Professor Gordon MacKerron
Course Director and Professor of Science and Technology Policy
University of Sussex Business School
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Develop the system-wide thinking needed to steer the shift towards sustainable energy in the public, private and third sectors.
With innovation at its core, our Energy Policy MSc (online) explores contemporary issues impacting energy policy at local to global scales.
It equips you with a toolkit of frameworks, practical skills and analytical techniques to apply in the real world. You will learn to challenge convention to create practical solutions by looking through an interdisciplinary lens and beyond standard approaches to policy making.
Furthermore, you will be studying at the institution ranked 1st in the world for Development Studies seven years in a row (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2017-2023).
Delivered 100% online, this course draws on expertise from globally renowned academics from our Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) and the Sussex Energy Group, one of the largest energy policy research groups in the world. You will have the opportunity to engage in rich debates with other professionals and gain a global perspective by exploring policy across organisations, governments and countries. By the end of the course, you will graduate with the skills and knowledge to pursue a career in government, NGOs, and private companies.
Why did I choose the University of Sussex? I think because they offered a programme that was number one, part-time, and number two, online. And it was just easy to balance with my job and other commitments I have.
The faculty have been extremely accommodating given the way the course is structured on a very flexible basis. People are not necessarily flowing from one module automatically to the next.
What I’ve really felt on this online course is that the learning materials are such a high quality. They prepare, kind of, really consumable content for us on what we should be learning.
The course is flexible in the way it allows you to study. So, I have control of when I can do certain things. If, for example, at work I have lots of deadlines coming up, I could block out a module and then re-join it in the next module.
A couple of the anxieties I had before I started the course was: how does it all work? But it was all very simple. Within the first week, you go on there, it’s all very easy to use and navigate. Any questions I had I was able to ask the Student Success Team and they get back to you very promptly.
The flexibility of having an app, having a website, having all the materials you need, just makes life a lot easier.
Different methods of learning definitely helped. I found that podcasts for me were really helpful to get the information in.
I found it great if I’m watching videos and lectures to be able to fast forward them, pause them, rewind them.
The reading list has actually been something that I’ve really enjoyed because I was a bit, kind of, worried about not being not having access to the library, but the reading list has been carefully, like, selected and it’s so easy to get onto the books, and also for me it’s been great because you can download them as PDFs.
So, people connected really well. We did lots of sharing online and actually we feel really connected so there’s lots of people that I met on the course that I’ll now stay in touch with.
I think it’s really great that the cohort is international for the online course. So I’ve made amazing professional connections with people working in Canada, Asia, all over Europe, as well as all over the UK.
I’d like to end up working in the field. I’m going to take my time now I’ve finished the course and again make sure I end up somewhere I really want to. I think the most important thing for me would be somewhere I feel like I’m actually making a difference for the future
Become an innovative policymaker
Each module lasts seven weeks and is delivered via Canvas, a state-of-the-art online learning platform, which can be accessed by a computer, tablet or smartphone alike so you can truly study whenever and wherever you like. You can take control of your schedule by fitting the recommended 20 hours study time per week around your existing commitments and lifestyle.
In order to graduate the course, all of the below modules must be successfully completed.
The course uses multiple assessments methods to assess students’ knowledge, competence development and engagement through individual and groupwork exercises, such as written reports, simulations, essays, project reports, MCQs, and portfolios. An indication for the likely assessment methods of this module is given, though this may be subject to change.
To learn more about each module, please click on the title to read the module description and the types of assessments.
The mission of this module is to help students develop an interdisciplinary, systematic and critical understanding of the role of policy and innovation for sustainable energy transitions in developed and developing countries. The module first introduces students to the functioning of energy systems, their sustainability challenges and clean energy innovation as a potential solution. Students will then learn and reflect upon interdisciplinary energy policy mix thinking by applying a state of the art, top down policy mix mapping approach to a real-world energy transition challenge.
Log – 500 words (10%)
Log – 500 words (20%)
Report – 2500 words (60%)
The module introduces students to a practical approach to developing policy proposals, drawing primarily upon concepts from welfare economics and public choice theory. The aim is to provide students with the concepts and tools to understand specific policy problems, identify relevant goals, develop evaluation criteria, identify alternative policy options, assess the likely impact of those options against the evaluation criteria, and provide practical policy recommendations.
Exam – (30%)
Report – 2500 words (70%)
The goal of this module is to help students studying Energy Policy and Sustainable Development Masters develop a systematic and critical understanding of how the policy making process works in modern economies. Each of the seven weeks will focus on a different stage of the policy making process, with students exploring the nature of the process, the significance of different stages and their characteristics; and consider various influences on each of the stages.
