Energy Politics and Law, MSc

Energy Politics and Law, MSc


As a pillar of modern society, energy is often underestimated in its political, economic, and legal influence on our daily lives. Whether we like it or not, the supply, distribution, and consumption of energy has fundamentally moulded the world around us into the one we live in now.

MSc Energy Politics and Law provides you with the opportunity to study energy, as one of the most important yet under-analysed topics in international relations, from a multi-disciplinary perspective.

This course has both January and September start dates. Apply Now.

Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more.

Study Information

Study Options

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month
September or January
Location of Study

When ‘energy’ is mentioned, there is perhaps a natural tendency to immediately think of oil or maybe electricity. However, the study of energy is about so much more. As we witness our planet and society confront the swift and relentless consequences of climate change, we are also undergoing the largest energy transition that humankind has ever seen.

MSc Energy Politics & Law is a comprehensive programme that provides you with the building blocks of energy’s role within politics, economics, and law to equip you for careers in any organisation or sector engaging with energy as a topic of policy and praxis.

This programme provides the opportunity and ability to analyse energy as a political instrument, a modern commodity, and a social necessity. Over the course of the MSc, you will have the chance to examine energy within multiple disciplines, looking at issues such as:

  • The role of energy within climate and environmental politics and policy
  • The securitisation of energy and its role in conflict and violence
  • The political and social consequences of fossil fuel and green energy development
  • Energy regulations, and gaps in regulation, at the domestic and international levels
  • The economics of energy supply, distribution, and consumption
  • The legal, economic, and political opportunities and challenges facing our global transition to renewable energies

In Aberdeen, a city once known as Europe’s oil capital, you also have the chance to witness how an oil-based economy is navigating the transition to a renewable one.

Ultimately, this MSc can help you develop a deeper understanding of international politics, law, and economics, from a unique perspective that questions the role of energy across disciplines and provides an insight that is incredibly valuable to a range of potential employers in an energy-dependent world.

Available Programmes of Study

This programme will give you the skills and experience to apply to various sectors in need of expertise in energy politics and law.

Upon completing each course on this programme graduates will come away with knowledge and skills in:

  • Understanding the wide spectrum of issues facing international organisations, governments, industries, and the wider public on the supply, distribution, and consumption of energy
  • Creating or growing specific expertise around issues intersecting with energy politics and law
  • Formulating presentations and presenting on original research
  • Writing for academic, legal, and non-specialist audiences
  • Translating research into policy briefs for non-specialist audiences
  • Producing original academic and non-academic works
  • Leading seminar discussions
  • Developing work habits to meet multiple deadlines

Energy Politics and Law

Qualification Duration Learning Mode Study Mode Start Month Location  
MSc 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time September Aberdeen More

Programme Fees

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £23,800
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year
UK £11,100
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year

Stage 1

Compulsory Courses

Energy Politics (PI5025)

15 Credit Points

History and politics of energy since WW2. Nuclear Power politics – rise, fall and non-rise?. Renewable energy politics, rise and stagnation or triumph? EU politics of liberalisation and interventions such as the EU ETS. Environmental politics and oil; conserving nature and extracting oil Arguments about regulations on oil and gas, planning arguments, arguments about oil spills, protests (eg Brent Spar). The politics of natural gas. The case of ‘fracking’. The course will discuss how economics and politics interact. No prior technical or econometric knowledge is required for this course.

Introduction to Energy Economics (BU5053)

15 Credit Points

This course introduces key techniques from economics and finance to allowing understanding of the basics of business decision making within the energy industries and the economic implications of key energy policies. We consider basic financial concepts such as: present value, the opportunity cost of capital and their role in business decision making in energy industries. We also consider key economic elements of markets and how the economic environment structures the way in which businesses make decisions and energy market outcomes.

Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD5006)

This course, which is prescribed for all taught postgraduate students, is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

Optional Courses

Students may choose between one of the following:

Low Carbon Energy Transition: Renewable Energy Law (LS501H)

30 Credit Points

A transition from reliance on fossil fuels to low-carbon renewable energy is essential for mitigating climate change and for making energy supplies more sustainable. The course considers the challenges and concerns that this fundamental change in the nature of energy supplies gives rise to, and explores laws role in addressing them. The course examines the legal regimes for promoting renewable energy at international, EU and UK levels, and considers how law can be used to address significant constraints on the growth of renewable energy including difficulties with grid access and public opposition to wind energy development.

