At IST/ISEG, SES PhD students have the opportunity to build a diversified curriculum with Economics and Policy courses at the Economy and Management School (ISEG-Instituto Superior de Economia e Gestão) and Environment, Technology, and Systems courses at the Engineering School (IST: Instituto Superior Técnico, and/or the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon (FCUL). The objective is to provide students with a solid knowledge framework to analyze the economic and social impacts of new technology and policy in the development of emerging energy systems.

Students develop research work in the areas of Energy Systems Planning, Sustainable Built Environment, and Smart Grids, under the supervision of faculty from different backgrounds, such as Economics and Management at ISEG, or Mechanical, Civil, and Environmental Engineering at IST and FCUL. Research topics cover national, EU, regional or local energy planning, end-use energy demand, renewable resources integration, emissions and energy markets, microgeneration, urban metabolism, smart grids and vehicle transportation. Research includes work on the Green Islands and Sustainable Urban Energy Systems projects, which offer real-world case studies to test the research results.

Each student in the Doctoral Program creates a unique curriculum to fulfill her/his individual interests. Apart from the two mandatory courses, Seminar I and Seminar II (M), the student is allowed to choose from a pool of 17 optional courses (O) under the supervision of a faculty member, in order to complete 48 ECTS.

Group Course Credits
Group I: Introductory Courses Introduction to Economics (O) 6 1st
Introduction to Engineering (O) 6 1st
Group II: Economics
Energy Systems Economics and Modeling 6 1st
Risk Management (O) 6 2nd
Projects Evaluation and Externalities (O) 6 2nd
Regulation Theory (O) 6 1st
Group III: Environment Energy, Environment and Sustainability (M) 6 1st
Ecological Economics (O) 6 1st
Group IV: Energy Systems Energy Management (O) 4,5 2nd
Optimization of Energy Systems (O) 6 2nd
Group V: Energy Technologies Seminars I (M) 3 1st
Seminars II (M) 3 2nd
Energy in Buildings (O) 6 2nd
Renewable Energy Resources (O) 6 1st
Group VI: Other Curricular Units from Other Universities*(1) 6/6 1st/2nd
Curricular Units from Other IST Masters or PhDs 6/6 1st/2nd

* (1) Extra tuition fees may be applied by the university, please consult the course coordination

Course Description


Introduction to Economics

1st Semester, Mandatory/Optional (must choose one of the two M/O), 6 ECTS
Lecturer: Isabel Mendes – Assistant Professor, Dept. Economics, ISEG/UL

Main topics

  • Introduction
  • Consumer theory
  • Business theory
  • Markets
  • General equilibrium

Learning outcomes

This course aims to provide a solid foundation in microeconomics to those students whose background is not extensive in economics or business administration. Since most students will have taken introductory courses in these subjects, this program expands on previous knowledge through exposure to key economic theories as well as the mathematical and graphic application of economic theories.

Introduction to Engineering

1st Semester, Optional, 6 ECTS
Lecturer: Carlos Silva - Associated Professor, Dept. Physics, IST/UL

Main topics

  • Energy and power
  • Different kinds of energy
  • Units
  • Energy sources
  • Electrical energy
  • Electric charge and electric current
  • Electric and magnetic fields
  • Law of induction
  • How does an electrical generator work
  • Fundamental principles of thermodynamics
  • Introduction to thermodynamical cycles
  • Thermal equipment

Learning outcomes

With this course, students gain substantive knowledge of the following topics: types, units, and sources of energy; electrical energy; electrical charge and chain; electric and magnetic fields; the general law of induction; electrical generation equipment; the main laws of thermodynamics; an introduction to thermodynamic cycles; thermal equipment; the main laws of mechanics; an introduction to cinematic and dynamic mechanical systems; definition of systems; and modulation, identification and systems control.

