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Advanced Sustainability of the Built Environment


The connection between the built environment, urban growth, the use of energy and creation of environmental pollution has been acknowledged in recent years, with a strong emphasis nowadays placed upon improving the sustainability of the built environment. This programme is uniquely designed to provide a holistic understanding of sustainable architecture and urban development.

Closing date: For entry Sept 2014, apply before 18th July 2014, if you need a visa to study in the UK

Why study Advanced Sustainability of the Built Environment at Dundee?

How can the sector play its part in reducing its global impact, and what are the challenges that we face now and in the future? Architects, planners, engineers, regulators and clients still have much to learn in relation to sustainability concepts, criteria, design quality, and measurement. The management of sustainability requires reconciling the differing perceptions of the various stakeholders in the development process and building shared approaches to realising an improved environment.

The MSc Advanced Sustainability of the Built Environment aims to meet such needs. This programme is uniquely designed to provide a holistic understanding of sustainable architecture and urban development.

"This exposure to the built environment development process always teased my curiosity to learn about sustainability and its relation place making and community development."
Maged Omar, MSc, 2013

"An interdisciplinary course, with a holistic and up to date approach to sustainability that has allowed me to not only amplify my knowledge in the field, but also gave me the "tools" to develop my own ideas and the flexibility needed to choose my own path. The quality of the course was also enhanced by all the visiting speakers that provided us with expert knowledge."
Denise Melo, MSc (with merit), 2011

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What's so good about Advanced Sustainability of the Built Environment at Dundee?

The MSc Advanced Sustainability of the Built Environment is a multi-disciplinary programme of postgraduate study aiming to equip learners with essential new perspectives and capabilities needed for sustainability applications in the built environment. Its creative approach to interdisciplinary working helps participants to understand the holistic nature of sustainability in the built environment "from cradle to cradle".

It emphasises the skills and technologies needed in planning, design, construction and management of sustainable built environments which meet changing environmental, socio-cultural, technological and economic needs. These are essential criteria in order to provide a full understanding of sustainability implications in the built environment process.

  • The course takes a holistic approach to issues surrounding the sustainability of the built environment covering topics from Macro (Urban Planning) to Micro perspective (Environmental Design)

This unique multi-disciplinary programme is designed to provide a holistic knowledge of the sustainable built environment.

  • Leading academics and practitioners in sustainable building and urban development will collaborate on delivery to demonstrate how sustainability thinking on a national and international level
  • The programme is suitable for architects, engineers, planners, regulators and facilities managers
  • Emphasis is placed on skills and technologies for sustainable design, construction and management to meet changing environmental, socio-cultural, technological and economic needs

The programme has been designed to enable students to specialise in one of three areas:

  • Intelligent buildings: strategic design and management
  • Sustainability in contemporary cities
  • Zero-carbon and low energy housing development: strategies, challenges and design

"The curriculum for the course is holistic in its approach to the subject matter and gives you a wider panoramic vision to the sustainable development. One of the prominent aspects of this course is the faculty, which is highly experienced and represent different subject backgrounds."
Shabari Shaily, MSc (with merit), 2011

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Who should study this course?

This course is relevant for individuals who plan, design, build, commission, maintain or manage such environment. These include:

  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Planners and Developers
  • Regulators/surveyors
  • Clients
  • Facilities managers
  • Construction managers
  • Research students
  • Research and development organisations
  • Consultants, contractors and manufacturers

The video below shows MSc students undertaking a study of the town of Crieff as part of their coursework.


Related courses

Teaching & Assessment

This course is taught by staff in the School of Environment.

The start date is September each year, and lasts for 12 months.

How you will be taught

As well as lectures, our teaching methods include tutorials, seminars, lab work and group instruction for skills development.

Through a range of practical coursework, you will have the chance to develop your skills in communication, report writing, presentation, policy analysis and evaluation, problem solving, decision making, IT, and team work.

What you will study

The programme is undertaken, on a full-time basis, over 12 months, or, on a part-time basis, normally over two years. It is organised on a modular basis and comprises three main core modules and one specialist module.

The core programme covers:

Principles of Sustainable Built Environment
This module will enable students to develop an understanding of the sustainable development agenda in all sectors of the construction industry based on economic, environmental, socio-cultural and technological issues and of key sustainable built environment processes, in particular:

  • the drivers of sustainable development agenda as a new way of thinking in relation to the built environment; defining the dimensions of sustainability in both design and urban scales, and examining appropriate sustainability parameters to inform sustainable design practices
  • the drivers of environmental design of buildings - investigating issues such as natural lighting, natural ventilation, renewable energy production and use in buildings, passive solar heating, passive cooling and environmental performance prediction and monitoring.

Spatial Analysis
The purpose of the spatial analysis module is to equip students with a set of perspectives and skills which are used when analysing complex urban situations. The module develops students' understanding of the principles of place design used to undertake visual analysis and area appraisals. Theories of urban development are examined. The skills of social science methodologies for analysing social and economic aspects of urban settlement are practiced. The aim of the module is to develop students' understanding of the planning research process and to enhance their abilities to make informed interpretations of urban complexity.

Sustainability Assessment (Implications, Indicators & Assessment Methods and the Whole Life Value)
The module covers a range of techniques and tools to evaluate and demonstrate how well (or how poorly) the built environment including buildings, construction industry, master plans and infrastructure are currently performing vis-á-vis sustainability. In addition, particular attention is paid to the significance of sustainability assessment methods as the construction industry are being confronted with a new set of regulatory practices and priorities, largely generated by the push for sustainability. The module identifies how the application of sustainability assessment methods can impact upon social, environmental and economic values.

