Michael Philipppos - Black Mamba Canopy

MSc Digital Architecture and Design

Start date September
Duration 1 year full-time / 2 years part-time

Course overview

Digital technologies are rapidly changing the way buildings and urban spaces are designed, constructed and inhabited. On this course you’ll learn the theoretical knowledge and technical skills required to produce innovative blueprints for architecture and urbanism in the digital era.

The past decade has shown rapidly growing expectations for built spaces with capacity to respond dynamically to changes such as shifts in demographics, new and emerging technology, climate change and ageing populations. These are global challenges and opportunities which demand architects and designers with the ability to creatively shape the way that buildings, landscapes and cities age and adapt over time.

This course uses theoretical and practical study to examine how digital tools and processes can be developed and applied to design built environments with capacity for change. At Sheffield, we produce postgraduates well equipped to become future leaders in this field.

On this course you will use a creative blend digital techniques including Parametric Architectural Geometry, Computational Design, Building Information Modelling and Advanced Simulation to produce innovative digital architecture.

We work closely with cutting edge centres of research and practice from the University of Sheffield and partners in the UK and abroad. Digital Design research in the school investigates ways in which the performance of buildings and urban spaces can be better captured, modelled and managed using software, data and devices.

Teaching is delivered through lectures, workshops, seminars, studio project work and field trips. Lecturers provide a range of design research expertise in Parametric Design, Computer Programming, 3D Interactive Prototyping, Building Information Modelling (BIM), and Environmental Simulation.

The programme places a great emphasis on ‘the Sheffield Approach’. Your learning of digital architecture and design will be contextualised and grounded in an understanding of the wider urban, social and cultural agenda.

Studio MAKE in Conversation

In a series of interviews, Dr Chengzhi Peng speaks to Digital Design students about the projects undertaken as part of Studio MAKE (Modelling Adaptive Kinetic Environments).

Read more


Entry requirements

Course outcomes

After graduation, I received a job offer at HLM Architects as the in-house architectural visualiser. The masters course in Sheffield improved my chance of employment greatly and contributed to my overall opportunities.

Belinda Ercan, MSc in Digital Design and Interactive Built Environments*

By the end of this programme, graduates will have the comprehensive knowledge and practical digital skills that are in high demand by contemporary practice and research in digital architecture.

Our graduates go on to careers with leading practices in architecture and urban design, digital creative industries, digital technology development and environmental design consultancy.

The course also fully prepares graduates who are interested in pursuing doctoral studies towards MPhil/PhD.



The course is structured in a total of 180 credits over two semesters including the summer months. Students will undertake six 15 credit modules in concepts, methods and techniques of parametric modelling, computational design, and building information modelling (BIM).

MSc Digital Architecture and Design DiagramThe Studio Project and the Dissertation Project are for students to apply their digital design knowledge, skills and interests creatively in a studio setting guided by tutors and dissertation supervisors. Students engage with critical applications of digital techniques and technologies in the design and research of innovative built environments. A study field trip is organised each year as part of the Studio Project, feeding into both group and personal digital design projects.

Our flexible modular teaching encourages students to explore their particular areas of interest through a rich array of elective modules.



Optional modules

In consultation with your postgraduate tutor, you will also choose one optional module (15 credits) aimed either to enhance understanding of a specific field of interest, or to develop the area of study in which the dissertation and/or subsequent PhD study will be based.

 These might include:

  • Reflections on Architectural Education
  • Building Environmental Simulation and Analysis
  • Building Information Modelling, Management and Analysis

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of changes the University will consult and inform students in good time and will take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Teaching staff

Teaching on this programme is delivered by world-leading experts and researchers in the field of digital design. In 2018-2019 the course is led by:

Dr Chengzhi Peng
Programme Director, Senior Lecturer, Architectural and Urban Computing

Dr Tsung-Hsien Wang
Lecturer, Sustainable Digital Design

Student experiences

Each year we attract excellent national and international postgraduate students to this School who all contribute to a socially vibrant and academically challenging environment. Our students produce work of the highest quality. Here they share their experiences of studying at the Sheffield School of Architecture.

