Petroleum Geoscience (MSc and Postgraduate Diploma)
Study for a prestigious MSc in Petroleum Geoscience by distance learning
Primarily suited to hydrocarbon industry professionals who wish to further develop their knowledge and skills while working, this online version of the well-established Royal Holloway MSc course has an international reputation for excellence in the petroleum industry.
Features of the programme
- Comprehensive learning materials delivered via a dedicated web portal: video clips, animations, audiovisual presentations, fully illustrated manuals, self-assessment quizzes, exercises and computer-based practicals including examples of subsurface data such as seismic and well-log data
- A field trip and intensive study seminars held in the UK as part of the final module on the course
- Option to be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Petroleum Geoscience if you choose not to undertake the project.
|Programme||You study||Study period||Cost (2013-2014)|
|MSc||6 modules + project||2-5 years||£12,065|
|Postgraduate Diploma||6 modules||2-5 years||£9,915|
The programme has been developed by academics within the Department of Earth Sciences at Royal Holloway using the material and experience from the campus-based Petroleum Geoscience MSc course that has been running since 1985. The Royal Holloway Earth Sciences Department achieved an 'excellence' rating for teaching quality and 70% of our research was graded as world-leading or internationally excellent in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise.
Many graduates of the campus-based MSc are now well-established, successful industry professionals with careers ranging from national oil companies to geoscience IT and consultancy to academia.
Your time commitment
This course is offered online with each module running with tutor support for a three month period during the academic year, and available the rest of the time for preview and revision. This online structure enables you to fit your studies around work and family commitments. To complete an MSc in a three year period you will need to study an average of 20 hours per week during the academic session.
Fully supported by a Virtual Learning Environment, you will have the opportunity for interaction with online tutors to discuss course material and exercises; a virtual student cafe allows you to interact and network with other students.
Summary of key dates
|Application deadline||31 July|
|Registration deadline||1 October|
|Examinations take place||Early June|
Structure and Syllabus
MSc: 6 compulsory core modules plus the independent research project
PG Dip: 6 compulsory core modules
Six core modules
- Tectonics and lithosphere dynamics
The course comprises three modules. The first introduces students to modern plate tectonic theory and our understanding plate tectonic processes based on earthquake data, tomography, gravity and magnetics. The second part of the course applies that to different tectonic settings and examines how our understanding of the mechanical properties of plates can be applied to understanding deformation, subsidence and heat flow. The third part of the course examines different terranes through the interpretation of remote sensed imagery and includes training in the use of GIS systems as a tool for such interpretation, as well as the broader use of GIS systems in compiling geological databases.
- Geophysical analysis
The course comprises three modules. The first module covers the principles of seismic wave theory, the various steps involved in the processing of seismic data and the limitations of the technique in terms of imaging the subsurface. The second module is an introduction to seismic interpretation and covers the basics of horizon and fault correlation, tying seismic data to well data, 2D and 3D interpretation methodologies. The third week focuses on horizon processing, attribute analysis and amplitude analysis, including an introduction to AVO. The second and third modules both involve considerable workstation based practical exercises.
- Structural analysis
The course comprises three modules. The study of large scale structures found in sedimentary basins comprises the focus of the first two weeks where students are introduced to the types of structures found in different structural settings through a combination of learning materials and the interpretation of seismic data and remotely sensed imagery. The third module involves an introduction to the theory of section balancing and structural restoration techniques and their practical application using a combination of paper based and workstation based exercises.
- Sedimentology and stratigraphy
The course comprises three modules. The first examines clastic sedimentary systems in terms of processes and different depositional environments. The second examines carbonate sedimentary systems and the application of sequence stratigraphy to the understanding of carbonate platforms and ramps. The third introduces the principles of stratigraphy and develops a thorough understanding of sequence stratigraphic concepts in clastic systems.
- Reservoir geoscience
The course comprises three modules. The first two are primarily concerned with the qualitative and quantitative interpretation of data obtained from commonly used well logging techniques (gamma ray, calliper, SP, sonic, density, neutron, resistivity, dip meter and image logs tools) and their use to determine the lithological and petrophysical characteristics of hydrocarbon reservoirs. The third involves the study of rock physics and rock mechanics, the former to integrate well log data with seismic data to study the geophysical characterisation of reservoirs using AVO and seismic inversion techniques, as well as the modelling of potential AVO responses.
- Petroleum systems
The course comprises four week-long modules. The first week introduces the concept of petroleum systems, and places particular emphasis on understanding source rocks and hydrocarbon generation in the context of basin evolution. The second week moves to the analysis of individual prospects, looking at seals, trap formation, play analysis, prospect risking and economic analysis. The final two weeks give students (working in teams) the opportunity to apply these concepts to case studies based on industry data – first of all in a series of shorter practical exercises looking at petroleum systems in a number of different tectonic settings and finally through a more in-depth analysis of individual data sets.
The Petroleum Systems module includes fieldwork. This involves 14 days of face-to-face fieldwork incorporating group work and academic lectures.
Independent research project (MSc only)
- Independent research project MSc only
The module is research based, but involves individual reviews of project proposals with supervisors, regular review consultations with supervisors and progress reports to supervisors, and individual supervision as required. Students are required to produce a report of up to 15,000 words.
Petroleum systems includes fieldwork.