Economics of Natural Resources and the Environment*

1st Semester, Optional, 6 ECTS
Lecturer: Jacinto Correia Braga – Assistant Professor, Dept. Economics, ISEG/UL

Main topics

  • The economy of natural resources
  • Basic model for the management of a renewable resource
  • Model dynamics and optimum control
  • The ‘tragedy of commons’ and the problem of property rights
  • Biodiversity and the risk of species extinction
  • Hotelling rule and the optimum management of non-renewable resources
  • Environmental Economics
  • Externalities and the ‘anatomy of the failed market’
  • Valorization of environmental goods
  • Economy of the pollution
  • Uncertainty, irreversibility and precaution
  • Case studies

Learning outcomes

This course focuses on the problems of natural resources management. Students learn to determine and substantiate the criteria that must be met to optimize resource use; explain the agent behaviors regarding the production and use of resources accounting for different market structures; establish representative behavior typologies regarding different institutional frameworks; and identify the politics and institutional frameworks that promote the efficient management of resources.

Energy Systems Economics and Modeling

1st Semester, Optional, 6 ECTS
Lecturer: Carlos Silva – Associated Professor, Dept. Physics, IST/UL

Main topics

  • Introduction to Energy Systems
  • Energy Services
  • Energy Supply
  • Energy Modeling
  • Energy Forecast and Indicators
  • Energy Markets
  • Electricity Markets

Learning outcomes
This course intends to introduce to the students the main concepts that will be necessary to do integrated assessments of the energy sector and its relations with the environment in what gaseous emissions are concerned.
This course discusses energy demand and supply, the energy markets, price formation, the Reference Energy Systems adequate for modeling, the economics of the main technologies. Policies that influence the energy sector and emissions, such as taxes, regulation, feed-in-tariffs and green certificates will be discussed as well as models to assist decision makers.

Risk Management

2nd Semester, Optional, 6 ECTS
Lecturer: Tiago Cardão-Pito - Assistant Professor, Dep. Management, ISEG/UL

Main topics

  • A. Introduction to risk management
  • B. Markets and financial crisis
  • C. Organizational decision with macro-economic uncertainty
  • D. Preparing the organization for risk management
  • E. Further elements of organizational control
  • F. Elements of scenario planning
  • G. When disaster comes: managing disaster situations
  • H. Reading research papers in risk management: An introduction

Learning outcomes

Students should understand how to identify organizational exposure to risk, and have a good comprehension of organizational methodologies and procedures to manage risk.

Energy, Environment and Sustainability

1st Semester, Mandatory, 6 ECTS

Lecturer: Paulo Ferrão - Full Professor, Dept. Mechanical Engineering, IST/UTL

Lecturer: Tiago Domingos - Assistant Professor, Dept. Mechanical Engineering, IST/UTL

Main topics

  • Introduction and course overview; Sustainable development: the concept and its history
  • Ecological Economics - the environment and economic growth; Measuring growth and sustainability, alternative measures of well being
  • The metabolism of the economies; Measuring resource consumption and materials flows throughput in the environment
  • The metabolism of the economies; Measuring resource consumption and materials flows throughput in the environment
  • Life cycle assessement: LCA - principles and tools; LCA: Analysis of case studies
  • World Energy Resources and constraints; Primary, final energy and embodied energy
  • Climate science: history and present status; Climate: issues and new challenges
  • Renewable Energy Resources and constraints; Renewable Energy in Portugal
  • From energy to exergy; from final energy to useful work; The Portuguese Energy system; The Portuguese Energy Balance
  • Energy as a factor of production;Energy and economic growth
  • Energy planning for sustainability; From forecasting to back-casting
  • The critical role of energy savings versus supply; Technological options for end-use-savings
  • Sustainable Buildings; Buildings: Energy, environment and health
  • Sustainable Cities; Analysis of case studies

Learning outcomes

To develop students’ background knowledge on critical issues such sustainability, environment and energy in order to make them more comfortable when dealing with more specific themes related to energy conversion, use and management. The emphasis is on a systems approach.

