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Biomass is one of the most important sources of renewable energy worldwide.

Get to grips with the technologies involved in converting wood, crops, plants and organic waste to usable energy.

Learn with a university established as a leader in renewable energy teaching and research. Benefit from the direct input of industry specialists who are pioneering these promising technologies.

Gain options and advantage in your engineering or physical sciences career by boosting your knowledge in this exciting field – with all the advantages of online learning, anywhere in the world.

This course is part of our MSc in Renewable Energy Engineering. You can use the credits you earn on this course towards this Masters degree.

What will I study?

Biomass is readily available around the world, as wood, agricultural crops, or the organic waste produced by billions of animals and humans. The conversion of such abundant and renewable material offers a means to reduce our reliance on hydrocarbons and mitigate changes in our climate.

You’ll gain a thorough grounding in the technologies and processes involved in harnessing energy from biomass:

  • Thermal conversion, using heat as the dominant mechanism to convert biomass into another chemical form through combustion, or pyrolysis (without oxygen).
  • Chemical processes converting solid biomass into gas through gasification.
  • Biochemical conversion, such as anaerobic digestion, which uses the enzymes of bacteria and other microorganisms to break down biomass into gas or liquid fuels.

You’ll also become familiar with thermodynamics, and the concepts of mass and energy balance.

With input from industry leaders, you’ll gain in-depth knowledge of the biomass and bioenergy industries, covering resources, technologies, environmental and sustainability issues, and the challenges we face in using and applying these forms of energy.

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to…

  • Explain how we obtain energy from biomass.
  • Describe the technologies currently used to produce energy from biomass, and the fundamental principles governing the design of these processes.
  • Reflect on insight from industry leaders as to the realities of the biomass and bioenergy industries, including environmental issues and the challenges faced.
  • Pursue a career in the biomass industry or further research into this area.

Why study Energy online with the University of Aberdeen?

How will I study?

Our Energy from Biomass course is delivered part-time online. You can study with us anywhere in the world and manage your study hours to suit you.

Part of our MSc in Renewable Energy Engineering, this course is taught at Masters level.

Online learning

Your teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It holds all the materials, tools and support you’ll need in your studies. Take a look around MyAberdeen.

You can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and laptop, 24 hours a day. You’ll find a range of resources at your fingertips, including:

  • online lectures and tutorials
  • virtual lab work
  • videos
  • discussion boards with colleagues
  • the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library
  • plenty of support and interaction with tutors.

Your tutors

You’ll learn from highly qualified and experienced engineers from the University and industry professionals.

Industry input

Your course content is developed and reviewed by an Industry Advisory Board. This group of experienced professionals ensures your learning is always up to speed with the latest industry trends, technology and career opportunities.


You’ll be assessed entirely online.

This course usually combines online assessment with a written exam that you attend in person. However, due to Covid-19, in-person exams will not take place until January 2022 at the earliest.

Course coordinator

Where will this take me?

Towards a Masters

You’ll earn 15 credits at Masters level (SCQF Level 11) with this course. You can use these credits towards our:

Masters in Renewable Energy Engineering (120 credits plus a 60-credit project), or a:

  • Postgraduate Certificate in Renewable Energy Engineering (60 credits)
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Renewable Energy Engineering (120 credits)

All are available to study part-time online or full-time on campus.

Build your learning

We have a range of online short courses you can use to build your skills.

Many carry credits you can build up into postgraduate qualifications, including Masters degrees:


This course will prepare you to pursue a career within the biomass industry or further research, such as a PhD, in this area.

Whether you’re a researcher, practising engineer or recent graduate, completing the course will open doors for you.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Your employer or professional institute may recognise this course for CPD. Talk to your employer or institute to find out more.

Free careers advice

We’ll help you explore your career potential and connect with job opportunities around the world.

You can access our free careers service while you study.

From interview training to CV clinics, we’re here with tailored, impartial and professional advice.

Am I ready?

This course has no formal entry requirements. You decide if it’s suitable for you.

The course is delivered at Masters level. At this level, you’d usually have at least:

  • a 2:1 (upper-second-class) honours degree in Engineering, Applied Mathematics, Physics or Chemistry
  • or three years’ relevant experience that supports this level of training.

Apply for this course

Start date
27 September 2021