MSc Renewable and Sustainable Energy Transition

The course

Course type
Entry date

Designed to specifically address the key drivers of energy transition to net zero globally.

Podcast series: A Future Made

Nature-based solutions

In the first episode of ‘A Future Made’, Anna Ploszajski and Robbie Armstrong join Professor Bill Sanderson and Professor Lindsay Beevers, sampling oysters and pondering flooding solutions.


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This interdisciplinary masters degree is ideal for professionals looking to become leaders in realising energy transition. The course is delivered by experts in renewable energy, economics and transition engineering at the International Centre for Islands Technology (ICIT) in Stromness, Heriot-Watt University’s Orkney campus. The learning environment is enhanced by the action research group, the Transition Lab, in the Islands Centre for Net Zero (ICNZ). ICNZ is a partnership led by the Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) working closely alongside our leading academics and a range of other business and community organisations across the Scottish Islands of Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides. Collectively, current ground-breaking research is helping to navigate the challenges we face and making progress in the development and delivery of new renewable and sustainable energy supply and end-use systems.

This course focuses on the key drivers of the exciting new and growing field of energy transition and transition engineering:

  • Policy and economics of net zero carbon
  • Renewable energy technologies, development processes and grid integration
  • Energy transition in transport, primary production, construction and manufacturing
  • Action for climate change through organisation, enterprise and technical shift
  • Transition engineering in the broadest sense of figuring out how to build sustainable change through decarbonisation projects

Our graduates gain skills across renewable energy technology, integration and development, and the processes of creating and leading just transitions for enterprises, organisations and communities. The course addresses the needs of multiple circular economy sectors such as renewable energy developers, communities and organisations under pressure to meet net zero targets and address climate change. Teaching is reinforced with project work where emphasis is placed on simulating real-life situations and processes. Students learn how to use key communication platforms including digital tools for data analysis, modelling and other interactive approaches.

By choosing to study at our Orkney Campus, you will benefit from several activities including guest lectures from leaders in the sector and hands-on practical sessions which help to develop your skills and knowledge in your field of study. Orkney as a destination also offers the opportunity to network with leading ingenuity-led industry employers involved in many renewable energy sectors, providing a range of employment possibilities post-graduation.

September 2023 entry

The deadline for applications from UK students is 31 August 2023. For EU and overseas applicants, we guarantee to consider applications submitted by 1 August 2023.

Flexible study options

This course if offered full-time on campus in Orkney. Alternatively, you can also study via Heriot-Watt Online, ideal for those in employment or with other commitments, providing flexible study options that fit around work or family.

Duncan Munro, Orkney campus student

Moving up to Orkney has been a breath of fresh air. I have thoroughly enjoyed studying at the University and living in the heart of the marine renewables industry. There is so much to get involved in outside of university life that I have never had a dull moment living here.

Duncan Munro, Orkney campus student

Course content

The curriculum consists of eight taught courses and a dissertation. Seven of the taught courses are mandatory. Students can choose an optional course in Semester 1.

Semester 1 Semester 2
Economics of Renewable Energy Energy Transition Lab
Transition Engineering - Achieving zero carbon InTime Renewable Technology Commercialisation
Renewable Technology: Generation Future Energy Systems in Buildings, Transport and Infrastructure
Option Integration of Renewable Technology

Optional courses

  • Environmental Processes
  • Oceanography
  • Climate Change, Sustainability and Adaptation


This research project 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.


Graduates leave with wide ranging inter-related and cross-disciplinary skills spanning the breadth of the renewables sectors. The degree will be of particular interest to anyone considering transitioning to leadership in energy transition and net zero.

Entry requirements

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 Admissions Team ( 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 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:

  • 20 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with no skill lower than 4.5)
  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with minimum of 5.0 in writing and no skill lower than 4.5)
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.0)
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.5)


Tuition fees for entry
Status Full-time
UK £9152
Overseas £19056


  1. Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.
  2. Overseas includes applications from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in the UK. Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

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.

Financial support

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.