MSc in Sustainable Bioenergy


You can download a copy of our MSc Brochure here.

The global bioenergy market is undergoing dramatic growth as governments and energy companies around the world look to biological sources to supply a larger share of transport fuels and electricity generation.

As a result, the industry needs qualified people with the right skills to sustainably drive the sector forward. This course is designed to provide you with the advanced knowledge and understanding to do this.

Ideal for individuals seeking to enter the sector, future reseach leaders, government policy makers and biofuels customer service consultants, this course will help you develop the knowledge and skills necessary to communicate, operate, investigate and develop bioenergy processes, whether you have a biology or engineering background.


Entry Requirements

Candidates will usually be expected to hold a bachelors degree in biology, chemistry, engineering or another relevant science at 2:2 level or above from a university recognised by the University of Nottingham. Relevant workplace experience may, in some circumstances, be accepted as qualification for entry.

Course Duration and Structure


This MSc is studied over one year full-time or three years part-time. It is made up of taught modules and a research project undertaken in an area of your own interest. If you are more interested in the research component, we also offer an MRes Sustainable Bioenergy which incorporates a major reseach project. For further information on the MRes click here.


This course is based at the School of Biosciences which is located at the Sutton Bonington Campus, and is linked to the University's brand new Food and Biofuel Innovation Centre (FBIC), which has specially been built to house a major research programme into bioenergy and brewing science.

The course consists of 120 credits of taught modules and a 60-credit bioenergy research project or industrial placement. You can chose to substitute up to 20 credits of optional taught modules with other modules offered by the School of Biosciences or Faculty of Engineering. Please find other modules in the University's module catalogue.

Taught Core Modules

The following are compulsory core modules. You can also choose 30 credits of optional modules giving you the opportunity to focus on your area of interest. Click on the module name for more information.

Bioenergy via Physiochemical Conversion (20 credits)
Addresses the principles and key issues in the bioenergy production processes via non-fermentation methods. Biodiesel obtained from vegetable oils, waste oils, yeast and algae will be intensively discussed. Biomass pyrolysis process will be described as well as raw material processing, pyrolysis process design and optimisation. Other important forms of bioenergy such as biomass co-firing and CHP (combined heat and power process) will also be covered.

Sustainability and Biofuels (20 credits)

Addresses key sustainability components in relation to the production of bioenergy from sustainable resources. Three broad themes are examined:

  • life cycle analysis
  • farm system economics, energy and environmental trade-offs
  • and social and ethical dimensions.
Biofuel Fermentation (10 credits)
Focuses on the challenges that need to be addressed to achieve sustainable conversion of lignocellulosic materials to fuels. Topics include the accessibility and extraction of sugars using enzyme toolkits that can be applied to multiple plant biomass streams; the generation of substrates that are suitable for use in fermentation; the development of microbial strains that can utilise sugars for conversion to fuels; and the optimisation of fermentation to achieve efficient biofuel production. 
Combustion and Pollution Control (10 credits)
Introduces the fundamentals of combustion principles, pollution formation and control from fuel combustion, covering combustion chemistry, combustion thermodynamics, biomass combustion and co-firing, formation and control of major combustion pollutants, fossil fuel utilisation and combustion mechanism.
Principles of Crop Science (10 credits)
Introduces the biology of weeds and the principles of crop nutrition and weed control - cultural and chemical. This module also covers the concept of agro-ecological zones and considers the characteristics and management of the major soil groups and contemporary and future development.
Regulation and Management of Energy Supply and Use (10 credits)
Covers the framework of UK, EU and international policy, regulations and incentive schemes put in place for energy users and providers. General methods of investment appraisal and risk assessment will also be described as well as issues relating to project management, contract negotiation and intellectual property protection.
Resource Capture by Crops (10 credits)
Covers the key processes by which crop communities capture and use physical resources, principally solar radiation and water. The relative performance of contrasting species and different vegetation systems is considered in terms of their efficiencies in capturing and converting resources into biomass and yield.




Research Project

Students will be required to carry out an individual research project in biofuels, industrial biotechnology, biorefining, crop sciences, pre-treatment or life cycle analysis. It enables the student to apply knowledge in the taught modules and carry out a deeper study of a special topic of the sustainable bioenergy. The project could be carried out either in a university laboratory or in an industry partner’s lab.

Industrial Placement

The bioenergy research group in the University of Nottingham has good contact with bioenergy and industrial biotechnology sector in the UK; such as AB Sugar, Algenuity, Briggs, Lindhurst and TMO. In the last year, over 50% of our MSc students secured an industrial placement projects. In the industrial placement project, students spend around 3 months in industrial, working either in the actual production plant or in the industrial research lab.

  • Bioenergy production using yeast strains (AB Sugar)
  • Construction a synthetic expression cassette in the green algae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (Algenuity)
  • Microbial Fuel Cells for the treatment of commercial wastewater and agricultural wastewater (Lindhurst)


You can apply online at https://pgapps.nottingham.ac.uk where you will also find links to further information about The University of Nottingham and postgraduate study.  

Paper copies of application forms or module information are available.

Please contact the course administrator Henry Bowler for further information. Email: henry.bowler@nottingham.ac.uk



Bioenergy and Brewing Science
School of Biosciences
Sutton Bonington Campus
Leicestershire, LE12 5RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 6637
fax: +44 (0) 115 951 6162
email: bioenergy@nottingham.ac.uk