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.
Flexible study options
This course can be studied full-time or part-time on campus in Orkney. Alternatively, you can study via Online Learning, ideal for those in employment or with other commitments, providing flexible study options that fit around work or family.
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.
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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.
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. Our graduates typically hold key positions in:
- Marine development companies
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
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 and Teaching Support Team via email@example.com, 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 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 commencement 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)
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.
|Scotland / Non-UK EU||£7168||£3584|
|England / Northern Ireland / Wales||£7168||£3584|
* 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.
Additional fees information
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.
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 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.