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Unit outline_

DESC9200: Introduction to Architectural Science

Semester 2, 2023 [Block mode] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

This unit aims to explore the scientific concepts of architectural science (including heat, light and sound) from which foundational principles and methods applicable to buildings are developed. It is divided into different topics, including climate, thermal environment, lighting, and acoustics. Students will gain an understanding of the terminology, physical values and metrics in each of these topics, and how they apply to the design and function of buildings. Theoretical models to predict key physical values in buildings are presented and used in assessments. Learning is supported by hands-on measurement exercises. This unit has a focused pedagogy intended for all graduate students in Architectural Science. It is a common core unit for all of the programs (Audio and Acoustics, High Performance Buildings, Illumination Design and Sustainable Design). Students within these programs should undertake this unit in their first semester of study if possible.

Unit details and rules

Academic unit Architectural and Design Science
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Jungsoo Kim,
Lecturer(s) Anir Upadhyay,
Emrah Baki Ulas,
Jungsoo Kim,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Assignment 2: Building performance assessment - heat transfer and urban microclimate
Due date: 06 Nov 2023 at 23:59
No more than 8 pages in A4 size
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment Assignment 1: Building performance assessment - acoustics and lighting
50% Week 09
Due date: 04 Oct 2023 at 23:59
No more than 8 pages in A4 size
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6

Assessment summary

  • Assignment 1. Building performance assessment - acoustics and lighting: The goal of this assignment is to understand the fundamental principles of building science (light and sound). You will make observations and take instrumental measurements to analyse acoustic/lighting properties of a space.
  • Assignment 2. Building performance assessment - heat transfer and urban microclimate: The goal of this assignment is to understand the fundamental principles of building science (heat). You will make observations and take instrumental measurements to analyse heat tranfer through the envelope of a building / urban microclimate conditions of a site.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2021 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

Work submitted after the deadline will incur a penalty of 5% of the total marks earned for the assessment per calendar day. Work submitted 20 calendar days or more after the deadline will not be assessed and will receive a mark of zero.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 02 1.Acoustics - basic concepts; 2. Room acoustics; 3. Materials and noise. Lecture (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Tutorial activities - acoustics Tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO5 LO6
Week 03 1. Introduction to lighting design; 2. Measurement of light and lighting; 3. Lighting technologies; 4. Lighting standards and practice considerations. Lecture (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Tutorial activities - lighting Tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO5 LO6
Week 05 1. Building retrofit strategies and case studies Lecture (7 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 10 1. Energy and built environment; 2. Heat transfer mechanisms in buildings Lecture (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Tutorial activities - building heat transfer Tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO5 LO6
Week 11 1. Cimate concepts; 2. Urban microclimate and buildings. Lecture (4 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Tutorial activities - urban microclimate Tutorial (3 hr) LO2 LO5 LO6

Attendance and class requirements

Please refer to the Resolutions of the University School: University of Sydney School of Architecture Design and Planning Faculty Resolutions 2022

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings



Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand the fundamental principles of Architectural Science (including heat, light, wind and sound)
  • LO2. understand the principles of measurement and of selection and calibration of instrumentation
  • LO3. understand the principles of prediction of performances through calculations and/or simulations and how to apply those principles to case studies analysis
  • LO4. demonstrate an improvement in the ability of critical thinking and of critical analysis of evidence
  • LO5. integrate the knowledge in the field of Architectural Science and apply it in the individual areas of interests
  • LO6. improve the ability to critically and synthetically analyse the issues, and to efficaciously communicate the technical information.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Changes to assignment structure have been made in response to USS feedback received in the past years.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.