UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Course structure and content

Information about compulsory and optional modules, the dissertation and other course content, as well as flexible/modular study, for UCL's Health, Wellbeing and Sustainable Buildings MSc.


The HWSB MSc consists of six compulsory core modules – four of which are taken in Term 1 and two in Term 2 – and a choice of two optional modules. The programme can be studied full-time for one year, part-time for two years or on a modular/flexible basis from 2-5 years.

Full-time students take four modules in Term 1 and four modules in Term 2, followed by the research dissertation in the remainder of the programme. Classes are generally two days per week, although additional tutorials and workshops may run throughout the week. 

Core modules

Health, Comfort and Wellbeing in the Built Environment (15 credits)

This module introduces the notions of health, wellbeing and comfort within the context of the built environment, with a particular focus on buildings. It provides an introduction to the topic, and an overview of the main factors affecting health, wellbeing, human performance and comfort in building design/operation.

Basic principles of epidemiology and public health will also be introduced. The module builds the foundations for key issues associated with health and wellbeing in the built environment, and provides students with an opportunity to develop their learning further via a literature review of relevant topics. 

Wellbeing in Buildings: Theory and Practice (15 credits)

This module will focus on psychological and physiological responses to the built environment, predominantly workplaces. The course will highlight how the perception of and interaction with the built environment impacts on health, wellbeing and performance in offices and schools. The module introduces the concept of wellbeing, compares several wellbeing “standards” and explores how wellbeing can be measured with relationship with occupant performance and physiological responses.

Integrated Building Design for Health, Comfort and Wellbeing (15 credits)

This module introduces the concept of integrated building design within the context of enhancing inhabitant comfort, wellbeing and health whilst reducing building energy use and improving environmental performance.

The module is an introduction to the fundamentals of building design and operational strategies for addressing the factors which affect comfort, wellbeing and health in buildings. It also covers passive and low carbon design principles, with a focus on thermal, visual and acoustic conditions, ventilation and indoor air quality performance.

Methods of Environmental Analysis (15 credits)

This module deals with the principles and practice of research methods and of building environmental analysis aiming to assess the environmental performance of existing and proposed buildings.

It discusses methodological and epistemological issues and critically assesses the principles and potential contribution of different methods as well as their assumptions and limitations for the understanding of the technical, social, economic and environmental dimensions of projects within the field of environmental design and engineering. 

Health and Wellbeing in Cities: Theory and Practice (15 credits)

The module moves systematically through ideas, theories, research and the practice of health and wellbeing in the built environment, working towards an understanding of the connections and complexity of urban health and wellbeing at a neighbourhood and urban scale.

Key topics include: health impact assessments; integrating the design and health/wellbeing agendas; participatory and engagement approaches; assessment and tools to understand health and well-being at the city and neighbourhood scale; social cohesion and the built environment; the role of transport, mobility and physical activity on health urban environmental quality; climate and resilience.

As well as hearing from a range of different perspectives, both academic and professional, this module will introduce a variety of case studies to show students how some of the key principles have been put into practice.

A fundamental part of the module is public engagement; encouraging the students to develop a range of skills relevant to public engagement and communication and to test different methods in an actual public engagement project.

Indoor Air Quality in Buildings (15 credits)

This module addresses indoor air quality (IAQ) issues in buildings, the implications for health & wellbeing, and methods of assessment, remediation/avoidance and how to design for healthy IAQ. A range of airborne pollutants from both indoor and outdoor sources will be explored, their impacts on physical and mental health, as well as aspects such as wellbeing and human performance.

Students will gain a critical understanding of pollutant source identification, methods of pollutant modelling and monitoring, and remediation/avoidance strategies in building design/operation. Course work will be based on data analysis from monitoring and simulation modelling of the case study building.

Optional modules 

Light, Lighting and Wellbeing in Buildings (15 credits)

This module is a targeted overview of how building design/operational factors related to light and lighting should be addressed to enhance health, wellbeing, human performance and comfort.

Key topics include: fundamentals of light and lighting, and impacts on health, wellbeing and human performance; design principles (and associated guidance, where applicable); modelling tools; assessing light and lighting quality in situ. 

Building Acoustics (15 credits)

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.

Designing Inclusive Places (15 credits)

This module introduces the concept of inclusive design and how to ensure buildings and spaces are suitable for all potential users.  This includes how design impacts upon pan-disability access, to meet the needs of people with a range of physical, sensory impairments or mental health conditions.  The course also explores needs arising from age, faith or gender with a focus on independent access and enjoyment of places to work, visit or live.    

Recent developments and debates on the notions of universal and inclusive design are introduced. Legislation, regulation, standards and guidance are considered alongside design and operational principles, with the emphasis on practical interpretation and application in real life situations and the impact on management in use.

Module content embraces all aspects of inclusive design, from spatial and functionality considerations to environmental features such as  acoustics, lighting and contrast, and procurement of user friendly fittings.

Dissertation (60 credits, core)

The topic for the Dissertation (10,000 words), 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. Where appropriate, students are encouraged to select dissertations which are relevant to real-world problems. 

Additional activities

On top of the core learning, students will be offered a range of supplementary activities with a particular focus on industry collaboration, ‘soft-skills’ training, and ‘hands-on’ experiences:

  • An introductory Fieldtrip in the first term including a mix of workshops, seminars and team-building activities. Details and location will be available in September. The trip costs are covered by the programme.
  • A computing week in Term 1, to familiarise students with key tools such as modelling software.
  • Students will have the opportunity to meet with UCL IEDE external industry partners and other stakeholders, for example to discuss potential industry-focused dissertation projects.
  • Case study visits are organised throughout the year.

Modular/flexible and part-time students

The schedule for flexible students is partly dependent on the pace at which modules are taken.

Read more about flexible study...

As an example, students wishing to complete the programme within two years would take two modules per Term (Terms 1 and 2) in each year, plus work on their dissertation. This would require attending approximately one day of classes per week per term (in Terms 1 and 2), plus work on the dissertation over the summer term, which is largely with guidance from a tutor.

On occasions, attendance at tutorials and other activities (e.g. residential field visit) may be required on other days, but we strive to keep this to a minimum and give plenty of notice. Please note that on occasion tutorials or site visits may take place after typical teaching hours (e.g. after 5pm).

For part-time students wishing to complete within 2 years, it is advised that first-year part-time students take the following core modules:

Term 1

  • Integrated Building Design for Health, Comfort and Wellbeing
  • Health, Comfort and Wellbeing in the Built Environment

Term 2

  • Health and Wellbeing in Cities: Theory and Practice
  • Indoor Air Quality in Buildings

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

Term 1

  • Wellbeing in Buildings: Theory and Practice
  • Methods of Environmental Analysis

Term 2

  • Building Acoustics
  • Light, Lighting and Wellbeing in Buildings
  • Designing Inclusive Places

Alternative paths may be possible, upon agreement with the Programme Director.