Introduction

This MSc offers a comprehensive overview of current and emerging technologies that are guiding the just energy transition.

A future energy scenario will involve the collaboration of a range of technologies. This Masters course will give students a high level of understanding in the areas of electrochemical conversion devices (such as battery and fuel cell technology), carbon capture technologies and the hydrogen economy. Circular economy approaches and current sustainable innovations will also be covered.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MSc
Duration
12 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
January
Location of Study
Aberdeen
Subject marketing image

This programme provides a detailed overview of the current and emerging technologies which will enable us to transition our energy landscape and live sustainably.

You will learn about the chemistry that underpins big picture topics such as batteries, fuel cells, gas separation storage and utilisation (i.e., carbon capture), renewables and the hydrogen economy.

We do not focus just on chemistry, however – we also consider the role of policy, technological innovation while providing opportunities for students to develop their practical and professional skills (i.e., communication, data analysis, evaluating literature, ethics, intellectual property etc) throughout the programme to enhance employability.

Lecture content ties in with the practical laboratory exercises. The practical labs and modelling workshops are unique to the University of Aberdeen, ranging from building operational photovoltaic devices to experimental electrochemical techniques, as well as advanced computer-based workshops on the modelling of battery systems and solid-state electrolyte materials.

The group project is framed within a business setting to help develop your professional skills. For this project, the project team is set the task of meeting with a client to obtain a project brief, which they must then develop into a workplan, execute the plan and present results to their client.

The programme includes an individual research project requiring literature reviewing, project design, experimental activities, data processing & interpretation and reporting of results. This programme is aimed at students with some Chemistry knowledge, however, applications are also welcome from people with industry experience, for example, in oil and gas, who are looking to retrain or upskill to work in the renewable energy sector.

What You'll Study

Semester 1

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses

Lab Skills (15 credits):

This module is entirely laboratory-based and will aim to introduce students to fundamental experimental techniques and practises which are widespread across the energy sector. Various analytical, physical and inorganic experiments will be offered in a laboratory carousel which will rotate through practical experiments aiming to demonstrate the key chemical concepts behind a range of energy-based topics. These will include redox chemistry (vanadium redox flow batteries), infra-red and thermogravimetric studies (carbon capture), chelating chemistry (battery recycling), galvanic cell electrochemistry (basic fuel cell/battery). The module will build towards a more advanced practical for gas separation which will involve materials synthesis, characterisation and testing.

Professional Skills (15 credits):

This module is designed to help students gain experience and confidence in using a variety of skills that are of importance for a professional chemist. Specific activities have been designed which will enable students to undertake personal develop in important areas such as scientific communication, data analysis and other transferrable skills.

Battery Technology (15 credits):

This lecture course will cover a range of existing battery technologies from lithium ion batteries used in electric vehicles, to redox flow batteries utilised in large scale stationary storage. The basic electrochemical concepts behind the battery cell will be covered and built upon as the course progresses.

Compatibility and performance of battery components will also be discussed from a materials science point of view. This module will allow students to envisage what a future battery market could look like whilst considering the technological aspects, energy policy/law and employability within the sector.

Gas Separation, Storage and Usage (15 credits):

Gas separation, storage and utilisation represents one of the key challenges within a sustainable energy transition. For too long, energy production/consumption has been accompanied by greenhouse gas emission. In this module, we will consider the chemistry, technology and policy behind things like carbon capture and storage (CCS). The topic will discuss the use of porous materials, sorption and membranes for separation/storage. We will also consider opportunities for utilisation of the separated gas via use of catalysis. This in turn will help us to think about sustainable carbon based fuels.

Semester 2

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

Group Project (15 credits)

In the first term, students were able to develop both their research skills and lab skills. However, it is often the application of these skills within a team environment that is of greatest importance for many business sectors. Therefore, in this module students will need to work as part of a small team in order to study a research problem. The problem in question may involve practical work, data analysis/evaluation or a combination of both.

Individual Project (15 credits):

To gain experience in research applicable to Sustainable Energy Transitions, students undertake a clearly defined individual project requiring literature reviewing, project design and definition, experimental activities, data processing and interpretation and reporting. The project should also provide the student with the opportunity for investigation and problem solving. All projects will involve ‘supervised but independent’ research leading to the submission of a project dissertation for examination. Students will also give an oral presentation on the project experience. Students may be based within the University of Aberdeen or within an industrial setting.

Semester 3

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

Advanced Lab & Research Skills (15 credits):

A second more advanced laboratory module will take place in this. term. Students will use the skills learnt in CM55M1 and develop them further by applying them to modern energy conversion devices. Students will have the opportunity to build and test a contemporary solid state photovoltaic device, a hydrogen powered fuel cell and conduct a hydrogen storage experiment. These practical experiments will be complemented by a structure-property modelling workshop where students will model crystal structure data (using the Rietveld method) and gain experience in the equivalent circuit modelling of AC impedance data using the electrical measurements of well known proton and lithium electrolyte materials.

Fuel Cell Technology and Thermodynamics (15 credits):

Fuel cell technology is an important consideration for an advancing hydrogen economy. These devices convert chemical energy into electrical energy by utilising a wide range of fuels, with efficiencies of > 80% and limited harmful emissions. The thermodynamic theory behind fuel cell operation will be discussed, as well as solid state ionic theory. The course will offer an in-depth run down of fuel cell types and materials design; detailing common techniques used to characterise the performance of fuel cell components.

