University of Strathclyde



The use of external speakers, field trips and industry-facing outputs to embed industry engagement in the MSc in Global Energy Management.


Strathclyde Business School

Contact Details

Dr Stuart MacIntyre


One of the key drivers for students to undertake postgraduate study is to improve their experience in the labour market. To reflect this, and thus better tailor our postgraduate teaching to the needs of our students, we sought out ways to embed industry engagement deeply within our MSc in Global Energy Management. In order to do this, we established a 20 credit compulsory class called the ‘Global Energy Forum’. This class involves a number of key elements. Firstly, there are regular (approximately every two weeks) 2 hour seminars given by external speakers from different parts of the energy sector. Students are given some briefing material in advance by the speaker to prepare them for the talk. Secondly, students undertake a number of ‘field trips’ to broader their knowledge and understanding of the energy sector (for instance by visiting different types of generation plant, and the electricity control centre for the UK). Thirdly, students are assessed on their ability to use their knowledge and experiences gained through the programme to deliver key industry facing outputs. These include the production of short briefing notes on the presentations by external speakers, an individual report targeted at a key decision maker in the private sector or government, and a presentation to the class on a topic of their choosing similar in many respect to those given by our guest speakers.


Our Global Energy Forum now includes speakers from each dimension of the energy sector. We have talks from: policymakers in government, industry associations, energy consultancies, utility companies, the energy regulator, and a former Energy Minister. The calibre and experience of these speakers is notable and reflected in the content of their contributions. In addition to gaining important insights into the challenges and issues facing the energy sector from a range of speakers, students also begin the process of establishing for themselves their own professional network in the sector. This has some short—term gains in terms of seeking internship opportunities, but is intended to offer much longer term advantages as they embark upon their career in the energy sector. Furthermore, giving students this level and frequency of exposure to professionals in the energy industry better prepares students for the reality of working in the sector and gives them the opportunity to engage in discussions about their career plans.


Establishing a high quality roster of external speakers is difficult when first establishing this kind of class. It becomes easier over time, although when focussed on attracting the highest calibre of speakers one inevitably runs into diary conflict issues. We have generally opted for a 2-hour slot on a Wednesday lunchtime, but have arranged alternative times to fit in with the diary commitments of our speakers. The logistics of field trips can become burdensome, although it too decreases somewhat in intensity over time. 

Lessons Learnt

There are no obvious ‘we wish we hadn’t done THAT’ issues with this course. We review and reflect annually on how the course has gone and whether or not to invite particular speakers back again. In some cases, the first presentation by a speaker has not gone particularly well, usually as a result of the focus being overly broad or overly narrow. We generally ask speakers to address an issue of current relevance to their organisation, and to do so in an analytical and robust way. All of the students may not have the technical experience to understand all of the terminology, but they have a general enough grounding in the key elements of energy technologies, markets and policies that they can follow along and research additional material. Getting good guidance to the speakers is key. We have usually fed back to any speakers whose first talk was not as successful as we hoped, and this feedback has resulted in a much closer alignment with our course objectives in their subsequent talk.


We have generally around 20 students on this programme. This number works well for the seminars and the field trips. We deliberately encourage a lot of questions and discussions during (with the permission of the speaker) and after the talks. It is difficult to see how the quality of engagement between speaker and student could be maintained with many more students. For sure, more people could be in the room for the talk itself, but there is simply no way that the students could meaningfully network with the speaker if there were significantly more students present. In terms of field trips, this becomes significantly more difficult with greater numbers, particularly the trip to the UK National Grid Control Centre. In addition, many of the generation stations that we visit have limits on the numbers that can visit at any one time, which poses an additional constraint.

If this kind of approach were to be implemented on a larger programme, I do not think that the field trips would work. In addition, I think some thought would have to be given about how to maintain some kind of engagement with the speaker and the students. For larger courses this may have to be sacrificed entirely, but at a minimum the principal of having an industry engagement class on PGT programmes is a good one and could work in larger classes although without the kind of student/speaker engagement that makes the Global Energy Forum class work so well.

Suggestions for Transferablity

The importance of industry engagement, particularly at PGT level, is only going to increase over time. This is good. There are important synergies that exist by working with industry. One of the most obvious for us has been that it provides a means of helping our students gain internship and ultimately employment opportunities. It really helps distinguish our graduates in the job market that they have experience engaging and in many cases working with industry. In addition, one of the more recent developments has been that this course has enabled us to engage on a continuing basis with the graduates of our programme and their colleagues working in the energy sector. This enables our students to benefit from the experience of our own graduates and for our graduates to act as programme ambassadors. I would suggest that the approach demonstrated through the Global Energy Forum class could, with the right blend of commitment and resourcing, be replicated in some way at PGT level throughout the University where there is a clear and obvious touch point with industry. 

No files shared here yet.