UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Course structure and content

This page contains detailed information about the teaching structure and module content for the Environmental Design and Engineering MSc.

All modules count for 15 credits. EDE MSc students take six core modules and choose two optional modules. Full-time students take four core modules in Term 1 and two core modules in Term 2.

Modules and dissertation

Compulsory modules

Term 1

All compulsory modules are taught on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  

Built Environment: the Energy Context

Deals with the motivation for implementing energy efficiency on an international, national and individual basis in the context of the building industry, government legislation and environmental issues. It also considers how renewable technologies can assist with the reduction of CO2 emissions.

Health, Comfort and Wellbeing in the Built Environment

Deals with the health and comfort of occupants of buildings, and considers the cause, alleviation and possible cure of unhealthy buildings.

Natural and Mechanical Ventilation of Buildings

Considers the passive and active ventilation of buildings from the viewpoint of reducing building energy consumption at the same time as maintaining a healthy internal environment. The design aspects of natural ventilation and of air supply systems are also considered.

Methods of Environmental Analysis

Deals with the principles and practice of building environmental analysis and the methods of assessing the environmental performance of existing and proposed buildings and their attendant services.

Term 2

Building Solar Design

Provides the basic tools whereby building designers can make decisions concerning the effectiveness of the various solar heating and cooling strategies. This module investigates the potential for active and passive solar heating, passive cooling in different types of buildings, covering passive building design and operative issues.

Efficient Building Services Systems

Deals with the energy implications of the selection and control of the heating and cooling systems in buildings. It considers the role of condensing boilers, heat pumps, combined heat and power (CHP) and absorption chilling, as well as conventional heating ventilation air conditioning (HVAC) plants, in the consumption of energy in buildings.

Optional modules

Full-time students will need choose two optional modules, all of which run in Term 2, ensuring they are not at the same time. Please note that optional modules are subject to availability.

Advanced Building Simulation

Provides an opportunity for those students with a greater interest in the use of building simulation software, to explore the application and development of advanced tools. Students will learn the use of advanced simulation models which can be applied for research and to design complex applications: Modelling of moisture and pollutants in buildings.

Industrial Symbiosis

Introduces to students relevant aspects related with the environmental management and design of industrial areas and more generally to present new approaches and tools for the greening of industry. Using the framework of industrial ecology (where wastes become inputs for new processes), aspects related with the restructuring of the industrial sector towards a more sustainable industry.

Energy Systems Modelling

Focuses on the development of energy and environment scenarios, covering aspects from policy objectives, and the use of data and models to build scenarios and use them to inform policy. The series of lectures are arranged to provide core skills to students covering the key issues in this field, the staff involved are international experts.

Low Energy Building Retrofit

Goes into detail about understanding the issues around retrofiitting existing homes with insulation and systems to reduce energy consumption. We use PHPP and criticise case study retrofits, hopefully incorporating a site visit. This module is mainly aimed at architects with some experience of housing projects.

Smart Energy Systems – Theory, Practice and Implementation

Gives students from different background (architecture, civil, environment engineering, electrical engineering, building engineering) a multi-disciplinary view of the smart grid and show them the interrelationships between theory, practice and implementation. The module will offer a strong combination of theory, the latest energy developments internationally and some innovative practical case studies and tools.

Multi-Objective Design Optimisation

Aims to introduce students to the concept and practice of Multi-Objective Design Optimisation (MODO), equip the students with a number of tools, including optimisation techniques and associated cutting edge parametric design tools. Critically the module also aims at developing practical skills on when and how to apply the different tools and techniques, and critically review the results.

Systems Thinking and System Dynamics

Teaches system dynamics modelling, a powerful method for the analysis and design of complex systems. System dynamics helps understand problems characterised by complexity, policy resistance and/or multiple stakeholder views. It will also help you design systems to account for the interaction of socio-technical aspects in the built environment. Several applications, simulation analyses and a management game will be included. Concrete cases comprise Heating, Ventilation and Rebound, Urban Dynamics, Project Management and others.

Building acoustics

This module introduces the main fundamentals of building acoustics and sound, within the context of designing/operating buildings for optimising health, comfort and wellbeing. It addresses factors such as: fundamentals of sound, building and room acoustics; noise control and sound design (building design/operational strategies); monitoring and modelling approaches; case studies and regulation.

Environmental Design and Engineering MSc students can also take optional modules from the Health, Wellbeing and Sustainable Buidlings MSc (with approval from the EDE MSc Programme Leader). For more information about the optional modules available please see Health, Wellbeing and Sustainable Buildings MSc.

Dissertation (Term 3)

Students following the Environmental Design and Engineering MSc programme are required to submit a dissertation. The topic of the dissertation, which is supervised by a member of the Bartlett staff, is selected by the student in agreement with the course director. It can be taken from a wide range of subjects related to the main themes of the course and may be selected to assist career development or because of its inherent interest.  

Other events

A residential visit to the Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth, Wales takes place each year in October.

Site visits and building visits are arranged throughout the year, recent visits have included The Crystal Building, a straw bale café, and BEDZed.


First-year part-time students take the following core modules Built Environment:

  • The Energy Context
  • Health, Comfort and Wellbeing in the Built Environment
  • Building Solar Design on Tuesdays

Second-year part-time students take the following core modules:

  • Natural and Mechanical Ventilation of Buildings
  • Efficient Building Services Systems
  • Methods of Environmental Analysis

Microsoft Excel competence

We have seen increasing demand for highly numerate EDE graduates, so we would like all students to be competent in Excel at the start of the programme. A good guide is for you to have completed Part 1 of the book Data Analysis With Microsoft Excel, by Berk and Carey.