UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


UCL Lighting Research

Our research is about the way people respond to the lit environment

 Bulb with fairy lights

We study a wide range of lighting applications from daylight in buildings to the impact of light at night.  We work closely with industry and the results of our work have been used to change lighting practice. Advances in technology mean that light in buildings can be controlled easily, however often environments create discomfort. We aim to establish the cause of problems and propose solutions which improve accessibility for everyone. Our work in the area of daylight makes an important contribution to understanding the effect of light on subjective wellbeing, aligning with our Institute's aim to create healthier places.  

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Research areas

Light and wellbeing 

Light and wellbeing
Explores the effect of exposure to daylight on the elderly population. We investigate the causes of discomfort and their mitigation with the aim of further understanding how to reduce poor lighting caused by glare. The photometric and spectral characteristics of the light fields to which people are routinely exposed are also investigated. Differences in lighting characteristics between natural and open urban environments are compared with architectural interiors.

Urban and outdoor lighting 

Urban and outdoor lighting

This topic investigates the effect of external lighting conditions on traffic accidents & crime. The spring and autumn clock change is used to create reliable test and control periods. Vehicle on pedestrian accidents increased by 20% in dark compared to light periods at the same clock time. Strengths and limitations of different lighting masterplans in distinct countries and continents are identified to help inform lit environment policy and guidelines. 


Lighting quality 

Lighting quality
Daylight metrics are proposed and tested to investigate which metrics best reflect people’s perceptions of lighting. Experimental lighting settings vary the colour, temperature and light distribution to monitor participant responses in terms of variables such as liveliness and relaxation. 

Lighting technology and energy consumption 

Lighting technology and energy consumption 
This area explores how technology can be used to make lighting energy savings in buildings. Lighting controls must be user friendly whilst providing a visually comfortable environment. 


Hospital lighting

Hospital lighting ix​​​​​This research area focusses on different healthcare environments and how lighting conditions can be optimised when conflicting needs of patients, staff and facility managers are at play.

Research projects

Our research projects reflects our research themes of light and wellbeing, urban and outdoor lighting, lighting quality, lighting technology and energy consumption and hospital lighting. Some examples of our projects are:

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Consultancy projects

The light and lighting academic team consult on various topics. Some examples of this collaborative work include:

  • 'Lighting Asset Performance Management - a study on how to measure the performance of road lighting installations', for Highways England (now National Highways).
  • 'Improving the Lighting of Underpasses - a study of existing underpasses and short tunnels to understand the impact of lighting and to assess options for future installations', for Highways England (now National Highways).
  • 'Review of the uncertainty model for photometric measurements of lighthouses - a review of the existing model of photometric uncertainty and realigning the model so that it follows the approach used in standard photometric laboratories', for GRAD (General Lighthouse Authorities of the UK and Ireland). 
  • 'Lighting Guide 2: Lighting for Healthcare Premises', The Society of Light and Lighting.

Light and Lighting in teaching

Researchers from our theme contribute to the teaching of our MSc programmes and supervise dissertations for students who wish to undertake their own research in the area of light and lighting.

Light and Lighting MSc

The Light and Lighting MSc is comprised of a wide range of lighting focused modules, some of which are based on lighting research. Academic staff contributing to the programme are research active and therefore embed their research approaches and projects in their teaching. 

Light and Lighting modules

Past Light and Lighting MSc dissertations

Each year the Light and Lighting MSc cohort produce dissertations which demonstrate their specialist knowledge in an area of lighting. The topics are wide ranging, encompassing subjects such as colour, psychology, metrics, behaviour and practice and a scientific approach is encouraged.

  • 'Does light distribution at the edges of LED road lighting have an impact on visual search for drivers?'
  • 'Investigating the role of light distribution on pedestrians’ perceived safety in residential areas'
  • 'Identifying uncomfortable visual environments due to unnatural spatial frequency distribution' 

    Doctoral Research (PhD) 

    The light and lighting theme is explored through in-depth PhD research which examines a broad range of issues relevant to internal and external lighting.

    Doctoral research relating to Light and Lighting

    • Simone Bonavia - 'Measuring light for non-visual light responses'
    • Ezgi Erturk - 'The effect of external lighting conditions on outdoor crime' 
    • Lorna Flores - 'Daylight exposure: assessment of its potential impact on sleep quality on people over 65 years old living in the UK'
    • Luz Frias Hernandez - 'Balancing light: reconciling visitors needs in daylight heritage buildings'
    • Karen Van Creveld - 'Are current lighting environments inadequate to promote health and wellbeing?' 
    • Chengpeng Zhao - 'The influence of SPD on perception of interiors at CCTs above 5000K in the context of Human Centric Lighting'


    Dr Mandana Khanie

    Dr Florence Lam
    Honorary Professor


    Dr Edward Barrett

    Prof Peter Raynham

    Steven Cannon-Brookes
    Associate Professor

    Dr Farhang Tahmasebi

    Villian Lo
    Honorary Lecturer 

    Dr Constantin-Cosmin Ticleanu

    Dr Kevin Mansfield
    Associate Professor

    Dr Jemima Unwin Teji