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Course content

This unique multi-disciplinary course at Oxford Brookes is taught by architects, engineers and physicists involved in practice and research.This successful course has been running for over 20 years in different formats, keeping up to date with changes in sustainability, policies and advancement in the construction industry. It focuses on the theory and practice of developing low carbon and sustainable buildings.

The SBPD course benefits from direct links to two of the best research groups in the university, recognised nationally and internationally. The research directly informs the teaching with the latest and the most up to date knowledge and innovation in the area of sustainability.

The course also benefits from a strong link with the industry allowing students to learn from the latest challenges in the industry and provides them with the opportunity to participate in competitions and win prizes. We also have a strong link to Passivhaus Trust UK providing our students with an option to learn more about the standard and PHPP.  

Our link to the industry offers students possible future employment opportunities and currently a few of our alumni are working in practices involved in teaching on the course, as directors and employees. 

Some of the practices contributing to the course include Method Consulting LLP, Qoda Consulting Ltd., Hoare Lea, Schock, Eco Design Consultants Ltd, Max Fordham, Passivhaus Trust UK.

Why choose this course?

  • The course is run by the School of Architecture, which is recognised as one of the country's leading schools of architecture and is consistently ranked by The Architect's Journals one of the five best schools in the UK.
  • The course benefits from direct involvement and input by Professor Rajat Gupta, Professor of Sustainable Architecture and Climate Change, Director of Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD), Director of OISD: Low Carbon Building Group and Matt Gaskin, Head of School of Architecture.
  • You will gain an advanced understanding of the key sustainability issues related to buildings enabling them to strategically influence feasibility and design processes within the built environment.
  • The course attracts some of the best students in the field from a diverse range of ages, backgrounds, gender and nationalities. This offers opportunities for interdisciplinary, globally aware teaching and learning.
  • The range of subjects draws on the research strengths of the teaching staff and enables research to inform the teaching modules. You are encouraged where possible to take part in staff research projects.
  • You will have the opportunity to go on an annual field trip. This is an opportunity to directly experience some of the very best of sustainable design projects in another culture. Previous field trips have been to Germany, Scotland and Denmark.
  • Students from this course have gone on to work in a wide range of occupations from architectural and engineering practices and research consultancies to development work, furniture design, owning and operating electricity utilities, and even carbon trading.

This course in detail

The course is organised on a modular credit system, 60 credits for postgraduate certificate, 120 credits for the postgraduate diploma (9 months full-time, 20 months part-time) and 180 credits for the master's degree (12 months full-time, 24 months part-time).

Modules combine a ratio of taught to self-led study. For example, a module of 20 credits approximates to 200 hours of student effort, up to 36 hours of which will normally be devoted to lectures, seminars, individual tutorials or other staff contact. The remainder of the time is devoted to student-led study and assessment.

Teaching and learning

The teaching and learning methods reflect the wide variety of topics and techniques associated with sustainability, low-carbon and resource efficient design. 

Staff-led lectures provide the framework, background and knowledge base, and you are encouraged to probe deeper into the topics by further reading and review. Analysis, synthesis and application of material introduced in the lectures are achieved through professional and staff-led workshops, group and one-to-one tutorials, student-led seminars, case studies, and practical work that anticipates the design project.

The course attracts students from a diverse range of ages, backgrounds, gender and nationalities. This offers opportunities for interdisciplinary, globally aware teaching and learning. You are exposed to a variety of cultural perspectives and issues through the use of international case studies and draw on their diverse strengths through peer learning and group work.

An annual field trip is an opportunity to directly experience some of the very best of sustainable design projects in another culture. Previous field trips have been to Germany, Scotland and Denmark.

The range of subjects draws on the research strengths of the teaching staff and enables research to inform the teaching modules. You are encouraged where possible to take part in staff research projects.

We attract some of the best students in the field, drawn by the integrating basis of the programme and its solid theoretical foundation on expertise within the University.

Field trips

We make one optional major field trip each year alongside shorter local trips. In the past we have travelled to Scotland, Sweden, Austria and Germany where there is a wealth of sustainable buildings. 

Field trips give you the opportunity to experience sustainable buildings first hand and talk to building owners and operators of low energy buildings. This helps you understand some of the practical difficulties and rewards of achieving very sustainable buildings. 

Field trips are not included in the cost of the fees and generally cost in a range of £400 to £800.


Visit the MSc/PGDip Sustainable Building: Performance and Design page on the Oxford Brookes University website for more details!

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