Reasons to choose the programme

This programme is design-oriented, fusing creative solutions with sustainable strategies.
Our staff are all experienced in practice and have track records in the design and procurement of sustainable solutions.
We don’t just look at technical fixes, we focus on the social, environmental and economic aspects of sustainable design.
We look at best practice in Scotland but are international in our outlook, addressing global as well as local issues.
Our programme helps you gain critical skills in a fast growing and evolving design sector.

John Brennan and students talk about the programme
Edinburgh College of Art

We are distinctive in being a design-based programme; your base will be the studio and you'll produce a major design project, followed by a research dissertation.


Advanced Sustainable Design 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 developing skills in synthesising design solutions specific to place, community and habitat. We consider ideas of community, trade, wellbeing, communication and knowledge networks as purely technical responses are always vulnerable to failure. 

One of the great challenges we face is that of making sense of, and ordering, the enormous volume of information about sustainability. You will acquire 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.

What you will study

Your base is the studio, supported by seminars and workshops, which culminates in a major design project followed by a research dissertation.

The first semester deals with theories and contexts of sustainable development in the built environment, with a series of short projects to understand the possibilities of applying theory to design.

In Semester 2, a main design project focuses on an urban context and looks at the social, economic and environmental drivers of sustainable development and how these translate to architectural and urban design. In tandem with this, you have the opportunity to work with environmental simulation software and test your design ideas quantitatively. The semester also includes a field trip that introduces you to best practice building and settlement design.

Although this Masters degree has architectural design at its heart, we welcome graduates from different academic and professional backgrounds. In the past, these have included engineering, art, construction and landscape disciplines. We encourage you to work in multi-disciplinary teams, especially during the main design project.

The research dissertation is also an opportunity to undertake a substantial period of study on a research question that can relate to your own personal interests, home contexts or professional interests.

In studying Advanced Sustainable Design, you gain critical skills that work well within your existing professional contexts or assist you in forging a new career path in sustainable development.

For information about academic aspects of the course please contact the Programme Director, John Brennan.

Links and resources


As the call for a more sustainable built environment increases, architects, designers, engineers and planners who can produce solutions are in demand. With this qualification you’ll be best placed to embrace these opportunities and advance your career.

Even if you follow an unrelated path, the experience and skill development in communication, team work and project management that you’ll gain from the programme will be a valuable addition to your resume.

Our graduates work in specialist sustainable design consultancies, and design practice across a variety of disciplines. Many of our students choose to continue their academic development through PhD study.

How to apply and entrance requirements

If you'd like to study on a postgraduate programme at Edinburgh College of Art, you must apply through EUCLID, our online application system. You can find out how to do this on the University of Edinburgh website, where you'll also be able to:

  • see detailed entrance requirements for each programme on the Degree Finder
  • get information on what to expect after you apply
  • find out about study modes, start dates and fees
  • find out if, and how, you need to submit a portfolio, showreel or research proposal
  • find out where to go for further advice and guidance

Take me to the University of Edinburgh website on how to apply for postgraduate study


John Brennan

Senior Lecturer in Environmental Design

Programme Director, Advanced Sustainable Design - MSc


Tel: +44 (0)131 650 2324

Facilities and resources

Including journals, databases, and local collections.

Resources for History of Art, Art, Architecture and Landscape Architecture students.

This model workshop is equipped for constructing architectural models in a wide variety of materials.

Welding torches, a forge, forming and shaping tools, and a 1-ton gantry crane with access to main workshop areas.

The workshop facilities include band saws, pillar drills, sanders and wire-cutters.

Woodworking tools and machinery, including laser cutters, a vacuum former, and a 3D scanner and printer.

Scholarships and bursaries

Andrew Grant Postgraduate Scholarships

  • Value: £5,000-£15,000
  • Deadline:
  • Eligibility: Scholarships available for one academic year of postgraduate study at Edinburgh College of Art.




Edinburgh College of Art Postgraduate Admissions

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 4086