Postgraduate study

Sustainable Energy Systems MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time


Funding opportunities

The MSc in Sustainable Energy Systems provides graduates and working professionals with a broad training in, and understanding of, energy systems in the context of the sustainability of energy supply.

The program is grounded in Engineering and has a strong emphasis on energy systems where electricity is the final product. However, energy is also considered in the wider context of consumption patterns, efficiency, economics, policy and regulation.

While there is particular focus on the deployment of renewable energies in grid-connected systems, there are also opportunities to explore off-grid systems, on some of the optional courses and as part of dissertation projects.

Our MSc students actively engage in research as part of their dissertation projects. These are conducted across highly relevant and multidisciplinary themes within the Institute for Energy Systems – and increasingly across other institutes within the School of Engineering. In addition, there are opportunities to work with industry, and some students go on to join our PhD community afterwards.

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Environment & Society Academy.


Accreditation of this MSc for CEng (Further Learning) means that our graduates who are seeking to become Chartered Engineers can count their MSc as one year of Further Learning when applying for the Chartered Engineer status.

The CEng accreditation is awarded by the Energy Institute (EI), which is an independent professional body. It gives students and employers confidence in the quality of the MSc Sustainable Energy Systems programme. Students from the School of Engineering can sign up to become Student member of the EI free of change for the duration of their studies.

This programme is run over 12 months, with two semesters of taught courses followed by a research project leading to a masters thesis.

Semester 1

Compulsory courses:

  • Technologies for Sustainable Energy
  • Energy and Environmental Economics
  • Engineering Research Methods with Grand Challenge (MSc)

Plus, one of the following, depending on the student's academic background:

  • Electrical Engineering Fundamentals of Renewable Energy
  • Mechanical Engineering Fundamentals of Renewable Energy

Of these two courses, students must take the one that they are the least familiar with, so that they can appreciate the breadth of the field as well as be able to keep up with courses in Semester 2 that draw on these subjects.

Students are also required to either be already knowledgeable of contents of the other course or ensure that they assimilate these that they not already familiar with by independent study during the Semester. Thus, for example, a Chemical Engineer would be required to register on the Electrical Engineering Fundamentals of Renewable Energy course, since they should already have a good knowledge of significant part of the other course (Mechanical Engineering Fundamentals etc.), such as fluid mechanics. However, they should still check the contents of the Mechanical Engineering course during the Semester, making sure that their knowledge of solids mechanics is at the level that is required in the programme.

Optional courses In addition, all students will also choose 20 credits of optional courses, from the Schools of Engineering, GeoSciences, Business School, Social and Political Science, and Edinburgh College of Art, depending on availability.

Semester 2

Compulsory courses:

  • Solar Energy & Photovoltaic Systems (MSc)
  • Principles of Wind Energy (MSc)
  • Marine Energy (MSc)

Optional courses All students will also choose 30 credits of optional courses from the Schools of Engineering, GeoSciences, Business School, Social and Political Science, and Edinburgh College of Art, depending on availability.

A list of optional courses will be confirmed at the beginning of the academic year.

Summer months

From the end of the May exams until the end of the program, students are working full time on their Dissertation projects where they strive to answer a research question in the field of sustainable energy. The question must be specific enough that it can be meaningfully addressed during this short period of time, and not have been covered anywhere else before.

This is preceded by preliminary research on defining this research question and devising a methodology for addressing it, a process which must be concluded by the end of Semester 2 by the production of a Mission statement by the student that is submitted to approval by the allocated Supervisor. Students wishing to develop their own project or working collaboratively with industry or other organizations that they have approached are advised to start as early as Semester 1. In all cases, students are encouraged to have at least some input in the definition of the project by indicating preferred subject areas and then making proposals or suggestions to their supervisors when the research question is being determined.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2021/22

Graduates go on to a wide range of activities in industry, public organisations or academia. The MSc has well established links with industry, with many graduates finding employment with leading national and international companies involved with energy, consultancy and engineering. Thus, recent graduates are now working in a variety of fields and roles, including as civil, structural, automotive, subsea and electrical engineers, and as power systems, energy and environment and renewable energy consultants. Employing firms include Arup, Alstom, Avery, Dennison, GE, Schneider, SSE, Scottish Power and many other small, medium and large organisations.

These entry requirements are for the 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in engineering or physics.

If you apply with a background in another field, you may be accepted if you hold a UK first class honours degree, or its international equivalent, and have studied mathematics to first year undergraduate level, including vectorial calculus (gradients, curls, etc), complex algebra and Fourier transforms. You must also be able to demonstrate a strong interest in the energy sector.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: 62 overall with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

(*Revised 17 November 2021 to add accepted PTE Academic qualifications.)

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:


If you receive an offer of admission you will need to pay a deposit to secure your place.

  • £1,500 (this contributes towards your tuition fees)

Any applicants who are required to pay will receive an offer with full details. (If there is no information on your offer about the deposit, then you are not required to pay.)

Find out more about tuition fee deposits:

Living costs

You will be responsible for covering living costs for the duration of your studies.

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc1 YearFull-timeTuition fees

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Housing, Construction and Infrastructure (HCI) Skills Gateway Scholarships*

HCI Scholarships are part of the support programme for ‘advanced skills’ within the Housing Construction Infrastructure (HCI) Skills Gateway, which is an employability and skills support mechanism funded by the Scottish government within the Edinburgh & SE Scotland City Region Deal.

Scholarship are available to MSc and PG Dip students domiciled or working in the South-East of Scotland, more specifically the councils of:

  • East Lothian
  • Mid Lothian
  • West Lothian
  • City of Edinburgh
  • Fife
  • Scottish Borders

Applications are particularly welcome from applicants of groups underrepresented in the construction industry (public and private sector).

Learn more about this scholarship:

Engineering International Masters Scholarships

  • £3,000

The scholarships will be awarded to overseas applicants who have been accepted for admission on a full-time basis for an eligible postgraduate taught Masters programme within the School of Engineering.

The scholarship will be awarded broadly on the basis of academic merit with candidates requiring a first-class honours degree from a UK university or overseas equivalent.

Learn more about this scholarship:

Scottish Power Scholarship

  • Full tuition fees plus a monthly maintenance allowance

ScottishPower has been building relationships with universities in our communities for a number of years. Working together, we aim to support development of future talent while mitigating the projected skills gap within the energy sector.

The programme is designed to financially support high achieving recent graduates in Spain, the United Kingdom and Mexico, who are interested in pursuing an advanced degree in industry relevant fields such as engineering, smart grids, renewable energy, sustainability, energy and environment, information technology, big data, cybersecurity, and more.

Learn more about this scholarship:

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of Engineering
  • Sanderson Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FB

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines.

We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline.

We aim to make the majority of decisions within six weeks of the selection deadline.

If we have not made you an offer by a specific selection deadline this means one of two things:

  • your application has been unsuccessful, in which case we will contact you to let you know, or
  • your application is still being considered, will be carried forward for consideration in the next selection deadline and we’ll be in touch once a decision is made

Selection Deadlines

Round Application Deadline Decisions made or applications rolled to next deadline
1 31 December 15 February
2 15 May 30 June

You must submit one reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of Engineering
  • Sanderson Building
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FB