power pylon from below, against a blue and pink sky

MScSmart Grids with the Comillas Pontifical University, Madrid & Iberdrola

Why this course?

The MSc in Smart Grids is delivered in partnership with the ICAI School of Engineering at the Comillas Pontifical University, Madrid and in close collaboration with Iberdrola.

This course responds to the growing demand for engineers required to lead the process of the digitalisation of the electric grid. It is designed specifically for graduates in the areas of electrical, electronic or telecommunications engineering.

It will both deepen the knowledge of electrical engineering graduates in the new challenges and opportunities around smart grids, and allow information and communications engineers to gain new insights into the power sector’s emerging needs and the global energy transition. You'll gain the foundations to contribute to the new energy paradigm and the utility of the future.

Extensive international experience

The course provides a unique opportunity for extensive international experience.  You'll spend one term in both Spain and Scotland, followed by a paid internship offered within the framework of the MSc degree at any of the international offices of Iberdrola in Spain, Scotland, the USA and Brazil.

Academic & industry teams

The academic team consists of internationally-renowned researchers from both institutions who possess expertise spanning the smart grid field. Iberdrola is the core industry partner to the course, providing unique international insight on the utility of the future, and guaranteed internships for every student.

Strathclyde Academic Team

Comillas Pontifical University Academic Team

Course content

The structure of the course is as follows:

  • Term 1 (September – December): 30 ECT credits – ICAI School of Engineering, Comillas Pontifical University
  • Term 2 (January – mid May): 30 ECT credits – Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, University of Strathclyde.
  • Term 3 (mid-May – mid Sept) 30 ECT credits – Individual research project: This will take the form of a practical, applied project with one of the University partners, or a paid internship with Iberdrola at one of their international branch offices. There are 10 internships available for the top-performing MSc students.

Classes in Spain are taught from 3pm to 9pm

Classes in Scotland are taught from 9am to 5pm

Term 1

Operation and Planning of Future Distribution Networks

The aim of this course is to develop an understanding of the principles and main methodologies behind the planning and operation of distribution networks, understand how distributed energy resources affect these activities, and comprehend what technical solutions distribution grid operators need to deploy in order to address the new challenges of the Smart Grid.

Regulation and New Business Models

The course presents an in-depth interdisciplinary perspective of the electric power sector, with regulation as the core for networks business providing the link among the engineering, economic, legal and environmental viewpoints.

Telecommunications for Smart Grids

The aim of this course is to provide the student with knowledge about the main technologies and standards used for digital communications. More precisely, the course is focused on technologies that are or could be useful in present and future Smart Grids, respectively. Contents will vary from a mathematical model of the signal transmission to a higher-level view of the network architecture for Smart Grid Networks. Cybersecurity will be a recurrent topic in this course.  

Fundamentals of Telecommunications

The objective of this course is to develop some basic understanding of the fundamental foundations on telecommunication. The course focuses not only on the transmissions systems and techniques used nowadays for transmitting information at a high level but it also elaborates on the fundamental concepts of signal modulation and propagation.

Fundamentals of Power Systems

The aim of this course is to provide the student with the fundamental foundations on power systems that allow them to tackle more advanced concepts.

Leadership, Change Management and Corporate Responsibility

This course provides skills and knowledge necessary to manage staff in dynamic company structures, which are subject to changes and difficulties as part of a more complex organization. In addition to this, the course addresses situations which encompass dilemmas and implications of an ethical and professional nature, which will not only affect students in their future personal or professional life, but also have consequences that go beyond their own personal lives.

Detailed information on these modules is available at the Comillas Pontifical University.

Term 2

Control and Protection of Future Networks

HVDC transmission systems and renewable generation units use power electronic converters rather than synchronous machines to interface to the AC network. Hence, classic control and protection methods meant for classic power systems may not be able to accommodate high penetration of renewables and long distance HVDC links.

The aim of this module is to enable students to appreciate the principles of control and protection of present-day and future electrical systems including:

  • The steady-state and dynamic analysis of electrical systems under normal, transient and fault conditions.
  • Grid-codes and other legislation that impacts upon the functional requirements of protection systems, generation and HVDC transmission units.
  • The main concepts related to the requirements, functions, design and operation of protection schemes for power system transmission and distribution systems.
  • How HVDC and converter-interfaced generation pose challenges to operation and protection system design; but also, how their enhanced controllability has great potential to enable new alternative concepts.

Hardware IoT Communication System Design

This module will provide you with the essential skills to design, build and test a sensor network for your smart grid application. The course makes use of radio frequency (RF) Internet of Things (IoT) development boards and a range of sensors and radio modules. You'll program the boards to communicate with the sensor nodes and wirelessly transmit data to gateway and onwards to a PC receiver or mobile wi-fi device. You'll analyse the measurement data and produce a graphical user interface to display it in a user accessible manner.

5G Comms Networks

This module covers the core principles and operation of packet-based communications networks leading to the design and operation of future 5G networks. It describes the operation of the key transport layer protocols within the internet architecture including wired and wireless networks. Specific areas include 5G Quality of Services based networks, techniques to measure and report the network performance and operation.

The course will contain topics in relation to cyber security including browser and HTTP fundamentals, security architecture and security analysis methodologies highlighting common web vulnerabilities, security management systems and policies and security governance.

