Renewable Energy and Architecture MSc


Fact file

MSc Renewable Energy and Architecture
1 year full-time
Entry requirements
2.1(Upper 2nd class hons degree or international equivalent)
Other requirements
6.0 (no less than 5.5 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
University Park Campus
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


This course focuses on integrating renewable energy and sustainable technologies to improve comfort and climate.
Read full overview

The MSc Renewable Energy and Architecture is a multi-disciplinary course for world-wide integration of renewable energy and sustainable energy and building technologies into the site plan and building form, fabric and services with focus on climate and human comfort, using architectural and engineering techniques and powerful computer and laboratory simulations.

This international course is carefully structured to accommodate the interests and skills of those who are related to building design and technology and building energy and environmental performance.  It is open to applicants from various backgrounds, including architecture, engineering (mechanical, civil / structural, electrical and building engineering) and town planning / urban design.

The course addresses issues such as:

  • sustainable building design and construction
  • energy use
  • new and renewable energy technologies
  • novel materials and their influence on buildings and occupant comfort.

It is designed to stimulate and encourage novel and imaginative solutions to the challenging task of designing sustainable, energy efficient and environmentally responsible buildings and cities worldwide.

By the end of the course, you will have gained useful and technical knowledge as well as experience on this subject, and you will be adept at communicating and presenting yourself and your projects to an audience.

Entry requirements: 2:1 (or international equivalent) BEng/BSc in any relevant subject.

Key facts

  • The course attracts students from over 40 countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and Latin America. Many graduates have completed a further stage of doctoral research or joined energy employment or academia in different countries.
  • As part of its remit, the Department of Architecture and Built Environment aims to develop your vocational skills and the environmentally responsible attitude necessary in today's rapidly changing world.
  • The department enjoys strong collaborative links with overseas institutions. You may have the opportunity to attend and present / publish your MSc dissertation research at relevant conferences both in the UK and abroad.

Course details

During the autumn semester, you will be given a comprehensive background on the subject and on the use of a number of powerful computer programs (e.g. Ansys and Revit).

In the spring semester, you will undertake laboratory work and design and simulation projects related to the course area. You will also learn how to use another piece of powerful computer software, EnergyPlus.

A unique feature of this course is that in the spring term, students from all academic backgrounds will be taught how to write/develop computer programs for energy modelling and many other applications, using step-by-step Microsoft Visual Basic programming.

You will spend the summer semester producing a supervised dissertation (60 credits). This will be your opportunity to undertake a major piece of independent research, using the knowledge and experience gained from the taught modules. The research project could be related to the climate and buildings in your home country. 

The MSc Renewable Energy and Architecture is offered on a full-time basis over one year (12 months).

The course comprises 180 credits, split across 120 credits worth of taught modules during autumn and spring semesters, and a 60-credit dissertation completed over the summer period.

Course aims and content

Successful integration of renewable energy into buildings requires an understanding of both design and technology, and hence the close co-operation of architects, engineers and other building professionals. The course is structured to accommodate the interests of those who are related to building design and energy performance, such as architecture and engineering. Core modules provide an introduction to energy systems that may be used to utilize natural energy resources and show how these may be incorporated into the design of buildings. Students have the opportunity to explore these in a manner that suites their backgrounds.

In the autumn semester, you will be given a good background on the subject and on the use of a number of computer programs such as Ansys and Revit. In the spring semester you will undertake laboratory work and design and simulation projects related to the course area and also learn how to write/develop  computer programs using Visual Basic. You will also be given the opportunity to learn how to use advanced computer programs such as EnergyPlus. No previous experience in using any of the above computer programs is essential.

During the course you will carry out group and individual design and modelling projects, depending on your academic background. You will also prepare and give oral presentations, using MS Powerpoint. In the summer term, you will conduct your dissertation research, which could be related to your own countries’ climate and architectural style.

The course has been attended by students from over forty countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and Latin America. At the end of the course you will gain useful experience on the subject and also learn how to communicate with others, as well as how to present yourself and your projects to an audience. A number of MSc graduates have already been offered jobs in the UK and abroad. Others have been able to undertake research leading to PhD, in renewable energy and architecture, after successfully completing the MSc course.

Entry requirements

The course is suitable for applicants with a good Honours Degree in any of the following disciplines: Architecture, Building Engineering, Building Services Engineering, Civil/Structural Engineering, or Mechanical Engineering. We are also happy to consider applicants from other relevant professional backgrounds. Experience in working with computers and computer software such as MS Word, MS Excel and MS Powerpoint is essential. 

Minimum English requirement to apply: IELTS: 6.0 with no less than 5.5 in any element.

Required documents for application

A detailed CV, two references and a detailed academic transcript showing your GPA are required for the application. All documents MUST be in English.

Progression to summer dissertation

If a Postgraduate Diploma student manages to achieve at least 50% as an overall average for both autumn and spring semester modules, by June, he or she will be allowed to continue as a MSc student and therefore can register for the MSc dissertation in the summer period.

This condition of achieving at least 50% overall average also applies to other students on the course, in order to proceed to summer dissertation.

English language course for academic purposes

Accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English, the Centre for English Language Education (CELE) runs 5-week English language and study skills courses for Engineering.

These courses are designed in collaboration with the faculty and prepare students going on to postgraduate programmes within the Faculty of Engineering.

