Environmental Sustainability (Design and Construction) - MSc

Full Time
September 2016
£7,500 for UK/EU Full Time 2016 entry (view all fees)

This is the course for people wishing to develop their skills and knowledge to become the world’s sustainable construction specialists of tomorrow.

The course is designed to encourage and foster the skills needed for inter-disciplinary working amongst graduates and professionals from a variety of backgrounds employed within the environmental sector.

It offers students the opportunity to gain a broad understanding of sustainability whilst allowing for a degree of specialism within the context of design and construction.

What's covered in the course?

Our Environmental Sustainability courses offer a multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural experience, allowing you the flexibility to tailor your degree to meet your own particular interests in sustainable design, construction, strategy and management.

The Design and Construction pathway is an ideal course for graduates and professionals looking to become tomorrow’s leaders in the field of sustainable construction.

You will learn core design, management and decision-making skills, underpinned by an understanding of science and technology, together with the tools needed to develop and design green building solutions.

Why Choose Us?

  • Our flexible approach gives you the flexibility to tailor your degree to meet your own particular interests in sustainable design, construction, strategy and management.
  • Our course will enable you to take a leading role in sustainable construction for your future career. It's an area that is increasingly important and demand for skilled professionals is high.
  • We have supportive academic staff who will offer advice, guidance and key industry experience. This is complemented by exceptional levels of employer involvement, with visiting professionals supporting lectures, workshops and seminars.
  • You'll study with like-minded individuals in an inspirational setting with cutting edge facilities.
Visit our open day

Postgraduate Open Day

Our next Postgraduate Open Day will be in Autumn 2016. The date will be confirmed soon and registration will open shortly.

In the meantime, register your details and we'll contact you when more information is available.

Sign up for Open Day info

This course is open to International students

School of Engineering and the Built Environment

Discover the School of Engineering and the Built Environment

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

January 2016 scholarships

January scholarships

We have a range of scholarships available for students starting in January 2016.

Find out more

Study options

The programme has two intakes, in September and January, and may be studied in full or part-time mode. The full time duration is 17 months for January starts.

Entry Requirements

UK students

You should preferably have an Upper Second Class Honours degree or equivalent.

You will also need to be proficient in written and spoken English as well as numerate and IT literate.

The Design and Construction pathway is particularly suitable for architects, architectural technologists and civil engineers looking to expand their knowledge of sustainability.

We will consider other qualifications and suitable work-based experience on an individual basis. You will normally be expected to attend a selection interview.

Admissions Policy
Level - With or without relevant experience Requirements 2015/16
1st class or 2.1 An interview may be required prior to an offer
2.2 Must undertake a selection process
3rd class or Pass Only admitted in exceptional circumstances
EU/International students
Overseas candidates must have an equivalent qualification and have a minimum overall IELTS score of 6.0 or equivalent, with a minimum score of 5.5 in all four skills.

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MSc Sep 2016 FT 1 year £7,500

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MSc Sep 2016 FT 1 year £12,000

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Additional costs

There are no compulsory additional costs or charges associated with studying on this course. While you may choose to purchase personal copies of text books, all our key text books are available from our library or online (subject to normal library loan and online access arrangements). If your course includes a residential study session, the accommodation costs for this are already included in your course fee.

Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £50 for each year of your studies for stationery and study materials. All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Your personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

This course is not available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible postgraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Did you know that you will soon be able to apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,000?

Postgraduate loans

Stage 1: Postgraduate Certificate

Dynamic Natural Environments
15 credits

This module is based upon the belief that it is essential to understand the ‘big-scale’ picture of dynamic earth processes in order to know how to make a difference on the ‘small-scale’ of everyday environmental management and sustainable development.

This module equips students with a broad foundation of knowledge and skills in environmental science and covers areas including the philosophy of science; the geological record of climate and environmental change and evidence of a dynamic planet as a context for understanding future scenarios; the nature of change, complexity and paradox; the meaning of statistics; population factors; and habitats and ecology.

