Smart Energy and the Built Environment MSc

London, Bloomsbury

A new relationship is required between how we produce, supply and consume energy in our buildings to transform global energy systems and reduce carbon emissions. Smart energy technologies and services in buildings, towns and cities are central to this transformation, whilst ensuring resilience and security of supply, and controlling costs. UCL’s new interdisciplinary Smart Energy and the Built Environment MSc will train you to be at the forefront of this revolution in energy and the built environment.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2022/23)
£14,700
£7,350
Programme fees on a modular (flexible) basis.
Overseas tuition fees (2022/23)
£29,400
£14,700
Programme fees on a modular (flexible) basis.
Duration
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2022
Applications accepted
All applicants: 18 Oct 2021 – 31 Mar 2022

Applications open

Entry requirements

Normally a minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline (for example physics, engineering, mathematics, geography, psychology, social science, architecture, planning or economics) or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard is required. Applicants with a different degree discipline but a minimum of 3 years of relevant experience are welcome to apply and will be assessed on an individual basis.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

ATAS statement

If you are intending to apply for a time-limited visa to complete your UCL studies (e.g., Student visa, Skilled worker visa, PBS dependant visa etc.) you may be required to obtain ATAS clearance. This will be confirmed to you if you obtain an offer of a place.

Equivalent qualifications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree


To fight climate change global electricity generation is moving away from simply burning fossil fuels. Instead, we are moving towards zero-carbon nuclear, renewable sources and capturing and storing the carbon emissions from fossil fuel power plants. However, these methods of generating electricity are inflexible and lack the convenience of traditional fossil fuels, where generation is easily adjusted to meet the electricity demanded by consumers. This has led to significant global investment into smart energy systems: a revolution in the way our energy system works, by shifting flexibility to consumption. These digital technologies and their rapid progress are set to make our energy systems more connected, reliable and smart. New business models, tariff structures and policies are required to enable the transition. The built environment, which is the largest end use sector and is associated with 40% of global energy demand, is central to these changes.

UCL’s Smart Energy in the Built Environment MSc is developed to provide knowledge on the value of smart energy in the built environment and the wider system. It is also designed to provide the skills to take on the challenges we face. The programme brings together both physical and social perspectives of energy demand and supply. This will help you understand how the sociotechnical system of local energy can be designed and commissioned to deliver effective policies and economic priorities. You will learn how key components of a smart energy system work, integrate and interact with energy policy and business opportunities, including building energy efficiency, renewable energy, decentralisation, the Internet of Things (IoT), storage and energy market design.

The programme comprises eight modules and a research dissertation. It aims to help you develop a successful career in this emerging sector through developing your skills, knowledge and network. We draw on the wide expertise of the UCL Energy Institute to deliver an engaging programme, addressing the key knowledge relating to the multidisciplinary scope of the smart energy in the built environment sector.

The course material is connected to cutting edge research and industry, enabling you to relate and apply your learning to real problems. Lectures, seminars and online content are complemented by a strong emphasis on learning by doing: applying knowledge to case studies and problems in workshops and tutorials. For example, you will be familiarised with leading software tools through supervised computer lab sessions, and also develop detailed insights from case study analysis of the social and societal impacts of smart energy technologies and services.

Who this course is for

Students from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds are encouraged to join the MSc SEBE: energy and the built environment is a multidisciplinary subject. We are seeking a cohort of students from a diverse range of backgrounds including physics and related physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, geography, psychology, social science, architecture, planning and economics. You should hold an Upper Second Class first degree in one of these disciplines. 

We also welcome applications from those with a different degree discipline and a minimum of 3 years of relevant experience.

What this course will give you

This Masters will provide you with an understanding of the energy system, its smart, flexible operation, and the role of the built environment in this. You will learn the fundamentals of this field through physical, social and data-driven approaches. You will develop an understanding of the opportunities for business, and you will be able to support policy making in the transition to a net zero carbon energy system. Industry experts will be invited to give guest lectures to ground your learning in real world application as well as to keep you up-to-date with the latest in the field.

We aim to support you to develop an exciting career and make an impact by reducing carbon emissions and enhance the quality of life of building occupants. The programme brings together physical and social perspectives of energy demand and supply. This will help you understand how the sociotechnical system of local energy can be designed and commissioned to deliver effective policies and economic priorities. You will learn how key components of a smart energy system work, integrate and interact with energy policy and business opportunities, including building energy efficiency, renewable energy, decentralisation, Internet of Things (IoT), storage and energy market design.

UCL Energy Institute is part of The Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources - home to specialist institutes in energy, environment, resources and heritage. The Bartlett is the UK's largest multidisciplinary Faculty of the Built Environment, bringing together scientific and professional specialisms required to research, understand, design, construct and operate the buildings and urban environments of the future.

The QS World University Rankings (2020) ranks The Bartlett, as #1 for Architecture/Built Environment studies in the UK and #3 in the World. The Bartlett's research received the most world-leading ratings for research on the Built Environment in the UK in the most recent Research Excellence Framework.