State Control of Hydrocarbons (LS501E)

30 Credit Points

With only limited exceptions hydrocarbons lie in the ownership or control of states but are frequently explored for and produced by commercial actors. This course considers the means by which the state controls exploitation of its oil and gas reserves. Following a number of introductory online lectures, students will participate in interactive seminars considering topics such as: from energy security to energy trilemma; national oil companies; licensing and production sharing agreements; resource curse and transparency; health, safety and environmental regulation; and decommissioning. This course is available to students registering for the LLM Oil and Gas Law programmes (Dissertation or Professional Skills).

International Energy and Environmental Law (LS501C)

30 Credit Points

The course deals with the regulation of international activities regarding energy and the environment. The course will consider the international legal framework regarding energy sources, and it will look at the various legal instruments at the global and regional level as well as the key actors that are involved in regulation. It will also examine environmental issues that correspond to the generation and use of energy in the international context and the responses relating to environmental protection of soil, water, air, atmosphere and species.

Stage 2

Compulsory Courses

International Energy Security (PI5518)

30 Credit Points


Oil and Security – how oil crises have occurred since 1973, with a focus on the energy demand and supply pressures and the political factors triggering the 1973 and 1979 oil crises. OPEC and IEA. The factors underpinning the oil crisis of 2008 and its relationships to world economic crisis. The role of China in oil politics.

Natural Gas, the EU and Russia. How conceptions of (natural gas) energy security are constructed and implemented in the EU and Russia –Nuclear Power and energy security;– eg Iran .

Climate Security

Optional Courses

Students may choose between one of the following:

Contracting in Hydrocarbon Operations (LS551K)

30 Credit Points

A good knowledge and understanding of the commercial purpose and key features of the principal contracts used in the oil and gas industry is essential for an oil and gas lawyer. This course will examine the contracts entered into between involved in the exploration for and production of oil and gas. These include and the investment contracts entered into between the oil companies themselves in the form of Joint Operating Agreements, and those between oil and gas companies operators and the contractors making up the service and supply chain. The course will be taught by means of a mix of lectures, seminars and interactive workshops.

Downstream Energy Law (LS5594)

30 Credit Points

The transport and supply of hydrocarbons (oil and gas) and electricity is essential for modern civilisation. If energy cannot get to the consumer, then energy security is threatened and economic development may be restricted.

These challenges are important in the context of the liberalisation of these sectors, especially the restructuring of these industries from monopolies to competitive markets. This course explores the law and policy framework governing the movement and distribution of energy, particularly within a liberalised market, in an era of climate change. Topics covered include market liberalisation, energy security, gas sales and transport, and market regulation.

International Investment Law and Energy Arbitration (LS555L)

30 Credit Points

The complex interaction between investment protection and the sovereign right of states to regulate has been most acute in the energy sector. On the one hand, investors require strong guarantees that states will respect the “rules of the game” that constitute the basis of their investments. On the other, states can be tempted to interfere with foreign energy investments because of their strategic and social importance. This course aims to analyse if existing investment disciplines and international investment protection framework, are adapted to the specific regulatory risks that investors face in the energy landscape of the 21st Century and how best to avoid disputes and manage them.

Stage 3

Compulsory Courses

Energy Politics and Law Project (PI5907)

60 Credit Points

The project will take the form of a traditional dissertation in that a research question will be set, theory that is relevant to the empirical topic under consideration will be selected and utilised to answer the research question, and an appropriate methodology will be used to answer the research question. There will be a discussion of the evidence and theory discussed and a cogent conclusion reached on the basis of the argument that is developed.

MSc 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time January Aberdeen More

Programme Fees

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £23,800
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year
UK £11,100
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year

We will endeavour to make all course options available. However, these may be subject to change - see our Student Terms and Conditions page.

Fee Information

Additional Fee Information

  • Fees for individual programmes can be viewed in the Programmes section above.
  • 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 Tuition Fees page.

Funding Opportunities


Self-funded international students enrolling on postgraduate taught (PGT) programmes will receive one of our Aberdeen Global Scholarships, ranging from £3,000 to £8,000, depending on your domicile country. Learn more about the Aberdeen Global Scholarships here.

To see our full range of scholarships, visit our Funding Database.

How You'll Study

Teaching includes a range of interactive methods and approaches to learning in order to enhance students’ critical thinking, presentation, interpersonal, and policy drafting skills.

