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The move from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is one of the biggest changes in society since the Industrial Revolution. This shift means there's a growing demand for scientists with specialist expertise in solar, a key energy technology of the 21st century.

This course is designed to train physical science and engineering graduates to develop new photovoltaic devices and test their effectiveness as a global energy resource. It is based on more than 20 years of solar research at the University of Sheffield, and spans fundamental materials science through to PV system deployment.

Laboratory training in materials science will teach you how to characterise and test solar cell materials, leading to the fabrication and measurement of photovoltaic devices. You'll learn how to analyse and assess the performance of photovoltaic systems by working with the team behind Sheffield Solar – they run the UK's largest PV database and our rooftop solar testbed facility

An expert from one of these areas will work with you on a major research project, and with our dedicated enterprise training and links with industry, you'll become equipped for a range of roles in solar energy.

Course structure

This course includes lots of practical training, alongside lectures designed to teach you the key concepts behind photovoltaic materials and solar energy generation. You will start by gathering important background knowledge and fundamental research skills, which you'll quickly put to use in the labs.

The University of Sheffield is home to one of the UK's best equipped laboratories for developing and testing solar materials and devices. In practical sessions, you will be taught how to characterise materials used in solar cells and build them into devices. You will have access to our rooftop solar testbed, where solar cells can be assessed in real-world conditions.

Computer programming classes will teach you how analyse solar energy systems, drawing on expertise from our scientists, who run the largest database of photovoltaic systems in the UK. This combination of facilities and expertise means you can learn how to fabricate and assemble solar technologies, and how to measure their effectiveness, in a range of operating conditions and at various scales.

Our dedicated enterprise module will show you how the solar technology business works in practice, and how companies get devices out of the lab and plugged into the energy network. Guest lectures are delivered by our partners in industry, such as solar consultancy Exawatt and solar testing specialists Ossila.

The biggest part of your degree will be your research project. You'll be able to choose from a range of topics, from solar device fabrication to photovoltaic system analysis. Students are supervised by scientists with world-leading expertise in solar technology, and you'll have access to a unique combination of advanced materials science laboratories, solar testing facilities and photovoltaic systems data.

Current modules – students take all seven:

  • Introduction to Photovoltaics
  • Photovoltaic Systems
  • Solar Cell Laboratory
  • Innovation in Solar Energy
  • Low Carbon Energy, Science and Technology
  • Research Skills in Physics
  • Dissertation Project

Learning and teaching

You will learn through lectures, laboratory classes, computing and data analysis sessions, seminars, enterprise training and your research project, supervised by one of our academic staff.


Assessments include project assignments, presentations, examinations, lab work, and your dissertation and viva.

After your degree

We have close links with lots of companies working in the solar industry. These are organisations we've collaborated with on projects, where our students have done placements, and where University of Sheffield physics graduates have gone to work. They range from companies who are developing solar cell materials and photovoltaic systems, to national and regional energy networks, to market intelligence and consultancy firms.

Some of these companies will support your learning by giving guest lectures, designing research projects for you to tackle and providing insights into the jobs you can be qualified for after graduation.

How to apply

To apply for this course, complete the University of Sheffield's postgraduate online application form.

Postgraduate online application form

Early applications are encouraged. Any applications received after all places have been filled will be deferred for entry the following year.

Visit the MSc Solar Cell Technology page on the University of Sheffield website for more details!






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