Sustainable Design professionals are responsible for developing efficient and environmentally responsive buildings and retrofitting existing buildings to meet today’s environmental demands. The built environment professions – including architects, engineers, urban designers and planners – are increasingly held responsible for the performance of their designs and projects. Sustainable designers are critical to ensuring that the plans on paper – and promised environmental and performance principles – become a reality during and after construction. These skills are highly demanded by the construction and design industries, environmental consultancies, government agencies and in the day-to-day operation and management of commercial buildings.

Your skills in sustainable design are enhanced through the Faculty’s expertise in the built environment. You will combine the aesthetic approaches to design with a thorough understanding of energy efficiency, analysis and performance metrics. You will be exposed to rating systems, myriad testing methods and come to understand energy and resource use from ecological, economic and governance perspectives.

When you study with us, you go well beyond rating schemes and metrics. Our ‘first principles’ approach enables you not just to perform energy analyses and building assessments, but also to critique and develop further the tools and approaches required for sustainable building. You will gain a deep knowledge of the storage and release of energy and how to design for both performance and occupant comfort.

The Faculty takes pride in extending your learning. Your research-leading lecturers take you on site visits and expose you to a range of international collaborators. We leverage our extensive links with industry to bring you internship opportunities with leading businesses and consultancies. And you can use a wide range of electives to pursue your interests in the application of sustainable design theories and methods in architecture, planning, urban design building services and facilities management.


Professor Richard de Dear

Professor Richard de Dear is the world’s leading researcher on thermal comfort, a core component of our focus in Sustainable Design. Richard’s work underpins many national and international standards for building performance, including the American Society of Heating, Refigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers’ thermal comfort standard. His work also informs national standards in the Netherlands and CEN.

de Dear has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers and a dozen books and monographs on this area of expertise. Under his guidance, the sustainable design program at the University of Sydney has expanded its focus on Indoor Environmental Quality and how this relates to sustainable factors such as energy efficiency and resource use.

de Dear is a unit coordinator and contributes his expertise to many of the units offered in the Sustainable Design program.

You can read more about Richard on his staff profile.

Professor Richard Hyde

Professor Richard Hyde’s approach to sustainable design recognises that a sustainable future requires the transformation of economic, social and environmental theory. His work in climate-responsive design has led to advances in retrofitting and his publications in sustainable solar housing.

Hyde’s current research interests have culminated in the ongoing development of a Quality of Life Framework for Sustainable Housing in South East Queensland, a project that links the human experience of using designed spaces with the ecological impacts that the space and its use has on our environment.

Hyde (with others from the University of Sydney and leading institutes in Rome) is a member of The Green Renaissance Project. This project investigates the role of cultural sustainability in the design, practice and transformation of our society. This project encompasses archaeology, architectural science and historic conservation.

You can read more about Richard on his staff profile.


Masters and Graduate Diploma applicants should hold a bachelors degree. Graduate Certificate applicants should hold a bachelors degree or possess experience which is considered to demonstrate the knowledge and aptitude required to undertake the course.

This program can be taken as a Graduate Certificate (six months full time), Graduate Diploma (one year full time) or Master degree (one and a half years full time). Part time study is available for Australian citizens and permanent residents.

Students may apply to upgrade at the completion of their course from the Graduate Certificate, through to the Diploma and then to the Masters by maintaining a credit average over the course of study.

Masters and Diploma students may also opt to graduate with a lower level of certification once the required units are complete.

This program can also be taken as double stream Master degree in combination with another Design Science Program or Facilities Management. Individual units can also be taken as Continuing Professional Development short courses without enrolling into a degree.

Intensive units

Many units of postgraduate study are delivered in ‘block-mode’ intensives, meaning students attend classes over a number of full day blocks, rather than weekly lectures.

Please refer to the current class Timetable or Faculty Handbook to explore the delivery method of you chosen subjects

Double Stream

The Master, Graduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate programs in Sustainable Design provide you with a comprehensive specialisation in sustainable design. You study both of these fields of study within your core program, in addition to foundational units in architectural science. All students of the Sustainable Design program are trained in these fundamental understandings.

But you may be a student that wants to distinguish yourself. You might want to extend your studies and truly demonstrate to employers your mastery not just of Sustainable Design, but also of a related field from the design sciences. The Double Stream program in Sustainable Design allows you to demonstrate this dedication to your studies and future profession. a

You may take an additional 24 credit points (usually four units of study) from the core units of our programs in Illumination Design, Audio and Acoustics and Building Services.


