MSc Geoscience for Sustainable Energy / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
GeoEnergy Systems

Unit code EART60081
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit focuses on different geoenergy systems and how geology and geophysics can be applied to evaluate and assess them. Systems covered will include natural gas, geothermal, carbon capture and storage, energy storage (heat and compressed air energy storage), hydrogen storage, critical metal resources, and radioactive waste geodisposal.  Global examples and challenges, including geological, technical, societal and environmental, will be explored.

The module has two components. The first is a series of short 'primer' presentations presentation by the staff of key topics in these areas, followed by the delivery by the student of a short (5 min) presentation on a focussed aspect of each area. Feedback and marks will be given the following week.  In the second component of the course you will undertake personal literature-based research on a topic of your choice within the overall framework of the course unit. You will receive help and feedback on the topic selection, and will give a short (10 min) presentation and a short written report on this.  In this unit you will not only gain knowledge of these important topics, but develop further your presentation and critical discussion skills.


To provide students with an integrated appreciation of the nature of geoenergy systems, their assessment, utilisation and an awareness of the benefits and impacts of this utilisation.

Learning outcomes

On the successful completion of the course, students will be able to:




Discuss the importance of geoscience in underpinning the effective delivery of geoenergy, using a selection of examples.




Explain, in a geological sense, the fundamental characteristics and properties of geoenergy systems




Discuss the geological, technological and environmental challenges in selected geoenergy systems.




Interpret and integrate sub-surface data in order to characterise and quantify physical and geochemical properties of geoenergy systems.




Articulate, and critically discuss, the environmental and societal considerations essential to the sustainable exploitation of Earth resources





Concisely explain, using visual and verbal material, future challenges in geoenergy 




Week by week content:

Week 1: Introduction, concepts, approaches

Week 2: Global context and challenges, energy demand and growth

Week 3: Polices and priorities; global, regional and local focus

Week 4: Principle geoenergy systems 1: Energy extraction systems

Week 5: Principle geoenergy systems 2: Energy storage systems

Week 6: Principle geoenergy systems 3: Energy diposal systems

Week 7: Applied Integrated subsurface descriptions and modelling; Uncertainty and risk

Week 8: Digital and visualisation in geoenergy systems

Week 9: Detailed case examples: Energy extraction systems

Week 10: Detailed case examples Energy storage systems

Week 11: Detailed case examples: Energy diposal systems

Week 12: Presentations

Teaching and learning methods

This module will be delivered as 10 sessions with up to 2 hours asynchronous lecture material and pre-read material, prior to weekly 2 hour synchronous teaching, focused on discussions and individual presentation of key weekly topics. These will incorporate elements of:

- Presentations by lecturer

- Small class discussions

- Student presentations

- Class Q and A following presentations

- Research using on-line resources

- Report presentation and feedback and in individual topic chosen by each student.

- Final presentation of research report

Assessment methods

Assessment type

% Weighting within unit

Hand out and hand in dates



How, when and what feedback is provided

ILO tested

Individual presentation

0 (formative)

Early Oct


10 mins

Week later

1, 2, 3, 4

Individual presentation


20% each

Late Oct and early Nov


10 mins

Week later

1, 2, 3, 4

Individual project report


Jan 2022

2500 words

3 weeks later

5, 6

Individual research presentation


Jan 2022

15 mins

3 weeks later

5, 6

Recommended reading

Stober, I and Bucher, K. (2013) Geothermal Energy: from theoretical models to Exploration and Development; Springer.


Gill, J.C. and Smith, M. (2021) Geosciences and the Sustainable Development Goals, Springer


On-line reading resources are provided based on the topics selected by the students each week.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Kevin Taylor Unit coordinator

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