The MSc and MArch in Sustainable Environmental Design (SED) are respectively 12-month and 16-month long taught postgraduate programmes in areas of specialisation currently at the forefront of both architecture and engineering. The SED pedagogy is research-led, practice-oriented and evidence-based, addressing real-life projects across climates and urban contexts. Carbon neutral planning and designing with climate and climate change are key drivers of the SED research agenda.


The taught programme is structured in two consecutive phases. Phase 1 (Terms 1 & 2) is organised around team projects that engage students in experimental fieldwork and computational studies using the knowledge and tools introduced in weekly lectures and workshops. Refurbishing the City, a continuing SED research agenda, provides briefs for case studies of buildings and outdoor urban spaces with London and other major cities as laboratories. On-site fieldwork is followed by computational modelling and simulation exploring environmental performance under present and future climates and occupancy scenarios. The results of these studies provide starting points for design research on mixed-use building programmes in Term 2. Design briefs develop in parallel to presentations by invited architects and researchers highlighting the state-of-the-art in current practice.

In Phase 2 (Terms 3 & 4), individual research for the MSc and MArch dissertation projects addresses a diverse range of geographic locations, climatic conditions, urban morphologies and building typologies. MSc dissertations explore the architectural potential and applicability of their research findings across climate zones and building types of their selected geographic regions. MArch dissertation research culminates in a specific design application for a given site and design brief. Since the first cycle of the MSc/MArch in 2005-06 well over 500 projects have been completed for locations across some 60 countries and 150 cities both North and South of the Equator. These projects now form part of a growing SED archive that has provided material for over one hundred publications in books, journals and conference proceedings.

For information on how to apply for the MSc or MArch SED click here  Applications are open for the 2024-25 academic year starting October 2024.

Lecture Courses & Workshops

Adaptive Architecturing  Term 1   Developing local architectural solutions to global environmental issues requires knowledge and understanding of how to make cities and buildings adaptive to the recursive cycles of climate and the circadian rhythms and activities of inhabitants. The course draws lessons from  vernacular architecture of the past whilst keeping strongly rooted in the scientific research that has fostered environmental design in recent years. These influences combine into a generative framework for an adaptive architecture in symbiosis with the city.

Design for Comfort, Health and Well-being  Term 1  The course addresses key topics in building science laying down foundations that are shared by all the courses in the programme. Familiar topics such as heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting are examined critically from the viewpoints of inhabitant comfort, health and well-being,  as well as for low energy use.

 Sustainable City   Term 1  This course reviews the parameters that shape the climates of cities highlighting in particular the role of the urban morphology in creating and fostering distinct microclimates that have a strong effect on urban energy use as well as on environmental quality and inhabitant activity. Typological studies provide comparative assessments of density, compactness, building heights, street proportions, orientation, solar incidence and other contributors to cities’ energy metabolisms. The course looks at methods and tools by which to measure urban sustainability and support circular economy.

 Environmental Design Research Tools  Terms 1 – 2  This is a hands-on course that runs in day-long sessions introducing analogue and digital tools for use by SED students on project work. Projects encompass fieldwork that comprises on-site observations and measurements, essential analytical operations and data processing, and advanced computational modelling and simulation of environmental processes in and around buildings. As such the course provides the analytical engines of the SED programme, which are then applied on group projects and dissertation research. Individual tools deal with weather data, climate analysis, site and microclimate studies, daylighting, airflow and wind effects, outdoor and indoor incidence of solar radiation, embodied energy in materials, lifecycle carbon analysis, dynamic heat transfer and hourly simulation of energy balances of modelled spaces, occupant thermal and visual comfort, on-site energy generation, optimisation and harmonisation.

Building Studies  Term 1   London is our regular laboratory for the first project of the year, within which small groups of our MSc and MArch students will work together throughout Term 1. The project involves the study of selected buildings of architectural and environmental interest, through on-site observations and environmental measurements followed by exploratory computational studies to investigate how alternative design scenarios affect environmental performance. The process draws upon the SED programme’s extensive archive of building studies and comparative research results.

Design Workshop  Terms 2  The knowledge, skills and insights gained from Building Studies in Term 1 provide the starting point for the formulation of design research briefs for the Term 2 Design Workshop. This offers an opportunity to apply the learning provided by the programme to a collaborative design project.

 Lessons from Practice  Terms 2-3  Every week in Term 2 and part of Term 3 we invite practising architects, engineers and researchers, to present work that illustrates their design philosophy, environmental research and current projects. Most of these practices are international, with projects in different countries and climates, providing a global overview of trends and differences in current practice. Presentations are typically followed by roundtable discussion on evolving environmental standards and zero-carbon strategies.

Research Seminar  Terms 1-3  The seminar provides bibliographical support and tutorial guidance toward the writing of two individual research papers in Terms 1 and 2 and the dissertation in Terms 3 and 4. In Term 2 a joint seminar on research methods is run in conjunction with the other postgraduate programmes. 

Dissertation  Terms 3 – 4  The dissertation is a significant piece of work that reflects the research agenda of the SED programme and students’ own backgrounds, personal interests, special skills and plans for the future. Dissertation research is undertaken individually providing the opportunity for in-depth exploration of climatic conditions, urban morphologies, contemporary and vernacular building precedents, and specific design potentials relating to the chosen subject. Fieldwork is commonly undertaken in the early stages of the dissertation research and computational studies are an essential tool for both the generative processes and the environmental assessment of the outcomes. Dissertation research is supported by weekly tutorials and regular reviews.


To apply and for information on application procedures click here

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