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Undergraduate study
Energy Engineering by Flexible Open Learning

Energy Engineering by Flexible Open Learning HNC

In a world facing urgent environmental challenges, renewable energy sources are gaining popularity and there is a growing demand for talent in the energy industry. This HNC in energy engineering is a step towards a career in the energy industry.


Course overview

Stephen Brown, Teesside University Online Learning

Hear from Stephen Brown and learn more about studying engineering maths with Teesside University online learning in engineering.

This work-related distance learning course gives you the skills and knowledge to be at the forefront of sustainable energy solutions, making a positive impact on the environment and contributing to the world's energy transition.

What does by flexible open learning mean?

  • Open learning – open learning is suitable for those who are unable to attend conventional classroom-based courses. So, if you work on an oil rig in the Caribbean or in pipeline construction in a desert, you can study at your own pace at a location suitable to you.
  • Flexible study – you work at your own pace. But typically, a Higher National Certificate takes between two and three years. You must complete the course within five years and you must do at least two 15-credit modules a year (30 credits in total).
  • Learning resources – we provide the course materials through our e-learning site. You are given user-friendly guides, explanations, self-assessment questions and answers to help your study. If there is practical work involved in a module we loan you a special practical kit to do it at home.
  • Tutor support – you are allocated a tutor for each module. The tutor grades your tutor-marked assessments and provides feedback through the online site. Your tutor is also available to contact by phone, email or (by prior arrangement) in person to help you with any problems that you have with the work.
  • Assessments – you are assessed by a series of in-course tutor-marked assessments. The number of assessments varies across the modules. You complete the assessment and submit your answers through the online site.

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Course details

Course structure

Core modules

Engineering Design (TUOLE)

You experience the process of carrying out a design project, enabling you to appreciate that design involves harmonising key parameters and blending them into the design solution, and to produce a design report. You look at each stage of the design process including client brief, planning, design specification, design report and evaluation.

This is a distance learning module with all learning material being accessed via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Engineering Maths (TUOLE)

You gain the fundamental analytical knowledge and techniques needed to successfully complete the core modules of higher national engineering programmes. The module is intended as a base for the further study of analytical methods and mathematics, needed for more advanced option modules.

You use fundamental algebra, trigonometry, calculus, statistics and probability, for the analysis, modelling and solution of realistic engineering problems at higher national level. 

This is a distance learning module with all learning material being accessed via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Engineering Science (TUOLE)

You are introduced to the fundamental laws and applications of the physical sciences within engineering and how to apply this knowledge to find solutions to a variety of engineering problems.

You cover international system of units, interpreting data, static and dynamic forces, fluid mechanics and thermodynamics, material properties and failure, and AC/DC circuit theories.

This is a distance learning module with all learning material being accessed via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Fundamentals of Thermodynamics and Heat Engines (TUOLE)

The majority of the engines used in the world today to generate power or to provide transportation are either gas turbines, steam systems or internal combustion engines, all of which use thermodynamic processes to generate the power required. You are introduced to the principles and laws of thermodynamics and heat transfer and then shown how they can be applied to engineering systems.

You cover system definition, the fundamental laws of thermodynamics and the application of the non-flow and steady flow energy equations using the ideal gas equations and steam tables. You are introduced to the different mechanisms of heat transfer and look at the performance of heat exchangers before concluding with an investigation of heat engine cycles, principally those used in the internal combustion engines.

This is a distance learning module with all learning material being accessed via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Managing a Professional Engineering Project (TUOLE)

You look at the approach required to identify the best solution to a specified engineering need. You are introduced to some of the core tools and methodologies available to engineers to maximise their chances of bringing an engineering project to a successful conclusion; meeting the specification, on cost, on time and performed in an ecologically and ethically sound manner. You are guided through the management activities needed to deliver a major engineering project. Rather than considering the details of the design solution, the analysis you undertake relates to the management of the project rather than the detail of the engineering design solution. You consider the duties and responsibilities of a professional engineer working in our society.

This is a distance learning module with all learning material being accessed via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Renewable Energy (TUOLE)

Explore potential renewable energy resources, including current storage and generation technologies, and determine the optimum combination and efficiencies of renewable energy technologies for a particular location. Conduct a cost–benefit analysis to determine the most viable option between renewable and conventional energy sources, and understand socio-economic, legislative and environmental factors involved in the consideration and selection of other approaches to renewable energy resources and technologies.

This is a 15-credit module.


and two optional modules

Electrical and Electronic Principles (TUOLE)

You study the basics of electrical theory from first principles to the stage where you can solve complex circuits. You cover AC theory and the issues arising from this common type of electric power as well as digital and analogue circuits and the issues arising from each type of control.    

You start with the basics of electricity and simple circuits, such as current, voltage and Kirchhoff’s Laws and different methods to solve more complex circuits. The sinusoidal AC circuit is introduced and the control of its waveform, including the use of phasors. You consider the harmonics of output and the use of filters to control the outputs.

Electronics is introduced with simple descriptions of fundamental electronic devices, such as diodes and transistors. You cover analogue circuits, especially the amplifier and the use of logic gates to create simple logical functions.

This is a distance learning module with all learning material being accessed via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Mechanical Principles (TUOLE)

You cover a range of mechanical principles which underpin the design and operation of mechanical engineering systems. It includes aspects related to loading of structures and mechanics of machines. You gain a firm foundation for work in engineering design and a basis for more advanced study.

