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Sarah O'Dwyer

Ms Sarah O'Dwyer


MSc Lecturer

Welsh School of Architecture



Sarah is Programme Leader for "Environmental Design of Buildings" MSc, and Senior Lecturer on the MSc suite of courses, contributing to several modules.  She is distance learning lead, providing academic and pastoral support to distance learners and providing specific support to the staff and stents involved in the distance learning version of the School’s Environmental Design of Buildings course. 

Sarah's research and teaching is focused on response to climate change design issues.  

She is currently the Vice-Chair of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI) Sustainability Task Force, having served as Chair from 2020-2022 and a member of the RIAI Education Task Force currently (2023) reviewing Irish architectural education competencies. 

In her previous practice work at KHArchitects (Clonmel, Ireland) and the interdisciplinary practice PLACE+U she worked on public housing, cluster housing guidelines, tourism and architectural master planning and age friendly neighbourhood schemes. 

Current research sees her working with TUDublin on an erasmus plus funded project "Arch4Change"  ( ) with 4 partner European universities; exploring the co-creation of an architectural climate emergency curriculum.

Her current PhD research also explores methods for integrating sustainability and climate change design theory into architectural education. 










My research centres on the use and incorporation of sustainable design practices and systems into all aspects of the built environment; and the creation of inclusive learning environments.  I have also undergone and submitted my Postgraduate Certificate in University Teaching and Learning and am interested in educational theory and its application to teaching to achieve an inclusive and successful learning environment for all my students.

Main research interests are therefore the barriers and drivers for the integration of sustainable design principles in the design process and the use and incorporation of sustainable design practices and systems into all aspects of the built environment; from design through planning to construction. 

I am also interested in Passive Design strategies in retrofit, design for circular economy and embodied carbon studies. 

My current PhD research studies the implementation of a new education and pedagogical process for an improved sustainable and climate responsive architectural curriculum.

I partnered with TU Dublin in a collaborative research Erasmus + bid with 4 other European institutions which was successfully granted in July 2020 ( ) which seeks to develop a cliamte emergency digital design curriculum and teaching tool kit. 

I have shared my experience to DL best practice teaching with staff in other departments and Universities.

I have strong links to industry as a current practitioner and through my role as Vice Chair  of RIAI Sustainability Task Force.


  • Postgraduate Certificate in University Teaching and Learning obtained in 2011
  • Highly experienced in delivering quality teaching and learing in distance learning and blended environments and supporting distance learners through their studies
  • Leader in environmental design projects including
    • site and cliamte analysis
    • passive design strategies (including in retrofit)
    • hybrid building services solutions
    • embodied energy and carbon accounting
    • circular economy strategies
  • Experience through Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader role in: 


    -          Contributing to the development of learning and teaching strategies.

    -          Developing and applying innovative and appropriate teaching techniques and material.

    -          Contributing to strategic planning and delivery of teaching programmes,

    -          Providing academic leadership to those working within programme.

    -          Contributing to the development of teams and individuals.

    -          Involvement in School /College level strategic planning.

    -          Leading and developing internal and external networks.

    -          Engagement with digital technologies to support student learning.


Sarah is an architect, educator and researcher focused on climate responsive design, curriculum for climate change design in architectural education and practitioner support for transitioin to climate responsive design. 

Honours and awards

Professional memberships

  • Member Irish Green Building Council (2022)
  • Architect accredited at Conservation, Grade 3 (2019)
  • Member Sustainability Task Force (since 2018)
  • Fellow Higher Education Academy (since 2012)
  • Member Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (since 2008)

Academic positions

  • Programme Leader “Environmental Design of Buildings” MSc (s2013- current)
  • Senior Lecturer (2020- current)
  • Lecturer (2013- 2020)
  • Distance Learning Tutor (2012-2013)
  • Teaching Assistant (2009-2012)

Speaking engagements


  • Workshop leader AAE Conference (2023) on role of precedent as pedagogical tool in architectural education (2023)
  • Presentation at UIA conference, Copenhagen on behalf of RIAI (2023) on response to carbon
  • Panel speaker at UIA onference, Copenhagen on architects role in decarbonizing. Hosted by Danfoss
  • Participant a Irish Green Building Council's 'Build up skills' workshop, on retrofit and sustainability skills required for the construction industry as a whole 
  • Workshop co-leader at an AIARG conference “‘Not Too Late’ Design Thinking for Ecological Futures”
  • Paper presented to Passive Low Energy Architecture (PLEA) “Evaluating Irish Architectural Education: towards integrated equitable design excellence in our cities (Nov 2022)
  • Panel speaker at Irish Governments Office of Government Procurement (OGP) Annual conference  (Nov 2022)
  • Panel speaker at RIAI Annual Conference (Nov 2022) 

Committees and reviewing

  • Organising committee AAE (Association of Architectural Educators) conference (2023)
  • Member RIAI Education standards review committee (2023)
  • Vice-Chair Sustainability Task Force (2021-2023)
  • Chair- RIAI Sustainability Task Force (2021-2023)
  • Reviewer on Scientific Committee PLEA (Passive Low Energy Architecture) Conference (since 2017)


  • Architectural design
  • Climate change processes
  • Climate change perceptions and engagement
  • Climate change impacts and adaptation
  • Curriculum and pedagogy

External profiles