Award: 5 credits at level 4
Duration: 12 weeks
Start Date: 09/09/2013 (Semester 1)

MEEN40090 Energy Systems & Climate Change


This module is for students in Semester 1 of the MSc, Graduate Diploma or Certificate in Environmental Sustainability (Negotiated Learning) course.

What will I study?

This module introduces students to a practical and ethical dilemma: how can current and future energy demands be met, in a manner that is both equitable and sustainable?

The question arises because unprecedented growth in global population, and in economic development, continue to drive exponential growth in energy demand. However, the fossil-fuel resource is finite, and its use impacts negatively on the local and global environment. Addressing this issue requires a broad overview of the many challenges and opportunities ahead.

Topics include:

  • Introduction to energy systems
  • Energy and economic growth
  • Energy demand trends and projections
  • The greenhouse effect
  • Combustion and greenhouse gases
  • Alternatives to fossil fuels – biological, solar, wind, and marine energy sources
  • Economics of energy systems
  • Energy and climate policies – Irish, EU, and global

How will I study?

The Energy Systems & Climate Change module will include:
  • Videos and demonstrations by the lecturers
  • Interactive learning reinforcement quizzes
  • Online assessed multiple choice quizzes

Expected Commitment

Students are not required to attend any lectures at the UCD campus as part of the module. However, Students are expected to attend the final semester exam and spend a total 120 hours workload during the semester consisting of:
  • Lectures, videos and other online learning materials (throughout the semester): 24 hours
  • Assignments, project and quizzes (throughout the semester): 24 hours
  • Student Autonomous Learning: 72 hours

How will I be assessed?

In-semester assessment: 30%

2 hour end of semester written exam: 70%

On successful completion of this module I will be able to

At the end of the course students will be able to:
  • Explain the historical and anticipated evolution of energy demand, by region and fuel type.
  • Explain, analyse, and discuss the potential impacts of fossil-fuel combustion on local and global scales.
  • Discuss the political, ethical, and technological tensions associated with growing energy demand.
  • Judge the physical, societal, economic and technical constraints on fossil-fuel based power generation, currently and into the future.
  • Assess the potential of alternative and renewable energy sources to supplement, and/or replace, conventional fuels in this role.

Am I eligible?

Applicants must hold a minimum of a 2.2 honours level degree in a science, engineering or related discipline. Students should have completed at least a Level One module in Thermodynamics, or equivalent. Although mathematical content is minimized, it is assumed that students are comfortable with basic integration and differentiation (approximately to Honours Leaving Certificate Mathematics level), and have a similar level of understanding of Physics and Chemistry.