Hydroelectric power station

MSc/PgDip/PgCertSustainable Engineering: Renewable Energy Systems & the Environment

Why this course?

Renewable Energy Systems and the Environment is one of the pathways offered in the Sustainable Engineering programme.

This course examines the design and operation of the energy systems that provide the environments in which people live and work. It explores how quality of life can be balanced by the need for conservation of world resources.

You’ll learn about different energy resources:

  • renewable
  • fossil
  • nuclear

You’ll look at the systems that are employed to control these resources such as:

  • combined heat & power schemes
  • heat pumps
  • solar capture devices
  • high efficiency condensing boilers
  • advanced materials
  • adaptive control systems

You’ll explore the impact energy has on the environment and how it can be reduced.

Our course has been running for over 20 years and has over 400 graduates. External examiners consistently refer to our beneficial links with industry and the high quality of our project work.

You’ll study

Studying at least three generic modules will meet the key requirements to attain Chartered Engineer status.

You must take three specialist modules if you’re studying for the Postgraduate Certificate and up to five if you’re studying for a Postgraduate Diploma or MSc.

Successful completion of six modules leads to the award of a Postgraduate Certificate.

Major projects

Group project

This usually involves four or five students working together. Each project focuses on a particular energy/environment system and includes a technical appraisal, and, where appropriate, an assessment of its cost effectiveness and environmental impact.

At the end of the project, students perform a presentation during the University’s Knowledge Exchange week to invited guests from industry. This event provides an important networking opportunity for students.

Take a look at some previous group projects.

Individual project

The individual project is an opportunity for students to work independently on an energy topic with a more in-depth analysis than the group project.

Take a look at some previous individual projects.


The course is approved by the Energy Institute, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Aeronautical Society and meets the academic requirements for Chartered Engineer (CEng) status.

Students are encouraged to take up free membership of these professional organisations.


Students have access to departmental laboratories with a range of testing equipment. For example, a recent MSc project included the use of sophisticated thermal measurement of thermal storage materials undertaken in the Advanced Materials Research Laboratory.

Student competitions

Students can enter a number of competitions, which vary year-to-year. Recent examples include:

  • District Heating and Cooling (DHC+) Student Competition
  • Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers Simulation Group Award for Best MSc Dissertation

Guest lectures

Students are regularly invited to talks by research visitors from the Energy Systems Research Unit. Talks on career options are also given by representatives of the Energy Institute.

Course content

Compulsory classes

Energy Resources & Policy

Against the background of international commitments on atmospheric emissions, diminishing fossil fuel resources, renewable energy systems deployment and the liberalisation of energy markets, this module examines sustainable options for energy production, supply and consumption. The aim is to give students an understanding of current trends in the energy market, and to enable a critical evaluation of emerging ideas, technologies and policies especially in relation to new and renewable energy supply systems.

Energy Systems Analysis

This module aims to impart an understanding of the underpinning theoretical principles and practical calculation methods for analysis of energy systems and an appreciation of how these systems are integrated in practical applications. Emphasis is on heat transfer and thermodynamic cycles. The underlying principles and analysis methods are appropriate for both renewable and non-renewable energy systems.

Electrical Power Systems

This module provides students with an understanding of the operation of modern electrical power systems featuring renewable and low carbon generation, along with the techniques to undertake a basic technical analysis of key electrical devices and systems.

Energy Modelling & Monitoring

This module provides an understanding of the theoretical and operational principles underlying simulation modelling of energy supply and demand systems and their environmental impact. The emphasis is on practical computer lab-based modelling exercises. It covers detailed energy system simulation, supply-demand matching, energy management and monitoring.


This module provides students with an understanding of the concepts of sustainability and sustainable development. The social, environmental, and economic impact of development strategies will be identified and the mitigation of negative impacts discussed. Topics covered include shifting world views with respect to technology and ecology, green politics, climate change, sustainable development and limits to growth.

Group Project

In this part of the course, projects are offered for selection by groups of typically four individuals. Each project involves the evolution of an energy/environmental system, including a technical appraisal and, where appropriate, an assessment of its cost effectiveness and environmental impact. There will also be site visits to renewable energy system installations.

Generic modules

Select three classes from the following:

Design Management

This module provides a structured introduction to the Design Management process, issues and tools. Topics include Integrated Product Development, and the different approaches and aspects to design development including concurrent engineering, team engineering, product management, design management, distributed design, and decision support. Other topics cover the design activity, team and management organisational structures, key issues concerning design complexity, and design performance and innovation.

