Curriculum module: The physics of sustainable energy

Kettle illustration on blue background

With discussion increasingly focused on how to tackle the world’s energy and production and consumption, it’s important to talk about climate change in an open and informed way.

By focusing on both individual and societal energy consumption, the module allows students to calculate how general day-to-day activities have global effects


Public debate on this topic is often clouded by conflicting interests and lobbying, leading to the question of how to effectively contribute to environmental sustainability.

The Department of Physics and Astronomy launched an optional first-year module to explore the physics of sustainable energy. The module teaches students the basic physics of energy and the different forms of renewable energy.

By focusing on both individual and societal energy consumption, the module allows students to calculate how general day-to-day activities have global effects. From the amount of energy used to boil a kettle, to all the energy required to produce and power a computer, the module explores whether a person could exist on sustainable energy alone.

Examples also come from the University of Sheffield campus, demonstrating the tangible, real-world application and the part every individual has to play in energy consumption, as well as making the students more aware of the impact they can make. The students map the individual energy consumption of an average citizen to give a realistic view of how much power we unknowingly consume each day.

The module has given the students a better understanding of the impact they, as an individual, as well as the university, as a whole, have on energy consumption, making finding a solution more of a priority.

Find out more

For further information on the module, please contact:

Professor David Lidzey
Professor of Physics
d.g.lidzey@sheffield.ac.uk