Author: Sabine Kamill, MSc Modern Building Design -

Explaining the difference from a student's point of view

Do you intend to study MSc Architectural Engineering: Environmental Design (ED) or MSc Modern Building Design (MBD) but wonder what the difference is? Let me give you an insight from my perspective as a MBD student.

I have been lucky enough to get to know some students from the ED course during the induction week and we have kept in touch since then. We also got the chance to meet ED students in the computer-aided design (CAD) lab during submission time and that’s where I could figure out the benefits of both courses.

Both courses are part of the Faculty of Engineering & Design and are listed under the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering (ACE). The course pages on the web provide an in-depth overview of what you can expect from each course:

Both courses focus on sustainable building strategies, where you'll learn for example about low-carbon envelopes, dynamic modelling tools and thermal performance strategies. They introduce you to modern practices and integrated design. Both combine architectural design with engineering, which is why your potential fellow classmates will have architecture or civil engineering backgrounds. For anyone with an architectural background, it should be said that there is no artistry approach during the courses. You will put more focus on the implementation of feasible sustainable solutions, be it compactness level of the design’s shape or implementation of new technology solutions. On the other hand, anyone with a civil engineering background will learn how to tackle the design of a building, create plausible floor plans and consider feasibility.

I could see that ED students learn more dynamic modelling tools and sustainable technological approaches, where thermal comfort has priority. On the other hand, MBD challenges you to manage building design processes. You will get an insight into how to tackle environmental issues in the industry. Therefore, you will learn building information modelling and get an understanding for collaborative integrated design management. From my point of view, this describes the main differences in the learning and skill outcomes of both courses.

Another difference is the tuition fees, where MBD students pay more as the course is longer with a total of 15 instead of 12 months. The reason for this is the integrated placement from June on. In comparison to the ED course, MBD students get a more practical approach and eventually end up writing their master’s dissertation about the topic they have researched during their placement. The placement is not guaranteed, however. If you don’t get a placement, you will be transferred to a 12-month alternative course and graduate with an MSc in Low-Carbon Building Design.

For both courses, you can apply for bursaries and scholarships.

To sum it up, from my point of view the MSc Architectural Engineering: Environmental Design seems to focus more on technical approaches of sustainable design solutions, whereas the MSc in Modern Building Design is more BIM and sustainable design process driven. Depending on what you prefer, both courses are challenging therefore enable you to gain knowledge and skills which elevate you from conventional architects and civil engineers.

Posted in: Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Postgraduate


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