How you study
Comprehensive learning materials are delivered via a dedicated web portal. These include video clips, animations, audiovisual presentations, fully illustrated manuals, self-assessment quizzes, exercises and computer-based practicals.
When you register we will also send you:
- a core textbook for certain modules
- a Student Handbook (includes practical advice on how to study, how you access and use the online learning facility, and how you progress through the degree)
- login details for the student portal where you will be able to access the virtual learning environment and, email account, student registration card and other resources.
Virtual Learning Environment
You will be given access to the Virtual Learning Environment when you register. The VLE will allow you to:
- access your course materials
- take part in discussions with your tutor and other students as shown in the course schedule [PDF 1pg 139KB]
- receive notices, seminar dates, project support and other programme-related information
- ask questions regarding the administration of the programme
- seek help for technical problems that you encounter.
It is difficult to be precise about how many hours an individual student will need to spend studying to complete the course because individuals differ in their speed of learning and in the expertise that they already have. However, for each individual module, a reasonable expectation for study and exam preparation would be around 200 hours.
If you aim to complete the MSc or PG Diploma and take two taught modules per academic year you should expect to spend around 20 hours per week from October to March studying module material and completing coursework, and then a similar amount of time up until early June preparing for exams.
If you aim to complete the MSc in two or three years [PDF 1pg 145KB], the time required per week will be substantially higher. If you want to take more than three years to complete the course you should still aim to spend 20 hours a week when a module is running, but obviously you may have periods during the academic year when you are not studying any modules.
The fees below refer to the 2013-2014 academic year only and are effective from 1 March 2013 until 30 November 2013. Fees are subject to annual review.
|Registration fee||£ 1,395|
|Fee per module||£ 1,420|
|Project fee (MSc only)||£ 2,150|
|Total Postgraduate Diploma||£ 9,915|
|Total MSc*||£ 12,065|
|Total per Individual module (taken on a stand-alone basis)||£ 1,765|
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*please also note the other costs for module PGM651 Petroleum Systems.
When to pay
Fees may be paid in one of two ways:
- Either pay the total fee on registration by making a single payment, this covers the registration fee and all module fees.
- Or if you prefer to spread out your payments, pay the registration fee plus the fee for each module you want to take in the first year, and then in following years pay the fee for each new module you take.
How to pay
All University fees must be paid in pounds sterling (GBP). The University accepts:
- Western Union - Quick Pay
- Credit/debit card (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Electron, JCB)
- Sterling banker's draft/cheque
- International money/postal order
Further details are given in payment methods.
In addition to the fees payable to the University, you should also budget for:
- the fee charged by your local examination centre to cover its costs; this fee will vary.
- the costs associated with module PGM651 Petroleum Systems; there is a compulsory residential school session at Royal Holloway and a field trip in southern England. You must cover transport and accommodation costs, in the order of 900 GBP, plus the cost of your flight to get to the UK if you are overseas.
The University reserves the right to amend previously announced fees, if necessary. For a full list fees that may be applicable, please see the fee schedule.
Each module, with the exception of the Project, will be assessed by one two-hour unseen written paper (80%) and one or more individual assignments (20%). The Project will be assessed by means of a project report (100%).
Examinations by written paper usually take place in June each year. We have exam centres in over 180 countries worldwide, so you can sit your examinations wherever is most convenient (please see our Assessment and examinations section for further details).
Summary of the entrance requirements:
- An undergraduate degree (e.g. bachelor) which is considered at least comparable to a UK second class honours degree, in a physical science subject, preferably but not necessarily related to geoscience. The degree must be awarded from an institution acceptable to the University. An upper class degree is beneficial but not a requirement if you have work experience in the oil and gas industry.
- Work experience in the oil and gas industry, preferably carrying out evaluation of conventional and/or unconventional petroleum systems, but any technical oil and gas related work will be an advantage. This is particularly important for applicants who do not hold an undergraduate degree (e.g. bachelor) which is considered at least comparable to a UK second class honours degree.
- Applicants for the MSc must demonstrate that they have access to interpretation software, data and local supervision before they can register for and complete the research project module PGM051. Usually this means applicants should be currently in employment with an oil and gas company, but exceptions can be made for students who can arrange data, software and supervision by other means.
- You do not need to be currently in employment within the oil and gas industry to complete the six taught modules. Successful completion of these modules is sufficient to qualify for a PG Diploma.
You will meet the English language requirement if you have passed, within the past three years either
- (IELTS) International English Language Testing System when an overall score of at least 6.5 is achieved with a minimum of 6.0 in each sub-test.
- (TOEFL) iBT Test of English as a Foreign Language overall score of 92 or above with at least 22 in both Reading and Writing Skills sub-tests and at least 20 in both Speaking and Listening sub-tests.
All students must have regular access to a computer and the internet. This may be for accessing the Student Portal, downloading course materials from the virtual learning environment or accessing resources from the Online Library. You will also need suitable hardware capacity on your computer for document storage as well as basic software such as a PDF reader.
Some programmes have courses or modules that use additional software. Where this is the case, information is given with the relevant course descriptions.
Academic leaders: Royal Holloway - Earth Sciences
Founded in 1885, Royal Holloway is one of the six largest Colleges of the University of London and is home to the Department of Earth Sciences.
The Department achieved an 'excellence' rating for teaching quality and 70% of its research was graded as world-leading or internationally excellent in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). The RAE sees every UK university submit a dossier of their best researchers' work in 67 disciplines on which they are graded and ranked.