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  • Tuition Fee:
  • Local: $ 7.6k / Year (International)
  • Foreign: n/a
  • Languages of instruction:
  • English


    This is a 12 month full-time Masters degree course taught at our Orkney Campus. It involves studying 8 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 Development Project instead. The MSc programme is completed with a research dissertation equivalent to 4 taught courses.

    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 duration

    * 12 months (MSc)

    Study location:
    * Orkney

    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.


    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 field trips, guest lectures and practicals, 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.

    UK requirements for international applications

    Universities in the United Kingdom use a centralized system of undergraduate application: University and College Admissions Service (UCAS). It is used by both domestic and international students. Students have to register on the UCAS website before applying to the university. They will find all the necessary information about the application process on this website. Some graduate courses also require registration on this website, but in most cases students have to apply directly to the university. Some universities also accept undergraduate application through Common App (the information about it could be found on universities' websites).

    Both undergraduate and graduate students may receive three types of responses from the university. The first one, “unconditional offer” means that you already reached all requirements and may be admitted to the university. The second one, “conditional offer” makes your admission possible if you fulfill some criteria – for example, have good grades on final exams. The third one, “unsuccessful application” means that you, unfortunately, could not be admitted to the university of you choice.

    All universities require personal statement, which should include the reasons to study in the UK and the information about personal and professional goals of the student and a transcript, which includes grades received in high school or in the previous university.


    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.English language requirementsIf your first language is not English, or your first degree was not taught in English, well need to see evidence of your English language ability. English Language Requirements IELTS band: 6.5 IMPORTANT NOTE: Since April 2014 the ETS tests (including TOEFL and TOEIC) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa. The IELTS test is most widely accepted by universities and is also accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK- learn more. Technological Requirements Please note that independent distance learning students who access their studies online will be expected to have access to a PC/laptop and internet.

    Scholarships & bursaries
    * Alumni Scholarship Scheme
    Heriot-Watt Alumni
    * Carnegie-Cameron Taught Postgraduate Bursaries
    Applicants must be Scottish by birth, have at least one parent born in Scotland or have been continuously resident in Scotland for a period of three years for the purpose of secondary or tertiary education.
    * Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan
    International (Commonwealth citizens)
    * Department for International Development (DFID) Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme
    Commonwealth citizens
    * East Lothian Educational Trust
    Applicants must be a resident of the old county of East Lothian (ie excluding Musselburgh, Wallyford and Whitecraig.)
    * Industry Scholarships (PET)
    UK and EU taught course applicants to IPE
    * Leverhulme Trade Charities Trust
    Restricted to residents of the UK who are a son, daughter, spouse, widow or widower of a commercial traveller, chemist or grocer.
    * Local Education Authority Awards
    * Mexican Scholarships
    Mexican applicants
    * Music Scholarships
    All students
    * Part-time Fee Grant (SAAS)
    See SAAS residence conditions.
    * Postgraduate Student Allowance Scheme (SAAS)
    EU and UK applicants who meet the SAAS criteria on eligible courses
    * Remission of Fees (families of staff)
    Spouses/civil partners and children of members of staff, also retired members of staff of the University
    * Royal Caledonian Schools Trust
    Applicants must be of Scots parentage (conditions apply - see below)
    * Scotland's Saltire Scholarships
    Citizens of Canada, the People's Republic of China, India or USA (2 awards for each country)
    * Society of Petroleum Engineers Student Bursaries (PET)
    Full-time postgraduate students and undergraduate students studying Oil & Gas industry related courses from the 5 universities listed below
    * Sports Scholarships
    All students
    * Staff Scholarships
    Employees of Heriot-Watt University
    * The Consumer Affairs UK Scholarship Programme
    All currently enrolled students
    * West Lothian Educational Trust
    Individuals must have originated in West Lothian or have lived there for the last 3 years.

    Additional scholarship information

    Scottish Funding Council (SFC) funding available for Scottish students for MSc Renewable Energy Development.


    National Student Survey 2013

    * 9 out of 10 students are satisfied overall with their experience at Heriot-Watt University.
    * 90% overall satisfaction rate places us 11th in the UK* and 2nd in Scotland
    * 1st in UK for Chemical Engineering for the fourth year running and also top in the UK for Chemistry
    * Top 10 in the UK for: Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Accounting, Economics, Marketing, European Languages, Building, Civil Engineering and Planning
    * Heriot-Watt University is 1st in Scotland for 11 out of 18 subjects: Biology, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering, Accounting, Economics, Marketing, European Languages, Civil Engineering, Planning and Maths & Statistics

    Times Higher Education - Worlds Most International Universities

    * We were placed 22nd in the world, based on the 'international outlook' indicator from THE World University Rankings.
    * This indicator examines a universitys international student numbers, its percentage of international staff and the proportion of its research papers published with a co-author from at least one other country.

    Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2014

    * Top 10 in the UK for Chemical Engineering, Building Town & Country Planning & Landscape, Food Science and Mathematics.
    * Top in Scotland for Chemical Engineering, Building and Civil Engineering and top 3 in Scotland for Town & Country Planning & Landscape, Food Science, Mathematics, Iberian Languages, Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry, French, and Art & Design.

    Sunday Times University Guide 2013

    * Scottish University of the Year 2012/13, (and 2011/2012)
    * UK University of the Year for Student Experience
    * Number 9 in the UK overall
    * Top 10 in the UK for Psychology, Chemistry, Physics, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Business Management, Civil Engineering, Textiles & Design, Mathematics and Actuarial Maths.

    Guardian University Guide 2014

    * Ranked 18th in the UK and 2nd in Scotland
    * Top ten league table positions for Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Construction Management, Urban Studies, Chemical Engineering, Art & Design, Economics and Mechanical Engineering

    THE '100 Under 50' (years of age) World University Ranking 2013

    * 63rd in the world, 10th in the UK and 2nd in Scotland

    Complete University Guide 2013

    * 40th in the UK and 4th in Scotland
    * Top ten in the UK for Construction Management and Chemical Engineering

    QS World's Top Universities

    * We rank 369th in the world, 42nd in UK and 7th in Scotland
    * This places us in the top 4%, based on approximation of at least 10,000 universities in the world

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