Society, Economics and Environment
15 credits

This module will give students an understanding of social and economic aspects of managing environments with sustainability in mind. It focuses on linking theory and practice in demonstrating how the built, natural and social environments are interlinked.

Students will have the opportunity to critically review existing commonly used methods and tools, and familiarise themselves with ‘new’ approaches suitable for more holistic decision-making and project appraisal. Examples of topics to be covered include the DPSIR framework; Strategic Environmental Assessment; Sustainability Appraisal; Cost Benefit Analysis; and the Ecosystem Functions and Services concept.

Green Design
15 credits

This module introduces students to a range of techniques and methodologies related to the design and maintenance of buildings. It emphasises the need for life-cycle thinking and stresses the fact that there is much more to ‘green’ buildings than the use of ‘bolt-on’ technologies. The module starts with a discussion of the general principles of green architecture and design methods along with an overview of the main standards and measures in use such as BREEAM, the Code for Sustainable Homes and Passivhaus.

The main part of the module is concerned with specific design considerations including location and environment; types of building materials; thermal mass principles; the differing requirements of new build and refurbishment projects; insulation, glass and lighting; HVAC; and façade engineering.

Digital Design Management
15 credits

This module seeks to provide practical understanding of using various BIM software tools in setting up a BIM project and using relevant information to optimise solutions in regard to building performance and energy efficiency. It presents Building Information Modelling from a technological point of view.

The module reviews BIM and its related technologies, in particular parametric and object-oriented modelling, its potential and needed infrastructure to build a collaborative workspace. It establishes how BIM differs from traditional ways of design management. Furthermore it explores the challenges in integrating BIM and sustainability to create environmental friendly design through a streamlined process.

Stage 2: Postgraduate Diploma

Sustainable Futures
15 credits

This module considers the impact of sustainability and climate change on the future of planning and the environment. It explores possible adaptation and mitigation of the built, managed and natural environment and looks at the ways in which society might change in the future.

Due to the changing nature and importance of issues over time, the content of this module is likely to alter on a regular basis. Examples of topics that might be covered include: future urban and rural forms; food production; transport issues; water management; and civic participation and inclusion.

Energy Trends and Technologies
15 credits

Energy plays a key role in today’s society. Any discussion of sustainable development needs to consider how supply and demand will be managed in the future. This module starts by considering the fundamentals of energy and the problems associated with our current dependency on fossil fuels.

It examines energy policy in terms of demand, security of supply and the potential of renewables; nuclear; clean coal; and carbon capture and sequestration. Renewable options discussed include solar energy; heat pumps; hydro-power; and wind energy. The module also emphasises the importance of energy efficiency and the possibilities offered by localised microgeneration.

Sustainable Design Practice
15 credits

This module is designed to build on and complement the ‘Green Design’ module for those students following the ‘Design and Construction’ pathway and wanting a more in-depth study of design strategies and practice. It adopts a case study based approach offering students exposure to a broad range of environmental considerations and design solutions.

These solutions are analysed and discussed in the context of sustainable business development with regard to their ability to satisfy current regulatory, design, technological and social requirements and also for their ability to meet likely changes to these requirements in the future.

Innovation in Construction
15 credits

This module aims to develop a critical awareness of processes involved in the delivery of construction projects. Students will learn about new and innovative practices together with the issues involved in facilitating and implementing innovation.

The module considers and critiques past examples from construction project procurement at personal, team, project and organisational levels; supply chain management; contracts; the management of risk; and the application of strategic approaches to meet the needs of clients, stakeholders and users. On completion, students will have the capability to change project and construction management practice.

Stage 3: Masters

You will take one of the following options:

Design Project
60 credits

The Design Project represents a bringing together of many of the skills learned throughout the course used by the designer in practice. This substantive piece of work will revolve around a client brief for the design of a fully sustainable solution to that brief. The nature of the module is that each student will consider the brief and, throughout the project, undertake self directed study and self development in investigating and providing a solution to that brief.

