Petroleum Geoscience (MSc and PG Dip)

Overview

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.

Finding new reserves is becoming ever more challenging and the enhanced recovery of reserves from existing fields is becoming increasingly important. Well-trained Petroleum Geoscientists with the ability to integrate geological and geophysical data, and to apply it on a variety of scales, have a vital role to play.

This MSc in Petroleum Geoscience provides training in the practical and technical skills to address a range of exploration and production challenges, from predicting the likely distribution of hydrocarbons in a frontier sedimentary basin, to quantifying the complex structural, stratigraphic and sedimentological architecture of individual reservoirs.

Royal Holloway, University of London is one of the leading centres for Earth Science research in the UK. It has excellent links with the international oil industry and a strong programme of industry-funded petroleum geology research, which ensures that this Masters is up-to-date, focused and commercially relevant.

Royal Holloway staff provide tutorial support for each module, plus guidance for your dissertation and for project work, which is based on industry data.

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.

Course summary

Programme You study Study period Cost (2014-2015)
MSc 6 modules + project 2-5 years £12,665
Postgraduate Diploma 6 modules 2-5 years £10,405

Prestige

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.

Career progression

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.

Excellent support

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
Course starts October
Examinations take place Early June

 

Structure

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. To do the project an applicant must be employed n the industry or be able to demonstrate adequate support from a company for access to material for the project work and facilities. 

Petroleum systems includes fieldwork.

Study materials

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.

Time commitment

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.

Fees

Fees

The fees below refer to the 2014-2015 academic year only and are effective from 1 March 2014 until 30 November 2014. Fees are subject to annual review. 

2014-2015
Registration fee£ 1,465
Fee per module £ 1,490
Project fee (MSc only)£ 2,260
Total Postgraduate Diploma£ 10,405
Total MSc*£ 12,665
Total per Individual module (taken on a stand-alone basis)£ 1,858
ConvertGBP x 1

Disclaimer: the currency conversion tool is provided to you for convenience only and does not constitute an endorsement or approval by the University of London; the exchange rates are provided dynamically via a third-party source, consequently, the University of London International Programmes is not responsible for their accuracy.

*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.

Other costs

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.

Note

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.

Assessment

Assessment

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).

Requirements

Academic Requirements

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 second class degree equivalent is beneficial but not essential 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 considered. Sufficient relevant work experience may be considered to replace the requirement for a second class honours degree qualification in geoscience; cases are considered on an individual basis
  • Applicants for the MSc must demonstrate that they have access to interpretation software, data and local expert supervision before they can register for and complete the research project module PGM051 necessary to complete the MSc. 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.

English language

You will meet the English language requirement if you have passed, within the past three years

  • (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 provided you took the examination before 29 May 2014.

Please note we are unable to accept (TOEFL) iBT Test of English as a Foreign Language results if you have taken the examination after the 29 May 2014.

Computer Requirements

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.

We recommend that you use the latest version of Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome and that your screen resolution is 1024 x 768 or greater. JavaScript and cookies must be enabled to access particular online services such as the Student Portal.

Some programmes have courses or modules that use additional software. Where this is the case, information is given with the relevant course descriptions.

Leaders

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.

Apply online

Read blog posts from a Petroleum Geoscience student.

Postgraduate Petroleum Geoscience overview

Chris Elders Professor of Petroleum Geoscience at Royal Holloway, University of London provides an overview of postgraduate programmes available in Petroleum Geoscience. 

Alumni Inspiration: Victor Adeleke, MSc Petroleum Geoscience, Nigeria

Victor Adeleke studied for his MSc Petroleum Geoscience via distance learning in Nigeria. He speaks about how the Masters will help in his career as a geoscientist.