MSc Sustainable Energy

This flexible, interdisciplinary programme emphasizes industry involvement and fieldwork experience. Upon completion, students will be able to apply their skills and knowledge to develop solutions to energy related problems from a business as well as a science perspective.


ON-virkjun211115--1-of-1-Language of Instruction: English
Start Date: late July / early August

The M.Sc. in Sustainable Energy is a broad-based, highly adaptable programme. Students study sustainable energy and learn about a wide range of renewable technologies that suit different regions and societies including: geothermal energy, hydroelectric power, wind power and energy policy and law. Students may choose to specialize in any of the above fields.

Taking advantage of our position in Iceland, a global leader in renewable energy development, our students are offered the unique opportunity to experience the whole sustainable energy process from the power plant to the development of sustainable energy law at government level. 

Personalized Study Plan

Students can choose to focus on the business, law or technical aspects of renewable energy by developing a personal study plan with the aid of an academic adviser.

Student Body and Faculty

Iceland School of Energy trains students to become engineers, managers, policy makers and researchers; therefore, we draw our students from a wide range of experience and backgrounds.

Collaboration – Inside Access

Collaboration with leaders in the field of renewable energy, Reykjavik Energy and Iceland Geosurvey gives students exceptional access to:

  • Renewable energy systems in Iceland
  • Professionals at the forefront of developing and operating renewable energy resources.


The MSc in Sustainable Energy requires 24 months of continuous study and the completion of 120 ECTS. A personalised study plan is developed for each student with the assistance of an academic supervisor.

Teaching and Learning

Our courses are based at the Reykjavik University campus. The curriculum is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars and visits. Our faculty is made up of professors and leading experts from the industry.  

Programme Schedule

Summer Year 1

End of July - beginning of August. 
Duration: 3 weeks

  • Energy Field School

Fall Year 1

August - December
Recommended ECTS: 24

  • Energy Economics (6 ECTS)
  • Energy Technology (6 ECTS)
  • Energy Resources (3 ECTS)
  • Energy Storage (6 ECTS)
  • Energy Geology (6 ECTS)
  • Environmental Impact Assessment (6 ECTS)*

Spring Year 1

January - June
Recommended ECTS: 30

  • Interdisciplinary Project (6 ECTS)*
  • Independent Project (6 ECTS)
  • Geothermal Science I & II (12 ECTS)
  • Geothermal Reservoir Modelling and Simulation (12 ECTS)
  • Geothermal Drilling and Well Design (1 ECTS)
  • Wind Power (6 ECTS)
  • Hydro Power Management (6 ECTS)
  • Smart Grids in Sustainable Energy Systems (8 ECTS)
  • Economics of Energy Markets (6 ECTS)
  • Energy Financial Assessment (6 ECTS)
  • Power Plant Design (6 ECTS)
  • Special Topics in Engineering - TOUGH 2 Simulation (6 ECTS)
  • Research Methods (4 ECTS)

* taught as intensive course in three week period after the end of the regular courses

Fall/Spring Year 2

August- June
ECTS: 60

  • MSc Thesis Project (60 ECTS)


Core Courses and Electives

Core Modules:

Field School (6 ECTS)

A three week, intensive course that provides students with an overview of sustainable technologies, the main issues that drive the demand for sustainable energy, and the factors that may impede or promote meeting that demand. The course is delivered through a combination of lectures and site visits, and students have opportunity to see working systems that utilise sustainable energy. The course is taught as a summer school, also open to other participants and offers a unique introduction to the master's programme.

Energy Economics (6 ECTS)

This course will give students a broad overview of a variety of theoretical and empirical topics related to energy economics. It is a relatively new course and, as a result, it will have an experimental character to it. We will welcome feedback from the students taking the course to help us continue to make it better. There is no official textbook for this course, but reading material will be provided on a weekly basis and based on official reports and academic research related to energy economics. In addition slides covering the basic need-to-know economic concepts from Mankiw's Principles of Economics will be provided to students as needed.


Energy Technology (6 ECTS)

This course aims to give an introduction to and an overview of the field of energy by presenting basic concepts and laws of thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and heat transfer. Topics covered include thermodynamic systems, properties of pure substances and phase changes, ideal gas, real gas, state equations and thermodynamic variables, work, heat and the first law of thermodynamics, the second law, reversible and irreversible processes, the Carnot cycle and the Kelvin temperature scale, entropy, heat engines, Otto, Diesel, Brayton and Stirling cycles, steam cycles, refrigeration and heat pumps, heat transfer, heat conduction in one and two dimensions, steady state and transient, convection, free and forced, radiation, the laws of Stefan-Boltzmann and Planck, surface properties, shape factors, and radiation heat exchange between surfaces, heat exchangers, duty and properties.  