Nazneen ChinikamwalaNazneen Chinikamwala
MSc in Digital Design and Interactive Built Environments*

Why did you decide to study this course at Sheffield?
There were a couple of reasons why I decided to pursue this course. The first was the course content, which was in line with where I wanted my career to go. Furthermore, the University's architecture department is regarded as one of the best in the UK. The deciding factor, though, was that the University of Sheffield has had one of the best student satisfaction rates for some years now.

What have you enjoyed about the course?
I enjoy how hands on and experimental the course is structured to be - there is a degree of freedom and flexibility to explore what we want to study with enough relevant tutorials and workshops to ground our studies in the theory and research of architectural issues.

What skills have you gained while studying in Sheffield?
Most notably, I have gained the skill of parametric designing and some knowledge of the use of programming languages towards approaching design solutions. Apart from academic achievements, my interpersonal skills have improved and I've gained immensely in confidence and cultural awareness.

How do you think your degree experience will help you in your career?
Learning the know-how of trending digital techniques and computationally tackling design issues to obtain best case scenarios are skills that will definitely add value to my CV and aid in potential career advancement.

How has studying at Sheffield informed the way you think about the subject?
Studying at Sheffield has been a progressive experience. I have had many of my beliefs about architecture positively challenged leading me to approach design issues in a holistic manner.

What advice would you give to a new Sheffield student?
Brush up on your world geography! Sheffield lives up to its reputation of an international campus and doubtless you will meet and make friends from countries you might not have noticed on the world map. Also, be prepared to step out of your comfort zone and try new experiences as the University offers many fulfilling and exciting opportunities to explore.

How should students make the most of University?
The University has some great services for students, from Give it a Go to International 'One-World' Cafes. These events are hotspots for making some great friends (possibly for life!) so go all out, have fun and make some amazing memories from these experiences.

What is your favourite thing about Sheffield?
The people. Sheffield-ites are warm, helpful and great conversationalists. You will never want for company in this city!

Reema KadriReema Kadri
MSc in Digital Design and Interactive Built Environments*

Why did you choose to study at Sheffield?
I chose to study at the University of Sheffield for many reasons - most importantly the consistent high ranking of its architectural department in the UK.

One of the major factors that lead to my decision was the programme offered - Digital Design and Interactive Built Environments** - as it is a relatively new field, and not commonly offered by universities at a masters level. I have also researched the resources and support provided by the University for students, and learned that the Students' Union is number 1 on a national scale - which has proven worthy of its ranking, I must say.

The University of Sheffield was highly recommended to me by several colleagues, not just for academic competence, but for the city itself. It is a safe, student city and it is quite easy to get around from place to place. The cost of living here is quite affordable in relation to its quality, and it has many international students from all over the world, so I immediately felt at home when I arrived. People here are very friendly and helpful, and in terms of socializing, one can easily live a lifestyle they are comfortable with due to the wide variety of activities, societies, and events offered by the Students' Union.

What career do you hope to pursue after graduating?
I hope to work in an international architectural firm as an architect specialising in digital tools and knowledge of interactive built environments. For now, my options of where I would like to work are still open, and this would depend on many factors, of which include the strength and reputation of the architectural firm. In the long run, with enough practice and experience, I aspire to establish my own firm, where opportunities for making a difference in the architectural realm would be greater.

What do you enjoy about the course?
What I enjoy most about the course is the learning of a wide variety of digital tools and programs, which are highly beneficial and relevant to architectural practice in the present and future. This skill-set I am acquiring should greatly improve job opportunities, quality of work, and will be an asset in any architectural firm I may work in.

I have just returned from a field trip to Switzerland, where I have visited several cities and universities. It was not only enjoyable but very educational and eye-opening to how the programme I am studying is applied both in the real-world, and academically in other countries.

What advice would you give to any new students thinking of studying at Sheffield?
My advice for prospective students would be to practice and gain some knowledge of the tools and materials to be studied and used throughout the academic year prior to arrival, as a 1 year masters course is very intensive in terms of time. My final piece of advice would be to think about areas of personal interest for potential thesis proposals prior to arrival, as this would greatly help in the decision of which optional modules one will enrol in, and which realm they would like to explore for the dissertation project.

View 2018 catalogue of student work

Digital Architecture students on field trip Digital Architecture students at Summer Exhibition

* Now MSc in Digital Architecture and Design