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Integrated Petroleum Geoscience

Course Description

This programme is regarded as perhaps the best of its kind in the world. It has been running since 1973, and has achieved an excellent reputation as one of the top vocational training pathways. Graduates from this course are highly sought after by industry. The course has been rated by the Natural Environment Research Council as the best of its type in the UK and the only course of its type in Europe. The training offered in this course is also an ideal springboard into a career based on further research at PhD level and above.

The programme aims to:

- teach the geoscience skills needed for hydrocarbon exploration and production, so that course graduates are ready to embark upon a petroleum industry career. In particular, to provide an all-round preparation for a wide-range of employment in a mobile, dynamic, wealth creating industry, and to show how integration of information across discipline boundaries can provide solutions to industrial problems.

- develop the knowledge needed to communicate with and work alongside specialists in the other engineering and scientific disciplines involved in hydrocarbon exploration and production, in small, multi-disciplinary teams.

- enhance the inter-personal and transferable skills relevant to the hydrocarbon industry today; to develop presentation and report-writing skills; to encourage team work; to stimulate creative thinking and problem-solving ability; and to foster initiative and self-discipline.

Components of the course focus on all aspects of upstream geoscience, from initial exploration for new prospects, through field appraisal and development, to maximising recovery from mature and declining fields. Topics covered include: seismic interpretation, petrophysical analysis, geochemical evaluation, sedimentology, structural analysis, and reservoir modelling. Skills in the analysis of the subsurface are further developed by field work on outcrops and by hands-on experience with core logging.

Skills Acquired
seismic interpretation
wireline log interpretation and petrophysical analysis
working with borehole core and other samples
sedimentological analysis
interpreting geochemical and biostratigraphical analysis
evaluating exploration prospects and constructing basin analysis
calculating reserves and constructing geological reservoir models
assisting with reservoir quality and performance prediction evaluation
working with reservoir engineering fluid and rock data
taking account of completion engineering and making geological recommendations
understanding the technical and economic context of petroleum geoscience
working in teams, but will also be capable of taking the lead when necessary
giving oral presentations
writing reports in a concise and effective manner
communicating with specialists from other disciplines, in particular those involved with drilling, engineering, petrophysics, geochemistry and geophysics
ability to audit technically the geological studies of others

Industry Interaction
A key strength of this course is that we make considerable use of our location in Aberdeen at the heart of the industry in Western Europe. Guest speakers contribute their experience to the taught units. Visits are made to local companies to demonstrate technology and hardware. Use is made of the core stores in the city.

In the second half session, all of the major group exercises are done with the help of staff from local companies. Companies also provide data and practical help for the 4-month summer project, and students usually do the project with a company at their offices.

Training divides into six months of structured teaching, four months for the individual industry project, and smaller time segments for field work and examinations.

The first half of the structured teaching, up until the end of the calendar year, is an intensive treatment of the fundamental skills needed, the 'building blocks' of petroleum geoscience, with a particular focus toward hydrocarbon exploration. After examinations on this material in November and early January, the course integrates the material presented earlier by focusing on the application of the skills to the industry, now more with an emphasis on field development. This second phase includes a greater amount of work on presentation skills, with practical exercises spanning and integrating the sub-disciplines, and provides the opportunity to widen basic proficiency.

The last part of the course, the individual project, is an integral part of the training, and forms a large part of the assessment of each student. It is our experience that students mature greatly during this part of the course, both personally and technically.

Subjects covered include:
Principles of petroleum geoscience
Petroleum technology
Geophysics (exploration geophysics, reservoirs, attributes and monitoring)
Petrophysics (downhole geological and petrophysical logging methods)
Reservoir sedimentology
Petroleum geochemistry and basin analysis
Prospect evaluation and appraisal
Professional skills
Production geology (reservoir modelling, reservoir management, and formation evaluation)
Structural geology and basin development
Integrated case studies and exercises

Team Development Programme
Students will be trained in skills to increase their effectiveness in team work. The training is based on fun, problem-solving, and role-play. Part is taught outdoors, but is not an outward-bound course and not strenuous or dangerous. After each role-play the students learn by evaluating each exercise in discussion groups. Participation in the course will enable the students to show they are serious about developing their own skills.

