Studying at UNSW School of Built Environment

One of UNSW School of Built Environment’s greatest strengths is its diversity, not only in terms of its particular mix of disciplines but also in its teaching staff, many of whom have distinguished professional as well as academic credentials. Equally important is UNSW School of Built Environment’s diverse, highly qualified and highly motivated student body whose engagement is so central to the success of our degree programs.

Degree programs at UNSW School of Built Environment are designed to be challenging as well as build upon and stretch the skills students bring to UNSW. We want our graduates to be creative and innovative in the larger society, and to do so with an appreciation of the social, economic, environmental and cultural settings in which they will be working.

"At UNSW School of Built Environment, the best academic minds combine with the best practising professionals to ensure our students are equipped with the skills required to be global leaders in their chosen career.’"– Emeritus Professor, Alec Tzannes AM

Depending on the particular degree program, the teaching and learning experience at UNSW School of Built Environment includes lectures, seminars, tutorials, studio projects, exhibitions, online activities, computer labs, field trips, research projects and opportunities for directed individual study. The School’s programs are designed to be challenging and encourage students to set and achieve high standards of performance as they progress through their studies. 

Online and blended learning

The Built Environment is committed to using technology to support and enhance learning and teaching through all our programs. Courses are delivered with a mix of online and face-to-face learning.

The Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching (TELT) platform combines a number of tools and services to cater for different types of learning and teaching at UNSW. Within the Built Environment, courses engage with online tools and activities such as blogs, wikis, discussion forums, quizzes and peer collaborative projects.

In May and September 2016, the School ran its first free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), Re-Enchanting the City: Designing the Human Habitat. The course engaged with city-making and the way the built environment professions collaborate to make them green, liveable and poetic. It as was open to high school students, tertiary students, alumni, and anyone wanting a career change or wanting to experience what it would be like to study at UNSW School of Built Environment. 

Design Studio

Design Studio is central to many of many of our programs, offering a practical experience and industry connections that are invaluable when entering your future built environment profession.

Students in architecture, interior architecture, landscape architecture, or industrial design have the opportunities to take part and apply their developing knowledge base.  The studio has a direct relationship to the professional working environment and simulates the creative workplace environment that many of the students aspire towards.

“The UNSW Bachelor of Interior Architecture degree’s learning strategy prepares graduates with specific skills, attributes and capabilities for a career in interior architecture and design. Our design studios utilise scenario-based learning, teaching students professional designing processes and techniques. Our content also fosters curiosity and instils a passion for lifelong design learning.”

– Bruce Watson, Discipline Director of Interior Architecture

Lectures and tutorials

A lecture is a formal presentation normally held in a large lecture theatre. The lecturer speaks to a group of students and typically shows slides to emphasise main points or to illustrate concepts.

Students are expected to listen and take notes, although some lecturers involve the students more actively during the lecture by asking questions or asking students to briefly work on problems or discuss issues in pairs or small groups.

Students usually have the opportunity to ask questions during or at the end of the lecture. Many lecturers provide lecture notes online together with online discussions.

Tutorials are classes within a course with smaller groups of students where each is led by an academic tutor. Tutorials are typically discussion-based and are less formal than lectures. They might be structured around activities or be more free-flowing, giving students the opportunity to discuss topics, ask questions and explore ideas. Tutorials involve a much higher level of interaction than lectures and all students are expected to participate.

Interdisciplinary learning

UNSW School of Built Environment introduced the Interdisciplinary Learning (BEIL) initiative in all undergraduate programs. This initiative values and embeds interdisciplinary learning as a core experience in research and teaching by fostering collaboration across all the disciplines of the school.

BEIL is a unique offering which distinguishes the school as a leader in the field in the area of interdisciplinary learning. It involves senior-level undergraduate students, in real world experiences, working together as they prepare for practice, conduct research, participate in collaborative community projects and publically exhibit their work.

Industry links

The Built Environment teaching staff includes an impressive combination of renowned industry leaders to give students a professional perspective and industry link. These include sessional academics as well as Professors of Practice that ensure our local and international students receive relevant, inspiring and exemplary educational student experiences to prepare them for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st-century global workplace.

Our Professors of Practice include Architect Glenn Murcutt AO, winner of the international Pritzker Prize in Architecture; Author and Architect Dr Elizabeth Farrelly; Architect and Urban Designer Ken Maher, Executive Chairman of HASSELL; Planner Dr Sue Holliday; Architect Richard Johnson, Director of award-winning practice Johnson Pilton Walker; Construction Manager Dr John Woollett, past Chairman CMR International, Dean RMIT and Associate Professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

The Professors of Practice also assist academics and researchers in accessing best industry practice and vision to generate knowledge and solve built environment problems, as well as deliver social benefits and economic prosperity locally, nationally and globally.