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MSc Marine Renewable Energy

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    Key information

    Mode of delivery
    Start date
    September, January, May


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    This MSc is designed as a multidisciplinary transition degree relevant to students from a wide variety of backgrounds wishing to apply their knowledge and experience in the renewable energy industry.

    The taught part of the degree addresses the technical, environmental and economic drivers that are shaping the marine renewable energy industry. An individual research project then allows students to specialise in a topic of their choice.

    The degree team has strong links with stakeholders in marine renewables and has unique experience and expertise gained at the geographical heart of marine renewables in the UK. A strong emphasis is placed on project work that simulates real working situations and international examples.

    Degree duration

    Online Learning: 3 - 8 years. On average, our PgDip courses studied via online learning are completed in 2-3 years, while MSc courses are completed in 3-7 years. Most students intend to complete their studies via online learning within 2-3 years.

    Graduate profiles

    Visit our Graduate Profiles page to learn what some of our graduates said about their experiences studying a MSc in Marine Renewable Energy at Heriot-Watt University. 

    Course content

    Year 1

    Heriot-Watt Online students in Marine Renewable Energy MSc undertake eight taught courses and a dissertation. There are three core taught courses with five further taught courses that can be chosen from a list of online options. Students must first take exams in two courses of the degree Introduction to Marine Planning and Marine Renewable Energy Technology. Based on the results from these courses students will continue on the degree at MSc or at PG Diploma level.

    Degree structure

    Any semester
    • Introduction to Marine Planning
    • Marine Renewable Energy Technology 
    • Renewable Technology Commercialisation
    • Climate Change, Sustainability and Adaption
    • Economics of Renewable Energy
    • Environmental Processes
    • Marine Resources and Sustainability 
    • Oceanography
    • Transition Engineering - Achieving zero carbon InTIME
    • Energy Transition Lab
    • Future Energy Systems in Buildings, Transport and Infrastructure
    • GIS for Marine and Environmental Scientists 
    • Integration of Renewable Technology 
    • Practical Skills in Marine Surveying (fieldwork course)
    • Tropical Coral Reef Monitoring and Management (fieldwork course)

    Detailed degree guide

    Understanding, Knowledge and Cognitive Skills


    The programme is designed around the three themes of policy, environment and technology. It is specifically designed to give students the best possible understanding of the marine energy sector and the markets and technological context within which the sector is developing.


    The programme will deliver key knowledge particularly in the field of: legislation; policy; device design; energy use and energy statistics.

    Cognitive Skills:

    The programme will test numeracy (financial appraisal and technology); analytical skills (policy and data analysis). Furthermore emphasis is placed on the synthesis of different skill sets and knowledge in the form of integrated projects which draw on various aspects of programme.

    Scholarship, Enquiry and Research (Research Informed Learning)

    Enquiry and research skills will be developed and enhanced during course assignments, study tasks and tutorials as well as the Development Project (A11DP). However the principal platform for scholarship, enquiry and research is the dissertation. Equivalent to four courses (60 SQIF credits) the dissertation is a student led piece of research. Supervisory support will help with the selection of the dissertation topic and the project design.

    Approaches to Teaching and Learning

    A variety of approaches are taken to teaching and learning. On campus students experience traditional lectures and tutorials (however, interaction is always encouraged in class), supported by notes and other documents and material on Vision. IDL students study more independently, relying on notes and material contained in Vision. However, the IDL notes include Study Tasks (STs). STs require IDL students to undertake some independent research and self-guided learning, which introduce diversity in the learning process and the development of independent research skills as well as provide useful revision for exams. ST's help students contextualise course material and provide opportunities for overseas students to situate the learning material in particular cultural or national contexts. Academic staff involved in the programme regularly use VC to deliver lectures.

    Assessment Policies

    Assessment is through a variety of continuous assessment and formal examination. The proportion of continuous assessment to exams varies slightly between DL provision and on campus this is because of the relatively greater number of opportunities for continuous assessment with on-campus students:

    Continuous assessment/examination split:

    • On campus: 60%/40%
    • DL: 40%/60%

    As noted above project work involves students delivering work in a variety of different formats in response to different assignment scenarios. This may involve group projects, oral presentation, professional reports, formal academic essays and research dissertations. Some assignments require students to provide a reflective summary of their team's efforts and their own personal performance. Other opportunities are taken for group reflection on assignments.

