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Department of Anthropology

Energy and Society MSc

MSc Energy and Society

MSc Energy and Society

Views: 153

Find out what its like to study MSc Energy and Society at Durham University

The MSc in Energy and Society, in association with the Durham Energy Institute, is an innovative postgraduate programme designed to appeal across the disciplines. It will be of interest to engineers seeking to understand how and why innovations succeed or fail, to social scientists who want to improve their understanding of energy developments as well as to graduates of any discipline with an interest in today’s energy issues.

The programme draws on leading experts in energy studies at Durham from Anthropology, Engineering, Geography, Physics, Economics, Humanities and other departments. It is taught through intensive block-teaching, group field-study, original dissertation research and a range of optional modules designed to complement the core teaching. The course aims to produce highly-skilled graduates with the ability to communicate across disciplines for the sake of global environmental progress. Graduates of the MSc will be in demand from industry, community organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations and governments around the world.

L6K807 Energy and Society MSc

Degree MSc
Year of Entry 2016
Mode of study Part Time + Full Time
Duration 1 year (full-time) 2 years (part-time)
Location Durham City
Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 1621


The MSc in Energy and Society is an innovative postgraduate programme designed to appeal across the disciplines. It will be of interest to engineers seeking to understand how and why innovations succeed or fail, to social scientists who want to improve their understanding of energy developments and to a broad range of graduates with an interest in today’s energy issues. 

The full-time course consists of two terms of teaching, during which students are introduced to the range of research questions and methods, and a dissertation, involving the design, development and implementation of an independent research project. Students work closely with academic staff, and have the opportunity to become involved in active research projects.

The programme draws on leading experts in energy studies at Durham from Anthropology, Engineering, Geography and other departments. The two core taught modules are delivered via intensive block-teaching, and there is also a field study.

Compulsory modules

  • Dissertation
  • Energy in Practice (Field Study)
  • Context and Challenges in Energy
  • Society Energy, Society and Energy Practices.

Previous optional modules have included:

  • Academic and Professional Skills in Anthropology
  • Fieldwork and Interpretation 
  • Group Renewable Energy Design Project
  • Key Issues in Sociocultural Theory
  • Society, Energy, Environment and Resilience 
  • Computational Methods for Social Sciences 
  • Anthropology and Development
  • Negotiating the Human
  • Statistical Analysis in Anthropology
  • Energy, Markets and Risk
  • Renewable Energy and the Environment 
  • Risk Frontiers.

Please see for further information on modules.

We place an emphasis on independent learning. This is supported by the University’s virtual learning environment, extensive library collections and informal contact with tutors and research staff. We consider the development of independent learning and research skills to be one of the key elements of our postgraduate taught curriculum and one which helps our students cultivate initiative, originality and critical thinking.

Students take required taught modules worth a total of 75 credits, and optional modules totaling 45 credits. On the full-time course they have on average 6 hours of formal teaching and learning contact per week, with two weeks of full-time teaching: one week for Context and Challenges in Energy and Society and one week for Energy, Society and Energy Practices. Outside timetabled contact hours, students are also expected to devote significant amounts of time to reading, discussing and preparing for classes, assignments and project work.

Following the May assessment period, students undertake their 60 credit dissertation. This crucial piece of work is a significant piece of independent research that constitutes a synthesis of theory, method and practice in anthropology and is supported by an individual supervisor and the dissertation coordinator.

Throughout the programme, all students meet regularly with the degree tutor, who provides academic support and guidance. Furthermore, all members of teaching staff have weekly office hours when they are available to meet with students on a ‘drop-in’ basis. In term time, the department also has an extensive programme of departmental and research group seminars which postgraduate students are encouraged and expected to attend. The undergraduate Anthropology Society also organises its own visiting lecturer programme. We ensure that we advertise any other relevant seminars and lectures in Durham, Newcastle and further afield, and encourage students to attend relevant conferences.

Before the academic year starts, we provide information on preparation for the course. On arrival we have induction sessions and social events, headed by the Director of Postgraduate Studies and attended by both academic and administrative staff. Students also attend an “Introduction to Research Groups in Anthropology”.

Subjects required, level and graded

A minimum 2:1 Honours degree from a UK institution (or the overseas equivalent) in a relevant subject. Please email us on for advice on relevant topics.

References play an important part in the admissions process.

English Language requirements

Please check requirements for your subject and level of study

Requirements and Admissions

Information relevant to your country


Fees shown are for one year. Total fee will depend on the length of your programme. All fees are subject to annual increases. For more information please visit the Tuition Fees page

EU student fees


Home student fees


Islands student fees


International non-EU student fees


Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding


BP and Durham Energy Institute (DEI) are offering two funding schemes for students as follows: travel bursaries for postgraduate students to carry out research projects or attend conferences; internships for students to work on DEI energy projects. Up to five travel bursaries of a maximum value of £1,000 each will be awarded and up to three internships of a maximum value of £3,000 each will be awarded. See DEI website for details.

Please note: if you wish to be considered for a Commonwealth Scholarship for this programme, the standard of competition is extremely high. We receive many dozens of applications from students with the highest qualifications. Please do not submit an application for a place on this programme under the Commonwealth Scholarship scheme unless you can demonstrate the highest award for your previous degree, an outstanding IELTS score, and extremely strong and detailed letters of recommendation. We can only nominate two applicants per year for this funding, and a maximum of one per programme is possible.

  • The Durham Energy Institute (DEI) is usually able to offer internships for students to work on DEI energy projects. See DEI website for details. Other funding opportunities may arise.

You can apply for this course through the University's online application process. Find entry requirements for this programme here.


Dr Simone Abram is the Degree Tutor for the MSc Energy & Society:

'My research has been in three main areas: energy, anthropologies of planning and governance, and tourism. I am currently working on environmental research projects in Norway, and collaborate with urban researchers in Paris. 

As well as being Degree Tutor for the MSc in Energy and Society, I lead two core modules, on 'energy contexts and challenges' and 'energy society and practices'. These are taught in intensive week-long bursts, with guest speakers from around the university contributing talks and seminars on their expert subjects related to energy. Hearing so many complementary perspectives on energy issues is very stimulating, and developing debates about current energy issues with Masters students has been a very exciting process. Working in partnership with local government (in Durham and in Haringey) has been crucial to developing the masters and ensuring that it is relevant as well as interesting.'

Contact Simone at

"Access to secure and sustainable energy is becoming one of the defining issues of our time. It is crucial that all dimensions of the issue from both the technical and societal perspective are well understood and this Masters Programme seeks to provide a truly interdisciplinary perspective. A very welcome development."

Nafees Meah, Director of Research Councils UK (RCUK) India (former head of science at the Department of Energy and Climate Change)
MSc Energy and Society

MSc Energy and Society

Views: 516

Durham University's exciting new MSc in Energy and Society