Postgraduate MSc

Sustainable Buildings

School of Science, Engineering and Environment





One year

Two and a half year

Next enrolment

September 2024


In a nutshell

A shift towards zero carbon solutions for both new and existing buildings will be integral to the global strategy to deliver sustainable built environments. Immerse yourself in perspectives and practice in the decarbonisation of buildings with our highly-relevant Sustainable Buildings postgraduate degree.

Designed to build relevant professional knowledge, this focused course will enable you to explore industry-tested methods for modelling energy efficiency, designing low carbon retrofit solutions, undertaking performance gap analysis, evaluating and specifying smart solutions.

Guided by experienced academics and practitioners, and drawing on world-class research led by Salford using its Energy House laboratories, you will look at relevant and contemporary thinking and practice connected to the decarbonisation of buildings. 

International applicant? Please check international intakes for the latest information and application dates.

Start your MSc Sustainable Buildings study journey

Register for our next Open Day where you can learn more about the course, tour our campus and meet the tutors

You will:

  • Discover how the built environment impacts upon its natural, social and economic environments and learn about energy systems in new and existing buildings
  • Apply methods to estimate and reduce both embodied and operational carbon contributions from the built environment
  • Access cutting-edge research facilities so you can develop practical skills for measuring, modelling, monitoring and evaluating the sustainability performance of buildings
  • Explore how smart solutions are installed in buildings, their functionally and advantages achieved, using innovative products

students accepted

This is for you if...


you’re a graduate or professional passionate about a sustainable built environment and want to be part of the transition to a zero carbon construction sector


you’re a current industry professional looking to build on your industry experience and gain a formal qualification for career diversification opportunities in building retrofits


you’re a built environment professional keen to provide expert advice and design relating to the sustainability of buildings

Course details

All about the course


Human-induced climate change is a major concern, and construction processes are one of its most significant contributors. A successful shift to zero carbon built environments will require large numbers of highly-skilled professionals ready to deploy proactive and reactive solutions and strategies. 

With predicted growth in green economy-based roles, our Sustainable Buildings postgraduate degree is designed to attract new and existing built environment professionals by providing formal qualifications to refocus or build specialist skills in this field.

Course delivery

The course curriculum is based on industry-aligned themes and topics. The 180-credit MSc award comprises eight taught modules, plus a dissertation. The 120-credit PgDip comprises eight taught modules. 

Flexibility is at the heart of our learning approach. You can choose to study full-time or part-time on campus:

  • As a full-time student, you will complete four 15-credit taught modules in each of your first two trimesters on campus.  In your final trimester, you will complete a dissertation worth 60 credits
  • As a part-time student, you will complete two 15-credit modules in each of your first four trimesters on campus. Across two additional trimesters, you will complete a dissertation worth 60 credits
Learning experience

The course focuses on topical themes connected to sustainable buildings.  You will explore industry methods for modelling energy efficiency, low carbon retrofit solutions, performance gap analysis and smart solutions. You will also look at the built environment within the wider context of whole life carbon and the circular economy. Learn more about the current course modules in the section below.

Along with a strong understanding of these themes and issues, you will also build knowledge about general aspects of sustainability, and behavioural change. You will also strengthen your research and analytical skills by completing a research based project based on a topic of your choice and relevant to industry. 

Our Sustainable Buildings postgraduate course is delivered with the support of our Energy House 2.0 project. When you are based on campus, you will see our laboratories and research expertise in action. Our proximity to Manchester city centre also provides opportunities for site visits to sustainable buildings and developments nearby. 

Course team

Our Sustainable Buildings postgraduate course is delivered by an academic team with extensive research and subject knowledge. The course is supported by some of the UK's leading academics and researchers in building energy. Collectively, the team is part of a global built environment community with prominence in shaping construction industry best practice.

Course leader: Dr. Juan Antonio Ferriz-Papi

Trimester one (and Trimester two for part-time learning)

Building Retrofitting

This module will explore the design, delivery, and assessment of retrofitting domestic building with technologies to improve energy efficiency. The module is framed within PAS 2030/2035 Retrofitting dwellings for improved energy efficiency. 

