Find a Degree Postgraduate Taught Programmes Oil & Gas Structural Engineering
The course is full for 2016. You may apply now for September 2017. Please take a look at our wide range of Engineering MSc programmes for more opportunities.

Programme Details

Engineering Council Accredited Degree

Fully accredited by the

  • Energy Institute (EI)
  • Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)
  • Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE)
  • Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE)
  • Institute of Highway Engineers (IHE)
  • Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT)

This degree is accredited as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for a Chartered Engineer (CEng) for candidates who have already acquired an Accredited CEng (Partial) BEng (Hons) or an Accredited *IEng (Full) BEng/BSc (Hons) undergraduate first degree. See for further information.

* It should be noted that candidates with an IEng degree will need to be assessed through the individual case procedure to be eligible for CEng registration.

This MSc has been developed jointly with Industry in response to a clear need for an effective means of transferring knowledge and skills from senior experts in Industry and the University to the new generation of Structural Engineers. Available as part-time (by distance learning) only, this MSc programme is normally taken over three years (maximum of 6 years will be permitted), consisting of two modules at a time in each of the two semesters in each year.

The programme can boast of students right across the world making the learning experience truly international. Aberdeen is the heart of the European oil and gas industry, an international hub for companies in this field. A degree from the University of Aberdeen puts you in a unique position to develop business links alongside of learning and developing additional skills through the programme.

"As the top people in this field approach retirement there is a growing skills gap in the Oil and Gas sector which is a problem recognised globally. In recognition of this the programme has been set up with one aim - to transfer Structural Engineering expertise to the next generation, wherever in the globe they may be, while permitting them to stay in full-time employment during their studies. By drawing expertise from industry and academia, the course will equip the students with a strong set of industry relevant skills encompassing fundamental understanding and hands-on practical experience." 

Dr Paul Davidson, Programme Coordinator


The programme is aimed at practising Structural Engineers. Therefore, while a good honours degree is a pre-requisite (as is standard for an MSc programme), this MSc also requires applicants to have practical Structural Engineering experience, to provide the context for the taught material.

To enable such Engineers to remain in their employment the MSc is only available as a Part-Time programme and is taught entirely via the University's online virtual learning environment. The internet delivery is a staged release of teaching materials and coursework assignments with online quizzes after each teaching block. Teaching blocks are normally three weeks apart. Half of the modules will also have an end of module Examination - in January or May/June - which can either be at Aberdeen or at an agreed Higher Education establishment/British Council office convenient for the student's own location anywhere in the world.

Class interaction with each other, and with the tutor, is via module-specific online discussion boards and email. To sustain a good teaching experience and ensure good access to, and feedback from, the Industry-based tutors especially, places on the programme are limited.

A Programme from Professionals, for Professionals

  • Part-time study only
  • Internet-based distance learning
  • Can be studied to degree level or taken as CPD modules
  • Relevant for practising Oil and Gas Structural Engineers
  • Developing International Skills and Business Links
  • Flexible, Modular Options

Contact Information

For further information about the programme or to discuss your application, please contact the Graduate School Admissions Unit.


Half of the modules are delivered by Structural Engineers well respected for their experience and expertise in the Oil and Gas industry in Aberdeen, from a variety of companies. The remaining modules are delivered by Aberdeen University Academics recognised both in Academe and in Industry as experts in their fields. This mix of Industry and Academia has produced a high value, demanding programme delivering in-depth fundamental understanding and practical application.

The programme can boast of students right across the world making the learning experience truly international.

Programme of Study

The MSc is made up of twelve taught modules, which are normally taken two at a time, over three years (although it is possible to take up to 6 years, if interruptions from study or a slower pace are required).

The modules have been selected to provide maximum relevance to current and future Industry requirements. The modules listed below are subject to constant monitoring and re-appraisal by an Advisory Board of Industry Representatives, and, as such, are subject to change.

Year 1 - Certificate Stage

Conceptual Design of Top-Side Modules

Offshore oil and gas structural Engineering course covering the conceptual design of topsides modules. Emphasis is placed on the variety of loading conditions, such as in-place analysis, load out, lift, and installation. Course covers manual calculations and drafting and offers worked examples. Requires structural engineering background (eg. truss analysis, member design) and the use of code checks.

Fatigue and Fracture Mechanics

This course is for students studying for MSc Oil & Gas Structural Engineering and can be taken by MSc Safety & Reliability Engineering for Oil & Gas students as an optional course. This course deals with fatigue and fracture mechanics and its application to structural design and assessment. It encompasses theoretical background, but the emphasis will be on practical application.

Structural Dynamics

Need for understanding structural dynamics in modern offshore engineering and beyond arises from the fact that structures are often subjected to dynamic loads such as waves, wind, earthquake, blast and impacts. The structural engineer must therefore be able to understand and quantify dynamic loads and their effects in design and analysis. This course explains structural dynamics starting from the underlying first principles, through more advanced concepts and methods (including analytical and numerical), to practical applications to offshore structures. Theoretical concepts are illustrated by worked examples and numerous tutorial problems and assignments will enable students to gain confidence in their use.

Design of Connections

The purpose of this course is to explain the behaviour of steelwork connections and how this is translated into a wide range of design tools. The fundamental concept is one of force paths, and how this applies to a wide range of different types of connections  is the key feature of this course.

The course is assessed by three coursework assignments. Although the first two are standard designs, the third assignment is for a very non-standard detail which requires fundamental thinking about connection behaviour, and about the practical constraints that need to be accommodated.

