Transitions to a Low Carbon Economy

Key information

Start date:
To be confirmed

Contact details:


This module can be taken as standalone or as part of building up to a certificate, diploma or master’s degree. You can take up to three standalone modules before deciding whether you want to work towards any of these.

    If you do decide to build up to a qualification, then you will need to complete and pass the following amount of modules within a five year period: four modules for a certificate; eight modules for a diploma; eight modules and a dissertation for a degree. Please note that certain modules will be compulsory depending on the degree you opt to take.

    If you would like to gain a qualification then you will need to register onto one of our master's courses:

    Module overview

    Energy use and the systems put in place to supply it are responsible for the majority of the world’s emissions of carbon dioxide and hence, much climate change policy is directed towards the energy sector. Energy is also central to economic development and social welfare and thus, energy security and cost minimisation are high on national policy agendas.

    Energy markets throughout the world are also evolving rapidly, with privatisation, competition, market structure and regulation remaining prominent issues in the UK, Europe and internationally. The range of challenges for energy policy is diverse and exciting.

    This module focuses on the transitions needed from the current situations in energy use, supply, markets and policy, to those required as part of a long term, sustainable, low carbon energy system.

    Learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:

    • Understand the range of issues relevant to energy policy
    • Contribute to policy and strategic energy/carbon management analyses in a broad range of areas across the energy sector
    • Apply your knowledge appropriately to energy issues in both developed and developing countries
    • Write clear, critical and authoritative reports, both on technical subjects and on policy issues concerning energy.

    Course content

    Content includes the following:

    • Introduction to energy: Overview of end use, supply, economics and policy
    • Energy end use: Current patterns and trends (including transport)
    • Energy conversion and supply: Overview of resources; functions of markets; focus on electricity, heat for buildings and transport fuels
    • Low carbon energy options: Energy efficiency and other demand side actions; carbon capture and storage; renewables and nuclear
    • Low carbon scenarios and energy system transitions; the Multi-Level Perspective and other frameworks for understanding system change, links to sustainable development and other policy objectives
    • Accelerating the transition to a low carbon economy: Role of institutions, behavioural change and policy
    • Open discussion on energy sector responses to climate change.

    Learning and teaching methods

    The learning and teaching methods include:

    • Pre-course study directed by essential readings
    • Lectures, seminars, audio and video presentations
    • Class discussions
    • Group case study.


    • A 1,000 word short answer assignment, prior to starting the module
    • Group project work undertaken during the module week
    • A 2,500 word essay, to be completed over the four-week period following this module.

    Please note: If you are taking this as a standalone module, then you are not required to complete the 2,500 word post-module essay, however, this will mean that you won't gain any credits for completing the module and so won't be able to work towards a qualification if you later decide to do so.

    Course leader

    Matthew Leach profile image

    Professor Matthew Leach

    Professor of Energy and Environmental Systems

    Reading list

    You will be required to do some reading prior to the module starting, take a look at the reading list.

    Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ENGM184.   

    Entry requirements

    There are no entry requirements if you are taking this as a standalone module.

    For those wanting to build up to a qualification, please refer to the MSc course pages for entry requirements.

    Fees and funding

    Fees are to be confirmed

    How to apply

    Applications are currently closed, but please register your interest with the Head of Centre for Environment and Sustainability, Professor Richard Murphy, at

    Terms and conditions

    When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations and our terms and conditions. You are also confirming you have read and understood the University's prospective student privacy notice.

    Further details of our terms and conditions will follow.


    This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the commencement of the course. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read the full disclaimer.

    Course location and contact details

    Campus location

    Stag Hill

    Stag Hill is the University's main campus and where the majority of our courses are taught. 

    Professor Richard Murphy Head of Centre for Environment and Sustainability

    University of Surrey
    Surrey GU2 7XH