Building Whole Life Carbon and Cost Analysis

This module will enable you to analyse current procedures and implementation for whole life carbon estimation and life cycle cost analysis of new and existing, domestic and non-domestic buildings (e.g. BS EN 15978, RICS, BR Doc. Z, BS EN ISO 15686, etc.), as well as the use of databases and other different sources of information (e.g. EPDs), uncertainty and reliability.

Sustainable Building Design

This module will introduce you to the definition and assessment of sustainable building design principles, understanding their implementation and potential enhancement of sustainability in new buildings as well as renovation and retrofit, considering environmental, social and economic aspects. Through the analysis of real case studies, you will be able to inform the building design and analyse sustainability. Similarly, you will learn about sustainable building assessment and certification schemes, their characteristics and correct selection, supporting the client in the decision-making process.

Building Modelling

In this module, you will learn about the creation of different (static and dynamic) models for building assessment, with a key main focus on the analysis of energy efficiency models and later performance gap.  You will also look at aspects such as EPC and SAP steady state energy modules.

Domestic Energy Monitoring Systems (SB)

This module will provide an overview of the domestic Smart Metering infrastructure as well as of technologies for accessing energy data at the mains, circuit-level and appliance-level for monitoring and decision-making purposes. Moreover, a brief overview of the Demand-Side Response (DSR) systems will be given alongside a description of the related PAS 1878:2021 ‘Energy smart appliances. System functionality and architecture’ specification.

Trimester two (Trimesters three and four for part-time learning)

Contemporary Issues in Sustainability

This module will help you to explore the broad concept of sustainability: the terms development, contemporary and future uses. You will explore a range of topics in class, from urban sustainability to Just Sustainabilities, radical sustainability and other concepts, such as ecosystem services and beyond.

The module will include field trips to sustainability projects, along with a series of guest speakers and hands-on workshops will enable you to experience discussed topics in more detail.

Circular Economy in Construction

During this module, you will analyse the construction industry from a cradle-to-cradle perspective, considering solutions for adequate design, material selection and recyclability, service life extension, adaptation and end of life of buildings, and their contribution to zero carbon and zero waste policies.

You will examine low impact materials and embodied carbon, and also consider quality assurance of new recycled products and materials, and different certification schemes for sustainable buildings (e.g. BREEAM, LEED, etc.).

Energy Systems for Buildings

This module provides you with an opportunity to consider different efficient solutions for heating, ventilation, energy storage and renewables, with a focus on current and future markets (e.g. air source heat pumps, MVHR, emitters) as well as some consideration of other related approaches (e.g. neighbourhood/district heating systems).  Module content will include building physics.

Smart Systems for Buildings

In this module, you will explore options around smart solutions for energy efficiency in buildings such as smart meters and sensoring, etc. as well as the management of data, and the impact of the Internet of Things.  You will also examine the behavioural aspects relevant to the use of smart metering.

Trimester three (Trimesters five and six for part-time learning)

Sustainable Buildings Project (Postgraduate)

This culminating module is practically focused, and will provide you with the opportunity to choose a relevant aspect of the course and carry out research linked to a company/group/hub in the construction sector, or innovation/research/start-up project.  

You will present a final project with a clear scope, method, data collection, analysis and conclusions, also identifying the contribution and impact beyond your project, as well as future work for further investigation.

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

What will I be doing?




Our learning approach is driven by real-world challenges experienced in built environment-focused workplaces and job roles.  

Campus-based teaching and learning will develop your knowledge and skills through a blend of theoretical, collaborative and practical methods:

  • Lectures will introduce the core module knowledge, with tutorials designed to provide a forum for tutor-led discussion and debate
  • Workshops and labs will provide more hands-on learning for building measuring and modelling. 
  • Project work is your chance to conduct research and other techniques that will help you to develop solutions to prescribed tasks
  • Directed study enables you to cover materials at your own pace
  • One-to-one tutorials (by appointment) are available to discuss your learning progress

Our built environment department holds excellent links with local, national and international architecture, engineering and construction industry bodies and practices.  Throughout you studies, we will invite industry guest lecturers to share their knowledge and experience with you. 