Unit codeUnit nameCredit pointsSemester offered
DESC9200Introduction to Architectural Science61
DESC9014Building Construction Technology61 Int.
Unit codeUnit nameCredit pointsSemester offered
DESC9147Sustainable Building Design Principles61
DESC9148Sustainable Building Design Practice62
DESC9201Indoor Environmental Quality62
DESC9015Building Energy Analysis61a
ARCH9080Urban Ecology, Design and Planning62a
Unit codeUnit nameCredit pointsSemester offered
DESC9300Research in Architectural and Design Science62
Electives may be chosen from across Table G (the table of postgraduate units of study) or, with the permission of the program director, from any postgraduate course in the University.
Unit codeUnit nameCredit pointsSemester offered
ARCH9031Research Report121, 2
ARCH9045Dissertation 1121, 2
ARCH9046Dissertation 2121, 2
Unit codeUnit nameCredit pointsSemester offered
MARC4002Sustainable Architecture Research Studio121, 2
DESC9169Daylight in Buildings61
TBABuilding Information Modelling and Management61*
Unit codeUnit nameCredit pointsSemester offered
SUST5001Introduction to Sustainability61, 2
SUST5003Energy and Resources61
PHYS5034Life Cycle Analysis</td>62
PHYS5033Environmental Footprints and IO Analysis61, 2
Unit codeUnit nameCredit pointsSemester offered
TBAEnergy Management and Code Compliance62
DESC9067Mechanical Services62
DESC9164Lighting Technologies61
DESC9138Architectural and Audio Acoustics61
TBABuilding Economics61
TBAHigh Performance Facades61*
PLAN9068History and Theory of Planning and Design61
PLAN9064Land Use and Infrastructure Planning62
DESC9153Graduate Internship61, 2
*Offered in 2016
TBA – unit code not available at time of printing, see sydney.edu.au/courses for unit codes.


Hans Wiradinata Latuperissa

I wanted to study sustainability. Australia is a good example of a country that has committed to sustainable design: the governments have agreed to the greenhouse gas abatement protocols and how these relate to with the building sector. GreenStar and NABERS prove that Australia wants to move forward as much as possible.

What I’ve learnt is that it’s not just a matter of understanding sustainable design, but also to convince a client to invest in it. We study a lot of concepts. By learning sustainable design this way, it gives you a way to base your reasoning on evidence and simulation, so that you can convince your client. I think it’s important that you’re able to ‘show your working’. It increases the chance that your client will want to incorporate sustainable design.

This degree makes me more qualified in dealing with consultation and design. Because I already have the basic knowledge of how to deal with sustainable development, my next challenge is gaining more experience. It’s the time for me to put what I know into practice. I’m confident I know what to do.

Karla Venegas

I come from a small family in Costa Rica, and I’ve lived there all my life, except for the last year, when I came to study in Australia. I’ve always been a “greenie”! Back home everyone knows me for insisting on reducing-reusing-recycling, telling everyone to save energy and water, and trying to reduce waste and consumption. All day... Every day.... Insisting! Insisting! Insisting! So, as I studied architecture, I started to discover this stream of “Sustainable Design” and was more than sure that it was the stream for me.

So far this degree has taught me how much we can do as architects, designers and planners to create a more sustainable built environment. It’s amazing when you learn the huge impact the built environment (the one us designers are responsible for) can have on climate change. And sometimes you feel very helpless when it’s just you fighting against the world advocating sustainable practices, but it helps to see more and more people getting involved in the field and starting to take action.

It’s also been interesting to attend the talks here at Uni and throughout Sydney about Sustainability, and learn how people around the world have dealt with the many problems that accompany incorporating new ways of doing things. I want to take the opportunity to learn how a developed country is facing this issues, and apply this knowledge to Costa Rica.

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate studies can now be completed easily online.
Visit Courses Online to get started.

Applications must be accompanied by original transcripts of study ( or copies issued and certified by the issuing institution), together with certified copies of your Identification. (Birth Certificate or Passport).
Where students are applying for a certificate level based on industry experience, please attach a CV and any other supporting documentation which may assist in the assessment of your application.

Just want to study one unit of study as professional development?

Visit the CPD page for more information on Professional Development courses.