Detailed course guide
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.
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 course 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 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 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)
Tuition fees for 2020 entry (by residency status)
Scotland / Non-UK EU
England / Northern Ireland / Wales
* 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 scholarships. Additional scholarship information
Scottish Funding Council (SFC) funding available for Scottish students for MSc Renewable Energy Development. This funding is available for on-campus study only.