The Advanced Sustainable Design - MSc programme at Edinburgh College of Art asks how we can transform our built environment by putting sustainable development into practice. We are distinctive in being a design-based programme.
Our emphasis is not only on gaining knowledge of environmental technology, but also on developing skills in synthesising design solutions specific to place, community and habitat. To move beyond purely technical responses, we consider ideas of community, trade, wellbeing, communication and knowledge networks.
One of the great challenges designers face is that of making sense of, and ordering, the enormous volume of information about sustainability. As an Advanced Sustainable Design - MSc student, you will acquire the confidence and experience to create and refine strategies to produce settlements and building proposals that embody high standards of design, as well as demonstrating low carbon behaviour.
Although this Masters degree has architectural design at its heart, we welcome graduates from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds. In the past, these have included engineering, art, construction and landscape design.
What you will study
Over the course of the year, your base will be the studio where we will encourage and enable you to work in multi-disciplinary teams.
In the first semester, you’ll learn about theories and contexts of sustainable development in the built environment, undertaking a series of short projects to understand the possibilities of applying theory to design.
In the second semester, you’ll complete a main design project focusing on an urban context, looking at the social, economic and environmental drivers of sustainable development and how these translate to architectural and urban design.
Your studio-based design work will be supported by seminars and workshops, and you’ll have the opportunity to work with environmental simulation software, test your design ideas quantitatively, and experience, first hand, best practice building and settlement design through our annual field trip.
The programme will end with a research dissertation, which is an opportunity for you to undertake a substantial period of study on a research question relating to your own personal or professional interests, or home context.
From global to local
Our programme attracts students from across the world, which you’ll see reflected in our courses and teaching. This leads to an exciting exchange of ideas between students from developed and developing economies.
Our core courses look at different global cities; in our retrofit project, for example, students can choose to work in Edinburgh, Dubai and Singaporean contexts. In your research dissertation, you can choose a topic relevant to your home environment. Past projects have looked at sustainable development in the former East Germany, Greece, Spain, Malaysia, Colombia, Chile and China.
Students and graduates of the programme have become involved in sustainable programmes and initiatives local to ECA, for example the Leith Interventions programme looking at potential uses for buildings and landscape in the city’s docklands, and the Resilient Borders project designing a sustainable future for Galashiels and the Central Borders.
Our annual field trip is typically to the Scottish Highlands where we have looked at exemplar buildings, such as the Scottish Natural Heritage Headquarters, and Moray Council Headquarters, and been guests of the Findhorn Foundation, a designated UN Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) Best Practice community.
Links and resources
- Global Design: find out more about the projects we work on in global contexts
- Resilient Borders: a project that situates your work in real communities [external link]
- Predicting Performance and Design Simulation: how you gain skills to predict the environmental behaviour of your design projects
- Our Application guide (PDF): find out more about our programme structure and the content of our courses, with advice about what you need to make an application
- Our Facebook Page: for updated news and information about our programme