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Dr James Norman

Dr James Norman

Dr James Norman
M.Eng.(Nott.), PhD(Bristol), CEng MICE

Associate Professor in Sustainable Design

Area of research

Timber, sustainable materials and dynamics

Office QB2.29
Queen's Building,
University Walk, Clifton BS8 1TR
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 954 5269



James is an Associate Professor with 15 years teaching experience and 12 years experience working in industry. James is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy, was awarded a National Teaching Fellowship (2020), has given a Best of Bristol lecture and has been awarded a Golden Apple teaching award.

James is passionate about teaching and absolutely loves it. He teaches on all aspects of design from concrete to rammed earth as well as being involved in third year research projects and final year design projects. James recently complete a BILT (Bristol Institute of Learning and Teaching) Fellowship where he carried out research into rethinking learning space. He is currently School Education Director and was previously Programme Director for Civil Engineering (2016-2019) and Senior Tutor (2015-2016).

James is currently supervising one PhD student who is carrying out research on bamboo connections. He has authored a book on the scheme design of timber buildings (TRADA, currently in it’s second edition) another on the Conceptual design of Buildings (IStructE, 2020) and sits on the BSi committee for the Strucrtural use of Timber. 

Prior to becoming a full time teacher James has worked on a variety of projects in a range of different materials including steel, concrete, glass, timber, rammed earth and aluminium. He has worked on very large projects including the Herzog & De Meuron designed extension to the Tate modern and the new campus buildings for Oxford Brookes University, which won 2 RIBA awards. He has also worked on very small projects including a glass table at the Tate in St Ives, a rammed earth wedding venue and cross laminated timber house.

James was an associate at Integral Engineering Design, a small Bath based practice who specialise in renewable and low energy materials including timber, rammed earth and straw bale as well as more traditional materials.  

Previously James was a technical associate at Ramboll, a large multinational practice, where he also headed up research and development and supervised a research project looking at structural lime concrete.

James did a PhD in structural dynamics at Bristol University where he looked at the efects of earthquakes on long span bridges. His work included both numerical and experimental studies. He remains research active through a number of different research projects and regularly supports research grant applications.


James has been lecturing at Bristol University since 2004, when he started to teach Structural Design. He has written courses on sustainable materials looking at both the wider issues of sustainability and also the more detailed requirements of designing straw, rammed earth, unfired masonry and low carbon concrete and a masters level unit on Timber Engineering. He is regularly involved in both third year research projects and final year design projects. He is passionate about design and particularly enjoys discussing design concepts with final year students struggling to understand how they might make their design work.

James has also been involved in a number of public engagement projects from teaching 4 year olds about cable stayed bridges to members of the women’s institute about earthquake engineering.

James is passionate about teaching and design and tries to draw from his own experience to help enrich the student’s experience. He regularly uses photos of real projects and tries to always ground the technical work by presenting real life examples of when it may be used.

James has recently become a fellow of the HEA and was awarded a golden apple teaching award for his teaching.


  • Timber
  • Sustainability
  • Dynamics
  • Rammed Earth
  • Pedagogy of learning space



Department of Civil Engineering

Cabot Institute

Other sites

Research Groups

Recent publications

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system


Dr Norman currently teaches 5 courses:

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