MSc, 120 cr, 2 years
Sustainable development is a political vision that entails huge challenges for social and technical innovation all over the world. It has consequences for all professions, not least for urban planning, architectural design and civil engineering, since it is here the full complexity of societal development has to be addressed and managed through design for sustainable development.
The aim of this programme is to provide skills and methods valid in situations of change in which design approaches are required. Students will be trained to find solutions that support sustainable development in a large variety of contexts. The perspective is holistic and systemic, comprising system levels and scales from urban structures, buildings and technical support systems to detailed construction elements and products. The programme is based on studios in which real situations are handled in close contact with local stakeholders and actors.
The overall point of departure is the everyday life of people and the support of dignified lives and livelihoods in rapidly changing and sometimes extreme environments, through the development and implementation of aesthetic, affordable, socially and culturally appropriate, energy and material efficient, healthy and user friendly design solutions.
The Chalmers School of Architecture emphasises an explorative orientation and research by design approach in order to unfold the professional profile, skill and scope of the design professions. The ambition is to promote convincing joint future visions for the development of the built environment.
Who should apply
The programme welcomes students with different backgrounds within the field of architecture, design, urban and spatial planning and civil engineering, interested in contributing to a sustainable development as design professionals.
Chalmers architecture is noted for:
- Its humanistic view of architecture
- Design projects based on real tasks and problems in society
- Contacts with users in briefings and designing
- Open interaction between teachers and students
- An inspiring atmosphere, free of prestige
Emphasis also lies in:
- Integration of research in education
- Respect for existing built structures as cultural, social and economic resources
- Co-operation with other disciplines
Each semester consists of a combination of courses and design studios.
- A course is mostly based on lectures, literature and seminars, but may also contain shorter assignments.
- A design studio focuses on the development of a design project. It is normally case study based.
The pedagogical point of departure is to support students to develop their design skills through a series of design studios, dealing with complex design tasks in very different situations and contexts: e.g., neighbourhoods and municipalities in Sweden, informal settlements in developing countries, and technical and social challenges of sustainable building and transformation.
This approach challenges and develops the abilities of the students to analyse and situate local situations in relation to broader contexts. Such design studios contain experience-based learning, fieldwork, tailored lectures, literature studies, seminars, workshops and exhibitions. A common thread through the studios is the use of a systems approach to design although both problems and potential solutions will vary significantly.
The programme offers a selection of courses and design studios, distributed over the fall and spring semesters. These courses and studios should be seen as a palette, from which the individual professional profile is shaped during two years.
Detailed programme content in the Student portal, for current students
- Sustainable Development and the Design Professions
- Design Systems
- Architectural Conservation and Transformation
- Design Thinking in Research
- Nordic Architecture
- Design Processes and Management
- Building Design Lab
- Leadership in Architectural Professions (Master’s thesis preparation course)
- Advanced Theory and Methodology (Master’s thesis preparation course)
- Planning and Design for Sustainable Development in a Local Context
The thematic of the studio is planning and design for sustainable development in a small or medium sized municipality in Sweden.
- Suburbs-Design and Future Challenges
Gives knowledge about the significance of the social dimension of sustainable development, focusing on urban development in suburban areas built in the 1960s and 70s in Sweden. Public participation of citizens is a central aspect.
- Reality Studio Kisumu at Lake Victoria, Kenya
For students of different disciplines in the form of a real-life project in Sub-Saharan Africa.Reality Studios are simultaneously student projects and real projects where the students act as consultants and researchers to improve the quality of daily life.
- Architectural Heritage and Urban Transformation
Aims at introducing the students to the field of architectural and urban conservation and transformation in a historic and contemporary context and to test new knowledge in a critical and reflective way.
- Sustainable Building
Introduces the concept of “sustainable building”, both as principles and as chosen elements in concrete design assignments. Integrates the environmental issues of sustainable building into an architectural project, combining functional and aesthetical qualities with low environmental impact. Cultivates a deeper understanding of selected issues of sustainable building and to develop these issues into a thoroughly elaborated design proposal. (This studio is under development and is likely to participate in the on-going international competition Solar Decathlon.)
