Smart Energy and the Built Environment MSc

London, Bloomsbury

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

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2023/24)
£16,100
£8,050
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
Overseas tuition fees (2023/24)
£32,100
£16,050
Programme also available on a modular (flexible) basis.
Duration
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
5 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2023
Applications accepted
All applicants: 17 Oct 2022 – 30 Jun 2023

Applications open

Entry requirements

Normally a minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline (for example physics or a related physical science, 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. Please clearly state in your personal statement how your educational or employment background (including any internships or projects) relates to the programme and what you aim to achieve through your studies.

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: Level 2

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.

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 and deliver the transition to zero carbon, from generation to consumption, transformations must happen throughout the energy system. This has led to significant global investment into smart energy systems: a revolution in the way the energy system works by matching energy demand and supply through making the way we consume our energy more flexible. Smart energy systems reduce costs, increase reliability and support decarbonisation; the built environment plays a central role, being associated with 40% of global energy demand. A new generation of experts is needed to drive the transition and be at the forefront of the smart energy revolution. 

UCL’s Smart Energy in the Built Environment MSc will equip you with an in-depth understanding of the energy system, its smart, flexible operation, and the role of the built environment.

You will:

  • Learn the fundamentals through physical, social and data-driven approaches.
  • Develop skills in modelling, statistics and data analytics, social sciences, communication and business to address real challenges we face in creating a sustainable energy system.
  • Learn the important role of smart energy systems for the energy transition: the nature of energy demand in the built environment and the physics and social factors that shape it; the role of renewables, storage and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies; business models; and the role of regulation and policies. 
  • Apply your new knowledge and skills to real case studies, engaging in a stimulating multidisciplinary environment.

Who this course is for

This programme is suited both to recent graduates and early or mid-career professionals looking to expand their skills and knowledge. Energy and the built environment is a multidisciplinary subject, students from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds are encouraged to apply. Suitable academic backgrounds of applicants include physics and related physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, geography, psychology, social science, architecture, planning, or economics. We also welcome applications from those from different degree disciplines with relevant experience.

What this course will give you

Smart Energy and the Built Environment MSc designed to give you the skills for an exciting career taking on the challenges of building a sustainable global energy system. 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.

You will learn from UCL Energy Institute’s expert academic researchers and experts in world-leading interdisciplinary research and learning environment. UCL Energy Institute is part of The Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources, home to specialist sustainability-focussed institutes in The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment. The QS World University Rankings (2022) places our Faculty as #1 for Architecture/Built Environment studies in the UK and #3 in the World. The Bartlett's research received the UK's most ratings of “world-leading” for Built Environment research in the most recent Research Excellence Framework.

The foundation of your career

This degree aims to help you develop a successful career in emerging smart energy sector through developing your skills, knowledge and network. We run a careers oriented seminar series where industry experts speak about their work and company, grounding your learning in real world applications as well as to keeping you up-to-date with the latest in the field.

We have discussed our programme with potential employers, who have shared their views on the MSc:

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

The programme has been developed with employability as a key priority, focussing on skills relevant 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. Our 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.

Smart Energy and the Built Environment 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

The course material is connected to the latest developments in research and industry, enabling you to relate and apply your learning to real problems. Lectures, seminars and online content are complemented by an emphasis on learning by doing. You will apply your new 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. 

The course assessment is designed to help you develop complementary skills and experience, with assessed presentations, exams and written reports in the styles of academic papers, policy recommendations and consultancy reports. Your learning is enhanced by assessment that doesn’t count towards your grade, but enables you to build skills and receive 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, timed to fit in with the most appropriate lecture content. You will also complete assignments to support your studies, undertake assessed coursework and revise for exams. 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 , plus benefit from 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

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

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 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.

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 of your first year, 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.

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.

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. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

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: MSc/MRes Urban Spatial Science Q&A

Join us for a virtual open day presentation and Q&A for prospective students interested in our MSc/MRes programmes in Urban Spatial Science at the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. Programme leaders Dr Andrew Maclachlan and Dr Duncan Smith will introduce the degrees and be on call to answer any questions you may have. A current student will also be present to discuss their experience of CASA and life at UCL.

Online - Open day

Graduate Open Events: MSc Development Administration & Planning

This will be an opportunity for prospective DAP students around the world to meet staff, tutors, and alumni, understand the programme, ask questions about the application process (what to look for in an application), discover what the programme offers beyond the curriculum and learn about its future prospects. This event will be crucial for prospective students to make an informed decision about pursuing postgraduate studies at the DPU.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2023/24) £16,100 £8,050
Tuition fees (2023/24) £32,100 £16,050

Programme also available 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 field trip 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.

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 (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2023-2024

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.