You will be assessed through written coursework (100%) and continuous informal assessment by your tutors. Methods include:

  • Design projects
  • Essays
  • Case study analysis
  • Precedent studies

School of Science, Engineering and Environment

Rising to the challenge of a changing world, our postgraduate courses are designed to shape the next generation of urbanists, scientists, engineers, consultants and leaders.

Driven by industry, and delivered by supportive programme teams, you can develop the knowledge and skills to take your career potential further.

Energy House

The way UK energy is supplied and consumed is changing fast. Consumers and small businesses will soon be able to generate, store, share, buy and sell their energy as the government encourages the transition to a greener economy.

Through commercial and grant funded research, Salford's world-class Energy House laboratories help businesses understand how effective their products and services are in lowering consumers’ carbon footprint and reducing energy bills.

Industry Collaboration and Research

When you start this degree course with Salford, you are joining a community making a difference in industry, our local region and in our wider society.

Many of our academics and technicians who support your course also lead collaborative, interdisciplinary, high-impact work in a range of local and global built environment issues and challenges.

Discover how you are part of something bigger.

Employment and stats

What about after uni?


With global government commitments to achieving net zero, there is growing demand from the construction industry for specialists with the knowledge and skills to develop and deliver sustainability and carbon and energy efficiency in new and existing buildings.

We've designed this course to prepare you for immediate and future challenges related to the sustainability of new and existing buildings. As a course graduate, you will be ready to apply for relevant roles in a range of fields, including sustainable building design, energy efficiency modelling, building retrofitting, performance gap analysis, whole life carbon assessments, and life cycle costing.

Career opportunities are likely to emerge in both public and private sector environments. Employers will include surveying, architectural and multidisciplinary professional practices, construction/retrofitting/demolition companies, housing associations, facilities management services, plus consultancies who focus on building sustainability.


You might decide to take your subject interest further with postgraduate research. Our Centre for Urban Processes, Resilient Infrastructure and Sustainable Environments is home to PhD and research study opportunities exploring how we can enhance our built environments at local, national and international scales. 

Explore our Doctoral School to learn more about research training, support and opportunities.

A taste of what you could become

A retrofit project manager

A development manager

A sustainability lead

A building energy assesor

An energy surveyor

And more...


What you need to know


This course is recommended for current built environment professionals who want to formalise, update or enhance their existing skills in building energy and sustainability.  The course is also open to graduates from across the humanities, science, or business, who are interested in refocusing their skills to work on the design, construction, retrofitting, building services, or costing of sustainable buildings.

We look for applicants who have some prior knowledge linked to the built environment, so they are ready for the scope of the curriculum. Having an interest in developing sustainability and business-focused skills, and being familiar with how the built environment operates, are also qualities that will enhance your learning experience.


All of our courses are taught and assessed in English. If English is not your first language, you must meet our minimum English language entry requirements. An IELTS score of 6.0 (no element below 5.5) is proof of this, however we do accept a range of equivalent qualifications.

Read more about our English language requirements, including information about pathways that can help you gain entry on to our degree courses. If you do not have the English language requirements, you could take our Pre-Sessional English course


Please check international intakes for the latest information and application dates.

Standard entry requirements

Undergraduate degree

Applicants must have a minimum of a second class (2:2) honours degree.

International student entry requirements

We accept qualifications from all around the world. Find your country to see a full list of entry requirements.

Alternative entry requirements

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

For more information or enquires about this scheme, please contact: 

Learn more about the Salford Alternative Entry Scheme.

How much?

Type of study Year Fees
Full-time home 2024/25 £9,450.00per year
Full-time international 2024/25 £16,380.00per year
Part-time 2024/25 £1,575 per 30 credits
Full-time home 2025/26 £9,800.00per year
Full-time international 2025/26 £17,000.00per year

Additional costs

You should consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

International student scholarships

If you are a high-achieving international student, you may be eligible for one of our scholarships. Learn more about our latest international scholarships.

Apply now

All set? Let's apply

Enrolment dates

September 2024