This is a distance learning module with all learning material being accessed via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Programmable Logic Controllers (TUOLE)

You investigate how programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and industrial robots can be programmed to successfully implement automated engineering solutions.
You cover PLC system operational characteristics, different types of programming languages, types of robots and cell safety features.

You programme PLCs and robotic manipulators to achieve a set task, describe the types and uses of PLCs and robots available, write simple PLC programs, and program industrial robots with straightforward commands and safety factors.

This is a distance learning module with all learning material being accessed via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).


Modules offered may vary.


How you learn

The course is delivered through our e-learning site, You are provided with a self-contained comprehensive study pack for each module, which is grouped into a series of lessons and topics. Each lesson has an introduction, your aims, study advice, self-assessment questions and a summary.

Open learning study requires a considerable degree of self-discipline, you must be prepared to devote both time and effort to studying alongside other commitments you may have.

How you are assessed

You are assessed through tutor-marked assignments (TMAs). Some of the units also require practical work - we provide additional software and/or practical kit for this. You undertake an exit interview after each module, where your tutor authenticates your work and confirms the grade. These interviews can be done in person, by phone or Skype.

TMAs are a means of continuous assessment. They contain a series of questions which can be used to satisfy the learning outcomes of the module. The TMAs for the module are available to download from the module online e-learning site.

All completed answers for the TMAs are submitted through the online site, where your module tutor grades your answers and provides feedback.

Our Disability Services team provide an inclusive and empowering learning environment and have specialist staff to support disabled students access any additional tailored resources needed. If you have a specific learning difficulty, mental health condition, autism, sensory impairment, chronic health condition or any other disability please contact a Disability Services as early as possible.
Find out more about our disability services

Find out more about financial support
Find out more about our course related costs


Entry requirements

Entry requirements

One of the following, which must include level 3 maths covering algebra, trigonometry and calculus, plus three GCSEs at grade 4 or above (or equivalent) including maths:

  • at least one A level in an appropriate subject
  • BTEC National Certificate in an appropriate engineering discipline
  • BTEC National Diploma in an appropriate engineering discipline
  • Access to HE in Engineering
  • any other Level 3 equivalent UK or international qualification in an appropriate subject.

If you already have qualifications at Level 4 (or above) and you wish to apply for Recognition of Prior Certified Learning (RPCL) then use the link here.

Bridging module
A Level 3 bridging module, Foundation Mathematics for Engineers, is available if you don’t have sufficient grades in maths.

You must include your qualification certificates when applying. We look for a Level 3 maths qualification such as an AS level, BTEC, NC or equivalent for direct entry to the HNC.

English language requirements
If English is not your first language and you haven't undertaken your final two years of schooling in English, you must demonstrate capability in English at a standard equivalent to the minimum levels below:

  • Common European Framework of Reference for Languages level B2
  • GCSE English language grade C or 4
  • PTE 51
  • IELTS 5.5 - reading and writing must be at 5.5 (or equivalent).

For general information please see our overview of entry requirements

You can gain considerable knowledge from work, volunteering and life. Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credit for this which can be credited towards the course you want to study.
Find out more about RPL



Career opportunities

You are prepared for a career in the fast-growing and ever-evolving field of energy. You gain a solid foundation in key engineering principles and specialised knowledge in energy systems, making you a valuable asset to various industries. Potential roles include:

1. Energy technician: work hands-on with energy systems - maintaining, troubleshooting, and optimising energy production and distribution processes. Work in power plants, renewable energy facilities, or energy-intensive industries.

2. Renewable energy specialist: play a crucial role in harnessing solar, wind, hydro, and other renewable resources. Design, install, and manage renewable energy systems for both residential and commercial applications.

3. Energy efficiency consultant: help organisations and businesses identify opportunities to reduce energy consumption and optimise energy usage. Conduct energy audits, recommend energy-saving strategies, and assess the cost-effectiveness of energy-efficient technologies.

4. Power systems technician: maintain and operate electrical grids and power distribution systems. Ensure the reliable and safe transmission of electricity from power plants to end users.

5. Energy analyst: collect and analyse data related to energy usage, costs and efficiency. Develop strategies for improving energy management and making informed decisions regarding energy consumption.

6. Environmental consultant: assess the environmental impact of energy-related activities, and provide guidance on adhering to environmental regulations and promote eco-friendly practices within the energy sector.


Learning platform

Our virtual learning environment (VLE) is the platform you use to access your online course


Teesside University online learning courses are delivered through the Brightspace Learning Environment.

Here are some of the benefits.

  • You can use it on your smartphone, tablet and computer.
  • And you can use it anytime, so that you can plan your learning to fit your own schedule.
  • It's easy to use and navigate.
  • Modules are set out by topics and themes. You can use the progress bar to understand where you are in your modules, and appreciate your achievements.
  • We support you to become familiar with your VLE, helping you to start learning quickly.
  • You get feedback, help and guidance from tutors throughout your course through the VLE, and you can ask questions at any time.
  • Our tutors use a live activity feed to keep you updated about your course.
  • You can create a student profile, collaborate with other students and take part in online discussion forums.

Software requirements


Online learning

Online learning allows you to get a university-level qualification from the comfort of your own home or workplace. You'll have access to all of the world-class teaching and support that Teesside University has to offer, but all of your lectures, tutorials and assessments will take place online.

Find out more

University of the Year

Teesside University was named University of the Year at the Edufuturists Awards 2022.


  • Not available full-time


2024/25 entry

Fee for all applicants
£3,960 (120 credits)

More details about our fees

  • Length: 1-5 years
  • Attendance: 100% online
  • Start date: Monthly
  • Semester dates

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