The foundation of your career

As highlighted above, the programme is developed with employability as a key priority, with a focus on skills relevant to workplaces in the sector. Being a new programme, we have discussed our programme with potential employers to try and ensure we deliver what they need. Below are a few views from these discussions.

Industry views

Dave Worthington, Managing Director of Verco:

The success of Verco’s mission to provide the solutions that our clients need to transition to net zero emissions within the next decade is largely reliant on the recruitment and development of team members with an exceptional mix of skills and knowledge. This includes a deep understanding of the interrelated nature of buildings and infrastructure and the role of regulatory, technological and behavioural solutions, which aligns well with the scope of this MSc. With many residual challenges to be overcome on the route to net zero, we are looking for individuals with firm foundations on the technical and commercial practicalities of smart energy systems in the built environment which they can then adapt and rapidly evolve in a dynamic market."

Sonny Masero, Chief Strategy Officer at Evora:

At EVORA Global, the real estate investors and asset managers that we work with see the transition to net zero carbon as their No. 1 environmental, social and governance priority. The pathway to net zero carbon and climate resilience lies in our smarter use of energy so these technical skills in the built environment are something we actively seek out. They enable our clients to have a positive impact with their capital allocations".

Employability

There has been significant global investment into smart energy systems, low carbon technologies, novel strategies to manage energy demand, and the integration of generation and storage into the built environment. These are supported by rapid advancements in digital technologies to make systems more connected, intelligent and reliable. To design and commission these systems, highly skilled specialists with a deep understanding of the nature of energy demand in the built environment are required.

The Smart Energy in the Built Environment MSc aims to support you in developing an exciting career in which you can make an impact by reducing carbon emissions and enhance the quality of life of building occupants. This Master’s will provide you with an understanding of the energy system, its smart, flexible operation, and the role of the built environment in this.

You will learn the fundamentals of this field through physical, social and data-driven approaches, to develop an understanding of the opportunities for business, and to support policy making in the transition to a net zero carbon energy system.

The programme is developed with employability as a key priority, with a focus on skills relevant to the workplaces of graduates in the sector. We address both technical and transferable skills, including statistics and data analysis, modelling, communication skills, critical thinking and social sciences. You will be encouraged to develop your own solutions to energy problems through both individual assignments and group work, collaborating with peers. SEBE’s research-based curriculum also teaches you how to undertake independent research, identify research questions and design a research programme to answer them, but also how to gather, organise and analyse evidence effectively, strengthening both your critical and your creative thinking skills.

SEBE MSc is designed to prepare you for a career in:

  • Energy consultancies
  • Public sector
  • NGOs
  • Energy start-ups
  • Institutions which value expertise in energy and the built environment.

Teaching and learning

Diverse formative and summative assessment methods will be used throughout the course. On completion of your research project you will also submit a dissertation for assessment.

Summative assessment includes written examination, oral group presentations, and written reports in the styles of academic papers, policy recommendations and consultancy reports.

Your development will be supported through formative assessment, that does not contribute to your grade. This important component of the course will provide an opportunity to develop your knowledge, thinking and skills, with encouragement and feedback from your tutors and peers.

In the first two terms you will typically attend 8 hours of lectures per teaching week. Most modules also include 8-10 hours of tutorials, which are timed to fit in with the most appropriate lecture content.

The modules developed specifically for SEBE (all compulsory modules and the optional modules Data Analytics in the Smart Built Environment and Social Value and New Energy Business Models) will normally require an additional one hour of preparation for lectures, or post-lecture work. This enables more active participation in the lectures, which will for example include discussions and the opportunity to undertake analysis.

You will also complete assignments to support your studies, undertake assessed coursework and revise for exams. Further, being an MSc we expect that you will want to take time to develop your skills and interests. In total you are expected to complete around 120 hours of self-study over the duration of each module.

The dissertation module runs in term three and you will primarily work independently on this project. You will be supported by a research supervisor, whom you will typically meet one-to-one for around eight hours, plus benefit from six hours of workshops to help you develop key aspects of your work; these hours will be split over terms two and three. Students will also have the opportunity to apply to be placed in one of our internationally recognised research groups, attending meetings and engaging with our teams.  

A Postgraduate Diploma, five compulsory modules (75 credits), three optional modules (45 credits). Full time (nine months), Part-time (two years) and flexible (up to five years) study is offered. A Postgraduate Certificate, four modules (60 credits), Part-time (one year) and flexible (up to two years) study is offered.

Modules

Full-time

You will take eight taught modules across Term 1 and Term 2; four during Term 1 and four during Term 2. You will learn:

  • The key concepts of smart energy and the built environment, set in the context of the wider energy system and existing buildings.
  • The physical principles of the performance of buildings, the energy systems within them and of distributed energy system assets, such as energy storage and renewable electricity generation. You will be particularly focussing on how these characteristics relate to enhancing the flexibility and lowering costs in a smart energy system.
  • The role of the smart energy system for society, its structure and regulation and the role individual behaviour and social structures play in delivering the energy transition.
  • How energy data and IoT technologies can help transform the way we use and save energy.
  • The role of new business models in delivering such change.

