Applied Studies (APST) 230

Materials, Properties, and Applications (Revision 2)


Revision 2 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

**Note: APST 230: Materials, Properties, and Applications is intended for students enrolled in the BSc (Architecture) program at the RAIC Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University. For those students interested in pursuing a career as a registered architect, this course also contributes to the RAIC Syllabus Diploma.

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Applied Studies

Prerequisite: None

Centre: RAIC Centre for Architecture

Faculty: Faculty of Science & Technology

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**Note: Students should be aware that this course requires numerous visits to building sites and students should ensure that they can have access to such sites before they begin the course.


APST230 introduces characteristics of construction materials and discusses their appropriate application. Throughout this course students will examine building systems, assemblies, components and material characteristics and will learn to analyze and identify materials, the impact of environmental factors on materials, and the impact that building materials have on the environment, occupant health, and the sustainability of resources.

Designers have an enormous impact on the environment. The architect’s design decisions and selection of materials have an impact on every aspect of the building, from its presence in the urban fabric to the operation of the ventilation system. It is imperative that members of architecture profession understand the impact of their art and craft and become stewards of a sustainable future.

Course Outline

PART 1 The Context of Building: Site and Substructure

  • Unit 1 Concepts in Sustainable Design
  • Unit 2 Site Analysis, Evaluation, and Design
  • Unit 3 Building Substructures- also a part of the Building Envelope

PART 2 Structural Systems and Materials

  • Unit 4 Wood and Wood Structural Systems
  • Unit 5 Masonry Systems: Brick, Block, and Stone
  • Unit 6 Steel Frame Construction
  • Unit 7 Concrete

PART 3 Envelope Systems and Materials

  • Unit 8 Building Envelope: Cladding Systems
  • Unit 9 Building Envelope: Glazing, Windows, and Doors
  • Unit 10 Building Envelope: Roofing Systems

PART 4 Interior Materials and Finishing; Environmental Systems

  • Unit 11 Interior Materials and Finishing
  • Unit 12 Building Services

Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, students should be able to achieve the following learning objectives:

  1. Describe the functions and characteristics of common building systems and assemblies, including building envelope, structure, environmental management systems, and building services systems.
  2. Discuss the characteristics of building components and materials including function, physical properties, grades, life cycle economics, embodied energy, availability, and the impact that materials’ production, use, and disposal has on the environment.


Students work will be evaluated on the basis of eight assignments. The four major assignments consist of essays, field reports, and video and/or multimedia presentations; four smaller assignments require drawing and/or interpretation of construction details or reports.

The grading weights for all assignments are summarized in the table below

Units Covered Assessment % of Total Grade
1-3 Assignment 1 5%
  Assignment 2 20%
4-7 Assignment 3 5%
  Assignment 4 20%
8-10 Assignment 5 5%
  Assignment 6 20%
11-12 Assignment 7 5%
  Assignment 8 20%
Total Grade   100%

A final course grade of 67% or higher is required to pass the course.

Note that students who wish to be certified by the CACB must achieve and maintain a final grade point average of 2.3 (67%) or greater.

There is no final examination for this course.

Course Materials


Allen, E.,& Iano, J. (2014). Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods, 6th ed. New York: Wiley. E-text.

Lechner, N. (2009). Heating, cooling, lighting: Sustainable design methods for architects, 3rd ed. New York: Wiley. Print.

Course Home Page (online): The course home page houses all the online components of your course.

Study Schedule (online): The study schedule on your course home page includes the Course Information, the twelve units of the Study Guide, links to the online readings, and links to your assignments.

Course Information (online): The Course Information provides specific information about how to proceed through the course. Read the Course Information carefully before you begin reading the Study Guide.

Study Guide (online): The Study Guide units are embedded in the Study Schedule on the course home page.

Assignments (online): The assignments are on the course home page, along with helpful instructions.

Student Manual (online): The Undergraduate Student Handbook contains essential information on administrative and academic procedures for students.

Forms: Forms you may need are available through the myAU portal.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 2, January 6, 2017.

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