Renewable Energy Systems Technology (Distance Learning) MSc

Entry requirements:
2:1 +
See separate listing
Typically 3 years
Start date:
October 2018 and February 2019 (module restrictions apply)
UK/EU fees:
International fees:


Fully accredited

by major UK engineering institutions

including the IET, IMechE and Energy Institute


in the UK for research quality

REF 2014


of two Queen's Anniversary Awards


Based upon our renowned full-time Renewable Energy Systems Technology MSc, this part-time online distance learning programme offers flexibility in terms of place, pace and learning mode, and is designed for students who are not able to attend classes full-time at Loughborough.

The Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST) is one of the UK’s leading sustainable energy research centres. Our world-class state-of-the-art experimental and simulation laboratories are available for you to use for your project work and coursework assignments. Project work in the labs gives you a chance to work side by side with leading academics and researchers on industrially-relevant problems.

CREST is renowned for its innovative learning methods which help ensure that you have the best possible MSc experience. The rich array of learning and teaching resources available online enable both full-time and distance learning students are able to achieve the same learning outcomes.

Like the full-time version of the programme, it is fully accredited by major UK engineering institutions, including the IET, IMechE and Energy Institute.

What makes this programme different?

  • Enables you to fit your study around your work or family commitments 
  • Choose to study completely at a distance or take some of the modules on campus 
  • Distance learning means you can study anywhere in the world

Who should study this programme?

Our Renewable Energy Systems Technology (Distance Learning) MSc is aimed at individuals looking for in-depth knowledge of both theoretical and practical aspects of renewable energy resources, generation technologies, network integration, energy storage, economics and policy. If you're looking for a renewable energy course that will help you stand out from the crowd, then this is the course for you.

For further information about how the course is run please see Distance Learning with CREST.

Entry requirements

An honours degree (2:1 or above) or equivalent overseas qualification in any engineering or physical science. Other disciplines may be considered if they include strong mathematical, technological and analytical skills. Applicants with a good lower second class (2:2) honours degree may also be considered.

English language requirements

All applicants for admission to Loughborough University must have a qualification in English Language before they can be admitted to any course or programme, whether their first language is English or not. Find out more on English Language requirements webpage

IELTS: overall 6.5 with minimum 6.0 in each component.

What you'll study

All of our modules on our Renewable Energy Systems Technology (Distance Learning) programme consist of a series of study units, each covering a specific subject area, supported by extensive online multimedia resources via the University’s virtual learning environment LEARN.


Renewable Energy Systems Technology (Distance Learning) covers a wide range of topics; to give you a taster we have expanded on some of the core modules affiliated with this programme and the specific assessment methods associated with each module.

Compulsory modules

Sustainability and Energy Systems

In this module, you will explore the environmental, technical, political and socio-economic issues associated with world energy use. The causes of climate change are examined, along with the policies and mechanisms designed to mitigate its impacts. Carbon emissions resulting from energy used are evaluated, and various policies for emission reduction are explored.

Aspects of sustainable development in terms of energy security, costs and value of renewable energy are introduced in the context of energy markets. The module is assessed via a multi-disciplinary group project, and includes discussion seminars and workshops that examine the relationships between markets, economics and policy instruments with respect to current renewable energy technologies.


  • Climate Change and environmental impacts of energy use
  • World energy use and future energy scenarios
  • Carbon footprint of electricity systems
  • Environmental and social impacts of energy use
  • Energy security
  • External economic costs and value of renewable energy
  • Policies and strategies on carbon reduction (Kyoto, CDM, RE, carbon capture, efficiency measures)

Solar Power

The aim of this module is to examine key factors governing the nature, availability and characteristics of the solar resource and the fundamental concepts of photovoltaics and solar thermal conversion. The fundamental concepts of light are presented, along with the properties of the solar energy resource available for terrestrial energy conversion.

Solar thermal and passive solar systems are mathematically analysed and latest technological developments are discussed. The physics, operation principles and manufacturing procedures of photovoltaic devices are studied analytically. The design and performance of PV systems are analysed, and solar conversion technologies are examined critically in terms of design, efficiency, manufacturing options and costs.


  • Solar energy resource
  • Solar thermal systems
  • Passive solar design for buildings
  • Physics and operation of photovoltaic devices
  • Basic concepts of semiconductor physics
  • Manufacturing of photovoltaic devices
  • Applications of pv technology
  • Analysing and sizing PV systems
  • PV markets

Wind Power 1

The aim of this module is to explore the fundamental concepts of wind power, including wind turbine design, rotor aerodynamics and turbine control. The wind resource is analysed and modelled, and wind energy conversion in terms of the operational principles and characteristics of wind turbines are evaluated.

