Sustainable Building Engineering MSc

Postgraduate taught ( full-time, part-time)


January 2018, September 2017

Full-time - January start, 15 months. September start, 12 months.
Part-time - January start, 33 months. September start, 28 months.


Develop the knowledge and skills to give existing buildings a sustainable future. Balance technical engineering solutions with a business case and - with the drive towards low-carbon, sustainable built environment projects - learn to address management and financial realities alongside societal expectations.

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Full description


You could enter a variety of professional, managerial and policy-making positions in a wide range of organisations, involved in the management and use of existing buildings. There's an increasing demand in the UK and internationally for built environment professionals in the fields of sustainability, who are able to develop and deliver holistic solutions to transform the future sustainability of existing buildings.

Modules & assessment

Core modules

  • Sustainable Design - Technical Solutions
    Sustainable Technologies underpin sustainable building design and refurbishment. This module examines the latest development in building services and renewable energy technologies that can be effectively retrofitted to existing buildings. The module provides a detailed understanding of the engineering science underpinning building services (heating and cooling, lighting, ventilation etc.), control devices and Building Management Systems (including commissioning), and renewable technologies (including Photovoltaics, Solar Thermal, Ground Source Heat Pumps, Air Source Heat Pumps, Biomass Boilers, District Heating Scheme, Wind Power, Geothermal, and new emerging technologies as appropriate) and maps the strengths and weaknesses of each solution to typical buildings drawn from the domestic, commercial, industrial, public, utility and health sectors. The module also introduces approaches to performance monitoring of buildings including the use of building simulation modelling, performance benchmarking (e.g. Energy Performance Certificates), pre and post occupancy evaluations, and examines the economic, environmental and social performance of each technology across a range of building topologies and legislative frameworks (e.g. UK Building Regulations, EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive etc.). The module will also examine issues pertinent to creating and maintaining a suitable internal environment to ensure the comfort of users and occupiers, the sustainable performance of the building and the productivity/value of the built asset to its owners. The module will be assessed through an individual essay and an individual defence of a group building design project.
  • Sustainable Design - Fabric Solutions
    Legacy design decisions and previous refurbishment interventions limits the options available to current engineers/designers to deliver economically viable sustainability solutions to improve the performance of existing buildings. This module will examine the relationship between building fabric, sustainable engineering/design and building performance. The module will provide a detailed understanding of building physics and will examine the potential for alternative fabric solutions (e.g. insulation; lighting, ventilation; passive design etc.) to improve the sustainable performance of existing buildings. The module will map the advantages and disadvantages of the various fabric design solutions against a range of building topologies and examine the return on investment against sustainability improvement for each solution. At the end of this module the student will have a thorough understanding of the building physics underpinning each fabric solution and an understanding of how each solution could work in a variety of building settings. The module will be assessed through an individual essay and an individual defence of a group building design project.
  • Assessing Building Performance
    Developing sustainable building design solutions requires the assessment, analysis, modelling and simulation of the effect of alternative solutions on the whole life performance of a building. The module Assessing Building Performance provides the theoretical basis and practical tools to allow technical, economic and business assessments to be made. The module will critically review the basis of sustainability assessment toolkits (e.g. BREAAM, LEED etc.) and will explore their advantages and disadvantages when applied to the refurbishment of a range of existing buildings. The module will explore the role of building simulation and design software to support refurbishment decisions and review the role of Building Information Modelling (BIM) to support refurbishment decision making. The module will also explore the economic, legislative and business context in which building performance is measured and explore the opportunities and limitations that each place on the feasibility of refurbishment options. At the end of the module the student will be able to evaluate the impact of a range of technical and fabric retrofit options on the sustainable performance of a range of typical building archetypes. The module will be assessed through an individual essay and a building assessment report that identifies potential areas for improvement.
  • Property Asset Management
    This module will provide a sound understanding of the theories, principles and practices used to manage buildings in a sustainable way. It is designed to provide a critical insight into the strategic importance of built assets to the success of private and public sector organisations and to critically appraise alternative approaches to built asset management (fabric and services), including the role of maintenance and refurbishment in the building life cycle. The module will consider the complex nature of obsolescence and examine the challenges that adaptation and mitigation to climate change pose to traditional maintenance and refurbishment planning. The module will also examine the role of sustainability toolkits and pre/post occupancy evaluations in informing building adaptation decisions. The module will place property asset management in the wider context of strategic asset management and will explore the relationship between built assets and corporate productivity as it relates to human resource management and work place behaviour. The module will also explore the use of Building Information Modelling as a key resource for property asset management planning and Post Occupancy Evaluation. The module will be assessed through an individual presentation and technical defence of a property portfolio asset management strategy.
