This programme has been selected to support the skills demand in Scotland's key economic growth areas. A number of full fee bursaries are available to applicants permanently resident in Scotland. Download an application form and submit to email@example.com.
Delivered at our Orkney Campus, this MSc is designed as a multidisciplinary transition programme relevant to students from a wide variety of backgrounds. The taught part of the programme 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 programme 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.
Read more in this guide to Studying in Orkney.
The Marine Renewable Energy MSc/Diploma is also available for independent distance learning. For distance learners, the main difference is that you will undertake the Development Project alone rather than as part of a group. You can still obtain the full MSc in Marine Renewable Energy, or you can opt to study fewer courses, depending on your needs.
Course contentDetailed course guide
The Diploma and MSc degree course involves studying the 8 taught courses outlined below. If a student can demonstrate that they have already mastered the subject, they may undertake a Development Project instead of one of these courses.
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 programme (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.
Oceanography & Marine Ecology
This course is designed to give you an understanding of the science of waves and tides, and how this affects efforts to exploit energy from these resources. You will also learn about marine ecosystems and how these may be impacted by energy extraction and about the challenges and impacts associated with carrying out engineering operations in the marine environment.
Marine Renewable Technologies
You will gain an understanding of renewable energy technologies which exploit wind, wave and tidal resources. The focus is on technical design issues which developers face operating in the marine environment, as well as the logistics of installation, operations and maintenance of marine energy converters.
Renewable Technology: 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 asses, 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.
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 other involved in the renewable energy industry.
For MSc level entry, students must hold a good degree in a relevant discipline (e.g. life sciences, engineering, environmental studies, business studies, surveying) from a UK or Overseas University. In addition to the academic qualifications, motivation, work experience and personality are taken into consideration.
Recognition of Prior Learning
Heriot-Watt University is committed to providing opportunities to applicants who have a wide range of prior experiences through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Prior learning at postgraduate level is normally recognised to gain exemption from individual courses within a programme based on an existing academic qualification. Note that the prior learning must have been rated at the level of the courses for which RPL is sought, yet credits from an award already held by an applicant can only contribute to a higher award in the same discipline, e.g. from PG Diploma to MSc. If you believe that you qualify for RPL, please contact the Learning & Teaching Support Team via firstname.lastname@example.org, who will guide you through the RPL application procedure.
The school will only consider students' requests for RPL at the time of application for their programme of study.
English language requirements
If your first language is not English, or your first degree was not taught in English, we’ll need to see evidence of your English language ability. The minimum requirement for English language is IELTS 6.5 or equivalent. We offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your masters 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 & writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking & listening)
Distance 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.
Fees and funding
|Status*||Full-time||Part-time||Distance learning**||Per course|
|Scotland / Non-UK EU||£5200||£2600||£920 / £920***||£650|
|England / Northern Ireland / Wales||£5200||£2600||£920 / £920***||£650|
|Overseas||£14080||£7040||£920 / £920***||£1760|
* If you are unsure which category you fall in to, you should complete a fee status enquiry form, which allows us to assess your fees.
** Fee per course
Additional fees information
*** Distance learning fee is £920 per course, £920 dissertation/project.
All course costs are covered by the tuition fee. For students studying at the Orkney Campus this includes electronic versions of the course notes.
Students should budget additional funds sufficient to cover living expenses such as accommodation, travel to and from the university, food, clothing and leisure pursuits.
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 taught scholarships.
Additional scholarship information
Scottish Funding Council (SFC) funding available for Scottish students for MSc Marine Renewable Energy. This funding is available for on-campus study only.