Aerodynamics, control, design and performance of wind turbines are studied, together with the economic, technical, institutional and environmental aspects of onshore and offshore wind farm development. Practical work includes the use of industry-standard software to design and plan a wind farm.


  • Wind characteristics
  • Resource assessment and modelling
  • Wind turbine aerodynamics
  • Turbine design principles, performance assessment and control
  • Wind farm development
  • Offshore wind power
  • Economic, technical, institutional and environmental aspects of on-shore and off-shore wind farms


In this module, students examine a broad range of biomass energy technologies. The principles of biomass metabolisms are discussed, and the current status and the future potential of biomass around the world are considered. Biomass resources and various chemical and biological processes and methodologies that can be used to create biofuels are evaluated.

Energy generation from waste is analysed, along with the physical and chemical nature of municipal waste. The biochemistry processes and engineering involved in anaerobic digestion are presented and practically analysed.


  • Bioconversion processes
  • Sources of biomass
  • Status of biomass as an energy source
  • Biomass combustion principles
  • Biofuels
  • Solid waste to energy
  • Anaerobic digestion processes

Water Power

This module is explores the principles governing the availability of hydro power in its onshore form as well as in the form of wave and tidal power. Hydro power resources are analysed and the methodologies for calculating the power available at a hydro site are presented. The features and operation principles of hydropower stations are considered.

The fundamental concepts of different types of water turbines are analysed. Wave energy devices and tidal power schemes are also evaluated, and explored experimentally in a practical laboratory setting.


  • Assessment of hydro power resources
  • Hydrodynamics principles
  • Flow measurement techniques for hydropower sites
  • Features of hydropower schemes
  • Water turbine types and operational principles
  • Conventional hydropower including micro-hydro
  • Wave energy and other marine conversion technologies
  • Tidal power
  • Air turbines
  • Economics

Integration of Renewables

This module provides an insight into the key electrical engineering principles associated with renewable energy systems, particularly in terms of the integration of renewable energy systems into electrical power networks. The module presents internationally applicable principles rather than country-specific regulations and practices.

A simulation-based network analysis coursework activity provide a deep insight into important aspects of grid integration, and provides a solid foundation for future electrical network professional practitioners.


  • Architectures for transmission and distribution systems
  • Loads, generation and power balance
  • Synchronous and induction generators
  • Power-electronic converters
  • Active, reactive and apparent power
  • Three-phase supplies
  • Voltage control
  • Load flow analysis and fault level assessment
  • Distributed generation and islanding

Research Project

The aim of the major project module is to provide you with the opportunity to carry out research on a topic of relevance to the sustainable and renewable energy sector. The project may take any of several forms; it may be hardware or software based, largely theoretical or mainly practical. Whichever route you choose, the project should be predominantly of a research nature and aim to make a limited but unique contribution to the chosen subject area.
Your MSc project research will be carried out at the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST), one of the UK’s leading sustainable energy research centres, and an important European academic group. The research carried out at CRESTY is innovative and relevant, influencing industry, policy makers, researchers and educators across the world. Research activities at CREST cover a range of technical applications, including wind power, solar PV, energy in buildings, grid connection and integration, energy storage, policy and investment.

Optional modules

Advanced Photovoltaics

In this module, you will develop specialist knowledge of solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies, blending the fundamental underlying science with practical implementation. Students will gain advanced knowledge of PV technologies, ranging from current research into solar cell materials to the design, implementation and performance assessment of full PV systems. Techniques for characterisation and performance modelling will equip you with the professional-level skills required to assess different PV technologies and optimise system designs.

The physical limits to efficiency of established PV technologies are explored, along with state-of-the-art commercial and research devices and leading-edge approaches that exceed the limitations of established technologies. PV system design, performance assessment and energy yield estimation are covered through lectures and system design coursework. The module is especially useful for those going on to researcher, technologist, designer or consultant roles in the PV sector.