Environmental Impact Assessment (6 ECTS)

The purpose of this course is to understand how energy conversion processes impact the environment, common problems and how they can be dealt with. Topics include airborne pollution, groundwater, hazardous waste disposal, ecological disruption, climate change, environmental footprint, and economic disruption. Basic scientific principles, such as transport processes, mass balance, reaction rates, toxicity and biodiversity will be discussed in context with examples drawn from the energy industry. These can include topics such as reinjection of geothermal brine and sequestration of non-condensible gases; habitat disruption from hydropower plants; nuclear waste disposal; oil spills; and carbon capture and storage.


Internship (6 ECTS)

As part of their degree, students are encouraged part-take in an internship project with one of our many industry collaborators. In the past, ISE students have worked on a hydropower station in Greenland, designed a heatexchanger for modular well-head generation plants, modelled windpower potential at Icelandic sites, to name a few. Find out more about our internship programme and collaborators.


Energy Resources (3 ECTS)

The course is intended to give students an understanding of the nature of sustainability and how to implement sustainable use of energy resources. Topics include: renewability, sustainable use of non-renewable systems, the role of innovation, time-scales and severity of environmental effects, security of supply, chicken-and-egg problems, international and regional agreements, effects of subsidies, etc.

Energy Geology (3 ECTS)

The course is aimed at providing the students with the best possible understanding of the different forms of naturally occurring / renewable energy carriers and how they interact with their environments. It focuses on three different sides aspects in particular:

  1. The Earth as a system: dynamical interaction between constituents, laws of thermodynamics, physical and chemical cycles, interaction with the sun;
  2. The Earth below: internal structure, tectonics, seismicity, rocks and minerals, volcanism and geothermics, dynamics of the Earth's crust;
  3. Resources: fossil fuels, minerals, nuclear fuels, renewable resources, depletion and degradation.

Research Methods (4 ECTS)

Industry and society needs people who can think critically, who can analyse complex situations and who can communicate their findings effectively. This can involve many tasks, including searching for and evaluating the worth of scientific literature and other forms of documentation. In this course, we concentrate on scientific writing and reporting, survey techniques and presentations. It will prepare students for dealing with the information gathering, analysis and reporting skills that are required for all other courses.

Key topics covered: Literature surveys, search engines and other agencies, scientific writing, academic publishing, thesis writing, reviewing papers, managing a research project.

Elective Modules:

Students have access to a wide variety of elective module to tailor their curriculum to suit their focus. Elective courses include for example:

  • Geothermal Science I & II
  • Applied Probability
  • Geothermal Reservoir Modeling and Simulation

  • Stability and Control in Electrical Systems

  • Derivatives and Risk Management
  • Oil and Gas Law
  • International and European Energy Law
  • Well Design and Geothermal Drilling Technology


>> More information on all available courses can be obtained from the course overview page.


Admission Requirements

The degree is open for students with a bachelor's degree in various disciplines. Our students come from backgrounds in business, engineering, social and natural sciences.

A Bachelor's degree in one of the following disciplines will be considered:

  • Business
  • Public Policy and Social Sciences
  • Economics
  • Geology
  • Geography
  • Sciences

If your degree does not fall into one of the above fields but you would still like to apply, please contact our programme manager for an informal discussion.

Language Requirements

Applicants must provide proof of their proficiency in English if it is not their first language.

  • A minimum TOEFL test score of 550 is required (213 in the computer-based test, 79 in the internet based test)
  • IELTS score of at least 6.0 (both general and academic accepted).

Language Requirement Waiver

The requirement of an English language certificate is lifted in the following circumstances:

  • The applicant's first language is English.
  • The applicant has studied towards a higher education degree and the language of instruction was English (minimum requirement 3 years full-time). A certificate from the university will be required to confirm this.


Find out more about the tuition and other fees here:


Interested in applying to ISE? 


Contact us

Juliet Newson stendur á gangi í HR og horfir í myndavélina

Juliet A. Newson

Director of ISE

Contact for matters surrounding cooperation and opportunities with ISE.

R. Morgan Greene

Development Director

Contact for questions regarding the content, structure of our graduate programme, and other inquires about it.
Laurentiu Anton

Laurentiu L. Anton

Project Manager

Prospective students may reach out for questions regarding any of our graduate programmes.

Verity L. Sharp

International Admissions Officer

Contact for general questions regarding the application process, visa-related issues and inquires.

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