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The course is taught over one year, full time, by leading researchers in the field from the University of Manchester. Course content is continually refreshed and updated to reflect current thinking and geoscience techniques. We also have close links with industry, including most major oil companies, who provide additional input into our courses and also deliver some of the content alongside careers presentations.

Course description

This course focuses on exploration geoscience and develops key skills for understanding petroleum systems. You will learn how to evaluate sedimentary basins and leads along with prospect generation. You will be given the skills to explore for oil and gas (and unconventional hydrocarbons). We provide a global overview of major hydrocarbon provinces, as well as current exploration trends.

This masters course is ideal if you wish to pursue a career in the oil industry working in exploration for oil and gas. It is also suitable for anyone who wishes to focus on field appraisal and development.

Semester 2  among others, teaching comprises four specialist units:

  • 3D Seismic Interpretation and Basin Analysis  develops interpretation skills using Petrel. We teach you the theory and techniques for basin analysis and modelling, structural and stratigraphic trapping mechanisms, and petroleum system analysis.
  • The  Group Exploration Project  is run as part of the AAPG Barrel award. Working in groups of four or five and mentored by research students and staff, you will analyse a typical exploration dataset.
  • Field Appraisal and Development  introduces you to the tools and techniques used by petroleum engineers to develop oil and gas fields. You will discover the roles of the geoscientist in oil and gas field development.
  • Prospect Evaluation and Petroleum Economics  shows you how to develop leads and prospects, assess reserves and risk, and evaluate value using petroleum economics.

Career opportunities

The petroleum industry is the largest employer of earth science graduates, with good employment prospects in the United Kingdom and overseas in oil companies, consultancies, service companies, government bodies, the financial sector, and in teaching and research. During the research project students normally have the opportunity to work within sponsor oil company offices, gaining valuable industrial experience. The MSc course has a very strong track record for employability.

In semester 1, we typically have oil companies visiting the School to provide careers information and seek applications (typically BG, BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips, Exxon, Hess, Talsiman, Neftex, Fugro etc). Some also interview in the University. This is in addition to the University career fairs and other employment events.

Petroleum Geoscience and Engineering at the University of Manchester has well-established links with the petroleum industry. Research is funded by a large number of international oil companies. Guest speakers are invited on a regular basis to the department. There is also an AAPG Student Chapter , PESGB Student Chapter, SPE Chapter and EAGE Chapter, which arrange meetings throughout the year.

Many of the academic staff teaching on the course have considerable petroleum industry experience or consult for the oil industry. In addition the teaching team has a very strong group of external lecturers, who are all active consultants or employees in the petroleum industry, and who bring considerable expertise and industrial links.

BP staff teach on the course, Shell teaches the Malampaya oil game which offers an insight into the industry.


Visit the MSc Petroleum Exploration Geoscience page on the The University of Manchester website for more details!

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