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Study information

Transforming Energy Systems

Module titleTransforming Energy Systems
Module codeGEOM247
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Iain Soutar (Convenor)

Dr Iain Soutar (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module examines the energy system in the UK and elsewhere, focusing specifically on managing the processes of change within such systems. National and global energy systems are currently undergoing an unprecedented period of technological and social change in part linked to the need for rapid decarbonisation. This includes changes to the scale and geography of electricity generation technologies, but also those relating to: energy storage and information and communications technologies (ICT); the economics associated with these novel technologies; the preferences, roles and responsibilities of the public, both as consumers and energy ‘citizens’; and the responses of policymakers and regulators. This module takes a system perspective to consider how all of these components are interacting to affect transformation in energy systems, and how such change can be shaped by policymaking, as well as governance more broadly.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to give you a comprehensive understanding of the fundamental (social and technological) components of energy systems, and a basis for understanding and critiquing processes of change therein. It gives an introduction to some of the key issues which face decision makers, researchers and other stakeholders with interest or influence in the energy industry.

The module will also introduce you to relevant academic and professional skills which can be utilised and drawn on in a wide range of professions and occupations. These skills will include:

  • The ability to critically analyse decision-making in energy systems;
  • Confidence in your own ideas about sustainable energy systems;
  • Competence in articulating ideas and contributing to in-class discussions;
  • Linking theory to practice;
  • Working effectively individually and within a group setting;
  • The development of time management skills.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Describe the theories and practicalities relating to energy system change
  • 2. Describe and evaluate the key issues and questions (whether technical, social, institutional, economic) that energy policy has to deal with
  • 3. Articulate the components and principles of effective governance within the context of changing energy systems
  • 4. Articulate the relationship between change in energy systems and wider themes in sustainability

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Synthesise material appropriately from a broad range of disciplines to support analyses
  • 6. Demonstrate a self-reflective approach to learning
  • 7. Describe sustainable development and how the principles operate

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Devise and sustain a logical and reasoned argument with sound, convincing conclusions
  • 9. Articulate ideas and arguments using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 10. Critically reflect on learning experiences and your own performance
  • 11. Manage deadlines
  • 12. Work within groups as well as independently

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • The physical, technical and social nuts and bolts of energy systems
  • The policy – and societal – objectives of energy systems
  • Processes and outcomes of energy system innovation
  • Agency within households, firms and other institutions
  • Consensus and contestation in energy system governance

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching11Lectures(11 x 1 hour)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Seminars/workshops (11 x 2 hours)
Guided Independent Study120Additional research, reading and preparation for lectures, seminars and module assessments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Engagement in online forumsOngoing throughout the moduleAllOral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Writing a briefing paper for Minister403 pagesAllWritten
Opinion piece for broadsheet of choice 351500 words maximumAllWritten
Individual presentation2510 minutesAllWritten

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Writing a briefing paper for MinisterWriting a briefing paper for MinisterAllAugust Ref/Def
Opinion piece for broadsheet of choice Opinion piece for broadsheet of choice AllAugust Ref/Def
Individual presentationIndividual presentationAllAugust Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to re-submit coursework as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Energy, policy, sustainability, governance, innovation, transformation

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date