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MAS311 Solar Technology and Design

Course description for academic year 2023/2024

Contents and structure


  • Solar radiation and the solar year.
  • Fundamentals of photovoltaic and solar thermal energy harvesting devices
  • Design of buildings using the concept of solar architecture.
  • Building physics.
  • Installation techniques for mounting photovoltaic and solar thermal panels.
  • Electrical network connection and practical considerations.
  • New and upcoming technologies and applications along with novel devices.

Learning Outcome

Learning outcomes

A student who completes the course MAS311 should be able to:


  • Show an understanding of how photovoltaic and thermal panels harness energy along with other solar energy harnessing technologies.
  • describe various techniques for installing solar harnessing devices to buildings and other structures; being able to communicate how projects can be better conceived using good solar architectural design.
  • describe the installation and methods of network connection of solar devices, including an understanding of how local generation can affect the electric grid.


  • Perform concept design studies with overall calculations for structures and devices whose form and function will benefit from solar energy.
  • Evaluate the potential for engineering solutions which can utilise solar energy.
  • Provide an insight into future solar energy technologies with their implications for application and installation.

General competence

  • Reflect on one's own professional practice.
  • Work in teams.
  • Present one’s own work though presentation and written report.

Entry requirements



Recommended previous knowledge

Recommended prerequisites

An understanding of engineering design, structural forms, heat transfer and material properties.

Teaching methods

Teaching and Learning

The course delivery will be through lectures accompanied with group work*. It is expected that the student will devote time, on a weekly basis, to self-study. If possible, excursions will be arranged. Group work will involve undertaking a project which requires, or extending, knowledge covered within the scope of this course. The project will be directed towards a report and presentation which will be assessed.

* Due the breadth of subjects within the course it is anticipated that the delivery will be by a team of specialist lecturers. This will typically include the disciplines of solar radiation in relation to the solar calendar and position, energy harnessing devices, product applications, systems installation, electrical regulation and networks, building physics, architecture and design analysis.

Compulsory learning activities

Mandatory participation in group work.


  1. Group project report, accounts for 60 % of the final grade.
  2. Oral Examination, accounts for 40 % of the final grade.

The grades for the two assessed elements are converted to integer values which are weighted and combined: this is used to produce the course grade.

Grade scale A-F, where F is a fail. Both elements must be passed in order to pass the course and obtain a final grade.

The students, in their groups, will submit a report and this report will be given a grade letter (all students get the same grade). The oral examination will consist of a group presentation plus individually directed questions (in the presence of group peers); this will be graded on an individual student basis. The presentation is based on the report, but if there is an individual task in the report this will be presented on an individual basis. More generally, questions can cover the learning outcomes of the course as well as the course work.

Examination support material

Permitted materials and equipment during the examination

None: closed book oral examination.

However, if helpful, the examiners may allow the student under examination to elucidate ideas and illustrate concepts using sketches. As such pen/pencil and blank paper or other means, as decided by the examiners, will be acceptable in the examination room. If the examination is virtual, then equivalent virtual means will be allowed.

More about examination support material