In Term 1, you will learn about the fundamentals of smart energy, building system performance, energy systems in society, data and statistics and community energy systems. These modules set the foundation for the whole Master's, preparing you for further topics and for your research project.

In Term 2, you will gain more specialised and advance knowledge in distributed energy systems and will have the opportunity to choose three out of ten specialised optional modules depending on your particular career aspirations, covering a breadth of energy relevant subjects, from data analytics and business models to systems dynamics, policy and environmental law.

In Term 3 and the summer, you will complete assessments for Term 2 modules and those modules with unseen written examinations and will complete the dissertation, having had preparatory tutorials during the previous terms.

Part-time

You will take four taught modules in year one and four taught modules and the dissertation in year two. The split of modules across the two years is designed to ensure the programme builds upon knowledge and skills in subsequent terms.

In term 1 you will learn about the fundamentals of smart energy, including the performance of buildings, and energy systems in society. The modules provide the foundations for later courses to build upon. In term two you will learn about smart distributed energy systems, and choose your first optional module that aligns to your interests and skills. You may choose from ten specialised optional modules and be encouraged to do so in a manner that best supports your studies over the full two years. Available modules cover a breadth of energy relevant subjects, from data analytics and business models to systems dynamics, policy and environmental law.

In year two you will be introduced to smart energy data and statistics, and modelling community energy systems in term 1. In term two you will build on your existing knowledge through your final two optional modules. You will be encouraged to start your dissertation research at the start of year 2, to submit it at the end of the year.

Over the whole programme you will learn:

  • The key concepts of smart energy and the built environment, set in the context of the wider energy system and existing buildings.
  • The physical principles of the performance of buildings, the energy systems within them and of distributed energy system assets, such as energy storage and renewable electricity generation. You will be particularly focussing on how these characteristics relate to enhancing the flexibility and lowering costs in a smart energy system.
  • The role of the smart energy system for society, its structure and regulation and the role individual behaviour and social structures play in delivering the energy transition.
  • How energy data and IoT technologies can help transform the way we use and save energy.
  • The role of new business models in delivering such change.
Flexible

You will take all five compulsory modules, three optional modules and the dissertation over the course of a maximum of five consecutive academic years. Due to their foundational nature you will be encouraged to complete the ‘Fundamentals of smart energy and the built environment’ and ‘Energy systems in society’ modules before completing other taught modules. You will be invited to discuss the order in which you complete the remaining modules, to support your studies and agree a programme that builds your knowledge and skills in a coherent manner.

You will learn:

  • The key concepts of smart energy and the built environment, set in the context of the wider energy system and existing buildings.
  • The physical principles of the performance of buildings, the energy systems within them and of distributed energy system assets, such as energy storage and renewable electricity generation. You will be particularly focussing on how these characteristics relate to enhancing the flexibility and lowering costs in a smart energy system.
  • The role of the smart energy system for society, its structure and regulation and the role individual behaviour and social structures play in delivering the energy transition.
  • How energy data and IoT technologies can help transform the way we use and save energy.
  • The role of new business models in delivering such change.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

Fieldwork

The core module Fundamentals of Smart Energy and the Built Environment includes a site visit to help you to put your learnings into the context of a real situation. This will be to either a relevant low-energy development, a retrofit project or laboratory within a day-trip distance of UCL. 

Accessibility

Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: Applying for Graduate Study at UCL

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2022/23) £14,700 £7,350
Tuition fees (2022/23) £29,400 £14,700

Programme fees on a modular (flexible) basis.

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

Additional costs

Students will need to provide their own laptops. A high specification is not required, UCL provides further information on computing requirements; we recommend considering a slightly higher specification machine than the UCL minimum recommendation to speed up any data analysis you undertake. No specialist software will need to be purchased.

There is a fieldtrip as a part of Fundamentals of Smart Energy and the Built Environment and additionally, opportunities may arise to undertake visits to local organisations or attend events. Students will need to pay for travel for all such trips, which is expected to be low cost via local rail.

If you are concerned by potential additional costs for books, equipment, etc. on this programme, please get in touch with the programme administration team by emailing bseer-studentqueries@ucl.ac.uk.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

UCL offers a range of financial awards aimed at assisting both prospective and current students with their studies.

Additional funding available from our Institute and Faculty is advertised on UCL Energy Institute's scholarships page and The Bartlett's scholarships page.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

Bartlett Promise Scholarship - Master's

Applications Open: 1 March 2022. Deadline: 31 May 2022
Value: Tuition fees plus £15,364 maintenance/yr (Duration of programme)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

Next steps

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Smart Energy and the Built Environment at graduate level
  • why you want to study Smart Energy and the Built Environment at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes in any application cycle.

We recommend that you submit your application as soon as possible. The programme may remain open if places are still available after 31 March 2022 and will be closed as soon as it is full or by 30 June 2022.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.

This page was last updated 28 Sep 2021