Course modules for the MSc in Sustainable Energy Futures

Here you can find descriptions of the MSc Sustainable Energy Futures modules. They are organised by the term in which they run. You can also download PDF containing a detailed description of every module.

Course modules

Autumn term

During the autumn term the MSc focuses on Core Foundation modules to provide a solid grounding for students from diverse academic backgrounds.

Low Carbon Technologies

This module aims to convey the fundamentals of modern/future energy systems in terms of their technical properties and economic and environmental impacts. The technologies/systems considered include solar photovoltaic electricity generation, nuclear and wind power. The module will also consider estimation of energy resources and demands along with the main sources of data and methods for analysis.

Methods for the Analysis of Energy Systems

The module provides students with a range of tools for the analysis of energy systems and resources from both technical/capability and environmental impact viewpoints. These will include thermodynamic methods for the analysis of energy systems with conventional thermal power plant and transport cycles used as case studies. The module will also include modelling, simulation and optimisation of energy systems (components, networks and supply chains), multiscale modelling, sensitivity, uncertainty and risk analysis, life cycle and scenario analysis. Typical applications for each method and case studies will also be considered.

Energy Economics and Policy

Topics in this module include energy demand, supply markets, competition, energy policy principles and local, national and regional examples. National and international regulatory and legal environments, energy-economics-environmental models of global impact and policy instruments and market mechanisms for carbon mitigation will also be considered. Cost/Benefit analysis and private investment decision making will be discussed. The module will also provide a platform for evaluating future technologies.

Debating / Research and Consultancy Workshops

In the autumn term you will take part in debates focusing on current energy issues. The intention is to use these sessions to develop skills which can be transferred to your project; critical analysis, assimilating knowledge and presenting a point of view. You will also take part in a series of research and consultancy workshops. These are designed to develop skills which will benefit you throughout the project, overall course and after graduating;  group working, communication and personal effectiveness. 

Entrepreneurship Towards Zero Carbon Energy Systems

Entrepreneurship in the alternative energy space is critical for its long term success. In this module, we will explore different elements of entrepreneurship from technology commercialisation, product positioning, new market development and financing options among others.  The programme will be centred around case discussions with short assignments to be written on different cases. The cases will draw from both non-energy related areas such as consumer markets or services as well as renewable energy allowing us to gain a broader understanding of entrepreneurship principles.

Spring term

The spring term for the MSc revolves around intensive modules lasting two weeks. Each module is taught by experts in that field, from academia, industry and government.

Urban Energy Systems

Topics in the Urban Energy Systems module include urbanisation and growth in energy demand; cities as dynamic systems; characterising city infrastructures; complex systems and networks; energy supply, conversion and demands in cities; resource flows and city sustainability; modelling, analysis and optimisation of cities from an energy systems perspective; transport modelling; land use interactions and energy demands. Case studies will also be considered.

Synthetic Fuels

In this module you spend one week focused on Bioenergy and a second week on Hydrogen. In the Bioenergy week you will cover how raw biomass can be converted into 'drop-in' gaseous, liquid and solid energy carriers. There will also be a focus on two specific technological value chains for the delivery of synthetic fuels: anaerobic digestion for methane and CO2 production, and thermochemical / gasification derived syngas and hydrogen. In the Hydrogen week you will consider different approaches for producing hydrogen including those using fossil fuels compared to those using renewable energy. There will also be a focus on issues relating to storage, transportation and efficiency of hydrogen systems. You will also undertake a deep dive into electrolysers and specific aspects of modelling hydrogen systems.

Data Science and Digitalisation in the Energy Sector

During this module, students will develop an understanding of the main concepts of data science, including specialised terminology and standard techniques for the collection, processing, analysis and interpretation of data. They will develop an awareness of the tools and frameworks used in professional environments in order to assist data science tasks. There is also a focus on gaining an understanding of key concepts surrounding the digitalisation of energy, including the Internet of Things, machine learning, AI and blockchain, and their applications in the context of the energy sector. 

Energy Transmission and Storage

This module will introduce the transmission network issues towards large scale integration of wind power, provide a vision for future distributed energy systems, explain power flow analysis and its role in planning and operational studies of electric power transmission system, provide an overview of the high voltage direct current transmission (HVDC) and flexible AC transmission systems (FACTS) technologies, explain the principles and describe the design and operation of grid scale energy storage technologies, provide an overview of the hydrogen transmission and storage infrastructure and explain the role of gas in a low carbon future

Sustainable Transport

Topics in this module include the role of transport in the overall energy picture, aviation and road transport technologies, rail related (mass transit) issues (linking with Urban Energy Systems), aero and vehicle propulsion (including aero engine propulsion models, IC engines, hybrid vehicles, fuel cells for transport applications), infrastructure implications, current and emerging technologies and role and impact of transport policy.

Summer term

Over the Summer term students on the MSc must undertake an independent piece of work informed by original research, experimentation or through journal and statistical analysis. The students choose their project during the autmn term and a literature review is submitted in April.

The project concludes with a submission of a final dissertation, a thesis of around 100 pages, in September and a project presentation and poster presentation during the Sustainable Energy Futures Student Conference.

Some examples of the projects offered as part of this programme:

  • Business models in clean energy systems
  • Development of surrogate fuels for HCCI engines
  • Demand response in electricity markets
  • Renewable energy markets in the developing world: from a commercial and investment perspective
  • Quantifying the environmental impact of alternative traffic management conditions in an urban environment
  • The business of distributed generation: a techno-econominc analysis
  • Development of CCS in the UK
  • Impact assessment of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on the UK electricity grid
  • Comparing electric and hydrogen fuels cell vehicles on a lifecycle basis