How this course is delivered
Students have a blend of on-campus and digitally enabled remote learning that keeps everyone safe, connected and involved in university life. Lots of opportunities are provided to interact and engage with lecturers and other students. The balance between online and on-campus learning varies by module, and in response to the external environment.
Why study with us?
- As a student of this course you will benefit from our innovative interdisciplinary approach to sustainable design that incorporates ideas from ecology, psychology and business with a balance of theory and practice.
- You will be joining a vibrant community of School of Architecture of Design students, studying in a collaborative environment of dedicated workshops and studios.
- Brighton is one of Europe's most progressive and creative cities, providing the ideal backdrop and inspiration for the subject.
- Our guest lecturer programme features inspiring staff from industry including Richard Gilbert (director of The Agency for Design), Oliver Heath (founder of OH Designs) and Doug McMaster, zero-waste restaurant founder.
- You will meet a diverse and inspiring group of fellow students – people join us with backgrounds in graphic design, illustration, architecture, fashion, education, politics, product design and more. Introduce yourself on our Sustainable Design Facebook group.
Making sure that what you learn with us is relevant, up to date and what employers are looking for is our priority, so courses are reviewed and enhanced on an ongoing basis. When you have applied to us, you’ll be told about any new developments through Student View.
Extensive workshops provide a key part of the student experience.
Areas of study
Sustainable Design: Present(s)
Semester one, 20 credits
In this module you will gain a broad introduction to established principles, theories and methodologies in sustainability and design.
Themes covered may include, for example, the circular economy, low-carbon building and production, sustainable food systems, sustainable communities, systems thinking, critical design and climate communication.
Teaching delivery will take the form of lectures, seminars, workshops and presentations from specialist practitioners, writers, researchers, manufacturers and theorists.
For assessment, you are required to create a three-minute 'video manifesto' and a research poster as well as a workbook of supporting research, process and development.
Semester one, 20 credits
This module gives you the opportunity to understand and
develop research as an integral part of your design practice.
You will develop a substantive research position piece that will likely be related to your ongoing design work and generally inform your specialisation research project.
We will ask you to engage with research through:
- Examining the scope and value of research in design relative to other aspects of design practice and other disciplinary fields.
- Considering a variety of practical and intellectual approaches to design research as well as challenges and limitations.
- Developing your individual position piece, including
definition of subject area and topic, research aims,
identification of research material and approach, planning of research process.
Semesters one and two, 60 credits
In this module, you will develop your practice in sustainable
design through independently defined studio practice, enabling you to progress to a position of authority in your chosen area of specialisation.
The module provides a reflective and productive environment for you to develop self-directed projects that engage critically with current discourses in sustainability and design.
It spans two projects and your final mark is based on the combined output of the two projects.
Sustainable Design: Future(s)
Semester two, 20 credits
In this module, you will expand your work outwards to the
edges of the discipline to consider new opportunities for
sustainable design innovation. You will be required to develop a more expansive comprehension of contemporary issues relating to sustainability and design, and develop the ability to situate your practice with greater clarity and purpose.
Specific module content will change year on year. Themes covered may include, for example, complex systems thinking, criticality in design, morality and ethics of design.
For assessment, you are required to develop and present a
‘model of sustainable design’ and a workbook of research, process and development.
Semester three, 60 credits
This module takes the form of a self-directed design research project structured by an individually-defined 'statement of intent’ developed under supervision.
It requires you to develop and present the culmination, integration and application of experiences, methods, skills and mastery accrued throughout the course.
You are challenged to establish new ways of working, characterised by individually defined approaches to emergent issues in sustainability and design.
The final body of masterwork must be developed through practice(s) relevant to your research aims. These might include, for example, the development and production of design proposals, a written thesis, a documentary or film, an article for a leading publication, the development of a business plan, an exhibition, or a combination of the above.
Students work in our Masters Centre at Mithras House on the Moulsecoomb campus.
The Masters Centre provides studio, seminar and tutorial space for all postgraduate students in the School of Architecture and Design.
Students on our Sustainable Design MA will have dedicated studio space with access to workshop and digital model-making facilities. More specialised materials and making requirements can be supported on an individual basis with colleagues in engineering, crafts and arts.
Dr Tom Ainsworth, course leader
Dr Tom Ainsworth became course leader for the Sustainable Design MA in 2015. He is a design theorist specialising in design research, health and wellbeing and behavioural insights. He teaches in areas of sustainable design, design research and research ethics. He has extensive experience of large-scale research projects covering themes of sustainability, design innovation and interdisciplinary education.
He has had work published in international journals including: the International Journal for Art and Design Education, BMC Medical Education and the International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development. He is a regular reviewer for international publishers Routledge and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts and Manufactures (FRSA).
Read Tom's full profile.
Find out about our other staff Nick Gant, Dr Damon Taylor and Duncan Baker-Brown.
"The multi-disciplinary nature of the Sustainable Design MA course makes it a very diverse and exciting space. My classmates included economists, graphic designers, school teachers, industrial designers, architects and artists, representing just a few of the disciplines that come together to tackle one of the most important challenges of our era: sustainability.
"The course structure allowed the freedom to explore my personal research while delivering a solid background on sustainable design, its origins, evolution and current tendencies. The diversity of speakers invited to the course and the variety of subjects delivered, coupled with the different academic and cultural backgrounds of the students, offers an exceptional environment in which to explore sustainable approaches."
Rodrigo Bautista Medina
"The university continued to provide contact with industry, advice for job interviews, programs to enhance my CV and frequent communication even after I graduated."
"I´m forever grateful to the University of Brighton, my tutors and fellow pupils. It was a remarkable time in my life when I got to open up my outlook and ideals. I particularly enjoyed the interdisciplinary courses and the fact that the MA was very much self taught, a learning curve of research and experimentation – trial and error. At masters level, the feedback of ideas between tutors and pupils was always very enriching. I met the most remarkable and lovely people and we have kept a strong bond."