Research Project
60 credits

The Research Project is a major piece of individual work that allows students to build their understanding and expertise in a selected area of specialised study. It involves use of appropriate research approaches and skills, abilities to theorise and conceptualise, and encourages students to make connections between theory and practice in a selected specialist topic. It promotes independent and reflective learning in order to demonstrate ability to think and write at Masters level.

Course Structure

The course shares a number of modules with the MSc Environmental Sustainability (Strategy and Management) pathway. Regardless of which pathway you choose, you will study Dynamic Natural Environments; Society, Economics and Environment; Green Design; Sustainable Futures; and Energy Trends and Technologies.

In addition, the Design and Construction pathway offers modules in Digital Design Management; Sustainable Design Practice; and Innovation in Construction.

All the modules on the course incorporate a degree of flexibility to allow you to direct your learning according to your career aspirations and development needs.

The Masters Research Project is a major piece of work on a topic of your choosing which allows you to further shape your degree to your requirements.

All modules are delivered using a mix of learning and teaching styles that include lectures and small group seminars; workshops based on cases studies; action learning sets based on student-centred research; and directed learning using internet based forums. Much emphasis is placed on current developments and this will be supported by guest lectures and seminars as appropriate.

Further Study

The University has a range of research (MPhil and PhD) postgraduate programmes.

Enhancing your employability skills

Our course will give you a thorough understanding of the principles of sustainable development and its relationship to the environment, helping you secure a job in this evolving area.

The chance to work on live briefs will help you learn how to generate ideas and developments and apply this to the development of realistic, holistic, sustainable design solutions.

You'll understand environmental legislation and policy and have up to date knowledge relevant to current practice.

With the ability to think critically and understand how green issues fit into a bigger design and construction picture, you'll be a valuable asset to future employers.

The technical skills you learn also reflect those used professionally.

Your research project demonstrates in depth knowledge, commitment and critical thinking in a specialist area, which will help you develop in your chosen career.

You'll develop a range of transferable skills, such as how to communicate ideas and solve problems, as well as developing negotiation and planning skills. And thanks to the unique nature of the course, you'll learn how to work effectively and efficiently either on your own or as part of a team. That's why our graduates have secured successful careers with top firms, or even set up their own consultancies.


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Graduate jobs

Our environmental sustainability course opens up opportunities within industrial, commercial, charitable and governmental organisations. Many companies now employ environmental or sustainability specialists to work as part of larger project teams engaged in core design and construction activities.

Typical jobs include:

  • Principal Environmental Consultants
  • Environmental Performance Managers
  • Senior Energy Consultants
  • Environment Advisors

International Students

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Popular home countries

Our students come from around the world but our environmental sustainability course is most popular with international students from:

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.

Building work on our new Conservatoire began in the summer of 2015 – and is scheduled for completion in summer 2017. This, along with the construction of a new city centre accommodation block, means our students have access to their very own building sites.

We couple this with the more traditional, office-based facilities:

Computer Assisted Taking Off

Here at Birmingham City University you will make use of commercial software as part of your assessment. Work is carried out in well-equipped and air-conditioned laboratories.

Computer Assisted Design (CAD)

You will be provided with the latest CAD software – free of charge – to enable you to acquire the skills you need in a modern design office.

Surveying equipment

Part of your learning activity will be hands-on, including carrying out survey work using a range of equipment, such as levels, theodolites, measuring tapes.

A computer-generated virtual site

The use of a virtual building site will help you to appreciate the surroundings of a typical construction site and experience some of the challenges you will face in practice.

Roger Wall

Senior Lecturer

Senior lecturer Roger Wall worked for a water resource management consultancy specialising in IT solutions and GIS applications, and as a software engineer for a German consultancy firm. He recently completed his involvement with the IEE IEC-SME project and was part of the team that wrote the final report and disseminated the findings in Brussels. His current interests are linked to building design and renewable energy technologies.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295