Energy Management

2nd Semester, Optional, 4.5 ECTS
Lecturer: Paulo Ferrão, Full Professor, Dept. Mechanical Engineering, IST/UL

Lecturer: André Pina, Researcher, Dep. Mechanical Engineering, IST/UL

Lecturer: Patrícia Baptista, Researcher, Dep. Mechanical Engineering, IST/UL

Main topics

  • Primary energy sources and energy prices
  • Energy demand
  • Primary energy and final energy: the concept of toe as the basic unit of primary energy
  • The hydrogen economy
  • Energy intensity and its environmental consequences
  • The carbon markets
  • Analytical modeling complex energy systems, making use of:
  • Block diagrams for unit process representation, complex system modeling making use of block diagrams in series, in parallel and feed-back systems
  • Energy input-output tables: the facility of modeling complex systems including feedback and recycling
  • Implementation of analytical models to different case studies
  • Gas, coal, electric and liquid fuels boilers: proper use of steam for energy transfer, steam distribution and maintenance
  • Lightning: illumination requirements, recommended levels of light availability, types of light sources
  • Thermal insulation design
  • Heat pumps
  • Systems integration for promoting the most rational use of energy: cogeneration and equipment integration
  • The use of hydrogen as an energy vector; fuel cells.

Learning outcomes

To provide the Mechanical Engineer with the knowledge and the tools required to understand and model the energy fluxes in industrial systems, buildings or complex equipment, in order to make him capable of optimizing energy use, as well as quantifying the environmental and economic benefits associated to these actions.

Seminars I and II

1st Semester, Mandatory, 3 ECTS/2nd Semester, Mandatory, 3 ECTS

Lecturer: Prof. Manuel Heitor, Full Professor, Dept. Mechanical Engineering, IST/UL

Main topics

The Doctoral Seminar is an annual course focused on identifying, formulating and solving a specific research topic, leading to a research publication. It is based on the preparation, writing-­‐up and discussion of an independent research paper, researched, written and discussed over the duration of the 1st doctoral training year, including several oral presentations. The research is often conducted as part of a multi-­‐faculty and multi-­‐student team, and the paper will become the first of the publications that eventually make up the student thesis.

Learning outcomes.

This course is aimed to introduce new doctoral students to research practice, with emphasis on engineering systems and policy research. It is a required subject for all entering PhD students. The ultimate goal is to guarantee that students engage in research activities, select a supervisor (s) and initiate in reporting/communicating research results, through complementary aspects of modern research training:

  • autonomy, including fostering student capacity to identify research theme(s) and supervisors;
  • collaboration, including the open discussion of research methods and themes, as well as collaborating with supervisor(s) and other researchers/colleagues to help formulating research issues;
  • complexity, including guidance towards the formulation of a research program, mainly to deal with complex and non-­‐structured problems, where the interaction of technology, humans and institutions are of central importance;
  • outcome, including the preparation towards publishing in research and in technical journals.

Regulation Theory

2nd Semester, Optional, 6 ECTS
Lecturer: Joana Pais (Assistant Professor, Dept. Economics, ISEG/UL)

Main topics

  • Introduction - why and how to regulate; theories of regulation
  • Natural monopoly regulation
  • Regulation under asymmetric information
  • Competition and regulation
  • Regulation of the energy sector
  • Environmental regulation

Learning outcomes

Several activities that are essential to life in society are subject to formal regulation. This is the case, for example, of telecommunications, electricity and natural gas distribution, transportation, and water treatment and supply. With this course, students will understand the theory of economic regulation as well as the optimum regulatory theories that are analyzed within the framework of the nature of the regulated companies. Some case studies of the energy and environmental sectors will be analyzed.

Ecological Economics

2nd Semester, Optional, 6 ECTS
Lecturer: Tiago Domingos - Assistant Professor, Dept. Mechanical Engineering, IST/UL

Main topics

Ecological Microeconomics

  • The allocation system; the hypotheses of economic modeling: rational economic behavior; analysis of indifference curves; budget constraints; individual demand curve; consumer surplus; market demand; interaction between supply and demand
  • Leontieff production function; input-output matrices and graph theory; ‘embodiment’ analysis
  • Criticisms of the neoclassical models of the consumer and the producer
  • Institutional and evolutionary economics; game theory; social traps; ‘prisoners’ dilemma


  • Economic valuation market prices; built market techniques; ecological valuation; systems energy analysis; life cycle assessment; ecological footprint; MIPS

Ecological Macroeconomics

  • Complementarity vs. substitutability of natural and built capital; sustainability criteria
  • National accounting systems; social welfare; Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare; Index of Human Development
  • Discount; intertemporal efficiency conditions; growth theory; dynamic constrained optimization; Environmental Kuznets Hypothesis; economic growth with environmental constraints

Learning outcomes

Understand an integrated approach to environmental and sustainable development problems, integrating a biophysical analysis based on the laws of thermodynamics and on ecological science, using the tools of economic analysis.