If you are close to the English language level you need to go on to this course and you meet the entry requirements for the relevant CELE course, you may be eligible for a joint offer. This means that:

  • you only need one TIER 4 visa and CAS
  • you take a 5-week English language and academic skills preparation course, and then go onto your course
  • your progression to the course is automatic, provided you attend and complete all the coursework

For more details, please visit the CELE website or email

Find out more about this English language course



Core modules in autumn semester are:

Modelling Environmental Performance: 10 credits 

This module introduces methods for exploring the environmental performance of buildings. Heavy reliance is placed on computer simulation and use of physical models. These are used to study the interactions of glazing, thermal envelope design, ventilation and environmental dynamic performance of occupied buildings.

Renewable Energy Technology 1: 10 credits

Various sources of renewable energy suitable for use in buildings are examined, concentrating on wind, water, waste heat, geothermal and bio-mass. The technology used to harness them and limitations associated with their use is assessed.

Ventilation in Architecture and Planning: 30 credits

This is a modelling, simulation and design module. It will examine ventilation in the context of architecture, human thermal comfort and ventilation heat loss or gain with emphasis on 2D and 3D computer simulation techniques (using ANSYS software). It will address the processes of natural ventilation focusing on envelope flows and internal air movement, considering different wind speeds and directions. It will also address the effects of building components such as partitions, windows and doors on ventilation design.  

Building Design in Different Climates: (compulsory for architects) 10 credits

This module is available only to students from architectural backgrounds. Students will be introduced to the principles of site planning, building design and technology in different climates. It will also examine the concepts of bioclimatic design and thermal comfort standards at an international level. The module will also address climatic and socio-economic impacts on building form and fabric in a global context. Students are expected to use CAD software for 2D and 3D modelling of building elements and illustrating the operation of environmental control solutions. Students are also expected to simulate building environmental performance employing computer techniques, such as Revit and Ansys.

Energy Efficient Systems: (compulsory for engineers) 10 credits

This module will examine combined heat and power systems, heat pumps and heat recovery systems, concentrating on their integration into the structure and services of buildings.

Core modules in spring semester are:

Renewable Energy Technology 2: 10 credits

This module will examine the use of renewable materials in the construction of the fabric of a building, focusing on concepts such as embodied energy, cost of disposal, maintenance costs and expected life time, to encourage a life cycle approach to design.

Solar Architecture for Different Regions: 10 credits

This module is only available for students from architectural backgrounds. It will address the principles and applications of passive solar design in different latitudes. Students will be taught how to use EnergyPlus software to carry out design and modelling projects. The use of a number of solar systems will be addressed, such as conservatories, Trombe wall, solar chimney and mass wall.

Renewable Research Project: 30 credits

One of the aims of this module is to encourage students to use research tools (e.g. Revit, EnergyPlus) and knowledge already gained from other MSc modules taught during the autumn and spring semesters, to carry out research on building energy performance, and its application in complex building forms.

Another aim of this module is to introduce students to computer programming, using Visual Basic. This is to give students a new powerful research and learning tool which they can use to solve mathematical relationships related to heating and cooling loads calculation. Without learning programming, they will have to use conventional tools like hand held calculators and Excel spread sheets, which are not very attractive and not as powerful, and not very useful to their future career

Research Methodologies: (Compulsory for architects, optional for engineers) 10 credits

Techniques for conducting high-quality research will be introduced including literature searches, time-tabling and project management, experiment methodology design and analysis of results. The module aims to give preparation for MSc dissertation or for a further research/academic career working towards a PhD, or for involvement with industry-based R&D projects.

Energy Systems Performance and Appraisal: (Optional for engineers) 10 credits)

This module will introduce students to specific energy supply technologies for various end-use e.g. heating, refrigeration, cooling, air conditioning and electricity. the module is mainly project-driven with emphasis on the use of a wide range of evaluation methods to assess the technical & economic performance of the technologies. The latest regulations and policies relating to the application of energy systems will be examined where applicable.

Summer period for completion of dissertation

Dissertation: (Compulsory for MSc) 60 credits 

Students select any topic of research with relevance to renewable energy and buildings in any part of the world, which they investigate with the help of their supervisors. Investigations could be based on theoretical or computer simulation or a combination of these tools. Dissertations should normally be submitted by the first week of September.

Required total credits for MSc: 180 credits

Please note that all module details are subject to change. For more details about our modules, please see the module catalogue.

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



The fees for this course can be found on our tuition fees webpages.

Please visit our funding your masters web page for general information and advice on financial support.

UK/EU Students

Funding information can be found on the Graduate School website.

Please visit the faculty website for information on any scholarships currently available through the faculty.

Government loans for masters courses

The Government offers postgraduate student loans of up to £10,609 for students studying a taught or research masters course. Applicants must ordinarily live in England or the EU. Student loans are also available for students from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.



Many graduates of this MSc programme have been rewarded for their innovative ideas and contribution to real energy projects, for example the prestigious National Energy Award for work on a large-scale solar project in Mexico. Graduates have entered both academia and industry in the UK and overseas.

The MSc course develops a practical and theoretical understanding and therefore enables graduates to work with architectural or engineering firms, move into teaching at university level, or undertake research leading to a PhD.

The University of Nottingham has been recognised as delivering a Gold standard in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which aims to recognise and reward excellent learning and teaching.

Career Prospects and Employability

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers* and can offer you a head-start when it comes to your career.

*The Graduate Market 2013-2017, High Fliers Research

The University of Nottingham has been named as the best university in the UK for graduate employment, by the 2017 The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide.

The acquisition of a master’s degree from the University of Nottingham demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.

Explore it - Virtual Nottingham

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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