Department of Engineering

Detailed Curriculum

Detailed Curriculum

Core Courses (Obligatory)

The aim of the core courses is to bring everybody up to the same level, to introduce key terminology and skills, and to communicate the theme of the MPhil.  We are trying to cover each main primary energy source separately.

Each course = 1 credit = about 16 lectures

These courses are delivered in Michaelmas or Lent, with seminars running throughout the year. Assessment is by coursework, which may involve either 2 x 2000-word reports or one 4000-word report.


Energy Topics

  • Research methodology;
  • Literature search, presentation skills, report writing
  • Invited seminar from industrialists, policy-makers, power generation, case studies
  • Weekly "get-together" of the whole cohort. The aim is to bring about the many different points of view in the Energy area.


Review of Fundamentals

  • Mathematics, numerical analysis, matlab, programming languages
  • Renewable energy, nuclear energy, electricity, power generation, storage, transmission, with a mix of analytical and encyclopaedic material
  • Energy, pollution and the environment
  • Thermodynamics and fluid dynamics


Clean Fossil Fuels

  • Carbon capture and sequestration
  • Coal characteristics and combustion
  • Coal power plants


Renewable Energy 1: wind, wave, tidal, and hydro

  • Wind turbines
  • Tidal power
  • Hydroelectric plants


Renewable Energy 2: solar and biofuels

  •  Solar panels
  •  Thermosolar
  •  Biofuels, their production and use
  • Natural gas, oil, gas turbines, engines, fundamentals of combustion, pollution


The student must select 5 or 7 courses, depending on whether a student takes the "long" thesis or the "short" thesis option, respectively. The final selection of courses will need the approval of the Course Director to resolve timetabling conflicts and avoid repetition.

Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that all courses will be offered every year due to the availability of teaching staff and capacity limitations. The list below is not exhaustive and some of the listed courses may not be offered.


Computational Fluid Dynamics






Molecular Thermodynamics


Flow Instability


Vortex Dynamics and Turbulence


Combustion and Internal Combustion Engines




Solar-electronic Power: Generation and Distribution


Renewable Electrical Power


Architectural Engineering


Technological Innovation


Management of Technology


Enterprise and Business Development


Project Management


Nuclear Power Engineering


Present and Future Energy Systems


Advanced Building Physics


Stochastic Optimization Methods


Experimental Methods in Fluids


Turbulent Reacting Flows


Environmental Fluid Mechanics and Air Pollution

(May also include selected courses from the MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development and from the MPhil in Nuclear Energy, if capacity permits.)

Potentially, some 3rd-year courses for students with no prior experience in a particular area may be used. For example, a civil engineer who has basic fluid mechanics and is interested in wind energy may be allowed to take a 3rd-year heat transfer and aerodynamics course.

Courses from other Departments

From the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology (their MPhil in Advanced Chemical Engineering):

  • Particle Technology
  • Catalysis
  • Electrochemical Engineering

From the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy:

  • NE.10   Micro and Nano-electrochemistry

From the BP Institute / Department of Mathematics:

  • Fluids and Natural Resources

Research Project

Long thesis option:

  • Runs from January until August
  • 20,000-word dissertation

Short thesis option:

  • Runs from March until August
  • 10,000-word dissertation

Projects will be offered at the beginning of the year; final selection to be made by middle of Michaelmas term for the "long" thesis and by middle of Lent for the "short" thesis. Group projects (2-4 students) and projects suggested by students are also possible.

Student Load

At Cambridge, the lectures are very intensive so students are expected to show significant initiative and exercise very tight time management. A student taking the "short" thesis option will have an average of 6 courses per term (with a greater load in Michaelmas than in Lent). Typically, each course has 16 lectures, so a student should expect 12 lectures per week. A student taking the "long" thesis option will have a little more free time from courses to be spent on the research project.