Search site

Faculty of Engineering

Sustainable Energy Systems MSc

Wind turbines


In the developed world, life in the 21st century relies upon a plentiful supply of energy. Maintaining the supply while limiting our environmental impact and spreading the benefits to developing nations is the defining challenge of our age. We need to move to more sustainable forms of energy, managing the transition so as to maintain prosperity in the face of technical, political, economic and environmental challenges.

To watch more videos about this course, visit our Youtube site.

In response to these challenges, we have developed a Sustainable Energy Systems masters course with energy science and technology at its core but covering key aspects of business, economics and policy. You will learn about conventional and renewable energy conversion and distribution systems.

You will also develop an understanding from a technical, regulatory and financial standpoint of the challenges associated with the transition to an alternative system and acquire the skills and knowledge to help make it happen.

Professor Andrew Heyes is the course director for this MSc. Listen to a lecture he gave on 'Perspectives on Sustainable Energy' for a recent Energy Society event. (opens in another window)

Find out about our MSc programme managers on our staff profiles page

Course duration: 12 months (full-time)
Start date: September
Course fees (full-time): UK/EU: £10,000; International: £19,000
Scholarships: Scholarships worth up to £2,000 available.
Accreditation: We are seeking accreditation from the Energy Institute.

You may also be interested in the following related programmes:
- MSc Energy and Environment
- MSc Electrical Engineering and Renewable Energy Systems
- MSc Climate Change and Environmental Policy


The table below shows the modules that you will study when you commence your studies in September 2015. This information is taken from the University Programme Catalogue, which is a tool designed for current students to select modules.

If you are looking to start your studies in September 2016, it will provide you with an example of what you will study.

You will study eight modules totalling 120 credits and undertake a research project, some supported by industry, worth 60 credits during the summer.

Compulsory modules
Modules Description Credits
Energy Systems: Analysis and Efficiency A new module designed to convey key skills of analysis in the context of energy systems. These will include thermodynamics of energy systems, life cycle analysis and embedded energy analysis and general system analysis tools such as mixed integer linear programming. 15
Renewable Energy Laboratory You will complete at least four experiments exploring renewable energy technologies such as wind, wave, bio-fuels and geothermal energy. Each experiment will have associated on-line resources and exercises to convey the key technical issues along with short on-line assessments. Further assessment will be via laboratory note keeping and the preparation of a full laboratory report. 30
Policy and Economics for Sustainable Energy Systems This module will convey key issues in economics and policy emphasising how they must be considered closely with technology development. You will consider the key non-technical issues that influence the design, operation and development of energy supply systems in the UK and elsewhere. 15
Enterprise Awareness This module will be taught by Leeds University Business School and derived from their existing Enterprise Awareness & New Venture Creation module. 15
Energy Futures This module will comprise seminars from guest speakers chosen primarily from the universities post doc/research fellow community who will convey the essence of their research and its place in the energy landscape. 15

Research project
You will undertake an individual research project related to a contemporary energy issue/technology. In keeping with the interdisciplinary nature of the programme the projects will typically take a holistic approach and may consider technical, policy, environmental and financial aspects.

Optional modules (30 credits)
A selection of optional modules are available, which have been organised into themes. If you wish to maintain the interdisciplinary nature of this course and you have the appropriate background it will be possible to take modules from more than one theme. The modules available could include, but would not be restricted to, the following:
Theme Module Credits
Nuclear Nuclear Operations 15
Nuclear Futures 15
Electrical Power Systems Micro-Grid Laboratory 15
Grid-Connected Microgeneration Systems 15
Transport Combustion in Engines 15
Energy in the Built Environment Energy in Buildings 15
Bioenergy from Wastes 15

This is an indicative list and actual content may vary as we regularly review the content of our courses in light of new experiences and developments in the field.

Career options

Upon graduation you will be ideally qualified to take up and pursue leading roles
in the energy sector. With your business, policy and entrepreneurial skills and a
high level of technical/scientific knowledge you will be equipped for senior positions with traditional blue-chip engineering companies or power utilities.

Equally you will be well placed to pursue careers in the financial sector and positions within the legislature and trade organisations. For those with a creative mind and the entrepreneurial spirit you will be well prepared for roles in new start-up businesses and will have many of the skills and attributes required to start one of your own.

Industry View
"We need to get ourselves onto a sustainable footing in the first half of this century. One of the biggest sustainability challenges is in energy. Energy lifts people out of poverty. But damage to the climate from carbon emissions has to be avoided. Energy sustainability is a major problem of systems architecture, covering a very complex and multi faceted energy supply chain with significant interdependencies.

Science, technology and engineering have key parts to play. But many other disciplines are needed, including economics, finance, policy-making, international relations and social science. This is a multidisciplinary problem with few parallels.

There is a global need for large numbers of skilled and creative individuals who know how to work collaboratively. We could be daunted by the challenge but we ought to be envigorated by the tremendous opportunities that emerge from creating future sustainable energy systems."

James Smith
Chairman of the Carbon Trust
Former President of the Energy Institute

"Recent technological advances offer the prospect of cheap, reliable, clean energy for all: both in developed countries as well as for the 1.3 billion people around the world who still don't have access to electricity. The opportunities are huge, but so are the challenges. You certainly can't build the world's most complex modern industrial system piece-meal. We need a new cadre of energy leaders: cross-functional problem-solvers as fluent in policy as in technology, as comfortable in finance as in politics. I have high hopes for the graduates of this course."

Michael Liebreich
Founder and Chairman of the Advisory Board, Bloomberg New Energy Finance
Advisory Board Member, UN Sustainable Energy for All

"The varied curriculum of interdisciplinary postgraduate energy courses such as the Sustainable Energy Systems MSc fosters graduates well-equipped for a career in various areas of the energy industry. An understanding of technical, economic, sustainability and policy aspects of the energy industry and how they relate to one another is valuable given the relevance of all of these strands to businesses operating within the renewable energy industry."

Brian Denvir
Consultant, E4tech

Entry requirements

A minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2.1), or equivalent, in an engineering or a physical science discipline. Relevant professional qualifications and experience may also be considered.

We also welcome and accept students with a wide range of international equivalent qualifications.

English language requirement: GCSE English Language grade C (or above) or an equivalent recognised English Language qualification e.g. IELTS: 6.5 with not less than 6.0 in listening, reading, speaking and writing.

Our Language Centre provide a range of English for Academic Purposes Pre-sessional courses, which are designed to help international students develop their language and academic study skills.

How to apply

You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. This will allow you to track your application at each stage of the process. For assistance please view our postgraduate taught guidelines.

If you are an International (non-EU/EEA or Swiss citizen) applicant who has applied for, or intends to apply for, this course within the Faculty of Engineering and require a student visa to study in the UK then you will require an ATAS certificate.

If you require any further information please contact our admissions team,
e:, t: +44 (0)113 343 2343.

If you are interested in applying you are welcome to contact the course director, Professor Andy Heyes, for an informal discussion.

t: +44 (0)113 343 5857

Admissions for this programme are handled by our School of Chemical and Process Engineering.