titchfield Street, Marylebone, Regent Street|
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Architecture and Interiors - why Westminster?
Architecture and the Built Environment
We are one of the country's leading centres for the study of Architecture and the Built Environment, covering the core subject areas that address the future shape of our cities.
The fabrication laboratory allows students to explore the exciting field of digital fabrication, including ABS and plaster 3D printing, CNC knife cutting, large-scale CNC routing, CNC metal milling and robot fabrication.