Offshore and Pan European Supergrids

This module establishes the case for a massive expansion of DC in transmission systems in order to access diversity of load and generation at a European level. Students will investigate different design strategies for new offshore networks compared to traditional networks in recognition of different risk and cost profiles.

The module also covers the fundamentals of HVDC grid, including multi-level converter topology and configuration, operation, modelling and control of multi-terminal DC grids. This will also include the approach taken to control DC networks to provide support and integration of AC networks, and how an AC network is affected by a high penetration of DC links.

Data Analytics & AI for Energy Systems

A strong part of the business case for smart grids is using intelligence and automation to gain more capacity from existing assets to avoid large expenditure on further assets. Also, autonomy and intelligence is key to the flexible operation of smart girds, integration of low carbon generation and effective interaction with consumers.

This module teaches the key AI and data science methods that are applicable to smart grids, and provides case studies of their application. We are moving to a future where much more can and will be monitored and new techniques, leveraging data analytics, are needed to fully exploit the data. Areas covered will be machine learning, knowledge based methods, distributed intelligence methods and architectures, applications in asset management, applications in network management and control.

Power Electronics for Transmission & Distribution

Power electronics provides one of the key technologies for delivering the flexible power networks necessary for future low carbon energy systems. This module will help to build the skills and knowledge necessary to analyse power electronic based systems, evaluate their operation within the wider power network, and identify the key advances that will facilitate wider adoption.

In particular the module will build understanding in the following areas.

  • The operation of power electronic based energy conversion systems.
  • The application of power electronics to transmission and distribution networks.
  • The benefits and disadvantages of power electronics in power systems. 

Term 3

Practical paid internship at any of the Iberdrola international branch offices, with salary provided.

MSc in Smart Grids Individual Project

Individual research project: This will take the form of a practical, applied project with one of the University partners or as a paid internship with Iberdrola at one of their international branch offices in the UK, Spain, USA or Brazil.

Students will identify an engineering problem, critically review the existing literature relating to this, formulate a project plan with clear objectives, milestones and deliverables. They will then define and implement one or more methodologies independently, interpret the results and provide a contextual analysis of these, to make sound contributions to solve or address the problem, and make recommendations for future work.

Entry requirements

A first or good second-class UK Honours degree or equivalent overseas qualification in electronic, electrical or telecommunications engineering, or a related subject from a recognised academic institution.

Candidates whose first language is not English or who have not undertaken their undergraduate course in the UK must possess a recent UKVI-recognised English qualification at C1 level (IELTS 7.0) or above.

Candidates must be willing to travel, as teaching takes place in both Spain and Scotland, and the internship will be carried out at any one of the branch offices of Iberdrola in Spain, the UK, USA or Brazil.

Fees & funding


All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise.


  • €15,530

Rest of UK

  • €15,530


  • €20,700

How can I fund my course?

Grants and financial aid are available to support with course costs. In addition to these, Iberdrola will offer a number of scholarships to the most talented candidates joining the course. Further information on these scholarships is available from the Comillas Pontifical University Coordinator.

Faculty of Engineering Excellence Scholarship (FEES) for International Students

If you're applying for an MSc course you'll be eligible to apply for a Faculty of Engineering Excellence Scholarship offering up to £3,000 towards your tuition fees.

The scholarship is available for application to all self-funded, new international (non-EU) fee paying students holding an offer of study for an MSc programme in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Strathclyde. Please note you must have an offer of study for a full-time course at Strathclyde before applying.

You must start your full-time MSc programme at Strathclyde in the coming academic year (2019-20).

Please note

The fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.


The objective of this course is to develop expertise in both the Power Systems and Telecommunications dimensions of Smart Grids.

Academic excellence, together with internships in real-life projects taking place in a leading multinational energy company, Iberdrola, make it possible to acquire new skills, which are in demand in the energy industry.

This type of professional profile is already in high demand in the energy industry all around the world.

Professional opportunities

  • Electric Power Utilities: transmission system operators, distribution system operators, retailers, aggregators and new ventures involving distributed energy resources
  • Electric equipment and systems suppliers
  • Telecommunications equipment and services suppliers
  • Government and regulatory agencies
  • Institutes for research and innovation
  • Energy sector consultants

Academic career paths

  • Research, development and innovation
  • Doctoral candidates

Contact us

University of Strathclyde contacts

Professor Stephen McArthur
Deputy Associate Principal, Research, Knowledge Exchange & Innovation
+44 (0) 141 548 4838

Professor Craig Michie
Head of Centre for Intelligent Dynamic Communications
+44 (0) 141 548 2521

Comillas Pontifical University contacts

Professor Miguel Angel Sanchez Fornie
+34 91 540 62 55


Comillas Pontifical University will deal with all admissions to the MSc.

Applications for the MSc starting in September 2019

  • Open: 1 Jan 2019
  • Close: 15 May 2019

Find out more about how to submit an application, along with information on what documentation is required.

Applicants Admission portal and online application form.

The Admissions Committee will consider all applications on the basis of:

  • Student academic transcript – 80%
  • Letters of Recommendation, cover letter and if applicable interview – 20%

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