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Renewable Energy Development (RED) MSc/Diploma

Course Description


This is a 12 month full-time Masters degree (See http://www.postgraduate.hw.ac.uk/prog/msc-renewable-energy-development-red-/ ) course taught at our Orkney Campus. It involves studying 8 taught courses and completing a research dissertation equivalent to 4 taught courses. If you can demonstrate that you have already mastered the subject, you may apply for an exemption from one of the taught courses and undertake a Design Project instead.

For more information visit http://www.hw.ac.uk/schools/life-sciences/research/icit.htm

Distance learning

The Renewable Energy Development MSc/Diploma is also available for independent distance learning. For distance learners, the main difference is that you will undertake the Development Project alone rather than as part of a group. You can still obtain the full MSc in Renewable Energy Development, or you can opt to study fewer courses, depending on your needs.

Programme content

- 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 programme (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.

- Environmental Processes
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.

- Development Appraisal
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.

- Development Project
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.

- Dissertation
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.

- Additional information
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.

Scholarships available

We have a number of fully funded Scottish Funding Council (SFC) scholarships available for students resident in Scotland applying for Renewable Energy Development (RED) MSc. Find out more about this scholarship and how to apply http://www.hw.ac.uk/student-life/scholarships/postgraduate-funded-places.htm .

English language requirements

If your first language is not English, or your first degree was not taught in English, we’ll need to see evidence of your English language ability. The minimum requirement for English language is IELTS 6.5 or equivalent. We offer a range of English language courses (See http://www.hw.ac.uk/study/english.htm ) to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your masters 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 & writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking & listening)

Distance learning students

Please note that independent distance learning students who access their studies online will be expected to have access to a PC/laptop and internet.

Find information on Fees and Scholarships here http://www.postgraduate.hw.ac.uk/prog/msc-renewable-energy-development-red-/

Visit the Renewable Energy Development (RED) MSc/Diploma page on the Heriot-Watt University website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Mathilde Henri

3518.jpg This course was amazing and far better than I could have imagined. The staff are great and available to help whenever needed, making it a very nice environment to study in. The facilities are good and the classes are quite small, so it is enjoyable and allows you to create real bonds with everyone on the course.

We had lectures until 1pm at the most (which was great as it allowed us lots of time in the afternoon). We did have a few weeks when we had several deadlines very close together, but it wasn’t anything unmanageable or insane. On the whole, it was quite relaxed, interesting and enriching.

The Masters course that I completed (RED) is quite universal, which is good in a way because the lectures are understandable for everyone with any kind of background. Even though we didn’t go in too much depth in the different modules, I feel that I learnt a variety of useful things and got a real overview of the whole renewables industry, which now enables me to do jobs I would have not considered before.

Studying at ICIT (the Orkney Campus) makes you close to the companies working in renewables and consultancy; as close as you could be! In fact I’m now working in a renewable consultancy company called Aquatera, which is based right next to the Orkney campus – an opportunity I never would have been able to have without studying right in the heart of the renewable industry.

There is so much more to do in Orkney than you would imagine – I joined racketball, karate, squash and volleyball clubs, I went to every festival the island has (and there are a lot!), I saw the northern lights, and I really made friends with everyone on my course (mostly in the pub!).

I would definitely recommend coming to Orkney! Yes, it’s so far north that there’s not much daylight in winter, and there can be some pretty rough weather. There are so many good sides to Orkney that it compensates for the bad weather, but I can understand that for someone who isn’t that motivated, or is not keen on socialising or joining clubs, it would not be ideal. So I would recommend coming if you are motivated to learn, and keen to see a different way of life on an island. Orkney should be a place that you enjoy, not endure.


SFC (Scottish Funding Council) - 14 Awards

A scholarship covering tuition fees will be awarded to successful applicants, pending a selection process. Please note that the scholarship covers tuition fees only, and students are expected to fund their own living and accommodation costs. For more information please email [email protected]

Value of Scholarship(s)

Tuition fees


Students must be Scottish residents for a minimum of 7 years. Previous experience as well as qualifications will be taken into consideration.Not available to Distance Learners.

Application Procedure

An application form is completed.For more information please email [email protected]

Further Information


Entry Requirements

For MSc level entry, students must hold a good degree in a relevant discipline (e.g. life sciences, engineering, environmental studies, business studies, surveying) from a UK or Overseas University. In addition to the academic qualifications, motivation, work experience and personality are taken into consideration.

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