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MSc Renewable Energy Development (RED)

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    Key information

    Mode of delivery
    Start date
    September, January, May
    Degree Qualification


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    Delivered through the International Centre for Island Technology, our Renewable Energy Development degree is designed to provide graduates with inter-related skills in the renewables sector. This programme will specifically address the need of renewable energy developers as they seek to maximise economic benefits whilst overcoming regulatory and environmental issues.

    The online MSc Renewable Energy Development (RED) is delivered through the International Island Technology (ICIT) on our Orkney campus. It has been designed around three key drivers of renewable energy development: policy and economics; technology; and the environment. The degree is designed to specifically address these key drivers of renewable energy development in the UK and abroad.

    The RED degree is relevant to people from a wide variety of backgrounds wishing to apply their knowledge and experience to the renewable energy industry. It aims to give you cross-cutting skills in the renewables sector. The degree addresses the needs of renewable energy developers as they seek to maximise economic benefits whilst balancing the challenges of overcoming regulatory and environmental issues, and securing finance. Teaching is reinforced with project work where emphasis is placed on simulating real working situations and international examples.

    Degree duration

    Online Learning: 2.5-8 years. On average, our PgDip studied via online learning are completed in 2-3 years, while MSc degree are completed in 3-8 years. Most students intend to complete their studies via online learning within 3-4 years.

    Delivery of online degrees

    Our course materials are made available online through the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE links you with our expert academics and course materials through videos, webinars, articles, journals, assessments and discussion boards. Tutors will provide you, by phone, Skype or email, with academic support similar to that received by our on-campus students.

    To find out more about time requirements, support and exams, view our How online learning works pages to find out more.

    Course content

    Year 1

    Heriot-Watt Online students in Renewable Energy Development undertake eight taught courses and MSc students are also required to complete a dissertation.

    Degree structure

    Any semester
    • Transition Engineering
    • Economics of Renewable Energy
    • Renewable Technology I: Generation
    • Renewable Technology II: Integration
    • Energy Transition
    • Energy Systems
    • Renewable Technology Commercialisation
    • Dissertation
    • Environmental Processes

    Detailed degree guide

    Understanding, Knowledge and Cognitive Skills

    Taught modules deliver core knowledge and understanding, for example: patterns of existing energy use; renewable resource distribution; and the current state of technology. Cognitive skills are developed through problem solving and the application of methods and models (e.g. EIA risk assessment, resource estimation economic appraisal techniques etc)

    Scholarship, Enquiry and Research (Research Informed Learning)

    Students are encouraged to read beyond the course material provided, and merit is given for this in assessments. Assignments are designed so that significant research is required beyond the information contained in the course notes and lectures. The dissertation requires the development and execution of a research methodology.

    Approaches to Teaching and Learning

    A variety of approaches are taken to teaching and learning. Conventional lectures are combined with problem solving tutorial sessions. Coursework is designed to develop problem solving skills rather than solely testing knowledge. Comprehensive notes accompany all lectures.

    IDL students are supplied with detailed course notes, these include: references for further reading (web based where possible); end of chapter questions with answers; a series of un-assessed study tasks which require research beyond the contents of the course material; a mock exam with model answers.

    Assessment Policies

    Assessment is based on a combination of examination, project work (65% project 35% exam). Course work involves a balance of individual and teamwork. Where team projects are used an effort is made to identify individual assigned elements for the purposes of assessment. Presentations and self evaluation tasks are also assessed and awarded credit. Feedback is provided on all assessments (usually this is written and individual).

    The DL course necessarily places more emphasis on examination (42% project 58% exam) with some modules being assessed 100% by examination. However a dissertation plus a project module ensures that a significant proportion of the assessment is non-examination.

    "MSc Renewable Energy Development will provide a holistic view of renewable energy within society and the natural world. Whatever your background, you should learn enough about the environment, technology, and the social and economic context of renewable energy to be able to converse with specialists from any discipline."
    Dr David Woolf,
    MSc Renewable Energy Development

    Fees and funding

    Tuition fees for entry

    Tuition fees
    Status Per course Dissertation/Project
    UK / EU / Overseas GBP1200 GBP1700

    Additional fee information

    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)

    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.
    • For postgraduate conversion courses, non-related degrees will be considered.
    • Corporate (or chartered) membership of relevant professional institutions will also be considered

    PG Diploma

    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 on Renewable Energy Development MSc undertake eight taught courses and a dissertation. Students must first take exams in two courses of the programmes, 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.

    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 ( 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)


    The RED degree is designed to provide graduates with inter-related skills in the renewables sector. It addresses the needs of renewable energy developers as they seek to maximise economic benefits whilst grappling with challenges of overcoming regulatory and environmental issues, and securing finance.

    Our graduates typically hold a wide spectrum of key positions within renewable energy technology developer companies, project development companies, utilities consultancies, governments, regulators and NGO's.

    Graduate profiles

    Visit our graduate profiles page to learn what some of our graduates said about their experiences studying for an MSc Renewable Energy Development at Heriot-Watt University.

    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 - Renewable Energy Development (RED)

    Our MSc in Renewable Energy Development (RED) is also available to study at our Orkney campus.

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