The course

Full-time, Part-time, Per course, Distance learning
Course type
Edinburgh, Online
Entry date
September, January (DL only)

This programme combines engineering and business studies and is offered by the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences but includes contributions from all Engineering disciplines represented at Heriot-Watt and from the Edinburgh Business School (EBS).


  • Contact

    Postgraduate enquiries (EPS)

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 131 451 3023

  • Email


Energy – based on fossil fuels and, increasingly, renewables – is an essential component of our existence. The cost, availability and efficient utilisation of energy are increasingly strong focal points in the strategies of governments world-wide, as they realise that the 'raw material' for most of the energy used today has a finite life.

Large industries and small households alike depend on a reliable provision of energy. Energy includes not only electricity, but also heat and transportation. The programme will make you aware of the relationship between demand and supply of energy, a relationship that consists of much more than its technical component. It includes political, economic and social issues and has to be viewed on a global as well as a local scale with respect to energy provision, consumption and the costs it might incur – both in the monetary as well as environmental terms.

We have seen countries go to war over energy supplies and we can see the effect of our energy consumption on the global climate. The concept of sustainable energy moves into focus as the finite nature of our main element in our current energy chain of supply – fossil fuel – becomes more obvious. The Paris Treaty is just one example of international and national policy actions which have subsequent implications for legislation affecting industries and communities.

We try to reflect the broad range of disciplines covering energy in this multi-disciplinary degree, which offers courses relevant to energy resources, power generation, process engineering, environmental legislation and environmental impact assessment, energy in buildings, as well as business courses in collaboration with the Edinburgh Business School.

It is the aim of the Energy MSc/Diploma to provide a balanced, integrated programme which will equip the participant with the tools needed to positively influence his/her organisation in to developing new business strategies relevant to 'energy', or in reacting to the growing portfolio of environmental legislation. The programme is also supported by industrial suppliers and users of energy, who are committed to an ethical environmental policy.

An optional project and dissertation in an engineering subject, which might be a company-specified topic or one selected by the participant, is also available.

Scholarship Opportunity

Scottish Funding Council has made available 20 scholarships covering fees only to students with Scottish backgrounds. These will be spread over all our Energy based MSc programmes. There is no separate application process for this. If you are eligible, you will be considered automatically. You will be notified through the summer if you have been selected.

January intake

Please note that the Independent Distance Learning programme has January and September intake.

Programme duration

1 year, with flexibility allowing longer part time/distance learning participation, typically over 2 or 3 years.

Watch video of academic Gudrun Kocher discussing the Msc in Energy.

Course content

   Detailed course guide

The course contains three compulsory modules:

Foundations of Energy

This module is designed to give students an overview over all aspects of energy, from the resources and their extraction to energy use, as well as energy within the environmental, social and economic context.

Technology Futures and Business Strategy

This module is designed to give all students an understanding of the inter-relationships between energy, technology and business. It includes methodologies of technological forecasting, relevant technological developments, technology transfer and integration into business plans. It covers theoretical and practical aspects of the industrial and business drivers, strategic competitive implications for companies, and issues of strategic and cultural change, as well as ethics and environmental issues.

Technology Courses

A range of courses is available which allows students to specialise in a particular area or to gain an insight into a range of technologies. Students will choose up to eight courses which are available in the following subject areas.

Energy Resources

This includes modules on Oil & Gas Field Appraisal and Oil & Gas Field Development and Renewable Energy Technologies.

Power Generation and Transmission

The modules High Voltage and Electrical Power Systems cover the efficient transmission, distribution and utilisation of electricity.

Process Development

Modules include Fluid Dynamics with Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Heat Exchanger Technology and Process Intensification. Process Intensification (PI) covers concepts such as compact heat exchangers and 'the laboratory on a chip', together with implications of PI for whole plant design.

Energy in Buildings

A substantial amount of energy is used in the provision of building services, including heating, ventilating and air-conditioning. Modules on Energy Management, Advanced Energy Management, and Air Conditioning cover: energy management systems, energy auditing, heat transfer and ventilation, and the environmental impact of building energy use.

Environmental Issues and Reliability

Modules include Systems Reliability, Fire Safety Engineering, Environmental Impact Assessment, and Environmental Policy, Legislation & Administration.

Business courses

Up to three business courses can be chosen from the School of Social Sciences course options below.

For Independent Distance Learning (IDL), the business modules are offered by the Edinburgh Business School. For more details, please send an email to

Project options

A wide range of project options is available, ranging from a short (two-module) individual Energy Analysis through an individual or group project (both four modules), to a substantial dissertation (eight modules). Full-time students are required to take a project option to a minimum of four modules. Students are encouraged to carry out projects within industry.

The course is of relevance to those in a variety of industrial sectors (e.g. chemicals, energy, and offshore), major players in the built environment, SMEs keen to exploit opportunities for new products/processes, and organisations active in advising others on energy and environmental strategies.

Flexibility has been designed into the course to accommodate the needs of companies and employees in terms of course content, method of delivery and the overall course duration. These include full-time attendance for one year, part-time attendance or distance learning.

Core courses

  • Foundation of Energy
  • Technology Futures and Business Strategy
  • Critical Analysis and Research Preparation

Optional courses

  • Renewable Energy Technologies
  • Economics of Renewable Energy
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Demand Management and Energy Storage (watch virtual lecture from this course)
  • Energy Technology
  • Ventilation & Air Conditioning
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics with Heat Transfer
  • Heat Transfer and Heat Exchangers
  • Process Intensification
  • Sustainable Processing
  • Oil & Gas Field Appraisal
  • Oil & Gas Field Development
  • Electrical Power Systems
  • High Voltage

From the School of Social Sciences Courses(maximum 3)

  • Environmental and Energy Economics
  • Competitive Strategy
  • Strategic Project Management
  • Financial Analysis
  • Project Economics and Evaluation
  • Business Economics