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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

CIVE2815 Building Physics 1: Fundamental Principles

10 creditsClass Size: 110

Module manager: Dr. Xiaoan Mao

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Module replaces

CIVE2810 - Building Services Engineering I

This module is not approved as a discovery module


The module will introduce the fundamental principles of building physics and their relationship to building design.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module students will be able to:

1. Understand the thermal environment within buildings that promotes energy efficiency;
2. Understand the acoustic environment in buildings relevant to sound and noise control;
3. Understand the photometric environment in buildings relevant to daylight and its integration with artificial light;
4. Understand the energy performance of buildings.

In addition, students completing this module will also have gained the knowledge, understanding, skills or abilities that contribute to achieving the following ARB General Criteria for Part 1:
• understand the constructional and structural systems, the environmental strategies and the regulatory requirements that apply to the design and construction of a comprehensive design project; GC1.2.
• the physical properties and characteristics of building materials, components and systems, and the environmental impact of specification choices; GC8.3.
• principles associated with designing optimum visual, thermal and acoustic environments; GC9.1
• systems for environmental comfort realised within relevant precepts of sustainable design; GC9.2.
• strategies for building services, and ability to integrate these in a design project; GC9.3.


This module introduces students to the fundamental principles of building physics. Development of understanding these principles is set in the context of understanding human environmental demands and the relationships to climatic conditions and the design constraints imposed by minimizing carbon emissions. Students’ development of understanding of these fundamental principles enables them to both define and interpret design objectives in terms of thermal, air quality, visual and acoustic environments as well as the broader sustainability constraints.

The lecture programme gives similar weight to the fundamental basis of thermal, acoustic and photometric physical processes along with energy flows. Students develop analytical and problem -solving skills to enable them to make essential design calculations with respect to heat losses, artificial and daylight levels, heating energy demands and acoustic conditions. These theoretical foundations are supplemented by practical examples and data to relate the calculations to realistic design problems.

The understanding of fundamental principles, design conditions and essential calculations methods provides a sound basis for making decisions about environmental design and sustainability requirements that is put into practice in the designs explored by students working in parallel on the module Design Studio 2 (CIVE2860).

Topics studied include:

1) HEAT TRANSFER: Thermal comfort, Elementary heat transfer, steady state and unsteady heat transfer in buildings, ventilation, psychometrics.

2) ACOUSTICS: Units and definitions, basic laws, nature of waves, measurement of sound, absorption, reverbertation time & room acoustics, sound transmission, traffic noise, noise control.

3) LIGHTING: Units and definitions, basic laws, daylighting, daylight factors and prediction, effects of fenestration, artificial illumination, simple design methods.

4) ENERGY: Drivers for energy efficiency, degree day method, insulation and building fabric.

Typical reading materials for this module include:
Baker, N. and Steemers, K. (1999). Energy and Environment in Architecture: A Technical Design Guide. Taylor and Francis.
Banham, R. (1983). The Architecture of the Well-tempered Environment. MIT Press.
Chadderton, D.V (2010). Building Services Engineering.
de Saulles, T. (2000). An illustrated guide to building services: comfort systems. BRE.
Jankovic, L. (2012). Designing Zero Carbon Buildings Using Dynamic Simulation Methods. Routledge.
McMullen, R. (2012) Environmental Science in Building (7th edition). London: Palgrave MacMillan.
Szokolay, S. V. (2010). Introduction to architectural science. The basis of sustainable design (2nd edition). Oxford: Architectural Press, Elsevier.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Revision Class21.002.00
Private study hours70.00
Total Contact hours30.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Background reading - 10 hours
Coursework - 10 hours
Reflection on lectures and self-study questions in notes - 26 hours
Revision - 26 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Examination and problem sheet

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
ReportLab Report30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)30.00

Resit 100% exam

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc) 2 hr 70.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)70.00

Resit 100% exam

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:52:55


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