Project – Group Work Submission (30%)
Essay – 2000 words (70%)
The mission of the module is to provide students with a grounding in a variety of economic and non economic (systems) frameworks for studying issues of science, technology and innovation, and their collective relationship to energy production and policy. The module gives students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds the knowledge and shared concepts for their studies, enabling them to communicate with each other and with the wider industrial, academic and policy communities concerned with innovation. The module aims to provide deep understanding of the processes of technical change and their relationships to organisations, markets and regulations.
Group Presentation (30%)
Essay – 2000 words (70%)
This module introduces students to the main issues of energy and sustainability, and the challenges of transitioning to a low carbon energy system. The approach is interdisciplinary and practical, focusing on specific policy issues rather than theoretical debates. Substantive issues covered include: the current unsustainability of energy use and the history of fossil fuel dependence; energy efficiency and energy demand; market liberalisation and carbon pricing – and alternatives to the current models; energy use in transport; the electricity system and the role of renewable energy; and controversial technologies including nuclear power, carbon capture and storage, and biofuels.
Module Lead: Dr Noam Bergman
Report – 2000 words (55%)
Group Presentation (45%)
This module revolves around a central question: how can justice theory help people make meaningful decisions about the production, the delivery, the use, and the effects of energy? In asking this question, the module connects the discussion of energy and technology with long-standing notions of virtue, utility, happiness, welfare, freedom, distributive justice, and procedural justice. To give a pragmatic structure to this inquiry (and to show why this question matters), the class is divided into four parts:
(1) understanding the global energy system and the injustices currently associated with it;
(2) exploring justice theory and what it can offer when applied to energy problems;
(3) examining policy mechanisms and tools that promote energy justice;
(4) analysing case studies around the world of where communities or countries have made remarkable gains promoting energy justice.
Module Lead: Dr Mari Martiskainen
Report – 2000 words (70%)
This module provides students with the basic building blocks for the production and use of social scientific research, giving special consideration to inter and transdisciplinary research. The aim is to develop students’ abilities to understand, critically evaluate, conduct, and communicate research. Module contents are relevant to students interested in pursuing careers in public and private sectors, and in research. The module will help students develop more sophisticated interpretative lenses, a strong understanding of methodological approaches used in the social sciences, and effective communication abilities. These skills are highly applicable to academic and non-academic tasks.
Group Project – (40%)
Report – 2,000 words (60%)
This module equips students with the essential analytical skills needed to provide and derive evidence-based implications for actions and strategies in the field of Energy Policy. Assuming no prior knowledge of statistics, the module covers: basic concepts of descriptive and inferential statistics; basic statistical tests and analyses; essential elements of regression analysis; issues and biases affecting quantitative research. Students will not only acquire knowledge about intuitive theoretical foundations and practical implications of methods covered in the module; they will also gain practical experience of conducting statistical analyses with hands-on exercises based on the widely used statistical software SPSS.
Module Lead: Dr Simone Vannuccini
Problem Sets – (25%)
Exam – (75%)
This module will introduce students to a systems perspective on long-term, socio-technical change in the field of energy in order to explore the co-evolution of technologies with political, institutional, economic and social factors. The module will illustrate this conceptual perspective with historical and current case studies from the energy sector and explore the implications for governing transitions to low carbon energy systems. The module will analyse and reflect on current policy approaches for governing low carbon transitions. Substantive issues to be covered include: the historic transition from horse-drawn carriages to auto mobility, low carbon innovation policy in the UK, the Energy Transitions approach in the Netherlands, transitions in developing country contexts, the politics of governing transitions and the role different interests of a variety of actors play, bottom-up approaches to changing energy systems such as energy cooperatives, as well as strategies of incumbent energy companies to respond to pressures for change towards a low carbon energy system.
Module Lead: Dr Matthew Lockwood
Group Project – (30%)
Report – 2,500 words (70%)
The module examines substantive energy policy challenges faced by developing countries, including increasing energy access, reducing energy poverty and addressing energy security. Integrating orthodox perspectives on energy policy with insights from innovation studies and socio-technical approaches, the module will explore the implications for development of notions such as lock-in, path dependency and leapfrogging. Building on this conceptual apparatus, the module will critically engage with academic and policy debates on strategies and policy instruments such as low carbon development, technology transfer and carbon markets, all of which are intended to play roles in helping developing countries achieve development objectives while establishing sustainable energy systems.
