• For Entry: September
  • Duration: 12 months
  • School: Social Sciences
  • Study Mode: Full Time

An MSc which develops the knowledge and skills base needed by construction sector professions to deliver regionally focused and contextually responsive solutions for very high performance buildings.

The construction sector in the UK and Europe faces significant challenges to reach future climate and energy targets. These are  outlined in the EU Carbon Action Plan 2050. They are detailed in the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2020 common legislation for EU Member States. 

We will develop your knowledge and skills base needed by construction sector professions. This will help you  to deliver regionally focused solutions for a new generation of very high performance low and zero-carbon buildings.

Programme Highlights

  • Interdisciplinary programme in renewable zero-carbon and low-energy building design
  • Flexible work packages allow study whilst remaining in employment
  • Professional energy software training
  • Fully-funded places available for 2015/2016 subject to availability

This programme aims to equip you with essential new perspectives, capabilities and skills. The programme develops your advanced integrative skills, knowledge and understanding across these fields. 

The programme provides an excellent foundation for working in the fields of sustainable development projects and the design and construction of zero-carbon and ultra-low energy buildings. It spans a broad field of enquiry covering the design and creation of sustainable communities and built environments at a macro-level regional perspective to the micro-level technological challenges in the design, construction and energy quantification of ultra-low energy and zero-carbon buildings.

Course Leader
Dr Neil Burford

Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) Scottish Design Tutor (2014-2016).

The new knowledge gained in this course will place students at the forefront of the construction industry in an area of global importance. The course will enable students to forge collaborations between research, design professionals and industry potentially providing a specialised pathway to future career development.

We have aligned the programme with the construction industry, energy and forestry sectors to deliver the latest thinking and best practice in these areas. It draws from the broad interdisciplinary expertise across the disciplines of Architecture, Town and Regional Planning, Engineering, Physics and Geography and from relevant expertise in associated institutions and from key external governmental stakeholders and industry specialists. The programme capitalises on this existing expertise and creates opportunities for this to be extended and new areas of knowledge to be developed through applied R+D projects.

The degree will provide an excellent foundation for working in the fields of sustainable development projects and the design and construction of ultra-low energy buildings. The new knowledge gained in this course will place students at the forefront of the construction industry in an area of global importance. The course will enable students to forge collaborations between research, design professionals and industry potentially providing a specialised pathway to future career development. The University of Dundee Centre for Environmental Change and Human Resilience, the Geddes Institute for Urban Research and the Offshore Renewable Energy Institute have developed an international reputation across this diverse and increasingly important area.

Zero Energy Prototype Studio

Zero Energy Prototype Studio

Botanic Gardens, Dundee

With buildings contributing to approximately 37% of CO2 emissions in the UK (NAEI (2013), DECC (2013), Energy Trends, March 2013, DECC (2012), the design of ultra-low energy buildings and future sustainable low-carbon communities is of international importance. This course develops cross-disciplinary know-how and expertise in developing new regional approaches to these global issues.

It will focus, as an example, on Scottish construction sector requirements, by addressing the knowledge and skills gap in the industry in being able to meet future regulatory requirements set out in the Sullivan Report (2007) However, it will also address the broader UK legislation changes and the wider context of the European Union Zero Carbon Action Plan 2050.  It will also deliver theoretical approaches and examples of best practice in this field from across Europe, in particular Scandinavia, Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

The aims of the course are:

  • To introduce the challenges in addressing the future of ultra-low energy and zero carbon building design and construction as set out in EU Legislation, European Member States and UK/Scottish Government’s Action Policies for Zero-Carbon Building.
  • To develop understanding of design, construction and delivery of high performance buildings  from a holistic point. The course is taught simultaneously from Macro to Micro scales with practical involvement from industry specialists.
  • To develop qualitative design and quantitative analytical skills pertaining to high performance building design, evaluation and construction including the use and application of building environmental simulation and modelling softwares.

Who should study this course?

This course is relevant for individuals who plan, design, build, commission, maintain or manage buildings and the built environment.

These include: Architects, Engineers, Planners, Developers, Regulators/surveyors, Clients, Facilities Managers, Construction Managers, Research Students, Research and Development Organisations, Specialist Consultants, Contractors and Manufacturers.

However, due to the broad interdisciplinary requirements of this sector it is envisaged that the course will impact on Energy and Forestry Sectors and the broader built environment areas as these are seen as being intrinsic to building a regional low-carbon construction industry of the future. Design and construction professionals who wish to broaden their knowledge in the delivery of ultra-low energy and zero-carbon buildings will gain cutting edge know-how and expertise across a broad range of fields form macro to micro issues.

The course will also have relevance to the non-professional specialist skills base and will widen access for specialist trades intrinsic to the delivery and construction of ultra-low energy buildings by investigating in detail best practice in construction methods and principles.