  • Physics of PV cells
  • PV materials analysis (structural, optical and electrical)
  • Silicon and thin film PV design and properties
  • Characterisation and modelling of PV devices
  • PV system design, optimisation, performance assessment and modelling
  • PV system losses, failures and degradation issues

Solar Thermal Systems

In this module, you will examine advanced solar thermal applications in considerable depth. Collection and storage of solar energy as well as heat flows in buildings is analysed. The operating principles of solar thermal collectors and heat pumps are studied. The fundamentals and properties of concentrating solar thermal power systems are presented and the Rankine steam cycles for power generation are analysed. Finally, the key principles of energy efficient and passive solar building design are examined


  • Concentrating solar power systems
  • Solar thermal systems analysis
  • Passive solar design
  • Heat pump systems
  • Passive solar heating of buildings
  • Dynamic thermal analysis
  • Solar thermal systems advanced analysis
  • Concentrating solar thermal systems
  • Analysis of Rankine cycle technology

Energy Storage

The aim of this module is to provide students with knowledge of the fundamental aspects of hydrogen, thermal and electrochemical energy storage technologies and the integration of energy storage into low carbon energy systems. The characteristics and technology options for hydrogen as an energy storage medium are explored, whilst the key aspects of electrochemistry and its application to devices for energy storage are considered.

The working principles, advantages and limitations of batteries and supercapacitors are studied, along with the characteristics, physics and performance of a variety of current mechanical and thermal energy storage systems. Finally, the role of both thermal and electrical energy storage in providing whole-system flexibility are evaluated.


  • Hydrogen production and storage
  • Fuel cells
  • Electrochemical energy storage
  • Thermodynamics
  • Mechanical and thermal storage
  • Practical applications of energy storage
  • Supercapacitors
  • Storage system design and integration

Energy System Investment and Risk

This module provides a solid grounding in the knowledge and skills required for effective whole life-cycle investment decision making and risk management for the energy sector. The nature of energy systems is examined, with a focus on electricity generation and use.

Techno-economic parameters for various electrical generation systems are explored including renewable, nuclear and thermal technologies. Economic evaluation skills using cash flow analysis are developed, and competitive electricity markets are analysed using an energy market simulation platform. Key aspects of uncertainty and risk in energy systems are explored, and risk modelling approaches are applied practically using a community-scale energy case study.


  • Energy economics
  • Due diligence and risk
  • Systems lifecycle modelling
  • Investment modelling
  • Policy aspects and risk
  • Regulation and socio-economics
  • Energy demand and storage
  • Investment case studies


Wind 2

This module includes an in depth analysis of advanced modelling techniques for the wind resource, and examines some of the more detailed aspects of resource assessment and resource modelling in complex terrain and offshore environments. It also explores reliability and health monitoring strategies of wind turbine structures necessary for the design and operation of wind turbines, particularly in offshore contexts, together with an examination of various types of turbine failures during operation. Offshore wind farm grid connection aspects are also covered.


  • Resource estimation in complex environments
  • Forces and dynamics of wind turbines
  • Reliability and condition monitoring
  • Offshore wind farm grid connection
  • Offshore wind farm project management
  • Wind turbine wake analysis

How you will be assessed

Assessment is via examination, coursework, group work and an individual research project.

Examinations are held in January and May/June with coursework and group work milestones set throughout the programme. The individual MSc research project is assessed by a written dissertation and oral presentation. Students receive regular feedback on their progress from on-line support officers, tutors and academic staff.

It is also possible for distance learning students to take exams at a suitable local venue either a local British Council or a recognised university. For further information about this process please contact the course administrator.

How you'll study

Remote laboratory
Online tutorials
Virtual Learning Environment
Independent study

Your personal and professional development

The School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering is committed to helping you develop the skills and attributes you need to progress successfully in your chosen career.

Future career prospects

Our distance learning graduates are in high demand and have gone to work in range of renewable energy sectors including: manufacturing, development of generation schemes, utilities, engineering consultancies, finance and local, regional and national government.

Graduate destinations

  • Barclays
  • Black & Veatch
  • Cambridge Consultants
  • Chromagen Solar Australia Pty
  • Cubico Sustainable Investments
  • Deutsche Accumotive GmbH
  • DNV GL
  • DONG Energy

Fees and funding


Distance Learners pay for the modules they study each year, on a cost per credit basis, over the duration of their course. MSc study involves 180 credits of study and for 2018/19 the cost of each credit is set at £52.77 (UK/EU fee) £116.66 (International fee). For example a 15-credit module in 2018-19 will cost £791.55 and the for the 60 credit research dissertation will cost £3,166.20, for a UK/EU student.
Please note, tuition fees are subject to inflation and therefore, tuition fees can increase year-on-year which will alter the total cost of the MSc.