The Department is well equipped for all types of geoscience research and training. As well as a wide range of analytical equipment, we have many state-of-the-art industry software, including the entire Landmark seismic interpretation, well log correlation, and modelling suite. The course uses the Geographix Discovery suite in the seismic components.

Over the last decade, more than 95% of the MSc graduates have immediately been employed in the oil industry or gone straight on to funded PhD research. The industry does, however, have a crudely cyclic recruitment pattern, and employment prospects fluctuate with the oil price and global politics. The trend of the oil majors in the early 1990s to "down-sizing and outsourcing" saw a shift in first destinations of our graduates towards the service and consultancy sector. At present the oil majors are desperately short of qualified staff, so have increased direct recruitment of MSc graduates.

Funding exists for this programme (dependent on eligibility). Please visit http://www.abdn.ac.uk/funding

More Information
More information about this programme can be found on our Postgraduate Prospectus: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/prospectus/pgrad/study/taught.php?code=petrol

Visit the Integrated Petroleum Geoscience page on the Aberdeen University website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Chris Falconer

2335.JPG I had just completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Aberdeen and was aware of the department’s reputation as a centre of excellence for the teaching of Petroleum Geology. The Geology Department at Aberdeen benefits from close links with the local oil and gas industry due to Aberdeen’s position as the ‘oil capital of Europe’. I was also familiar with the departmental staff, lecturers, teaching facilities and university campus.

Making life-long friends and undertaking a number of field trips around Scotland, the rest of the UK, Spain and the USA.

Since graduating in 2006 I have been working as a professional geologist in the oil and gas industry. I began my career by working for an international oil and gas company in Aberdeen for 6 years before moving to Perth, Western Australia. I currently work for Woodside Energy Limited which is an Australian petroleum exploration and production company. Woodside is the largest operator of oil and gas production in Australia and also Australia’s largest independent dedicated oil and gas company.

My postgraduate degree was essentially vocational training and provided me with the skills, knowledge and expertise I utilise on a daily basis in my chosen profession.

The University of Aberdeen has a rich, proud history. The University has a beautiful campus with fantastic facilities, and Aberdeen is a lively city with easy access to the great outdoors.
I look back at my time at the University of Aberdeen with very fond memories. I feel fortunate to have chosen a subject that fascinated me then and continues to do so today. I believe that having a genuine passion and interest for the subject you choose to study can make a big difference to your overall enjoyment of your time at University.

Chris’ piece of advice to prospective students is of course:

“The best geologists are those that have seen the most rocks”


University of Aberdeen Alumni Discount Scheme - 20+ Awards

The University of Aberdeen is very pleased to offer a 20% discount on postgraduate tuition fees for all alumni who have graduated with a degree from the University of Aberdeen. The Alumni Discount Scheme applies to both home and overseas students, and applies to the self-funding element of the postgraduate tuition fee. This is the element of tuition fee which you are paying yourself and does not cover the element of tuition fee which is covered by a scholarship, funding body, your employer, a company, or any another source of funding. The Alumni Discount applies only to the tuition fee element and does not apply to any other costs such as additional programme costs or research costs.

Value of Scholarship(s)

20% discount on postgraduate tuition


Open to all University of Aberdeen graduates.

Application Procedure

Complete the application form at http://www.abdn.ac.uk/sras/postgraduate/alumni_discount/

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Because we have to assume a certain level of starting knowledge, applicants must normally have an Upper Second Class or better Honours degree (or overseas equivalent) in Geology, Geophysics, or a joint degree incorporating Geology as a major component.Even if you have been educated in the medium of English you must meet our English Language requirements. These are located at View Website. This programme requires that you meet the 'Postgraduate Higher' level of English proficiency.

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