Module Descriptors – Master of Science in Sustainable Design of the Built Environment

Core modules

Climate and Comfort

The primary focus of this course will be the study of the thermal, luminous and ventilation performance of buildings within the built environment context. The course will examine the basic scientific principles underlying these phenomena and introduce students to a range of technologies and analytical skills for designing comfortable indoor environments.

Renewable and Sustainable Resources

This module emphasises the links between sustainability, improved performance and resource management in terms of what resources are used and the way they are used with emphasis on sourcing and using renewable materials.  It examines the principles of reuse, recycling and renewal in achieving sustainability in the built environment.  It looks at the consumption of materials, energy and water and at the production of waste through the whole life cycle of the building.

Investigations in the Built Environment

This module aims to introduce students to a number of investigative and analytical methods and techniques, including prediction, simulation, experimental and measurement.  It will consider both physical and human perspectives of the built environment and draw on methods appropriate to both academic and practice based investigations. Students will also be introduced and trained to use handheld instruments that are used to assess thermal comfort and air quality.

Sustainable Built Environments

This module emphasises the need for a symbiotic and functional relationship in which ecology, culture and technology evolve and adapt.  The module introduces the fundamental principles guiding sustainable development of the built environment including avoidance or minimisation of negative impacts on the environment; conservation and efficient use of natural resources; preservation of cultural patterns; and ecological harmony and respect for biodiversity.  The concept of sustainable development is also discussed.

Elective modules

Skins and Spaces

In order to achieve successful design for comfort, health and energy efficiency, architects, urban planners and services engineers need to have a common understanding of the basic principles and techniques involved in integrating the environmental performance of the envelope, surrounding enclosure and space. The aim of this course is to provide such understanding in order to encourage a good overall environmental design.

Passive Design

The module will emphasise the practice of designing passive buildings. It will demonstrate techniques for selecting strategies appropriate to climate and brief, and introduce passive methods of lighting, heating, and cooling of buildings. It will introduce ways for assessing the effectiveness of design decisions, as well as giving students opportunities for furthering their use of current environmental software.  The discussion of strategies will be given an international context for a wider scope of applicability.

Efficient Building Services

The design of ‘environmentally friendly’ buildings depends critically on the choice of appropriate servicing strategies. This module explores the principles behind current low energy solutions to servicing strategies, and deals with basic application information and strategies.  Students will have an opportunity to extend their use of current environmental software to take into account service loads.

Sustainable Urban Design

The module focuses on the design of urban areas and cities in order to enhance the quality of urban communities through innovative design. It covers the latest research with regard to the structure of urban form and the creation of urban places in order to respond to major opportunities and challenges. The module covers place-making, transportation, landscape, urban conservation and regeneration issues, sustainable urbanism theory, and recent technologies in order to make the world’s growing cities healthy, attractive and sustainable.

Sustainable Urban Transport

In this module, students will address various issues related to sustainable transportation systems and develop the capability to make an effective contribution at the highest level to planning, policy-making and management of transport. The module will focus on the relationship between transport and the environment and the means through which sustainable mobility might be achieved. This starts from the premise that land-use decisions both influence and are influenced by transport objectives and performance.

Sustainable Indoor Air Quality

Students will learn the role of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in achieving a sustainable indoor environment. Issues like occupants’ health, productivity, and energy consumption will be discussed. The module will outline the requirements and standards of proper IAQ needed to ensure healthy and productive indoor environments. Students will learn of the main causes of poor IAQ conditions and the different strategies that can be implemented to resolve these issues. The energy requirements of such strategies will be discussed with special emphasis on HVAC and Ventilation requirements. Students will also learn how to use some field testing equipment to measure different IAQ parameters.

Sustainable Materials for Interior Environment

Students will learn the role of indoor materials in achieving a sustainable and comfortable indoor environment. Students will explore different options to optimise of the materials that has less impacts on the indoor environment and achieving high durability. Students will learn how indoor materials affect human comfort and will gain skill in using BIM and LCA to evaluate alternatives. Students will study various sustainable materials including fabrics, finishes and multi-functional materials. By the end of this module, students will have a through experience in selecting the best materials choice in interior design projects and be able to use various methods to assess how materials play role on indoor thermal performance. Students will link their materials choices by consulting the literature review and previous researches and studies within the fields.

Advanced Building Materials

The module explores issued related to sustainability of building materials and sustainable construction. It provides an advanced knowledge of cladding, moisture control, and building finishes, fire performance, and construction robotics. It discusses construction issues related to complex structures and high-rise buildings. It explores 3-D printing technologies and how construction robotics affect the architectural design of buildings.


Building Acoustics and Illumination

Acquire a deep understanding of Building Acoustics, and illumination and their interaction with other operational building activities. Acoustics: Covers the basic terms and physical principles, sound power and intensity, propagation of noise, legal requirements and noise standards, room acoustics, sound generation in services systems, and vibration isolation. Lighting Design: Considers the human visual system, the nature and control of light, photometric units, lighting calculations, interior lighting design, lamps and luminaires and energy efficiency aspects of lighting systems.


Energy Management 1

Introducing the concepts and applications of modern energy management practices. Topics covered will include the need and impact of energy management, types and equipment used in energy auditing. The economic aspects of energy sourcing, purchase and use. Economic assessment of alternative decision- making approaches based on present worth, payback period and Life Cycle Costing. The range of available financing options.

The British University in Dubai

Block 11, 1st and 2nd floor, Dubai International Academic City PO Box 345015, Dubai, UAE

Tel: +971 4 279 1400

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