Postgraduate study

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. Our fields are architecture, design and planning but we welcome graduates that include the environmental sciences and the humanities.

Our programme is delivered in a series of practical projects supplemented with teaching on all aspects of sustainable design. You have an opportunity 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. We explore the complex relationship of design to contemporary sustainable agendas. You will engage in cultural and professional debates about the built environment and gain a distinctive and expert voice in this field.

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

You 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
MSc1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2020/21

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.

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.

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. This should take the form of a PDF portfolio of work and be no more that 10 pages. You should limit your file size to 25Mb. 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.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

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

English language tests

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 6.5 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 92 (at least 20 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components

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 or Trinity ISE, 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.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc1 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, and your residency 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

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

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