Module Lead: Dr Lucy Baker
Essay – 750 words (30%)
Essay – 2500 words (70%)
This module will investigate the challenge of reconciling economic growth with sustainable energy use. Drawing on perspectives from evolutionary and ecological economics, the module will explore the role of key energy supply and conversion technologies in driving past surges of economic growth, and the dependence of economic activity on efficient conversion of primary energy sources into useful work. It will then assess the implications of these insights for the potential for a new surge of economic growth based on investment in low carbon energy technologies.
Module Lead: Professor Tim Foxon
Group Presentation – (40%)
Essay – 2000 words (60%)
The module will provide students with the opportunity to integrate knowledge, skills and capacities from the entire ODL Energy Policy MSc course into a student-directed capstone project. The project is structured as a policy briefing paper focused on a specific energy policy problem and culminating with a set of clear recommendations for the defined audience of the briefing paper. Paper components are staged and structured to ensure students are supported in meeting the intended learning outcomes. Students will be matched with a supervisor for additional support and to ensure engagement with the broader SPRU community. Students will be encouraged to select a topic of relevance to their employer or other institutional home, or to work on a topic aligned with themes suggested by researchers in the Sussex Energy Group.
N.B. It is recommended students take the Capstone Project as the final module of the Energy Policy MSc (online).
Module Lead: Dr Ralitsa Hiteva
Peer Reviews (10%)
Report – 750 words (25%)
Project – 3,500 words (65%)
A lower second-class (2.2) undergraduate honours degree or above from any UK university or international equivalent.
Applicants whose first language is not English (and whose first degree was not taught in English) need to supply evidence of IELTS (Academic) high level (6.5 overall, including at least 6.0 in each component).
Course fee: £12,660
Cost per module: £1,055
Flexibility is at the heart of our online courses: fees can be paid on a module-by-module basis, or as a single fee at the start of the course. You are required to pay the first module fee of £1,055 to secure your place on the course. You may also consider corporate sponsorship and employer funding. Our Admissions Team will be able to assist you with next steps.
Course fees will remain fixed for 24 months from your initial course start date. Thereafter, the course fee will rise at a rate of 2.5% per calendar year (subject to rounding for administration purposes).
If you have previously graduated from an undergraduate, postgraduate or PhD course with the University of Sussex you will be eligible* for a 20% discount on this online course.
Please visit our Fees and Funding page for more information.
Where could our Energy Policy course take you?
This online course is designed for professionals looking to launch or progress their career in energy policy. This could include work in government, NGOs, and private companies with a focus on the transition to clean energy through regulation. The tools learnt on the course to develop, implement and analyse policies are transferable across organisations, institutions and markets. Learning these transferable skills will broaden your career opportunities.
Throughout your studies, there will be a wide range of opportunities to develop your career. Through live group seminars and exclusive networking events, you will meet some of the world’s leading experts in energy policy and connect with fellow classmates from around the world. Furthermore, you will have the ability to shape your assessments according to your interests and current topics, by selecting case studies relevant to your current workplace, or future career goals.
On completion of the course, you’ll join an ambitious community of Energy Policy alumni who have gone on to work in a variety of roles, including Public Policy and Governance Specialist, Freelance Consultant, Climate Finance and Policy Specialist, Renewables Energy Consultant, Research Manager and Modelling Analyst – to name just a few.
Be a catalyst for change
Policy is at the heart of the energy transition. Without it, change does not happen.
By choosing to study this course, you’ll learn the theory and develop practical skills, enabling you to influence, inspire, and educate more effectively to aid the development of sustainable energy policies. You will also:
Watch this one-minute summary video.
Nothing works without energy.
It drives modern society.
But the impact of burning fossil fuels is increasingly visible.
The Paris Agreement in 2015 set out an action plan to combat climate change.
Committing to decarbonise the global energy system within 50 years.
Renewable sources are growing rapidly.
But it’s not just about finding cleaner energy sources.
Equally important is how we store and use energy.
And renewable energy brings economic, political and social challenges.
The climate challenge is multi-dimensional and we believe innovation is central in tackling the problem.
Our MSc in Energy Policy is interdisciplinary and focuses on innovation.
Become an agent for change, join the energy revolution.
University of Sussex. Business School.
Course Director and Professor of Science and Technology Policy
University of Sussex Business School
If you’d like to find out more about this course, please complete this form to receive information from our Admissions Team.
Policy makers need to create and amend rules and regulations around energy production, distribution, and consumption.
Energy Policy MSc (online) student Susan Jemmott tells us about her decision to study online with Sussex from her home in Trinidad and Tobago.
Nepal-based Energy Policy MSc (online) student Suman Basnet tells us about his decision to study with the University of Sussex.