BE in Photovoltaics & Solar Energy Engineering (3642)

Michael Oregan UNSW Student Photovoltaics & Solar Energy Engineering  
"Given the current environment of social awareness about sustainability, this degree was an opportunity to be at the forefront of an emerging industry." Matthew O'Regan - while in 4th year


You might be wondering what is this program is all about.

Photovoltaic & Solar Energy Engineering focuses on the manufacture and use of photovoltaic (PV) modules and the implementation of PV systems for the purpose of powering virtually any electrical load. It covers a broad range of engineering tasks and disciplines that can be summarised into five main areas:

  1. Device and system research and development.
  2. Manufacturing, quality control and reliability.
  3. PV system design (computer based), modelling, integration, analysis, implementation, fault diagnosis and monitoring.
  4. Policy, financing, marketing, management, consulting, training and education.
  5. Using the full range of renewable energy technologies including alternate energy technologies (such as wind, biomass and solar thermal), solar architecture, energy efficient building design and sustainable energy.

This program includes training in technology development, manufacturing, quality control, reliability and life cycle analysis, cell interconnection and encapsulation, the full range of solar cell applications, system design, maintenance and fault diagnosis, marketing, policy development and the use of other renewable energy technologies.

Emphasis is placed on gaining hands-on experience of working with photovoltaic devices, modules and systems through undergraduate projects in a student’s 2nd and 4th years. Visit UNSW Online Handbook for a program outline.

Two features particularly attract students to this program: the strand – a second area of specialisation – and the undergraduate projects.


Honda Dream

Honda Dream Solar

Racing Car

The Strand

The strand is a unique feature of our program that gives our students the opportunity to study a second area of specialisation of their choice. It comprises 18 units of credit (UOC) which can be taken from any of the other engineering areas, architecture, environmental science, physics, or mathematics – as long as it complements the study of photovoltaics.

We have established 10 possible strands. Visit UNSW Online Handbook for more information. Students are also allowed to create their own strand with approval from the Undergraduate Coordinator.

The strand gives PV engineers a broad engineering background required by the cross-disciplinary nature of photovoltaics and renewable energy applications. Also, they often work in teams with other engineers where a broad knowledge base is beneficial. A good example of this is the Solar Car Project which involves electronics engineers, control engineers, mechanical engineers for the aerodynamics and mechanical design, chemical engineers for the battery technology, power engineers for motor technology, biomedical engineers for monitoring driver performance and fatigue, computer engineers, and communications engineers for telemetry.

Assumed Knowledge

In order to successfully undertake this program, it is assumed that students have completed HSC Mathematics Extension 1 and HSC Physics, and it is recommended that they have completed HSC Chemistry. If students are concerned about their level of knowledge in these areas, Bridging Courses are available before the commencement of Session 1. Alternatively, please talk to staff in the School Office.

Industrial Training

Students must complete a minimum of 60 days of suitable Industrial Training as part of a Year 4 course on Ethics and Electrical Engineering Practice. At least some of a student's industrial training should be carried out in Australia; overseas employment requires prior approval. Students need to submit evidence from their employers confirming completion of the prescribed training, and a report summarising the work done, training received, and the professional role of an engineer made apparent through the training.

Rob Selbie - Renewable Energy Engineering

Degree program: Renewable Energy Engineering

I first found out about UNSW and its programs the way most proactive students will – through the website. However, visiting the campus with my school and attending the excellent Honeywell Summer Engineering Camp gave me a much better idea of everything UNSW offers...  University gives you much more independence than at school. This means you’re free to do whatever interests you, however there’s no one reminding you to finish particular assignments or stay on top of your study, so have as much fun as possible, but don’t forget about everything else! ...