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Courses are assessed through essays, presentations, group and project work and exams. The variety of assessment in the programme ensures that students apply theory to practice and become expert communicators and team players.

The degree of MSc shall not be awarded to a candidate who fails to achieve a CAS mark of 9 in the relevant dissertation course, irrespective of their performance in other courses.

Why Study Energy Politics and Law?

  • You will develop a deeper knowledge of energy politics, economics, and law in a world attempting to navigate the largest energy transition ever know, in Europe's energy capital
  • The University of Aberdeen is situated in the oil and gas capital of Europe and in a city attempting to become the renewable energy hub of the UK
  • Our MSc Energy Politics and Law is taught by published experts with research and professional experience
  • Aberdeen hosts FTS 100 oil and gas companies and other energy innovation companies, and our city is a global hub of energy professionals
  • You are taught from the School of Social Science.  Based in the College of Arts and Social Sciences, human environment relations are at the heart of much innovative research, access, and environmental contestations at Aberdeen.
  • The School of Social Science has developed an international reputation as a centre of academic excellence for political research over five decades with staff publishing internationally
  • As a School we provide you with a core curriculum with unique options that represent research including international political economy, globalisation, democracy and democratisation, public policy and opinion, power and security, interest groups, political and social movements, institutions, and more 

Entry Requirements


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

Applicants for admission will normally be expected to hold a relevant Honours degree with a 2:1 standard from a recognised university or body.

Applicants without this qualification may be admitted subject to having an alternative qualification, or an approved level of work experience appropriate to the field of study. Also taken into careful consideration is the trajectory of results. An applicant without an overall 2.1 but with 2.1 results in their final two years of study may be admitted.

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 - 6.0; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


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

PTE Academic:

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

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 169; 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 Certificate
a degree certificate showing your qualifications
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
Reference x 2
two reference letters, one of which should be from your university discussing your academic ability. If you have been out of education for a long time you may wish to use your current or most recent employers, or other professional individuals

Aberdeen Global Scholarship

Eligible self-funded post graduate taught (PGT) students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Explore our Global Scholarships, including eligibility details, on our dedicated page.

Aberdeen Global Scholarships


You can apply your knowledge to different types of energy organisations, ranging from international and national non-governmental organisations and think tanks, major utilities and energy companies, independent and local companies, as well as local government and national government agencies.

Alumni have gone on to join the UK Government, Equanor, South Pole, Mexican Council on International Affairs, and beyond. Others have continued their education by undergoing PhD studies.

Career Opportunities

  • Biodiversity Risk and Opportunities Associate
  • Energy Policy Consultant
  • Energy and Business Consultant
  • Energy and Sustainability Adviser
  • Government Officer
  • Policy Officer
  • Regulatory Affairs Specialist
  • Renewables Advice Officer

Aberdeen - The Energy Capital of Europe

Aberdeen is a major research centre of the energy industry in all aspects of regulation, engineering, and innovation and the university has been leading that innovation in the Energy Capital of Europe

Image for useful fact about this Subject

Energy sector leads in demand for skilled workers

The International Energy Agency (IEA) found that the energy sector demands more high-skilled workers than other industries, with 45% of the workforce requiring some level of further education.

Read the full report

Our Experts

Bennett Collins has worked in the field of critical energy & political ecology for a number of years. He has worked with community organisations, government, and non-government stakeholders, on a range of issues relating to energy, environmental, and climate policy.

For Bennett, energy politics is not only about the 'market' but also about the social and justice implications of energy, something that is increasingly recognised in government initiatives and policies in the US and Europe.

Programme Leader
Dr Bennett J Collins

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. However, these may be subject to change - see our Student Terms and Conditions page.


Aberdeen University Centre for Energy Law

This research centre promotes the research activities of the many members of the School having an interest in Energy Law matters, as well as fostering an environment for collaborative work.

Find out more
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Just Transition Lab

Just Transition Lab

Just Transition Lab is an interdisciplinary group of researchers from the Business School, School of Engineering, School of Geosciences, School of Law, and the School of Social Sciences working on advancing impact-driven research on Just Transition.

Find out more
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Centre for Energy Transition

Centre for Energy Transition

Research in the Centre for Energy Transition (CET) at the University of Aberdeen addresses the key challenges facing the Energy Transition as we seek to reduce emissions and enable global, national, and regional Net Zero targets to be met.

Find out more

Get in Touch

Contact Details

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