Home' The Good Universities Guide : The Good Universities Guide 2017 Contents BUILT ENVIRONMENT 79
What majors can I study?
The following are just some of the majors you can study in this
What you’re in for
The term ‘built environment’ refers to everything that is man-
made, as opposed to a part of the natural environment. This
includes the objects inside our homes and businesses, as well as
our buildings, communities and cities. Built environment is a
multidisciplinary field, meaning that it covers a range of diverse
disciplines that can be found in different faculties or schools at
universities. Specialisations differ considerably in the approach
they take to the constructed environment. Some are concerned
with building it; others, with its sale, management or
maintenance. Some consider how to sustain it, while others
concentrate on its creation.
Between them, built environment courses attract the recognition
and accreditation of a number of different professional bodies.
Depending on the specific field you choose, your course should
be recognised by one or several professional associations. Refer
to the following websites for more information:
Australian Institute of Landscape Architects
Australian Institute of Building (www.aib.org.au)
Design Institute of Australia (www.design.org.au)
Planning Institute of Australia (www.planning.org.au)
Urban Development Institute of Australia
Other fields of study likely to appeal to someone interested in built
environment include architecture, business and management,
creative arts, engineering and technology, environmental studies,
humanities and social sciences, and surveying.
Courses and specialisations
Courses are divided roughly into four sub-fields: design,
construction, planning and property. Design degrees include
industrial and interior design and landscape architecture, all of
which lead into specific occupations. Degrees in planning
(whether town planning, regional planning or urban planning) also
lead into a distinct profession concerned with the big picture —
how our towns and cities are formed and developed.
Specialisations in property are often found in business or
commerce degrees and can lead to careers in property
management, sales or valuation. Jobs in property are not only
found in real estate agencies, but also in private companies with
large property portfolios. If you want to learn about construction
and project management, a degree with a focus in building and
construction may be the best choice for you.
All of these courses have some kind of technical element. It will
be stronger in construction and design, but even planners and
property managers will need some knowledge of the way things
are built and maintained. In property there is a strong business
focus, and planning often includes some social science elements.
At the other end of the spectrum are courses in interior and
industrial design and landscape architecture, which demand a
certain degree of artistic flair.
Where to study
Before making a decision, you should find out how much practical
experience is offered in each course and consider whether you
want to gain that experience in one location or another. You might
choose a regional area, a tropical area or perhaps one with
projected property development or population growth.
Getting into these courses has become more challenging in
recent years. Prerequisites often include English, mathematics
and — for design-based courses — art and design. Other
subjects may be required or recommended depending on the
niche you choose.
To compare entry difficulty at different institutions, see the ‘How
tough is it to get in?’ tables in Section 4.
Issues relating to urban design and development are of
increasing importance as Australian cities experience rapid
population growth. The most recent State of Australian Cities
report, released by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional
Development in 2015, places particular emphasis on increased
transport demand, highlighting increased traffic flow across
Australia’s transport system, including airports, ports, roads and
rail. The report identifies the need for long-term planning to
anticipate and address this growing demand for transport, find
efficient ways to use current infrastructure and assess future
Meanwhile, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects has
called on the federal government to invest in the ‘urban greening’
of Australian cities. Released in 2016, its national five-point plan
includes establishing an investment fund for green infrastructure
projects; ensuring green infrastructure is formally recognised as
an asset by the Treasury; removing barriers and accelerating new
projects and policies for greening; re-examining the role and
design of road corridors in a ‘Grey to Green’ pilot program; and
To compare built environment courses, please see the
Innovation and design
Urban and regional
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