Introduction to Energy Policy (920N1)

30 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Autumn teaching

We introduce you to the context and history of energy and sustainability policy, the core issues and challenges within it, the trade-offs and synergies between different objectives and the concepts and methods through which the policy process may be understood and individual policy options appraised.

First, we cover the:

  • physical basis of energy systems
  • scale, nature, source and destination of energy flows within the global economy
  • relationship between energy consumption, economic growth and human welfare
  • nature and characteristics of energy transitions
  • challenge of climate change and sustainability.

Second, you:

  • gain an overview of key concepts, theories and tools from orthodox economics (e.g. market failures, externalities)
  • identify the limits and drawbacks of policy intervention
  • highlight the relevance of these ideas to contemporary challenges within energy and sustainability policy (e.g. carbon pricing, regulation of natural monopolies).

Third, we will provide critiques of this perspective from within and outside the economics tradition and introduce students to complementary perspectives on the policy process drawn from political science. You will explore these ideas with the help of both case studies from developed and developing countries and a global simulation model of the energy system.

Teaching and assessment

We’re currently reviewing teaching and assessment of our modules in light of the COVID-19 situation. We’ll publish the latest information as soon as possible.

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 50 hours of contact time and about 250 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

This module is running in the academic year 2020/21. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. It may become unavailable due to staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of such changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: