Taught course

Global Sustainability Engineering

Heriot-Watt University · School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society

Entry requirements

Graduates with a good first degree from a relevant subject area will be considered. Suitable backgrounds include: engineering or environmental, earth, chemical, physical, or mathematical sciences.

English language requirements
If your first language is not English, or your first degree was not taught in English, we'll need to see evidence of your English language ability.
The minimum English language requirement for entry to this programme is IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent) with no component lower than 6.0.
If you do not have IELTS 6.5, we offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement for this programme prior to commencing your studies:
  • 20 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with no skill lower than 4.5)
  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with minimum of 5.0 in writing and no skill lower than 4.5)
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.0)
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.5)

Months of entry

January, September

Course content

Overview of Programme

MSc Global Sustainability Engineering provides you with the opportunity to develop your engineering knowledge to identify existing unsustainable processes and practices and implement strategies to improve sustainability. The programme has been created in response to the current gap in industry and create graduates who have both a background in science or engineering and who can provide technical consultation and deliver specialist solutions to improve sustainability.

You’ll learn from academics and a curriculum focused on and drawing inspiration from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. You’ll develop the knowledge and skills to become advocates for change within the sustainability engineering field, by understanding how both incremental and disruptive approaches can be harnessed for effective sustainable development. The programme adopts an interdisciplinary approach, to provide you with a holistic view of problems and solutions which can be developed.

During the master’s programme, you’ll develop a working knowledge of the relevant science and technology core to sustainability engineering, including environmental science and engineering, energy, recycling, sustainable processing, impact assessment, and environmental economics. You’ll gain an awareness of the context and framework within which the environmental degradation and sustainability problem and solutions exist. You’ll explore the implications of global trends on the environment, society, economy, and organisations to develop sustainable products and services with the aim to improve sustainability performance.

The flexible degree structure allows you to focus in on your specific Global Sustainability Engineering interests. On top of the mandatory fundamental teachings of energy, climate change, sustainability and adaptation, process engineering, sustainable processing, environmental impact assessment, and critical analysis and research preparation, you’ll have the opportunity to choose optional courses from an extensive list.

Our Expertise

Your learning will be informed by the expertise of our research-active chemical and sustainability engineers and academics.

96% of Heriot-Watt University’s engineering research was classed as world-leading in the REF 2021 review, which ranked us 1st in Scotland and 3rd in the UK for engineering research through a joint submission with the University of Edinburgh.

Our MSc Global Sustainability Engineering is directly informed by the world class research carried out by Heriot-Watt’s Mechanical, Process and Energy Engineering (IMPEE) research institute which focuses on promoting excellence across four main research themes:

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Digital Engineering
  • Energy Harvesting and Conversion
  • Multiphase Flow

You’ll benefit from our innovative approach when it comes to meeting necessary carbon targets. Our Research Centre for Carbon Solutions (RCCS) is an interdisciplinary engineering centre with a track record of inspiring and delivering innovation for the wider deployment of technologies needed to meet necessary carbon targets. This world-leading work has directly informed the Carbon Solutions course, which you can choose to study as part of the MSc Global Sustainability Engineering.

The research relevance of this postgraduate programme ensures your studies remain innovative and industry focused.

Your learning environment

The MSc Global Sustainability Engineering programme is taught though a combination of lectures, tutorials, and laboratory practicals, allowing you to get to know and build relationships with your teaching staff, academics, and peers. You will be assessed by coursework, exams, and your dissertation, and will receive support and feedback throughout the programme.

During your studies, you’ll benefit from and have access to our specialist equipment, software and laboratories used by professional chemical and sustainability engineers, including a condensation rig, mock continuous stirred tank reactor, fermentation broths, flowmeter calibration, absorption columns, reactant distribution reactors, heat exchangers, distillation columns, absorption column, and fermenters. You will have the opportunity to work on real-world problems, and work across disciplines to deliver practical solutions with global impact in our state-of-the-art GRID (Global Research Innovation and Discovery) facility.

Outside of the classroom, you can join several Sustainability and Engineering societies which provide you with a fantastic opportunity to meet likeminded people, get involved in regular social events and networking events, and gain insights into career prospects in sustainability, engineering, and other relevant industries. Societies include:

Customise your learning

You’ll have the opportunity to focus on the areas of global sustainability engineering that interest you the most. You can customise your degree to match your specific interests or desired career pathway by studying six mandatory courses and choosing two further options from a range of sustainability and engineering specialist courses, including process intensification, renewable energy technologies, circular economy, carbon solutions, green and sustainable logistics, and demand management and energy storage.

In semester three, you’ll undertake an extensive and specialised investigation into your chosen area of sustainability engineering through your dissertation. You’ll be required to demonstrate your mastery of the subject area by applying the latest sustainability engineering technology developments to an extensive investigation into an advanced or specialist topic relating to the subject area.

You can choose whether to study the programme full-time, or part-time. This flexibility allows you to fit your postgraduate studies around your lifestyle. You can choose whether to begin the programme in September or January, the full-time course will last 12 months or 24 months part time. If you decided to study part-time, you register for two courses per semester and progress to the dissertation at the end of your second year.  

You may have the opportunity to Go Global on our Inter-Campus Transfer. Opportunities for postgraduate study abroad are assessed on a case-by-case basis and if you are interested in studying at our Dubai campus or Malaysia campus for a semester or longer, you should contact the Go Global Team.  


You will learn from a programme and course structure which has been specifically formed to respond to the global industry demand for graduates with science or engineering backgrounds, who can provide technical consultation and deliver specialist solutions to improve sustainability.

We work closely with industry to ensure our course content is up-to-date and reflects the current and emerging needs of industry and employers. You’ll gain the right blend of knowledge, practical skills, and soft skills to set you up for life after graduation.  

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Scholarships and bursaries

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Enquiries Team