How you will be taught

The course has been developed specifically for construction and industry professionals. It is delivered in concentrated conference-style work packages which facilitates flexible learning and can be undertaken either fulltime or part-time while remaining in fulltime employment. Whether you are an individual, practice or consultancy looking to improve and expand your knowledge and skills base of your employees in renewable energy and zero carbon building design this course offers a cost-effective solution to up-skilling to meet the future regulatory challenges.

The delivery is over a wide range of subjects in specialised modules over the course of a year (full-time) and two years (part-time). The content is delivered through lectures, seminars, workshops, field study and design based problems.

It is envisaged that industry placements will be available to undertake the research project

Modules start at the beginning of the academic session in September.

How you will be assessed

Assessments are through written assignments and reports, design-based studies and a major research thesis. This knowledge is applied and tested through R+D projects set-up in close collaboration with industry stakeholders and aligned to industry research study placements.

What you will study

The programme is taught over three semesters. It consists of sevencore modules and one elective which the student can choose from a list of three possible elective modules.

If studying part-time typically students would take two core modules in the first semester of year one, two core modules in the second semester of year one and the research methods module in year 1. The remainder are completed the following year.

Modules will be taught as follows:

Semester 1: September to December

Module 1: (20 Credits Core): Context for Sustainable Built Environment (with European Field Study Trip)

Module 2: (20 Credits Core): Foundations in Renewable Energy

Module 3: (20 Credits Core): Advanced Timber Construction

Semester 2: January to April

Module 4: (20 Credits Core): Zero Carbon and Ultra-Low Energy Housing

Module 5: (20 Credits Core): Energy Modelling for Low Energy Buildings

Module 6: (20 Credits Elective): Applied Assessment in Neighbourhood and Building Design

Module 7: (20 Credits Elective): Renewable Energy Technologies

Module 8: (20 Credits Elective): Sustainable Construction Materials

Semester 3: May to August

Module 9: (15 Credits Core): Research Methods and Research Planning

Module 10: (45 Credits Core): Research Project

This MSc is addressing a skills shortage in the specialised area of Zero Carbon design. There is a need to join together the disparate threads of low energy building design, renewable systems as applicable to buildings, with strategic design and management skills in an integrated way. Through this knowledge graduates will improve their opportunity to secure jobsin the energy sector, building industry including architecture and engineering practice, development sector, NGO’s, local governments, higher education teaching and research or research and development.

Aristeidis Koliopoulos is a recent graduate of the MSc.

"This course supports students to move into a variety of career paths backed by sound technical knowledge. In my case it was a crucial career movement which enabled my transition from civil engineering into environmental design of buildings. The company I currently work with appreciated all the important knowledge that the course transmitted to us."

An honours degree at 2.1 or above in architecture, engineering, planning, building services, geography, science or related disciplines or an ability to demonstrate considerable experience in a relevant field.

Please note if you are coming from design based disciplines, before offer we will request you to submit a portfolio of relevant academic and practice work.

 EU and International qualifications

English Language Requirement

IELTS Overall 6.5
Listening 5.5
Reading 5.5
Writing 6.0
Speaking 5.5

 Equivalent grades from other test providers


English Language Programmes

We offer Pre-Sessional and Foundation Programme(s) throughout the year. These are designed to prepare you for university study in the UK when you have not yet met the language requirements for direct entry onto a degree programme.

 Discover our English Language Programmes

The fees you pay will depend on your fee status. Your fee status is determined by us using the information you provide on your application.

 Find out more about fee status

Fee statusFees for students starting 2017/18
Scottish and EU students £5,950 per year of study
Scottish and EU applicants for this course may be eligible for a SFC fully-funded place
Rest of UK students £5,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Overseas students (non-EU) £14,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for international applicants

Scottish Funding Council (SFC) Funding

This is an initiative from the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) designed to support key sectors in the Scottish economy to develop a high-level skills base, the University of Dundee is pleased to offer 60 fully-funded places to eligible students across ten taught postgraduate programmes.


Only those UK/EU students who have been resident in Scotland or the EU for the preceding three years and not for the purposes of study are eligible for this funding.


This funding covers the full tuition fee cost for your chosen programme of study.  You can study one year full time or two years part time on selected programmes.

How to apply

There is no formal application to complete, when you apply for your chosen programme please indicate on the UKPASS application form that you would like to be considered for the SFC funded places.   If you have not indicated this scholarship on your UKPASS application if you meet the eligibility criteria your application will automatically be assessed for this funded place.

Funded places will be awarded competitively to applicants with the strongest applications in the judgement of the programme leaders. This will principally be based on a student's prior academic performance, but equivalent work experience may also be taken into account. 

You apply for this course via the UCAS Postgraduate (UKPASS) website which is free of charge. You can check the progress of your application online and you can also make multiple applications.

You'll need to upload relevant documents as part of your application. Please read the How to Apply page before you apply to find out about what you'll need.

  Degree Course Code
Apply NowDesign and Construction of Zero Carbon and Ultra Low Energy Buildings MScP051362

Course Contact

Dr Neil Burford
Social Sciences
+44 (0)1382 385368