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Sustainability and Adaptation in the Built Environment MSc

Online Centre for Alternative Technology Graduate School of the Environment

Full time & Part time September MSc, PgDip 18 months full time/ 3 years part time

About the course

Climate change poses two key challenges to modern architecture: how can buildings be made sustainable, and how can they be designed to take account of the effects of climate change?

This course uses the concepts of sustainability and adaptation to frame an understanding of the built environment at the community and individual buildings level.

Key areas of study

Key building issues covered in the course include: energy management and low energy design, sustainable materials, environmental performance assessment and energy provision. Students may further pursue interests in urban design, communities, ecology, water, ecological sanitation, politics and economics.

From spatial master-planning to politics and economics, get to the heart of how the environment must be brought into

Read more about this course

Entry Requirements

We ask for a Bachelor’s degree or knowledge and skills equivalent to degree standard.

IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent) is required for applicants whose first language is not English.


The cost of studying one of our full MSc courses is £6,890 for Home Students or £8,330 for Overseas students.

Course Content

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Student Profile(s)

Mr Anu van Warmelo

1421.png I work as a sustainability consultant, specialising in communities. The MSc gave me the expertise I required for this job, yet without limiting my broad interests. This was particularly true for my thesis where I designed a sustainability calculator - like a carbon footprint calculator, but covering all the aspects of sustainability including economic and social well-being. I do travel a lot, which is not ideal but necessary sometimes in order to do consultations and feasibility studies. For the first two years after graduating though I stayed in Herefordshire where I got funding to set up what I called a Blitz Cafe - a place that enhances community cohesion through concerns about the environment, a place that is for everyone, not just 'greenies'. This is still going - now without me - and has moved onto more practical work, which was always the intention. I have since been working elsewhere, such as Abergavenny where we have been attempting to start a new type of centre that serves all aspects of the community. The work is always interesting and suits me in that it has not been full time, as I have several projects on the go, including film work and writing novels.

Mischa Hewitt

I currently work for the Low Carbon Trust as a project manager and sustainability consultant.

Studying the course considerably broadened my horizons and extended my network of like minded people interested in building a better world. The knowledge gained from lectures, practicals and writing my thesis has been invaluable in driving forward my work in sustainable construction.  Before the course I had lots of practical experience, but the course helped me to develop critical thinking to evaluate this and crystallise my ideas, which has been useful in developing new projects and courses.  Am currently in the process of revising my thesis into the second edition of the book I am a co-author of: Earthships: building a zero carbon future, this will be published by IHS in spring 2012

Tom Robinson

“The perfect balance of practical and theory with really inspirational people”
Prior to studying at CAT, Tom spent a lot of his time travelling, climbing and surfing around the world. To finance such adventures he worked as a builder in the UK construction industry in between his trips and eventually started his own business in the heritage building sector carrying out restoration work. Throughout this time he encountered some reoccurring challenges:
Traditional building materials were not breathable nor appropriate for dealing with the moisture problems that heritage building faced.
50% of landfill is waste from the construction industry due to the lack of degradable products.
When Tom saw the MSc Sustainability and Adaptation course advertised, he saw this as the bridge between his practical experience and the opportunity to solve both these challenges. Using his practical experience and theory taught through the MSc program, Tom focused his dissertation on developing a product which balances performance, workability, and sustainability. Fast forward to 2014 and Adaptavate is born, an award winning company rethinking and redesigning the way building materials are produced, used and disposed of.
In September 2016 Adaptavate launched breathaplasta, a natural alternative to gypsum plaster. Following this, they hope to release their natural alternative to plasterboard (Breathaboard) in the near future.
When he is not playing around with bio-composites, he can be found speaking about them and their benefits or playing in nature’s playground surfing, climbing or walking.


The Sir John Houghton Bursary

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