The online MSc Renewable Energy Development (RED) is delivered through the International Centre for 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 programme is designed to specifically address these key drivers of renewable energy development in the UK and abroad.
The RED programme 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 programme 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.
Read more in this programme guide to Renewable Energy Development.
Online Learning: 2.5-8 years. On average, our PgDip programmes studied via online learning are completed in 2-3 years, while MSc programmes are completed in 3-8 years. Most students intend to complete their studies via online learning within 3-4 years.
Flexible study options
The online Renewable Energy Development programme has been designed with flexibility in mind. It is ideal for those in employment or with other commitments, providing flexible study options that fit around work or family. Some features that our students value include:
- MSc degrees can be completed between 2½ - 8 years, depending on your pace of study.
- You have up to two years to complete an individual course (or module) after registering for the course.
- You can choose to sit exams in one of 450 exam centres around the world. Exam centres are present in most major cities.
- Courses are paid for on a ‘pay-as-you-study’ basis, allowing you to spread the payments across the duration of your degree.
The MSc Renewable Energy Development can also be studied on-campus full-time or part-time.
Delivery of online programmes
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.
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.
Register your interest
The MSc/Postgraduate Diploma in Renewable Energy Development comprises eight taught courses. MSc students are also required to complete a Masters dissertation.
Energy in the 21st Century
This course is designed to give you a broad understanding of the environmental, political and socio-economic context for current developments in renewable energy. The course examines the extent of current energy resources and how energy markets function. It covers some energy basics you will need for the rest of the course (e.g. thermodynamics, efficiency conversions) as well as environmental issues associated with energy use, climate change and the political and policy challenges involved in managing energy supply and achieving energy security.
Economics of renewable energy
This course gives an understanding of the economic principles and mechanisms which affect energy markets today. It covers price mechanisms, the economics of extracting energy and the cost-efficiency of renewable energy technologies. You will learn about economic instruments used by policy-makers to address environment and energy issues, economic incentives to stimulate renewable energy development and about environmental valuation.
Environmental Policy & Risk
This course explores the legal and policy context in which renewable energy is being exploited. You will gain an understanding of international law, particularly the Law of the Sea, property rights and how these relate to different energy resources. The course also looks at regulatory issues at the international, European and UK level, which affect how energy developments are taken forward, as well as risk assessment and management in the context of renewable energy developments.
Particularly for those without a natural science background, this course provides a broad overview of the environmental processes which are fundamental to an understanding of renewable energy resources and their exploitation. You will study energy flows in the environment, environmental disturbance associated with energy use, and an introduction to the science of climate change. You will also learn about ecosystems and ecological processes including population dynamics and how ecosystems affect and interact with energy generation.
Renewable Technology I: Generation
This course explores how energy is extracted from natural resources: solar, biomass, hydro, wind, wave and tide. It examines how to assess and measure the resources, and the engineering solutions which have been developed to extract energy from them. You will develop an understanding of the technical challenges and current issues affecting the future development of the renewable energy sector.
Renewable Technology II: Integration
This course explores the technical aspects of generating renewable energy and integrating it into distribution networks. You will learn about the electricity grid and how electrical power and distribution systems work. You will find out about different renewable fuel sources and end uses, and the challenges of energy storage.
Looking at what happens when renewable energy technologies are deployed, this course examines development constraints and opportunities: policy and regulatory issues (including strategic environmental assessment, environmental impact assessment, landscape assessment, capacity issues and the planning system). It also looks at the financial aspects (valuation of capital assets, financing projects and the costs of generating electricity) and at project management.
This is a team project, where students have the opportunity to apply what they have learned through the other courses in relation to a hypothetical project. You have to look at a range of issues including resource assessment, site selection, development layout, consents, planning and economic appraisal, applying the knowledge and tools you have studied.
Optional design project
For students who can demonstrate existing knowledge covered by one of the courses, there is the option of understanding a design project supervised by one of our engineers.
This research project (equivalent in assessment to 4 taught courses) allows you to focus on a specific area of interest, with opportunities to collaborate with businesses and other stakeholders. You choose your dissertation subject, in discussion with your supervisor.
If you study at our Orkney Campus, you will also benefit from a number of activities including guest lectures and practical sessions, which help to develop your skills and knowledge in your field of study, and offer opportunities to meet developers and others involved in the renewable energy industry.
The RED programme 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 consulatancies, governments, regulators and NGO's.
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 level entry applicants must have an ordinary degree in a related subject area and relevant post qualification industry experience.
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 (email@example.com) 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:
- 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)
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Additional fees information
Fee per course
* Distance learning fee is £1110 per course, £1510 dissertation/project.
For questions about Heriot-Watt Online fees, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuition fee loans of £5,500 are available to Scottish distance learning students on taught postgraduate courses. Full-time distance learning postgraduate students can also access a £4,500 living cost loan. 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. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.
View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.