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Petroleum Geoscience (MSc)

Course Description

This Course is Open for 2016-17 entry.

Royal Holloway is one of the leading international centres for petroleum geoscience training and research. Our MSc Petroleum Geoscience course was established in 1985 and, with over 600 graduates from 32 countries, it is recognised around the world as one of the premier training courses for people starting out on careers in the hydrocarbon industry.

Our excellent links with the international oil industry, combined with high quality teaching and research facilities make the Royal Holloway MSc an ideal option if you are a recent graduate looking for a focused, vocational training course, or if you are an early career professional wishing to enhance your career development.

You can choose between several course modules to specialise your training in topics focussing on basin evolution or structural analysis and tectonics.

You will be joining a department where the Research Excellence Framework (REF) reported that 94% of research has been classified as 4* world leading and 3* internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour. By this criterion, Earth Sciences is 2nd place among UK universities. You will become part of a vibrant international graduate school, fully integrated into the research culture of the department.

See the website https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/earthsciences/coursefinder/mscpetroleumgeoscience.aspx

Why choose this course?

- There is a huge demand for well qualified petroleum geoscientists. Companies worldwide are facing up to the challenge of replacing an ageing workforce with young graduates who can apply their knowledge and quickly learn from more experienced colleagues.

- We are one of the world leaders in the field of petroleum geoscience. Our MSc is recognised as a premier training course that will provide you with the practical and technical skills required to meet the challenges facing the hydrocarbon industry.

- You will develop the ability to integrate geological and geophysical data, and to apply your knowledge on a variety of scales, so that you can address a range of questions; from understanding the distribution of hydrocarbons in sedimentary basins, to quantifying the complex structural, stratigraphic and sedimentological architecture of individual reservoirs.

- We have excellent links with the international oil industry, including an Advisory Board with representatives from 14 multinational companies, which ensures that our teaching is up-to-date, relevant and will prepare you for a career in the industry.

- An MSc in Petroleum Geoscience from Royal Holloway also provides you with the geological and transferable skills to work in other Earth Science-related fields, and prepares you for further postgraduate study.

- This is a flexible course, allowing you study full-time, part-time or through distance learning. If you opt to study part-time you will have also have the option of studying through sandwich mode (complete terms in separate years).

- Field work in the UK and Spain is an important part of the programme and is fully integrated with the course units.

- The Department receives a number of studentships from industry sponsors and from the Research Council which are available to UK and EU applicants. Everyone who applies for a place on this course is automatically considered for these studentships, and no further application is required.

Department research and industry highlights

Our research follows four main themes:

- Geodynamics and Sedimentary Systems
The interaction between tectonic, volcanic and sedimentary processes to generate surface and sub-surface architectures. With a diverse range of expertise, researchers integrate geophysics, structural geology, sedimentology and modelling to improve our understanding of a wide range of geodynamic settings. Our interests range from the evolution of rift systems and passive margins to the tectonics of mountain belts and include an emphasis on sediment dynamics in all settings. Much of the research in this theme is funded by industry.

- Physics & Chemistry of Earth Processes
Quantitative characterization of Physical and Chemical processes within the Earth. This group plays a role in many research activities across the department and helps to ensure a rigorous academic approach. Research applications in geochemistry stem from development of world-class geochemical techniques in radiogenic (Sr-Nd-Pb-Hf-U-Th) and stable (C,H,O,N,S) isotopes, based on strategic partnerships with instrument manufacturers. In geophysics we have extensive expertise in both exploration geophysics and global geophysics. However, the group's main contribution extends well outside the traditional scope of geophysics and geochemistry into areas such as sedimentology, tectonics, palaeontology, oceans and atmospheres, the link between magmatism and tectonics, and the nature of the shallow mantle. In addition to making wide use of geochemical and geophysical data, we have developed a wide variety of forward and inverse modelling techniques (mathematical, numerical and laboratory-analogue).

- Global Environmental Change
Key transitions in Earth history including modern global change. A wide range of proxies and finger-printing techniques are employed to focus on issues of global change such as methane as a greenhouse gas, coastal and estuarine dynamics, modern and ancient sedimentary processes, Phanerozoic environmental change and associated biotic responses, the biogeochemistry of Archaean ecosystems and evolution of life through geologic time. In addition, we pioneer new research on the impact of ice sheet contamination and associated chemistry on climate change.

- Natural Hazards
Integrating several strands of current research within the department, this newly developing theme investigates a range of natural hazards, including intraplate earthquakes, subduction zones, volcanoes, landslides and associated tsunami, as well as environmental hazards. It utilises field studies, remote sensing data, numerical modelling, geophysical data from sites around the globe.

On completion of the course graduates will have:

- an understanding of the processes that control the structural and stratigraphic architecture of sedimentary basins

- an understanding of petroleum systems and the controls on the distribution of hydrocarbons and other fluids in sedimentary basins

- an understanding of the properties of hydrocarbon reservoirs, and the implications of this for hydrocarbon production and field development

- the ability to use seismic, well log, core and remotely sensed data to evaluate sedimentary basins, hydrocarbon prospects and hydrocarbon fields.


The taught course units are assessed by a combination of written exams and course work. Each of the six units comprises 10% of the total assessment for the MSc course. The remaining 40% of the assessment comes from the Independent Research Project.

Employability & career opportunities

Our graduates are highly employable; 92% remain in petroleum geosciences and related fields after graduation – approximately 75% entering the industry and 20% continuing in research (mainly as PhD students).

Graduates find employment in a wide range of companies, from multinationals (such as Shell, BP, Statoil, BG, Centrica, GDF-Suez), large independents (e.g. Tullow, Hess), small independent companies (e.g. Volantis), and a wide range of consultancy companies (e.g. Fugro-Roberston, RPS, Equipoise, IHS, Midland Valley)

How to apply

Applications for entry to our campus based full-time postgraduate degrees can be made online https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/studyhere/postgraduate/applying/howtoapply.aspx .

Visit the Petroleum Geoscience (MSc) page on the Royal Holloway, University of London website for more details!

Entry Requirements

UK upper second class degree (2:1), or equivalent, in a relevant subject such as geology or geophysics. Candidates meeting the minimum entry requirement of a UK lower second class degree (2:2), or equivalent will still be considered, provided that they can demonstrate significant industry experience and/or additional relevant training. Candidates with a UK upper second class degree (2:1), or equivalent, in related subjects, such as Physics, Physical Geography or Oceanography will also be considered, provided that their degree contains significant components relevant to Geology, or they have significant industry experience and/or additional relevant training.

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