Students take one specialist module from those available that year, for example: Intelligent Buildings: Strategic Design and Management
This module will give an introduction to the principal aspects of intelligent building design, construction, operation and management within a systematic and coherent framework and provide an overview of intelligent buildings necessary to appreciate the major significance of the subject and to take informed decisions on future intelligent buildings. Students will also develop an understanding of the significance of intelligent buildings within the overall span of building design and management: including the key characteristics and functions of intelligent buildings, the significance of the opportunities presented by intelligent buildings and the constraints to be overcome in order to capture them, and the managerial practices required to deliver the benefits of intelligent buildings.

Sustainability in Contemporary Cities
The overall aim of this module is to discuss sustainable development in its wider theoretical, political and regulatory and historical context, and to use this understanding to examine how actors use a range of strategies to promote the sustainability of our cities and regions. This also includes an appreciation of the challenges and constraints in adopting mitigation and adaptation approaches within urban management strategies. In so doing, the module sets out to engage with the core question of how and whether the growth of cities is compatible with the achievement of sustainable development goals.

Zero-Carbon and Low Energy Housing Development: Strategies, Challenges and Design
Housing plays a critical role in the development and provision of sustainable communities and the reduction of non-renewable energy and material resources. As global populations increase the nature and quality of future housing provision will become increasingly important in terms of how and where we live. This course will develop an understanding of the challenges, strategies and design solutions for low energy and zero carbon housing and the development of more sustainable communities. The course takes a holistic approach to issues surrounding sustainable housing covering topics from a macro to micro perspective.

Masters students pursue a research project on a specialist subject area developed from their specialist module or the Sustainability Assessment module.

How you will be assessed

The aims of assessment are to monitor the development of your subject understanding and research skills, intellectual and problem-solving competences, and also, the communication and interpersonal competences as required by practising professional architects, planners and engineers.

Assessment methods cover a mix of formats including case study evaluations, group project-work, and a research project. If required there are written examinations.


The MSc in Advanced Sustainability is a multi-disciplinary programme of post-graduate study which provides graduates with immediate career opportunities in the UK, EU and abroad.

This course will give you the practical environmental design and sustainable urban planning knowledge and skills that are highly sought-after by employers.

Our graduates understand the importance of taking a holistic approach to issues surrounding sustainable buildings and urban planning covering topics from a macro (Urban planning) to micro (Environmental design) perspective; connecting sustainable design projects to the broader decision making context of complex projects. Graduates have entered both academia and industry in the UK, EU and Overseas.

"This course has offered me a unique opportunity to acquire a broad depth of understanding of current issues relating to environmental, economic and social factors of Sustainability within the Built Environment. As a practising architect this has been invaluable in both career development and in the ability to apply my skills and knowledge to live projects."
Shirley Forbes, MSc, 2011

Entry Requirements

Applicants to the MSc programme are normally required to have obtained an Honours degree, at 2.1 or above, in an appropriate subject - architecture, building services, planning, engineering, science or related disciplines.

Applicants who do not hold formal qualifications to degree level, but who are able to demonstrate considerable experience in a relevant field, may also be accepted.

Individual modules can be taken as personal Continuing Professional Development courses (CPD), in which case you do not necessarily need to hold a degree.

English Language Requirement: IELTS of 6.5 (or equivalent), if your first language is not English. Please check our Language Requirements page for details of equivalent grades from other test providers, and information about the University of Dundee English Language courses.

Fees and Funding

Academic Year Home/EU Overseas
2014-15 £3,800 £11,500

Sources of Funding

Information about the School of the Environment scholarships can be found on the School of the Environment scholarships webpage.

Other sources of funding for postgraduate students can be found on our Scholarships webpage.

SAAS tuition fee loans are available for this course for students who meet the eligibility criteria. Visit our SAAS tuition fee loan webpage for more information and links.

Living Costs

  • Dundee is ranked as one of the most affordable places for students to live in the UK, and the cost of living is around 15% cheaper than the UK average.
  • Increasing numbers of students are successfully undertaking part-time work to supplement their income. You can get advice from our Careers Service, both about job opportunities and how to find a suitable study/work/life balance. EU and international students are also allowed to work up to 20 hours per week.
  • As a student in Scotland, you have free access to the National Health Service. Visits to doctors and hospitals, as well as prescriptions, sight tests and dental checkups, are available free of charge.

Your Application

Apply online via UKPASS

You must read the information regarding how to upload relevant documents to UKPASS before proceeding with your application.

Programme Administrator

Jennifer Forbes
School of the Environment
University of Dundee

Telephone: 01382 384 180 (from the UK)
Telephone: +44 1382 384 180 (from outside the UK)

Fax: 01382 388 588 (from the UK)
Fax: +44 1382 388 588 (from outside the UK)


Programme Leader

Dr Husam Al Waer
School of the Environment
University of Dundee

Telephone: 01382 388 805 (from the UK)
Telephone: +44 1382 388 805 (from outside the UK)

Mobile: +44 773 285 7727 (from outside the UK)

Fax: 01382 203 631 (from the UK)
Fax: +44 1382 2036 31 (from outside the UK)


Admissions Contact

Postgraduate Admissions
Admissions and Student Recruitment
University of Dundee

Telephone: 01382 384 384 (from the UK)
Telephone: +44 1382 384 384 (from outside the UK)

Fax: 01382 385 500 (from the UK)
Fax: +44 1382 385 500 (from outside the UK)