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Theory and Practice of Sustainable Design (MSc)

1 year (full-time) / 2 years (part-time) / n/a (distance / e-Learning)


Mill Pond Walk, Pembroke

Mill Pond Walk, Pembroke

This course aims to offer knowledge and expertise in sustainability as it relates to the built environment, giving a working understanding of its aims, principal concerns and techniques, at theoretical and practical levels, in global and local contexts, and across social, environmental and economic boundaries. A key feature of the course is the opportunity to work collaboratively on a live project throughout the year and as a group work towards a holistic sustainable design solution.

This is a conversion course designed for graduates who want to pursue a creer in this area and whose first degree was in another discipline.

Special Features

Course Description

There are two stages to the MSc programme: one for the taught modules and another for a dissertation by research, in which students report on an investigation that they have conducted into a research question that interests them.

A theory module at the beginning of the course explores origins and attitudes in sustainability, and encourages students to position themselves before engaging with the other modules and between them. There is a long module in which opportunities for sustainable practice are investigated in a live project. The other modules present practical approaches to procuring, designing, and constructing environmentally and socially sustainable developments in the built environment.

Coed y brenin Architype
Coed y brenin Architype
Penarth Live Project

Course Structure

The course shares 60 credits of core taught modules with a suite of architectural science masters. These modules provide a grounding in architectural science, while placing this in the context of sustainable development and environmental performance of buildings.

Alongside this core set of modules, 60 credits of modules reinforce this teaching with a focus on sustainable building technologies, sustainable approaches to building procurement and performance evaluation as well as a live project module that enables students to apply theoretical understanding in a live project scenario that runs from autumn through to Summer.

Core Modules

The below list of core modules total 60 credits.

Core knowledge and understanding is acquired through lectures, tutorials, coursework, laboratory sessions, design projects and guided study. More advanced knowledge and understanding is acquired by independent study, computer-aided learning and both individual and group projects.

The following teaching methods are employed in this programme.  Each module employs a different combination of these methods as considered appropriate to the subject matter and the method of assessment. 

Specialist Modules

The below list of specialist modules total 60 credits.

Sustainable Buildings
Building Procurement and Performance
Sustainable Development Practice

Specialist knowledge and understanding is taught via a variety of methods, including project work, group / one-to-one tutorials, student presentations and study visits.

Project work: in modules associated by project work, set design tasks spanning most of a module are planned, which will offer the students the opportunity to put into practice the ideas they are studying and to further research areas that are of particular relevance to their specific background. 

This will reinforce their understanding and skills in the subject area and will also provide an opportunity for students to exercise their more generic problem-solving and presentation skills.

Group / one-to-one tutorials: tutorial are planned to guide and assist students in their project work.

Student presentations: students will undertake an oral presentation of their project work at different stages of their work progress.  This method offers the opportunity to increase, improve and provide alternate methods of learning where students could utilise and apply their training in critical thinking and on how to give constructive feedback.

Study visits: the aim of guided visits is to demonstrate how principles taught in the course are applied in real life and for students to relate this experience to their learning.

Knowledge and understanding can be gained from all of these teaching methods.  Generic skills are involved in all methods involving interaction with others, presentation, assignments, project work, seminars, workshops and study visits.


The research project module is worth 60 credits.

A research project that provides students a valuable opportunity to consolidate their capacity for independent study, learning techniques to conduct research and develop knowledge within the subject area of sustainable design.

Personal research: the students will plan and undertake systematic enquiry into a problem associated with sustainable design.  The problem will be selected in negotiation with module leaders and supervisory staff.

Supervision: A supervisor will be assigned to the student to provide guidance in conducting the research; the supervisor will act as a guide for the process; however, the student will be expected to show independent initiative in acquiring skills and knowledge.

Dissertation: The plan, method and interpretation f the research are to be reported in a written dissertation of a maximum of 20,000 words.



Skills Acquired

The course is designed for built environment professionals from the disciplines of architecture, town and country planning, engineering, construction and client representatives. It is also appropriate for people from alternative backgrounds including social sciences, ecology, environmental sciences, politics, management studies, including those without a design background but working in relation with or having an interest in the built environment. The global dimension of sustainability and the global relevance and application of the learning to be gained makes the course relevant internationally. The course will value and build upon the perspectives of participants form different cultures.
As a result of this variety graduates over the past have moved into a breadth of positions in the UK and across the world.

Career Prospects

Career destinations following graduation include:

Entry Requirements

Applicants should possess a good first degree, typically an upper second class or higher. For those applicants with a significant level of relevant and high quality work experience the academic requirements can be relaxed.

The course is suitable for graduates or experienced practitioners in the built environment disciplines of architecture, town and country planning, property development, civil engineering and construction, as well as those from the associated fields such as social sciences, ecology, environmental sciences, politics, who work in relation with, or have an interest in, the built environment.

Students on this course would benefit from substantial work experience prior to study on this course. A minimum of 6 months industrial experience is required. This can include relevant internships.

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language (IELTS 6.5 or equivalent). Please see our English Language Requirements guidance for more details.

Note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 (General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the UK if they intend to study at the University in person.

How to Apply

Please submit your application via the Cardiff University Online Application Service.

Applicants for this course should accompany their application with a supporting personal statement which should not exceed 700 words.

The supporting statement should detail their reasons for wanting to study this specific programme. The applicant should make it clear why the subject is important to them, what experience or education they are bringing to the course, what they hope to get from the course, and what ultimate career plans they may have.
The statement will be used by the admissions team in making a decision about whether to accept the application.

There is no requirement for a portfolio, but if applicants choose to submit a printed portfolio this will also be considered as part of the application.

Where a portfolio is provided this should be capable of being printed at A3 size and no larger and be of no more than 8 pages.

Decisions will be made based on the written application and the references received on a continuous basis throughout the year.

Tuition Fees 2016/17

Fees quoted are for the academic session 2016/17. For programmes lasting more than one year, tuition fees for subsequent years of study are subject to an increase of no more than 4.5% per year.

  UK & EU International
Full-time £7,750 £18,250
Part-time £3,875 £9,125
Deposit n/a Includes a £1,000 deposit. More information about our deposit policy.

Next intake: September each year

School Contact

Name: Carys Meredith  

Telephone: +44 (0)29 2087 9693 



More information

Funding Available

There are current funding opportunities for this course. Click here.


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