Energy Policy and Sustainability (864N1)

15 credits, Level 7 (Masters)

Spring teaching

This module is intended to introduce you to the main concepts, theories, issues, challenges and debates within energy and climate policy, together with some of the analytical techniques used to explore this multifaceted subject.

Primary emphasis will be given to economic concepts and techniques, but the module will take a critical approach to orthodox economic theory and will incorporate ideas from behavioural economics, ecological economics and innovation studies.

The primary focus of the module is the opportunities, challenges and constraints associated with making the transition to a low carbon energy system. But this challenge cannot be understood without exploring the other dimensions of energy policy, such as energy security and market structure and regulation, together with the synergies and tensions between different policy objectives. 

Key themes of the module include the physical characteristics of fossil and renewable energy resources, the process of transition and change in energy systems and the rationales for and limits to public policy intervention.

Substantive issues to be covered include:

  • the relationship between
  • energy and economic growth
  • market and government failures in the energy sector
  • energy market liberalisation and the regulation of network industries
  • carbon pricing
  • the innovation and diffusion of energy technologies
  • resource depletion
  • the transition to renewable technologies and competing perspectives on energy security.

Much of the discussion and examples will relate to OECD countries, but issues relevant to developing countries will be introduced where appropriate and explored in more detail in the seminars. Relevant analytical techniques such as energy-economic modelling will be introduced but not examined in any detail. 


50%: Lecture
50%: Seminar


20%: Coursework (Presentation)
80%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 150 hours of work. This breaks down into about 44 hours of contact time and about 106 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 2021/22. We also plan to offer it in future academic years. However, we are constantly looking to improve and enhance our courses. There may be changes to modules in response to student demand or feedback, changes to staff expertise or updates to our curriculum. We may also need to make changes in response to COVID-19. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.