Postgraduate study
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Advanced Sustainable Design MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Advanced Sustainable Design

Advanced Sustainable Design gives you the knowledge, skills and creativity to put theory into practice in the sustainable development of our cities, towns and countryside. We work from the scale of building systems to entire regions.

We welcome applications from graduates of all disciplines. This programme engages with architecture, design and planning but interested applicants can apply with degrees in the environmental sciences and the humanities.

Our programme is delivered in a series of practical projects supplemented with teaching on all aspects of built environment sustainable design. You will have the opportunity to work in building simulation modelling and gain desirable skills for the workplace.

We believe that successful sustainable development is not achieved only through technical solutions. You will:

  • explore the complex relationship of design to contemporary sustainable agenda
  • engage in cultural and professional debates about the built environment
  • gain a distinctive and expert voice in this field

This programme is affiliated with the University’s Global Environment & Society Academy:

You will complete your studies in one year.

Semester 1

The first semester is a combination of theory and practice. We will explore the theoretical underpinnings of sustainable design, from a planetary scale to that of a building component.

Alongside this, you will work on design projects at the scale of both settlements and building systems. We set many of our projects on a global stage, working in a range of climates and contexts.

Semester 2

The second semester offers an immersive design project that allows you to make your own projects and test them in real contexts.


You will conclude your studies with a comprehensive dissertation research project that can advance your own interests and be shaped to your preferred career path.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScAdvanced Sustainable Design1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2024/25

Graduates of this programme will have:

  • knowledge of the social, economic and legislative forces that are driving contemporary, sustainable agendas, and understanding of such agendas in relation to architectural cultures
  • the ability to critically assess sustainability as a cultural, economic and environmental phenomenon
  • the ability to interrogate site, programme and context in relation to the production of sustainable construction, engineering and architectural strategies
  • the acquisition of transdisciplinary skills in articulation of sustainable strategies in related industry sectors

There is a demand for graduates with expertise in sustainable development and the built environment. In this masters, you will gain tangible skills and a portfolio of work to embrace these opportunities. Many of our students use their acquired expertise to set up their own practices and consultancies with a focus on sustainable design.

Our graduates use this degree to progress within their own field, with a distinctive specialism in the job market. Our students sometimes use this masters to change their career path, often finding employment in the large multi-disciplinary consultancies that work on infrastructure and development projects.

Our degree also acts as a stepping stone to doctoral study both in Edinburgh and on a global stage to help meet demand for expert knowledge in this area.

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

Normally a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject.

Because of the design element in this degree we look for evidence of engagement with sustainable issues and design.

Your portfolio should be one, single PDF file of no more than 10 pages. We ask you to put together a collection of visual support material of work you have done at University, professionally, or following your own interests. It can include drawings, photographs, journals and notebooks. You should demonstrate evidence of engagement with sustainable issues and design. We accept filesharing links.

If you do not meet the academic entry requirements, we may still consider your application on the basis of your portfolio and/or relevant professional experience.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Application fee




Additional Costs

You will incur additional costs in relation to printing and presentation of your work. You should also ensure you have a laptop computer suitable for running graphics and cad packages.

Our building simulation courses require the use of specialist software. Students are recommended to purchase their own discounted educational licenses that are currently £100-150. These additional programme costs will be listed in your letter of admission.

Living costs

You will be responsible for covering living costs for the duration of your studies.

Tuition Fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScAdvanced Sustainable Design1 YearFull-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 57 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JU

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines. We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline when we will offer a proportion of the places available to applicants selected through a competitive process.

Please be aware that applications must be submitted and be complete, i.e. all required documents uploaded, by the relevant application deadline in order to be considered in that round. Your application will still be considered if you have not yet met the English language requirement for the programme.

Deadlines for applicants applying to study in 2024/25:

Round Application deadline Places awarded by
1 06 November 2023 14 December 2023
2 08 January 2024 29 February 2024
3 20 March 2024 10 May 2024
4 14 June 2024 24 July 2024

(Revised 18 October 2023 to add in the staged admissions deadlines for the 2024/25 academic year)

You must submit one reference with your application.

You must submit a portfolio as part of your application. You won't be able to submit your portfolio immediately, but you'll receive an email prompt within a few days of submitting your application that will explain how to upload your portfolio.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Postgraduate Admissions Office
  • College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 57 George Square
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9JU