Renewable Energy and Resources

1st Semester, Optional, 6 ECTS
Lecturer: António Sarmento - Associate Professor, Dept. Mechanical Engineering, IST/UL

Main topics

  • Renewable energy resources: solar energy, hydro energy, wind energy, ocean energy (tidal and waves), geothermal energy
  • Origin and physical characterization
  • Geographical distribution
  • Time variation and seasonal distribution
  • Statistical characterization

Learning outcomes

The problem of sustainable energy, as it relates to the increasing scarcity of fossil fuels and climatic changes resulting from their combustion, has heightened interest in the use of the renewable energies. With this course, students will be able to characterize renewable energy resources, especially solar energy, hydro energy, wind energy, energy from the oceans and geothermal energy, from the points of view of their origin, quantification and geographic distribution, time variation and statistical characterization.

Optimization of Energy Systems

2nd Semester, Optional, 6 ECTS
Lecturer: João Sousa (Associated Professor, Dept. Mechanical Engineering, IST/UL)

Main topics

  • Optimization problems.
  • Unconstrained optimization.
  • Gradient based methods.
  • Constrained optimization.
  • Linear programming.
  • Quadratic programming.
  • Nonlinear Programming.
  • Sequential quadratic programming.
  • Dynamic programming.
  • Integer programming.
  • Branch-and-bound algorithms.
  • Convex and non-convex optimization.
  • Distributed optimization.
  • Distributed dynamic programming.
  • Synchronous and asynchronous methods.
  • Gradient based distributed optimization.
  • Parallel search algorithms.
  • Multidimensional distributed optimization.
  • Introduction to meta-heuristics.
  • Taboo search. Genetic algorithms.
  • Swarm optimization.
  • Biologically inspired meta-heuristics: ant colony optimization and swarm wasps optimization. Implementation in distributed problems.
  • Applications to energy optimization

Learning outcomes

The main objective is to supply the students with the basics of optimization systems. Students learn how to formulate typical optimization problems, especially in the energy field. Beyond traditional techniques, meta-heuristics will also be addressed, including the very recent meta-heuristics inspired in biologic agents.

Projects Evaluation and Externalities

2nd Semester, Optional, 6 ECTS
Lecturer: Muradali Ibrahimo, Assistant Professor, Dept. Economics, ISEG/UL
Elsa Fontainha, Assistant Professor, Dept. Economics, ISEG/UL

Main topics

  • Basic concepts
  • Investment and entrepreneurial strategy
  • Capital investment
  • Financial flows of investment
  • Investment finance
  • Project selection
  • Decision under uncertainty
  • Externalities

Learning outcomes

After presentation and discussion of the methods, students will be able to undertake a real investment project, which includes an economic and financial feasibility analysis. Diverse case study will be presented during semester to illustrate the concepts and methods.

Energy in Buildings

2nd Semester, Optional, 6 ECTS
Lecturer: Vítor Leal - Invited Assistant Professor, FEUP and IDMEC – UEAEAC

Main topics

  • Introduction to energy in buildings
  • Basics of Thermal Comfort
  • Thermal balance of buildings (1) and (2)
  • Bioclimatic strategies
  • Simulation tools
  • Lighting and other energy uses in buildings
  • Smatmetering and demand-response
  • Embodied energy and relation to urban metabolism
  • HVAC equipments
  • Energy audits
  • Integration of renewables and microgeneration into buildings
  • Regulations & policy strategies to achieve energy-efficient buildings

Learning outcomes

Students will become familiar with the concepts related to the thermal balance, energy use and energy efficiency of buildings; understand the methods for evaluating the energy demand of buildings and the planning process to achieve efficient solutions; become able to perform energy simulation and assessment of simple buildings; understand the main technologies of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and lighting in buildings; learn the methodology, phases and expected outputs of energy audits in existing buildings; and become aware of the non-technical issues influencing the energy performance of buildings.