Postgraduate study
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Sustainable Energy Systems MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time


Funding opportunities

The energy crisis is forcing the world to secure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Our MSc in Sustainable Energy Systems is a one-year programme that will allow you to contribute to a more sustainable future. The programme is grounded in engineering, but you will be encouraged to consider the societal, economic, environmental and policy aspects of the industry.

We place a strong emphasis on energy systems, where electricity is the final product, and you will consider energy in the wider context of consumption patterns, efficiency and regulation.

You will acquire a comprehensive knowledge of the deployment of renewable energies in grid-connected systems, and will also be able to explore off-grid systems if this is your area of interest.

The programme is affiliated with the University's Global Environment & Society Academy, a steering committee that seeks to tackle global environmental challenges through teaching, research and outreach.

Our MSc in Sustainable Energy Sytems provides a broad training in, and understanding of, energy systems in the context of sustainability of energy supply. You will participate in lectures, tutorials, and lab sessions, through which you will:

  • benefit from the programme’s multidiscipline design, with courses, teaching staff and supervisors drawn from our Mechanical, Electrical, Chemical and Civil engineering disciplines
  • acquire in-depth technical knowledge, balanced with practical experience
  • actively undertake research
  • engage with the Institute for Energy Systems
  • access world-class research facilities
  • gain opportunities to work with industry


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

You will take the following compulsory courses:

  • Technologies for Sustainable Energy
  • Engineering Research Methods with Grand Challenge
  • Sustainable Energy Contexts

You will also take one of the following courses:

  • Electrical Engineering Fundamentals of Renewable Energy
  • Mechanical Engineering Fundamentals of Renewable Energy You will select 20 credits of option courses which may include:
  • Sustainable Theory and Contexts
  • Fundamentals of Infrastructure Finance
  • Applied Energy Finance
  • Power Conversion
  • Distributed Energy Resources and Smart Grids
  • Power Engineering Fundamentals
  • Power Systems
  • Carbon Capture and Transport

Semester 2

You will take the following compulsory courses:

  • Solar Energy & Photovoltaic Systems
  • Principles of Wind Energy
  • Marine Energy
  • Energy and Environmental Economics

You will also select 20 credits of option courses which may include:

  • Nuclear Waste Management: Principles, Policies and Practice
  • Power Systems Engineering and Economics
  • Separation Processes for Carbon Capture
  • Technology and Innovation Management
  • Advanced Power Electronics and Machines
  • Technology Entrepreneurship
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Energy Policy and Politics

Courses can change from year-to-year. Those listed provide a representation of courses previously offered. Courses for the forthcoming year will be published on the Degree Programme Table in the Spring.

MSc Dissertation

You will undertake a research project over the summer months, culminating in the submission of a dissertation. You will be able to develop your own project under the supervision of one of our academics and could work collaboratively with industry or other organisations. The project is conducted across highly relevant and multidisciplinary themes within the Institute for Energy Systems and increasingly across other institutes within the School of Engineering. We offer a wide range of topics including:

  • Wind energy
  • Wave energy
  • Tidal energy
  • Solar energy
  • Sustainable energy life cycle assessment

On successful completion of the programme, you will be able to:

  • specify and design energy systems that can deliver sustainable energy
  • contribute to cutting-edge developments in sustainable energy
  • apply your advance research skills and training, in both industrial and academics settings
  • understand and tackle the global energy trilemma of supplying secure, equitable and environmentally sustainable energy

Our graduates go on to a wide range of activities in industry, public organisations or academia. The MSc has well-established links with industry. Many graduates find employment with leading national and international companies involved with energy, consultancy and engineering.

Our recent graduates are now working in a variety of fields and roles, including:

  • Consultants for power systems, energy and environment or renewable energy
  • Electrical engineers
  • Subsea engineers
  • Civil or structural engineers
  • Automotive engineers

Careers service

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

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 B.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

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

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. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 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.

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 (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

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.

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

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
  • 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.

Scholarships 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 strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications may close earlier than the published deadlines if there is exceptionally high demand.

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 eight 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 15 December 1 March
2 31 March 31 May
3 31 May 31 July

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