Postgraduate study

MSc Sustainable Energy Engineering

This course is designed to enable science and engineering graduates to assess different energy supply options and to analyse sustainable energy technologies.
1 year full-time
Entry requirements
A 2.1 in an Engineering or Science degree which covers the fundamentals of energy engineering
6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element), if these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses may be available
Start date
UK/EU fees
£7,785 - Terms apply
International fees
£22,815 - Terms apply
Institution of Mechanical Engineers
University Park Campus



This 12 month course is designed to enable science and engineering graduates to assess different energy supply options. Students will gain a comprehensive understanding of modern sustainable, renewable and conventional technologies for a wide range of applications.

Due to a growing skills shortage in the energy sector, especially in emerging energy technologies, industry requires graduates with specialist knowledge and multidisciplinary ability. A broad understanding of energy technologies and more practical engineering skills are provided throughout this course.

Key facts

  • It provides project management as part of the Project Organisation and Design module, and financial evaluation as part of the Energy Systems Performance and Appraisal module.
  • This course is accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.



Full course details

The course structure consists of 120 credits of taught modules plus a major individual research-based project completed during the summer term. Tutor-led modules in each semester provide a continuous thread of research development leading into the summer project. 

Entry requirements: 2:1 (or international equivalent) BEng/BSc in any relevant subject which covers the basic principles of energy engineering.

You will develop:

  • a solid understanding of existing energy technology and its application, and an appreciation of the economic, legal, social and ethical aspects of sustainable energy
  • the technical knowledge and skills to prepare them for a leading career in the field of sustainable energy systems
  • the understanding required to design and critically analyse sustainable systems for energy efficiency, energy storage and energy conversion
  • decision making powers in applying sustainable energy engineering to buildings, electricity generation, industrial processes and transport infrastructure
  • the ability to exercise original thought
  • the ability to communicate ideas effectively in written reports, verbally and by means of presentations to groups

Watch Sustainable Energy Engineering MSc graduate Diana Guzman's video

Individual project

Following the successful completion of the taught modules, an individual research project is undertaken during the summer term. There is a wide choice of project areas to choose from and all projects are supervised by an academic member of staff.

Project areas span the Faculty of Engineering and cover areas such as:

  • assessment of energy crops for combined heat and power systems
  • bio-diesel process optimisation
  • renewable energy at point of consumption
  • structural and material aspects of wind turbine design
  • evaluation of electric and hybrid vehicles for carbon reduction
  • improving environmental performance of power stations

Academic English preparation and support

If you need additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress to postgraduate study without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

A specialist engineering course is available and you could be eligible for a joint offer, which means you will only need to apply for your visa once.




Core modules

Advanced Engineering Research Preparation (10 credits)

Summary of Content

A project-oriented module involving identification of methodologies and skills required for the main specialist summer MSC project. The module requires the student to examine, collect, collate, analyse data about the subject, draw conclusions and communicate this to peers and other interested parties. The module covers topics essential to research and communication in engineering projects at level 4. These include:

  • Library searches, literature surveys and citing references
  • IT: introduction to MATLAB, optimal use of Microsoft Office involving the more advanced features, effective transfer of data between applications
  • Communication skills: writing reports; verbal presentations, poster presentations.

Taught semesters

Autumn UK


ActivityNumber of WeeksNumber of sessionsDuration of a session
Practicum 11 weeks 1 week 3 hours

Assessment method

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 10.00 Formative assessment exercise to evaluate presentation and project planning skills, in which each student will submit an A3 poster.
Coursework 2 40.00 Individual presentation exercise on a current topic of engineering interest.
Coursework 3 50.00 Data measurement & error analysis assignment. Practical assignment in which students will also demonstrate ICT competence in MATLAB and MSOffice.

Renewable Energy Technology 1 (10 credits)

Summary Of Content: This module will examine the various sources of renewable energy suitable for use in buildings. It will concentrate on wind, water, waste heat, solar, geothermal and bio-mass as potential sources of energy and investigate the contribution they can make to a building's energy requirement, the technology used to harness them and limitations associated with their use.

Taught Semesters: Autumn UK

Method and Frequency of Class: Two 1-hour lectures per week; three hours of tutorials. Breakdown of hours: lectures - 20 hours; tutorials - 3 hours; private study - 52 hours.

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 30.00 Laboratory reports
Exam 1 70.00 3 hour exam

Advanced Engineering Research Project Organisation and Design (10 credits)

Summary Of Content

A project-oriented module involving a review of publications and views on a topic allied to the chosen specialist subject. The module will also involve organisation and design of the main project. Skills will be acquired through workshops and seminars that will include:

  • Further programming in MATLAB and /or MSExcel Macros
  • Project planning and use of Microsoft Project
  • Measurement and error analysis
  • Development of laboratory skills including safety & risk assessment

Students will select a further set of specialist seminars from, e.g.:

  • Meshing for computational engineering applications
  • Modelling using CAE packages
  • Use of CES Selector software
  • Specific laboratory familiarisation
  • Use of MSVisio software for process flow
  • Use of HYSYS process modelling software
  • Use of PSpice to simulate analogue and digital circuits

The specialist seminars will be organised within the individual MSc courses.

