Home' The Good Universities Guide : The Good Universities Guide 2015 Contents BUILT ENVIRONMENT 77
What majors can I study?
The following are just some of the majors you can study in this
What you’re in for
This is a small field as far as student numbers go, but its scope is
huge. 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 focus on its
Between them, the courses in this field 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:
• the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects:
• the Australian Institute of Building: www.aib.org.au
• the Design Institute of Australia: www.dia.org.au
• the Planning Institute of Australia: www.planning.org.au.
Other fields of study likely to appeal to someone interested in
built environment are 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 a 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 look around to see how
much practical experience is offered 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 where
there is projected property development or population growth.
Getting into these courses has become more challenging in
the last few 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.
A new degree structure, which has already been established in
some fields at selected institutions, has the potential to become
more common in some areas of built environment. The structure
follows a US-style model where undergraduates enter a general
pre-professional degree (perhaps in design or applied science)
and then transfer to a postgraduate qualification in their
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
Transport in 2013, found that more than three-quarters of
Australians live in one of 18 Australian cities with a population of
100,000 people or more, making Australia the most urbanised
nation in the world behind city-states such as Singapore and
Monaco. The report highlighted the need for sustainable practice,
something that has been echoed by ALIA, which has called on
governments and built environment professionals to promote
awareness of green infrastructure and allocate funding to its
protection, management and maintenance.
Urban and regional
To find out which institutions have courses with these specialisations, use
the Index on page 408.
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