Research degrees


Full-time and part-time research degree students studying and conducting research at SuRBe benefit from engaging and sharing in the multi-disciplinary applied projects with Welsh, UK and international industry and government partners.

As SuRBe works across disciplines in the built environment and other sectors, students also benefit from a transdisciplinary process to research and changes in organisational and professional practice, solving some of the challenges facing society.

SuRBe offers all its research students a rich and challenging setting to engage with environmental, social, cultural, economic, political and scientific matters through applied research and innovation in architecture, the built environment and engineering.

There are five research-degree options for applicants to consider in order to be supervised by SuRBe staff:

  • full-time or part-time Master of Research (MRes);
  • full-time or part-time Doctor of Philosophy (PhD);
  • part-time, professional doctorates:
    • Doctor of Engineering (DEng);
    • Doctor of Professional Practice (DProf);
    • Doctor of Sustainable Built Environment (DSBE).

Master of Research (MRes)

The MRes, is aimed at candidates with a undergraduate degree qualification, and little or no research experience. There is seminar-based teaching combined with online delivery and assessment. So candidates can be on campus and/or study from a remote location. With SuRBe staff support we support our students to work both multi-disciplinary and transdisciplinary, with expertise drawn from architecture, the built environment and engineering; and also any other research disciplines, commercial and community sectors in society around the world and other research centres across the wider University.

SuRBe MRes students have the opportunity to collaborate on applied live projects with partners, supervised by our team of experienced researchers.

To apply for an MRes within SuRBe, please follow the Art & Design – MRes link:–Design.aspx.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The PhD is aimed at candidates who already have a postgraduate qualification that included a research element, and wish to either develop their postgraduate thesis into a PhD, or to investigate a new topic related to the expertise available within SuRBe and its partners. The aim of a PhD is to undertake an original and sustained research project that leads to a significant contribution to knowledge. PhD projects within SuRBe often have real-world importance and an element of collaboration with an industry partner.

Completed projects supervised by SuRBe staff include:

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of exterior wall insulation to reduce fuel poverty in existing homes in Wales’ (link to, 2015;
  • Developing models for low carbon and ecological dwellings in Wales‘ (link to, 2017.

Current PhD projects include:

  • How effective are earth to air heat exchangers in tempering outdoor air in the climate zone of interior British Columbia, Canada‘ (Trevor Butler);
  • Developing guidance for the management of Government funded dwelling retrofit programmes, for improved occupant quality of life‘ (Denis Jahic);
  • Developing Systemized Offsite Manufactured Timber Typologies from Welsh Supply Chain: Enabling the Transition to Nearly Zero Carbon Homes‘ (Francesco Zaccaro);
  • Developing, Testing and Validating a Cardiff Living Technical Design Guide for Nearly/Zero Energy Dwellings for Sale and Rent.’ (Tansy Duncan);
  • A Novel Approach to Controlling Outdoor Light Pollution by Adopting Smart Science and Technology to Improve Residents Quality of Life in the Built Environment.’ (Uthayan Thurairajah).

To apply for a PhD within SuRBe, please follow the Art & Design – Research Degree Link:

Professional Doctorates

The DEng, DProf or DSBE is aimed at candidates who are working and have several years’ experience in professional practice within a SuRBe discipline. The central focus of a Professional Doctorate is to investigate change to address a gap/problem in either organisational and/or professional practice.

Candidates choose to explore one of three categories of change:

  • proposing, implementing, and evaluating change within the professional context;
  • evaluating change that is already happening within the professional context;
  • gaining a better understanding of the professional context to propose change.

Completed DEng projects supervised by SuRBe staff include:

  • Development of a Conceptual Framework and Key Performance Indicators for Energy Management in Production Operations, in Precision Engineering Companies in Ireland’ (Dr John Cosgrove, link to, 2018;
  • Implementation and Evaluation of an Outdoor Water Conservation Strategy for Hospital Decarbonisation in an Arid Climate‘ (Dr Geraldine Seguela, link to, 2019.

Current DEng and DSBE projects include:

  • Assessing the impact of enhanced energy performance standards on the thermal performance of masonry construction dwellings, in the United Arab Emirates‘ (Rahma Haggi);
  • ‘Circular economy and waste reduction in OSM‘ (Verity Moorhouse);
  • Developing and Validating an Active Building Protocol‘ (Joanna Clarke); ‘Developing strategies for wider stock housing retrofit in the UK, from the analysis of survey databases that reflects field observations from prototype monitoring schemes‘ (Jon Moorhouse);
  • Post-Occupancy Evaluation of Delight in the Design of Schools‘ (Phil Grant);
  • Can Frank Lloyd Wright’s organic architecture principles provide guidance within the current design process and deliver benefits within the USA‘ (Kevin Renz);
  • Devising and implementing a tool for assessing cost effective retrofit measures to reduce energy usage and mitigate occupant fuel poverty in registered social landlords with greater than 5000 dwellings‘ (Adam West).

To apply for a DEng, DProf, or DSBE within SuRBe, please follow the Art & Design – Research Degree Link:

More information on Professional Doctorates can be found on Cardiff Metropolitan University’s main website:

Approaches used by SuRBe researchers have become embedded in the undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum in Cardiff School of Art and Design, and within the University-wide Professional Doctorate programme. For example, biophyllic design, earth sheltered housing design and construction, environmental sustainability, circular economy, building-performance assessment, offsite manufacturing of modern methods of timber frame technology, applied primary research methods, and change management. In the School, these topics have been embedded in a range of disciplines including Architectural Design and Technology, Fashion Design, Interior Design, Product Design, Graphic Design, Textile Design and even Fine Art.

Though their active engagement in collaborate industry/government projects we encourage our students to practice a rigour of ethics and to respond intelligently to multi-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary collaboration; and as such we have our own research ethics protocol for projects from undergraduate, masters and doctoral levels of research.

To support our SuRBe research degree students, we have created a range of both academic and pastoral support, and this includes a twice monthly Wednesday afternoon meeting in Microsoft Teams, or Zoom; and we also have a WhatsApp group. In the SuRBe meetings, there is an opportunity for research students to present their work, discuss queries or challenges that they face, and share best practice – together with SuRBe supervisors, in any topic related to their projects and research methods. We also have invited speakers, the latest was in June 2021 from Professor Lloyd Scott, who works for The Technical University of Dublin; and who gave an interesting presentation on ‘Addressing Sustainability: The Case for Higher Rise Construction in Ireland’.

SuRBe is committed to developing new and emerging researchers that are based in Wales, the UK and internationally, and we already engage with students and our doctoral graduates in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, abd The United Arab Emirates.


If you are thinking of undertaking a research degree, do not hesitate to get in touch with us:

  • for general enquiries, MRes and PhD, please contact Dr John Littlewood (, Prof Carolyn Hayles ( or Dr Fausto Sanna (;
  • for Professional Doctorates, please contact Dr John Littlewood (, Cardiff School of Art & Design Professional Doctorate Coordinator.

We look forward to discussing your research ideas and interests, and the type of research degree that would be best suited for you.