    Examinations use a variety of question formats including essays, short answer, multiple choice and numerical questions

    Fees and funding

    Tuition fees

    Tuition fees
    Status Per course [footnote 1] Dissertation/Project [footnote 1]
    UK / EU / Overseas GBP1235 GBP1750
    1. The tuition fees listed are for courses starting between September 2023 and August 2024. Fees normally increase annually. Find out more about our tuition fees.

    Additional fee information

    Additional Fee Information

    The fee for optional courses Practical Skills in Marine Surveying and Marine Resource and Sustainability is £1,660. The fee for optional course Tropical and Coral Reefs: Monitoring and Management is £2,260. The fee for these courses is higher as they include field trips. The fee for all other courses and the dissertation is as indicated in the table above.

    Financial support

    Tuition fee loans are available to Scottish distance learning students on some taught postgraduate courses. Find out more from the Students Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS).

    Scholarships and bursaries

    We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Each year, hundreds of students enhance their educational experience through a variety of Heriot-Watt and externally funded scholarships, including opportunities funded by the University's generous alumni community, based all over the world.

    View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.

    Entry requirements

    Masters (MSc) level entry applicants must have one of the following:

    • Minimum of 2:2 honours degree or equivalent academic qualification in a related subject area
    • Corporate (or chartered) membership of relevant professional institutions will also be considered

    PG Diploma level entry applicants

    PG Diploma level entry applicants must have an ordinary degree in a related subject area and relevant post qualification industry experience.

    Heriot-Watt Online students in Marine Renewable Energy MSc undertake eight taught courses, MSc students are also required to complete a dissertation. Students must first take exams in two courses of the programme, Economics of Renewable Energy and Energy in the 21st Century. Based on the results from these courses students continue on the programme at MSc or at PG Diploma level. If a student can demonstrate that they have already mastered the subject, they may undertake a Development Project instead of one of these courses.

    Candidates who do not meet the above entry requirements or have no formal academic qualifications will be considered individually based on their CV and possibly interview. Admission via this route will be at the discretion of the Director of Recruitment.

    Recognition of Prior Learning

    We are committed to providing study opportunities to applicants who have a wide range of prior experiences through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). For more information on RPL, please contact the Online Admissions Team (egis-idl-apps@hw.ac.uk) ahead of application. We can only consider requests for RPL at the time of application to a course of study. 

    English language requirements

    If English is not the applicant's first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above. Please refer to English language requirements for further details.

    Some applicants may be asked for alternative evidence in line with UKVI recognised English speaking countries. Applicants who have previously successfully completed courses delivered in the medium of English language may be considered and will be required to provide documentary evidence of this. Examples would be secondary school education or undergraduate degree. A minimum of at least one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required.

    All evidence of English language needs to be dated within two years of the start of study.

    We also offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your master's programme:

    • 20 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with no skill lower than 4.5)
    • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no more than one skill at 4.5)
    • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum of 5.0 in all skills)
    • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with minimum of 5.5 in reading and writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking and listening)

    Additional information

    Online learning students

    Please note that independent distance learning students who access their studies online will be expected to have access to a PC/laptop and internet.


    Marine planning, including spatial planning, is a fast developing discipline of global interest with excellent employment prospects. It has the ambition to promote sustainable development of the Blue Economy and mitigate the effects of climate change. The international "Blue Growth Agenda" anticipates increasing economic activity and employment from maritime industries as diverse as offshore oil and gas, renewable energy, aquaculture, biotechnologies, artificial islands, deep sea mining and tourism. The increase in activity requires increased vigilance in marine protection and conservation.

    Potential career paths

    • Marine development companies
    • Utilities
    • Consultancies
    • Governments
    • Regulators
    • NGOs

    Why Heriot-Watt?

    Flexibility and affordability

    Study at a time and pace that suits you, and even while you work. HW Online offers pay-as-you-study courses and fees inclusive of exams and study materials, meaning you can focus on success, not extra costs.

    Your career

    Employers around the world actively seek out our graduates because they are work-ready. All our degrees are career-focused and relevant to the needs of industry. Around 95% of our students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating.

    Online events

    We host online events throughout the year, giving you the opportunity to speak to our academic teaching staff, meet students, find out what it is like to study using our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and discover how to enrol.

    Lifelong connections

    Upon completing your studies you will automatically join the UK's oldest alumni association The Watt Club, with 147k members worldwide.

    Study options Orkney - Marine Renewable Energy

    Our MSc in Marine Renewable Energy is also available to study at our Orkney campus.

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