- Sustainable Building Competition
The aim is to practice design for sustainable building, to introduce findings from design for energy and environmental efficiency, to promote cooperation between architects and engineers and to implement this knowledge into a competition. (This studio is under development and is likely to participate in the on-going international competition Solar Decathlon.)
- Design for Extreme Environments
Basic human needs of everyday life become visible where life support systems are required. If resources are very scarce and one needs to sacrifice something, what are the basic requirements for physical and mental health? The studio is focusing on what architecture and design do over time.(This studio is under development and is likely to participate in the on-going international competition Solar Decathlon.)
The last semester is assigned for the Master’s thesis. The aim is to display knowledge and capability for independent work, and related to the students undergraduate profile, within the field of design for sustainable development.
Connections with research and the society
Research and education in close cooperation with practice has a long tradition at Chalmers Architecture and is also distinctive for this master’s programme. This responds to an increasing societal demand for experts able to transform the global vision of sustainable development into concrete and local action.
The local partners in each design studio represent different spheres of the global society, providing students with an extended network of potential future employers and clients:
- Swedish public authorities, municipalities and local communities
- The Swedish construction industry, landlords and property developers
- Local, National and International university partners
- UN-HABITAT and their different partners, including UN-Habitat Partner universities
- NGO’s and local communities
- NASA, ESA and specific design industries
The programme is based on experience from the strong research environment at Chalmers, in the forefront for research on the Built Environment and Sustainable Urban Futures.
The education leads to a wide range of career opportunities within design and planning for sustainable development as a response to increasing awareness and commitment among both public and private actors.
The global challenges of resource constraints and climate change open for new and extensive fields of professional practices.
Globally rapid urbanisation, poverty reduction and fair distribution of resources are key issues as manifested in the UN Millennium Development Goals. In Sweden the existing building stock, not least from the 1960s and 1970s, has to be reconstructed in ways that can address socioeconomic segregation problems as well as deficient environmental performance in an integrated manner.
These challenges request a new generation of skilled design professionals that are able to work in cross-disciplinary expert teams and in close contact with local stakeholders.
General entry requirements
To be eligible an applicant must either be a holder of a Bachelor's degree in Science/Engineering/Architecture or be enrolled in his/her last year of studies leading to such a degree. General entry requirements in detail
Specific entry requirements
Bachelor´s degree (or the equivalent) with a Major in Architecture, Spatial and Urban Planning, Landscape Architecture, Interior Architecture, Architecture and Engineering or Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Prerequisites: A design portfolio is required, demonstrating a documented proficiency in spatially contextualized design work.
English Language Proficiency
The most common and important scores that are accepted are
- IELTS (academic training), 6.5 (with no part of the test below 5.5)
- TOEFL (Internet based): 90 (with a minimum of 20 on the written part)
To read more about required minimum test results and other means of certifying fulfillment of the English language proficiency requirement, please visit:
English Language Proficiency
Special option - Sustainable Urban Transitions
Nordic Five Tech Double Degree Master's programme Sustainable Urban Transitions
By drawing on the strengths and resources within the Master's programme Design for Sustainable Development and that of 4 other leading Nordic technical universities, a Nordic double degree Master's programme in Sustainable Urban Transitions (NMP SUT) has been developed. Sustainable Urban Transitions aim to highlight the complex challenges of current and future urban planning, design, transition and management. Students have the opportunity to study in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and/or Finland and develop specialty skills in planning and design for Sustainable Urban Transitions. Systems thinking, participative and scenario approaches, risk reduction, research by design and generative planning are key concepts.
Read more information about Sustainable Urban Transitions >>
Degree: Master of Science (MSc)
Duration: 2 years
Rate of study: 100%
Instructional time: Daytime
Language of instruction: English
Teaching form: On-campus
Tuition fee: 190 000 SEK/academic year
*EU/EEA Citizens are not required to pay fees
Application Code: CTH-17009
For information about how to submit an application
It is mandatory to submit a number of required documents
Deadlines regarding application process
*EU/EEA citizens are required to provide documentation of citizenship (External Link)
Questions regarding the application and admission process:
Chalmers’ Admissions, email@example.com
Specific questions about the programme's content:
Lena Falkheden, Director of Master's Programme, firstname.lastname@example.org
Other questions - study and career guidance