  • Environmental Management Systems
    The module develops a critical awareness of the implications of environmental policy and legislation on the built environment. It encourages the development of a professional approach to develop and implement management systems to meet environmental demands at the organisation and project level, taking account of legal, moral and other pressures.
  • People and Buildings
    Even when a building is designed and refurbished to a high sustainable standard it is still not uncommon for its performance in use to be worse than expected from building simulation and modelling: the so called performance gap. The module People and Buildings will examine the role that human behaviour plays in the sustainable performance of buildings. The module will explore the latest research around pro-environmental behaviour and will explore the tools and approaches that those who manage buildings through the operational phase of their life cycle (e.g. Facilities Managers, Home owners, etc.) can use to close the performance gap. The module will also examine the concept of comfort and explore the relationship between people, technology and control that can be used to maximize comfort whilst reducing CO2 emissions. At the end of the module the student will have a thorough understanding of the relationship between people and buildings and be able to design behavioural interventions that can close the performance gap. The module will be assessed through an individual essay and an individual report.
  • Integrated Refurbishment Studio Project
    One unique feature of this Course is the basic theoretical proposition that truly sustainable building solutions can only be achieved if the solutions are developed holistically and informed by the interaction between technology, processes and people. This module will provide the teaching and learning vehicle by which the proposition will be put into action. The module will present students (individually or in small groups) with a real sustainable building refurbishment problem that they will have to produce a refurbishment solution for. This solution will have to present: an analysis of the sustainability challenge; an assessment of the initial building’s performance; preliminary assessments of alternative design/engineering strategies; detailed refurbishment solutions for one preferred strategy (including detailed calculations and drawings; and a full business case). The module will draw on all the teaching and learning that has taken place throughout the course. At the end of this module the students will have acquired experience to perform as a valued professional in any sustainable building refurbishment project team.
  • Research Design and Methods
    Gain an in-depth understanding of the theories and methods of research and research design and develop a theoretical and practical foundation in research for your major project/dissertation. You’ll get an understanding of a range of approaches to research, including quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods, together with an understanding of a number of specific research methods. You’ll develop your knowledge of research design in order to critically consider the design for your research project, including preparing your proposal and considering ethics and ethical issues.
  • Major Project
    This module supports students in the preparation and submission of a Master's stage project, dissertation or artefact. The Module provides the opportunity for students to select and explore in-depth, a topic that is of interest and relevant to their course in which they can develop a significant level of expertise. It enables students to; - Demonstrate their ability to generate significant and meaningful questions in relation to their specialism - Undertake independent research using appropriate, recognised methods based on current theoretical research knowledge; critically understand method and its relationship to knowledge - Develop a critical understanding of current knowledge in relation to the chosen subject and to critically analyse and evaluate information and data, which may be complex or contradictory, and draw meaningful and justifiable conclusions. - Develop the capability to expand or redefine existing knowledge; to develop new approaches to changing situations and/or develop new approaches to changing situations and contribute to the development of best practice. - Demonstrate an awareness of and to develop solutions to ethical dilemmas likely to arise in their research or professional practice - Communicate these processes in a clear and elegant fashion - Evaluate their work from the perspective of an autonomous reflective learner.


You'll be assessed by a variety of learning and assessment methods, including written assessments, both formative and summative, such as essays, position papers, opinions, analysis, presentation, reports and a portfolio. You may also be assessed by exams.

Where you'll study

Your faculty

The Faculty of Science & Technology is one of the largest of five faculties at Anglia Ruskin University. Whether you choose to study with us full- or part-time, on campus or at a distance, there’s an option whatever your level – from a foundation degree, to a BSc, MSc, PhD or professional doctorate. 

Whichever course you pick, you’ll gain the theory and practical skills needed to progress with confidence. Join us and you could find yourself learning in the very latest laboratories or on field trips or work placements with well-known and respected companies. You may even have the opportunity to study abroad.

Everything we do in the faculty has a singular purpose: to provide a world-class environment to create, share and advance knowledge in science and technology fields. This is key to all of our futures.

Where can I study?

Tindal Building on our Chelmsford campus

Our striking, modern campus sits by the riverside in Chelmsford's University and Innovation Quarter.

Explore our Chelmsford campus

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students, 2017/18 (per year)


UK & EU students, 2017/18 (per year part time)


International students, 2017/18 (per year)


Additional costs

General stationary and calculator - £100

Entry requirements

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Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

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