Renewables (15 credits):

Renewables is a key theme in the development of a sustainable future. This topic will be split into two themes – renewables for harnessing energy and renewables for chemical production. Within the first theme photovoltaics and material requirements wind/tidal energy will be discussed. The role of nuclear energy will also be discussed. The second theme will discuss sustainable chemical production by considering how we move away from a dependence on fossil derived chemicals. The use of biomass will be considered for the production of renewable fuels, commodity chemicals and fine chemicals. This topic will help to build upon material covered in earlier modules.

Hydrogen and the Circular Economy (15 credits):

Hydrogen is considered to be one of the key chemicals in our future energy landscape. It can be produced from water but then also yield water as the by-product when used as a fuel. It therefore lends itself to a circular economy which does not generate waste (i.e., H2O ® H2 ® H2O). The question then becomes how do we produce and store hydrogen from renewable methods. The module will help to build upon material covered in other modules (i.e., gas storage & fuel cells). In addition to the hydrogen economy, the circular economy will also be covered. Reaching a net carbon zero future will only be possible if a global approach is adopted where materials are repurposed or recycled, and waste is utilised and remediated in order to decrease its impact on our environment. Green chemistry, recycling and waste remediation will be discussed, and students will learn about current technologies and innovations across the energy sector including life cycle assessment.

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Why Study Advanced Energy Materials?

This programme focuses on the key technological challenges involved in the transition to net-zero including batteries, fuel cells, renewables, nuclear, hydrogen, gas separation storage and utilisation (i.e., carbon capture).

You will learn practical lab skills with a focus on experimental lab skills, experimental design and experiences specific to energy transition. In particular, the skills you will develop in systems modelling are highly sought-after in the battery and fuel cell industry.

The programme also includes a course dedicated to transferrable/professional skills covering scientific communication, scientific literature, data analysis & statistics, research ethics, intellectual property and employability. These skills are then deliberately used throughout other modules to reinforce skills.

The programme is designed and delivered by leading experts in energy transition, including:

  • Dr Eve Wildman, researcher in key topics such as batteries, solid state electrolytes, materials design and crystallography.
  • Dr Alan McCue, researcher in key topics such as gas separation, heterogeneous catalysis and renewable chemical production.
  • Prof Angel Cuesta Ciscar, researcher in electrochemical methods for energy storage and chemical production.
  • Prof Abbie McLaughlin – researcher in solid state chemistry, proton conductors, magnetism, low temperature magnetic phenomena.
  • Prof Jan Skakle – researcher in biomaterials, crystallography, superconductivity and carbon storage materials.
  • Prof Donald MacPhee – researcher in cements, photocatalytic materials and fuel cells.

Our location at the heart of the energy industry means that our programmes benefit from direct involvement from UK energy companies, as well as from overseas. This includes industry advisory panels, guest lectures, field trips, site visits, networking and careers events, and industry supported student projects.

Our Chemistry programmes will be delivered in the new Science Teaching Hub from 2022, which offers state of the art facilities for teaching all areas of chemistry.

This MSc also draws on much of the ground-breaking research being conducted within the Centre for Energy Transition (CET) at the University of Aberdeen.

Entry Requirements

We welcome applications from students with a background in chemistry, however the programme is designed deliberately to be accessible to those with only a moderate amount of experience in chemistry.

We therefore strongly encourage applications from students wishing to change subject area (to something with more of a focus on chemistry/energy transitions) or people working in industry who wish to retrain or upskill to work in the expanding renewable energy sector.

Qualifications

The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

2:1 (upper second class) UK Honours degree, or an Honours degree from a non-UK institution which is judged by the University to be of equivalent worth, in Chemistry or a related field such as the natural sciences or physical sciences.

or

2:2 (lower second class) UK Honours degree in Chemistry or a related field, or equivalent with 5+ years relevant industry experience.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0

TOEFL iBT:

OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme

Fee Information

Please refer to our InfoHub Tuition Fees page for fee information for this programme, or contact study@abdn.ac.uk.

Additional Fee Information

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Scholarships

Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more and see our full range of scholarships.

Aberdeen Global Scholarship (EU)

The Aberdeen Global Scholarship is open to European Union (EU) students.

This is a £2,000 tuition fee discount available to eligible self-funded Postgraduate Masters students who are classed as International fee status and are domiciled in the EU, plus another £3,000 discount for eligible Postgraduate Masters students who would have previously been eligible for Home fees (Scottish/EU) fee status.

View Aberdeen Global Scholarship

Careers

The very deliberate emphasis on professional skills within the programme ensures that graduates have an ability to evidence the fantastic skillset that they will acquire from the programme.

The programme also includes a course dedicated to transferrable/professional skills covering scientific communication, scientific literature, data analysis & statistics, research ethics, intellectual property and employability. These skills are then deliberately used throughout other modules to reinforce skills.

Our Experts

Other Experts
Prof Angel Cuesta Ciscar
Prof Abbie McLaughlin
Prof Jan Skakle
Prof Donald MacPhee
Programme Coordinators
Dr Eve Wildman
Dr Alan McCue

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Facilities

Image for Science Teaching Hub
Science Teaching Hub

Science Teaching Hub

Our state-of-the-art, purpose-built, Science Teaching Hub is due to open in early 2022, providing students with a digitally focussed environment including advanced analytical tools, research-grade equipment and flexible, safe laboratory spaces.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX