Arcosanti, Arizona, USA

MSc/ PgDip/ PgCertSustainable Engineering: Architecture & Ecology

Why this course?

This course will provide you with a critical understanding of the relationship between architecture and ecology. You'll look at both from a theoretical perspective. This will be done by instructional modules taken at Strathclyde in Glasgow during the first three months of study. The practical demonstration of this relationship will be through project work at the urban laboratory Arcosanti in Arizona.

The Cosanti Foundation, established by Dr Paolo Soleri in 1964, is an education-based architecture and urban design not-for-profit organisation located in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. The Foundation established the world-renowned Arcosanti project in 1970 as an urban laboratory focused on researching alternatives to urban sprawl, based on Soleri's work on ecological architecture, and his proposals for the design of future cities.

This is a unique opportunity to study your Master’s degree while living and working at Arcosanti, helping to research, design and construct an alternative to urban sprawl, joining thousands of people who, since Arcosanti’s launch in 1970, have already been part of “one of the most important urban experiments in our lifetime” (Newsweek).

Work placement

You'll work and study at the urban laboratory of Arcosanti in Arizona for three months, with the option to remain there for a further three months to complete an individual project.

Major projects

This course is delivered in collaboration with The Cosanti Foundation who have over 40 years’ experience teaching architecture and ecology. Foundation staff will deliver the Arcology instructional module and oversee the group projects. You can also be involved with Arizona State University and the ECOSA Institute. Both are based in Arizona and have extensive experience in teaching architecture and ecology specific to the Arizona climate.


We're a modern university with great support for students including a large campus library and IT facilities. The Department of Architecture also has an on-site library with an extensive collection of architecture and urban design books and journals. You'll also be provided with individual desk space within a postgraduate research hub with access to printing facilities.

When at Arcosanti, you'll have room and board in addition to a dedicated working space equipped with printing and scanning facilities and site-wide Wi-Fi.

Faculty of Engineering Excellence Scholarship.

Guest lectures

Throughout Semester 1, you'll have lectures by a number of experts in the fields of architecture and ecology, covering both theory and practice.

Teaching staff

Course Director, Dr David Grierson, has expertise in teaching and research in sustainability. He's Deputy Head of Architecture, Director of Internationalisation, Director of the Sustainable Engineering Programme, and Chair of the Graduate School of Engineering.

Course content

Semester 1


This class will provide you with an understanding of the concepts of sustainability and sustainable development. The social, environmental and economic impact of development strategies will be identified and the mitigation of negative impacts discussed. The class will cover:

  • Shifting world views
  • Green politics
  • Green Perspectives
  • Climate change
  • Sustainable development
  • Limits to growth
Ecology & the Built Environment

This class will give you an awareness of both the historical and theoretical context of environmental sustainability and offer a critical examination of the way in which issues of sustainability relate to the built environment. The class will cover:

  • the relationship between the biosphere and the urban environment
  • sustainable development and the built environment
  • architecture, ecology and sustainability in theory
  • architecture, ecology and sustainability in practice
Urban Theory

This class will develop your knowledge of the theoretical debate around urban form in relation to economic, environmental, cultural issues and social issues. It'll cover:

  • historic and contemporary issues of urban theory
  • the impact of urban theories on our cities and hinterlands
  • repercussions on lifestyles and sustainability
Energy Resources & Policy

You'll gain an understanding of current trends in the energy market, and will enable a critical evaluation of emerging ideas, technologies and policies, particularly in relation to new and renewable energy supply systems. We'll cover:

  • historical trends in energy production
  • nuclear plants
  • renewable energy sources
  • energy efficiency measures
  • the transport sector
  • policy issues
Design Management

This class will provide a structured introduction to the design management process, issues and tools. It'll cover:

  • organisation structures for effective design
  • design models, approaches and methods
  • the importance of costs and good design
  • innovation in design management
  • design performance
Information Management

You'll be introduced to information management and develop basic skills in information storage and retrieval. We'll cover: 

  • modelling and using information
  • representing information
  • computer software packages relevant to industry
  • information storage and retrieval, acquisition and use
  • basic skills in developing information systems
Project Management

You'll gain project management skills with particular emphasis on the effective and efficient use of resources. The class will cover:

  • project management techniques and project control
  • project teams; project features; project constraints and resources; quality assurance
  • presentation techniques as used in industry
  • budgetary control including cash flow, financial borrowing and investment


Semester 2


You'll gain a critical understanding of the relationship between architecture and the earth’s ecology, as developed at the urban laboratory Arcosanti in central Arizona, USA. The class will cover:

  • the historical work of Paolo Soleri, including early examples of bioclimatic architecture
  • the Arcology Theory: urban design as human ecology
  • construction techniques and environmental strategies at Arcosanti
  • lean alternatives to urban sprawl
  • principles of ecological design in action
Group Project

You'll work collaboratively with students from different themes to develop solutions for specific projects addressing social, economic, or environmental aspects of sustainability within a practice-based environment.


Entry requirements

  • an Honours degree in architecture, engineering or related subject

Consideration will also be given to candidates with other relevant professional qualifications in a discipline related to the built environment and/or professional experience.

English language requirements for international students

For candidates whose first language is not English, documentary evidence of an appropriate level of competency of written and spoken English must be provided. The minimum standards are an IELTS minimum overall band score of 6.5 (no individual test score below 5.5). Applicants with slightly lower scores have the opportunity to attend the University's Pre-Sessional English classes to bring them up to the required level.

Open Access

Alternative qualifications or professional experience may be considered by the course leader (home students only), depending on the module chosen.

Pre-Masters preparation course

The Pre-Masters Programme is a preparation course held at the University of Strathclyde International Study Centre, for international students (non EU/UK) who do not meet the academic entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde. The Pre-Masters programme provides progression to a number of degree options.

Upon successful completion, you will be able to progress to this degree course at the University of Strathclyde.

Fees & funding


All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise.


  • £12,700

Rest of UK

  • £13,850


  • £21,400

How can I fund my course?

Scholarship search

Faculty of Engineering Excellence Scholarship (FEES) for International Students

If you're applying for an MSc course you'll be eligible to apply for a Faculty of Engineering Excellence Scholarship offering up to £3,000 towards your tuition fees.

The scholarship is available for application to all self-funded, new international (non-EU) fee paying students holding an offer of study for an MSc programme in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Strathclyde. Please note you must have an offer of study for a full-time course at Strathclyde before applying.

You must start your full-time MSc programme at Strathclyde in the coming academic year (2019-20).

Scottish and non-UK EU postgraduate students

Scottish and non-UK EU postgraduate students may be able to apply for support from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). The support is in the form of a tuition fee loan and for eligible students, a living cost loan. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

Students coming from England

Students ordinarily resident in England may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance England. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

Students coming from Wales

Students ordinarily resident in Wales may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance Wales. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

Students coming from Northern Ireland

Postgraduate students who are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland may be able to apply for support from Student Finance Northern Ireland. The support is a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

International students

We have a large range of scholarships available to help you fund your studies. Check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

Please note

The fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.


Sustainable Engineering: Architecture and Ecology

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2019, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time

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