Net Zero Communities MSc

Course code F853

What is special about this course?

Communities have a key role to play in the development of a net zero society.  Are you keen to discover more about how renewable energy production can play a central role in community development?  Do you want to be at the centre of and leading these developments?

In May 2019, the Committee on Climate Change recommended that the UK should aim to be net zero on all greenhouse gases by 2050. A U.N-backed global campaign, the 'Race to Zero', which launched in June 2020, brings together businesses, cities and other organisations that aim to cut their planet-heating emissions to net zero by around mid-century, meaning they produce no more emissions than they can offset through different measures. A number of community groups have emerged to develop local solutions that help to meet this target. Communities will be at the centre and forefront of the new energy transition.

This MSc Net Zero Communities will enable you to take the lead and be the change in the new energy transition. You will be taught by recognised experts and supported by guest lectures from both industry and community fields. You can be confident you will graduate armed with the most up-to-date information and highest quality skills.

The course is designed to provide opportunities for both recent graduates and mature students working in relevant professions, industries, agencies or the voluntary sector to advance or update learning in sustainability issues, with a particular focus on providing net-zero solutions for communities. It aims to develop practitioners with an advanced level of knowledge and competence in planning, developing, advising and delivering sustainable solutions in relevant public sector, industry or community contexts.

Studying online, on a full-time or part-time basis, you will critically analyse the theories, principles and concepts of renewable energy, carbon budgeting and community energy development.

Special features

  • Modules are led by recognised experts in the field of community development and low-carbon technologies
  • You will study fully online which means you can fit your studies around your professional and personal life, within the UK and internationally
  • You can study individual modules for personal or professional development (CPD), or work towards the PgCert, PgDip, or full Masters degree

Entry requirements

  • Honours degree in a relevant subject 
  • Applicants with an ordinary degree or other qualification and at least three years relevant work experience will also be considered
  • Applicants with formal qualifications below the level of HND, who possess substantial experience in an appropriate field or have demonstrated exceptional abilities, may also be admitted to the course

Postgraduate Loans (SAAS) (Scotland-domiciled and EU students)

Loans for tuition fees are available from SAAS for eligible Scotland-domiciled and EU students, and loans for living costs for eligible Scottish students.

(see fees/funding tab for more information)

Access routes


Core modules are:

  • Developing a community energy project
  • Renewable energy technologies
  • Transition to a net zero society



Optional modules:

Semester 1

  • Energy, climate and carbon
  • Local economic development
  • Policy analysis
  • Research methods (strongly recommended to continue to MSc)
  • Sustainable land use and renewable energy

Semester 2

  • Developing communities
  • Energy modelling for building
  • Local economic development
  • Quantitative research methods and data analysis
  • Sustainable development
  • Tidal wave and future energy 


To achieve the award of MSc Net Zero Communities you must complete the PgDip and a research dissertation.

How will I study my course?

  • Full-time
  • Part-time
  • You will study through supported online learning using the university's virtual learning environment (VLE)
  • This method of flexible study enables you to fit your course and your professional development around your personal and professional life, within the UK and internationally
  • You will have support from your tutors and studies advisor

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time (PgCert, PgDip, and MSc): 18 months @ 35 hours per week 
  • Part-time (PgCert, PgDip, and MSc): 3 to 4 years @ 12 to 18 hours per week
  • Part-time (PgCert and PgDip): 2 years @ 12 to 18 hours per week
  • Part-time (PgCert only): 1 year @ 12 to 18 hours per week

Number of hours per week indicates the total number of hours you should dedicate to the course, which includes time spent in lectures and your own time spent on individual study and research.

Where can I study my course?

  • North, West and Hebrides
  • This is a fully online course. You will be enrolled and supported by staff at UHI North, West and Hebrides

Start date

  • September
  • January (part-time study only)

For more information on other start dates please contact UHI North, West and Hebrides.


Find out more about fees, fee waivers and funding options.


Eligible Scotland-domiciled students studying full-time can access loans up to £10,000 from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS). This comprises a tuition fee loan up to £5,500 and a non-income assessed living cost loan of £4,500. 

Eligible Scotland-domiciled students studying part-time can apply for a tuition fee loan from SAAS. You must be intending to complete the course in no longer than twice the length of time it would take for a full-time student. For example, if your course is available to full-time students as a one-year programme, you will be funded for a maximum of two years' part-time study. If your course does not have a full-time option, you must complete within three years. You can apply for a tuition fee loan up to £5,500, which will be paid pro-rata for each academic year of study. 

Full details can be found on the SAAS website. Applications for loans open in April.

Students from the rest of the UK who meet the eligibility requirements may be able to apply for a loan from the Student Loan Company.

What can I do on completion of my course?

On completion of this Masters in Net Zero Communities, you will be well-equipped to take up positions in the management of community development projects, and in the public and private sectors .

Is there more information available online?

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Apply for Net Zero Communities MSc

I want to start in Aug/Sep 2023 or Jan/Feb 2024

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.