Taught Semesters: Spring UK 

Delivery: 3-hour seminars in 12 weeks 

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 40.00 2000 word literature review on a topic relevant to MSc programme.
Coursework 2   Formative health & safety risk assessment
Coursework 3 60.00 2000 word max planning report; topics to be specific to individual MSc courses and specialist training

Economic Evaluation of Sustainable Energy (10 credits)

Summary Of Content: This module will introduce topics related to the economic analysis of investments in energy conservation and sustainable energy sources for building applications. The module will include alternative technologies for building energy supply systems (thermal energy and electrical energy), life cycle cost method and procedure. It will also cover supplementary economic measures, handling inflation, dealing with uncertainty, and evaluation design alternatives. The module will provide students with a basic understanding of the factors and examples that they will need to undertake a successful economic evaluation of sustainable energy technology in the built environment.

Taught Semesters: Spring UK 

Method and Frequency of Class: 2-hour lectures in 12 weeks and Private study. 

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 100.00 Project report 3000 - 5000 words

Sustainable Energy Futures (10 credits)

Summary Of Content: This module considers:
  • Current trends and future prospects for fossil fuel supplies
  • Analysis of energy contributions from different sources
  • Energy vectors, conversion efficiency and distribution systems
  • Energy storage systems
  • Policies affecting future energy options: carbon reduction initiatives and life-cycle assessment
  • Sustainable transport options and infrastructure
  • Comparison of low carbon energy options including biofuels and nuclear

Taught Semesters: Autumn UK 

Method and Frequency of Class: 2-hour lectures in 11 weeks. 

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 20.00 10 hours of student time
Exam 1 80.00  

Energy Efficiency for Sustainability 1 (10 credits)

Individual Research Project (60 credits)

Optional modules

Technologies for the Hydrogen Transport Economy (10 credits)

Summary Of Content: This module considers:
  • Hydrogen use in the transport and energy sectors
  • Sustainable sources of Hydrogen
  • Hydrogen storage and distribution
  • Fuel cell technologies
  • Hydrogen Vehicles
  • Grid stability and decarbonisation of heat applications
  • Economic and environmental feasibility assessment

Taught Semesters: Spring UK 

Method and Frequency of Class: 2-hour lectures in 10 weeks

Method of Assessment: 1 Examination (100%) -  2 hours


Power Generation and Carbon Capture (10 credits)

Summary Of Content: The following topics are covered: Fossil fuels, occurrence, use and world-wide availability; Fossil power generation, conventional and advanced technologies; Current environmental/climate change issues in Power Generation using Fossil Fuels: Emission problems and reduction technologies; climate-forcing carbon emissions and fossil energy de-carbonisation; Co-firing of fossil fuels and biomass; carbon (CO2) capture and storage (CCS).

Taught Semesters: Autumn UK 

Method and Frequency of Class: 

ActivityNumber of WeeksNumber of sessionsDuration of a session
Lecture 11 weeks 1 week 1 hour
Lecture 11 weeks 1 week 2 hours

Method of Assessment: 

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Dissertation 30.00 Technology Assessment Report and Presentation
Exam 1 70.00 2 hour exam

Advanced Thermal Power Systems (10 credits)

Summary Of Content: This module concerns thermal plant for power generation. It will focus upon steam cycles and gas turbine cycles and integrated steam/gas cycles and consider plant suitable for operation with conventional fossil fuels, biomass, waste heat streams and solar thermal and nuclear heat sources. The module will consider plant for high efficiency, low carbon emission applications and will also include advanced analysis of combustion processes to include chemical equilibrium and the issues related to pollution formation. The emphasis in the module will be upon understanding how to analyse the thermal performance of power plant and undertake design calculations. The emphasis will also be upon system performance and design rather than component design.

Taught Semesters: Spring UK 

Method and Frequency of Class: 

ActivityNumber of WeeksNumber of sessionsDuration of a session
Lecture 12 weeks 2 week 1 hour

Method of Assessment:

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 20.00 Written coursework
Exam 1 80.00 Written exam

Renewable Energy Technology 2 (10 credits)

Summary Of Content: This module will examine aspects of performance analysis and system design/sizing of renewable energy systems for building integration. The course provides opportunities to gain experience in issues of technology selection, system design, installation and performance analysis of a range of renewable energy systems. The module will emphasize on solar energy technologies (photovoltaic and solar thermal systrems) and small scale wind turbines.
The course will cover aspects of weather data resource/collection, system performance analysis, system design parameters sizing, design/simulation tools and field evaluation of these technologies.