Year 2 - Diploma Stage

Blast and Fire Engineering

Hydrocarbon fires and explosions produce extreme loading on structures. The purpose of this course is to develop the ability to design structural components to operate effectively in fire and blast loading scenarios in order to promote safety.  Fundamental principles and concepts are covered to provide the essential physical understanding of a structure’s behaviour at high temperatures or under dynamic loading. Simple models are used to assess the loading that results from fires and explosions. Industrial standards and design guidelines are explained.

Brownfield Engineering

Introduces concepts involved in offshore brownfield structural engineering, including case studies and design examples for small, medium and large projects, as well as an overview of  lifting guidance, structural integrity management and offshore survey information.

Petrochemical Structural Engineering

In the oil and gas industry, Petrochemical Engineering is the term used for onshore-based facilities, as opposed to offshore developments. Students following this course will therefore develop skills in the design of petrochemical structures, including their foundations.

Concepts involved in the design of petrochemical structures are introduced, alongside a range of design specifications, case studies and worked examples. In addition to gaining practice in structural steelwork design, the novelty of this course is the inclusion of basic foundation design. Emphasis is placed on good detailing and clarity of presentation of design calculations.

Finite Element Methods

The background to the finite element method and its use in the Oil and Gas Industry is explained in this course. As well as the modelling of linear static and dynamic problems, the modelling of material and geometric non-linearity is an important aspect of the course. Coursework assignments will be based on the student edition of ABAQUS which is supplied with the Course Textbook which students are required to purchase.

Year 3 - MSc Stage

Conceptual Design of Jackets and Subsea Structures

The aim of this course is to introduce the student to the issues to be considered when conceiving the design of offshore jacket structures. Key concepts covered include strength and fatigue design, environmental loading, foundation design and fabrication and installation 

Design of Stiffened Plates

This course provides an introduction to the behaviour of the thin-walled stiffened plate structures that are found in the Oil and Gas Industry. The small deflection and large deflection theories (including elasto-plastic effects) are presented for a wide range of in-plane and out-of-plane load actions. A key feature is to explain how these behaviours are represented in Design Codes of Practice.

Re-Assessment of Existing Structures by Structural Reliability Analysis

The need for structural reliability analysis in modern offshore engineering arises from the imperative to control and manage risk of failure. However, to be able to do so it is first necessary to measure and quantify the risk. This course provides a comprehensive introduction to structural reliability starting from the underlying principles of statistics and probability, through structural reliability concepts and methods, to practical applications to complex offshore structural systems. The theoretical concepts are amply illustrated by worked examples and numerous tutorial problems and assignments will enable students to gain confidence in their use.

Design of Jacket Attachments

This course is designed for students to develop skills in the Structural Engineering of Jacket Attachments, with the key emphasis on structural clamps.

The course introduces the concepts involved in the design of Jacket Attachments, mainly structural clamps. It offers a range of design specifications, case studies and worked examples. Emphasis is placed on good detailing and clarity of presentation of design calculations. Design guidance is drawn from a wide range of bespoke industry practice, and serves to represent the range of approaches to the complex design of structural clamps.

Exit Points

It is possible to leave the programme after four successful modules and to obtain a Postgraduate Certificate in Oil and Gas Structural Engineering, or after 8 modules to obtain a Post Graduate Diploma in Oil and Gas Structural Engineering.


Assessment is by a mix of examination and coursework for most modules with almost half of the modules being by coursework alone.


Approximately 10-12 hours of study is expected per week per course/module.

Please note:
In order to maintain the high quality of this programme, student numbers are limited. You are advised to apply as soon as possible.


Academic Requirements

Our minimum requirements for this programme are to have a 2:1 (upper second class) Honours degree in Civil or Structural Engineering, or equivalent. Applicants with other relevant qualifications will be considered if they also have significant relevant Structural Engineering professional experience.

Flexibility may be shown to those with 2:2 (lower second class) Engineering degrees who have significant relevant experience ie. 5+ years, and First Class Engineering students with little experience.

Ideally all applicants must have at least 1 or 2 years (depending on its nature) of relevant experience.

Key subjects to have been covered: mathematics, design and structures.

It is important to note that the programmes of postgraduate study at the University of Aberdeen are very competitive and the entry requirements stated are a guide to the minimum requirements, but do not guarantee entry. 

Document requirements

For this application we need at least:

  • a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) so far (original & official English translation)
  • detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
  • current CV/resume
  • academic reference letter OR employer if you have 2+ years of experience
  • a second academic or employer reference letter

It is important when submitting an application that you ensure you have completed all the necessary sections and enclosed all the relevant documentation to ensure that your application can be processed as quickly as possible.  


Even if you have been educated in the medium of English you must meet our English Language requirements. These are located at

This programme requires that you meet the 'Postgraduate Standard' level of English proficiency. If you are in doubt about your proficiency in English, contact the British Council office or its equivalent in your country. If your first language is not English, it is important that your proficiency in English is good in order for you to study successfully at the University of Aberdeen. Without this ability you will find great difficulty in understanding lectures, producing written work and sitting examinations. 


We have one intake of students each year in September. Successful applications are placed on a waiting list for the next available intake.


Information on tuition fees, including the current fee level, can be found on the University Registry website.


Funding opportunities can be found in our searchable Funding Database. You are advised to search the database as a broad range of funding exists much of which you may be eligible for.

A list of funding opportunities is also maintained on the College of Physical Sciences Funding Page.


Related Information

General Information

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