Project Management

This module provides students with skills relating to the use of engineering practices in Project Management with particular respect to the effective and efficient use of resources. The syllabus includes an introduction to project management techniques and project control, project networks including critical path analysis, procedural and graphical presentation techniques, an introduction to Contract Law and project budgetary control.

Risk Management

Under Health and Safety legislation, and under the wider European Post-Seveso Directives, it is mandatory for many industries to carry out risk assessments with the aim of showing that risk is As Low As Reasonably Practicable. This module introduces the fundamental techniques of risk analysis and risk-informed decision making. Students will learn the general principles of methods and their place in risk management, as well as the chance to develop skills in applying these methods to variety of engineering examples.

Financial Engineering

This module introduces elements of financial engineering that are applied to reduce risk of business insolvency and enhance the financial robustness of business enterprises. Questions addressed include: What is the best strategy for survival and growth?; What are the options for financing investment projects both in the private and public sectors of an economy?; How would the financial engineer propose to combine loan capital and equity capital to raise funds for an investment initiative; How would he/she advise his/her company/organization to build its investment portfolio to ensure financial security in volatile market conditions?

Environmental Impact Assessment

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) relates to the process of identifying, evaluating and mitigating the biophysical, social, economic, cultural and other relevant effects of development proposals prior to major decision being taken and commitments made.  This module provides students with an introduction to methods used to predict environmental impacts, and to see how these may be used to integrate environmental factors into decisions.

Individual project

For MSc students after taught modules are successfully passed.

Individual project

In this part of the course, students undertake supervised, individual project work, with the award of MSc being made on the basis of an acceptable thesis submission.

Learning & teaching

The course comprises compulsory technical modules, a choice of broader generic modules, which are recommended by accrediting professional bodies, group projects with industry input, and individual projects.

Teaching methods are varied, and include lectures, discussions, group work, informal reviews, on-line questionnaires, and computer modelling laboratories.


Assessment of taught modules are by written assignments and exams. Group projects are assessed by project websites and presentations. Individual projects are assessed on the submitted thesis.

Entry requirements

Degree in engineering or physical sciences or equivalent professional qualification.  Preferably a first or second class honours degree, equivalent to a UK 2:1 degree. A 2:2 may be considered.

English language requirements for international students

IELTS - minimum overall band score of 6.5 (no individual test score below 5.5).

Fees & funding

How much will my course cost?

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


  • 2017/18 - £5,500

Rest of UK

  • 2017/18 - £9,000


  • 2017/18 - £18,000

How can I fund my course?

Scholarship search

AERO MSc Bursary Scheme

This scheme offers tuition fee bursaries. Applications are invited from home/EU students who can secure a place on the MSc Advanced Mechanical Engineering programme.

The aim is to boost the supply of skilled professionals to the sector, helping UK aerospace maintain and consolidate its leading position globally. The scheme is run by the Royal Aeronautical Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering working together to award 500 bursaries. It’s jointly funded by government and a partnership of nine major aerospace employers.

Details of the scheme and how to apply are at www.raeng.org.uk/aeromsc

Rest of UK Scholarships

The Faculty of Engineering is offering a scholarship for all RUK postgraduate taught students. Students studying a Masters programme are eligible for £3,000 towards their fees. There's no requirement to apply as the scholarship will be deducted from your fee payment when you register for your course.

Find out more information about Rest of UK Scholarships.

Further funding opportunities

For information about sources of funding, please see our student funding information and our engineering scholarship information.

Scottish and non-UK EU postgraduate students

For a number of eligible courses, Scottish and non-UK EU postgraduate students can apply for support from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). The support is in the form of a tuition fee loan and for eligible students a living cost loan. Find out more about the scheme and what courses are eligible.

English students

Students ordinarily resident in England may be eligible to apply for a loan of up to £10,000 to cover their tuition fees and living costs.

Please note

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


Job titles include:

  • Artificial Intelligence Engineer
  • Biomass Engineer
  • Renewable Energy Consultant
  • Renewable Energy Development Officer
  • Technical Analyst

Employers include:

  • Greenspan
  • Mott Macdonald
  • Natural Power
  • SSE
  • Scottish Power Energy Networks
  • The Campbell Palmer Partnership
  • RSP Consulting Engineers

Contact us


Sustainable Eng: Renewable Energy Systems and the Environment

Qualification: PG Diploma, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time

Sustainable Eng: Renewable Energy Systems and the Environment

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, part-time

Sustainable Eng: Renewable Energy Systems and the Environment

Qualification: PG Diploma, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, part-time

Sustainable Eng: Renewable Energy Systems and the Environment

Qualification: PG Certificate, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, part-time

Sustainable Eng: Renewable Energy Systems and the Environment

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time

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