Taught Semesters: Spring UK 

Method and Frequency of Class: 

ActivityNumber of WeeksNumber of sessionsDuration of a session
Lecture 12 weeks 2 week 2 hours

6 hours outdoor laboratory + 48 hours private study

Method of Assessment:  Report (100%) – 4000-word report


Renewable Generation Technologies (10 credits)

Summary Of Content: This module covers the analysis and design of renewable and sustainable energy systems. It covers the various types of renewable energy and the resources available. It uses an understanding of the physical principles of various types of energy resources in order to develop analytical models which can be applied to the design of renewable energy systems, including energy conversion and storage, especially for electrical power generation. It includes:
  • Wind power: wind probability distributions, wind turbine performance and control, comparison of generator types
  • Hydro and tidal power: resource assessment, turbine types and principles
  • Solar power, including PV cell equivalent circuit, analysis of losses, matching to DC and AC power systems
  • Wave power systems, including wave energy characteristics, types of energy converter
  • Characteristics of synchronous and induction generators
  • Embedded generation; types of generator and operation of RE within the power system
  • Economic and environmental assessment of energy conversion technologies.

Taught Semesters: Spring UK 

Method and Frequency of Class: 

ActivityNumber of WeeksNumber of sessionsDuration of a session
Lecture 11 weeks 1 week 2 hours

The module will comprise a series of lectures, seminars, tutorials and visits during the Spring Semester.

Method of Assessment: 

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Coursework 1 25.00 Sustainable energy case study: A written report.
Exam 1 75.00 Two Hour Paper. The examination will be based on the whole of the course.

Combined Heat and Power Systems (10 credits)

Summary Of Content: The module covers the topic of Cogeneration or Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technology (large, small and micro scale systems). The module content includes: 1) Basic definition of CHP; 2) Energy balance of CHP; 3) Components and specification of CHP; 4) Types of prime movers used in CHP (Internal combustion engines, gas turbines, Steam, CCGT, Stirling engine, etc) and associated equipment (Heat recovery, electric generators.); 5) Selection and sizing CHP using energy demand profiles; 6) Economic and environmental analysis (payback, period, LCOE, carbon emissions); 6) Case studies for different applications (Buildings/industry).

Taught Semesters: Spring UK 

Method and Frequency of Class: 

ActivityNumber of WeeksNumber of sessionsDuration of a session
Lecture 12 weeks 1 week 2 hours

Private study - 55 hours.

Method of Assessment: 

Assessment TypeWeightRequirements
Project 1 30.00 2,000-word report or equivalent calculations
Exam 1 70.00 one unseen written 2-hour exam

Energy Storage (10 credits)

Summary Of Content: This module aims to provide Level 4 students with the fundamental knowledge and practical skills in relation with energy storage science, engineering and technology. It covers the following topics:
  • Fuels storage (coal, oil, natural gas, biomass, hydrogen etc)
  • Mechanical energy storage (springs, compressed air, fly wheels etc)
  • Heat or thermal energy storage (phase transformation, endothermic and exothermic reactions etc)
  • Electricity storage (electrochemical means, such as batteries, fuel cells, redox flow batteries, supercapacitors).
  • Integration of storage with supplier and users (power electronics for interfacing energy stores with power grid, renewable sources and users.
The module will be delivered in relation with the relevant materials and devices, together with optional laboratory observations and/or practices.

Taught Semesters: Spring UK 

Method and Frequency of Class: 

ActivityNumber of WeeksNumber of sessionsDuration of a session
Lecture 12 weeks 1 week 2 hours
Practicum 12 weeks 1 week 3 hours

Method of Assessment: 1 Examination (100%) -  2 hours


Wind Engineering and Energy (10 credits)

Conservation and Recycling of Materials (10 credits)

Please note that the modules listed above are all subject to change.

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.



See information on how to fund your masters, including our step-by-step guide.

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

Faculty of Engineering Postgraduate Scholarships

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 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 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.


Careers and professional development

Career destinations for our graduates include scientific researchers, secondary teachers, university lectures and university researchers.

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.  

Those who take up a postgraduate research opportunity with us will not only receive support in terms of close contact with supervisors and specific training related to your area of research, you will also benefit from dedicated careers advice from our Careers and Employability Service.  

Our Careers and Employability Service offers a range of services including advice sessions, employer events, recruitment fairs and skills workshops – and once you have graduated, you will have access to the service for life.

* The Graduate Market 2013-2017, High Fliers Research.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2016, 94.9% of postgraduates in engineering faculty courses who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £35,550 with the highest being £100,000.

*Known destinations of full-time home higher degree postgraduates, 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK.


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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