12 months full-time leading to Master of Science degree
Graduates from this course are highly sought after by industry. The training offered in this course is also an ideal springboard into a career based on further research at PhD level and above.
The MSc in Integrated Petroleum Geoscience (formerly MSc in Petroleum Geology) aims to:
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.
The petroleum industry is cost-sensitive and demands high levels of technical skill from its geoscience staff. One result of this has been that employers in this industry now regard the minimum entry requirement to be a higher degree. The one-year MSc course in Integrated Petroleum Geoscience at the University of Aberdeen, which has been running since 1973, is internationally regarded as one of the top vocational training pathways in the world. Graduates from this course are sought after by the industry; over the past decade, more than 95% of our graduates have found employment within three months.
The overall aim of our MSc course is to provide a full training in integrated petroleum geoscience, and it is the only course of this type in Europe. This is an ambitious goal, but we aim to prepare students to perform a wide variety of technical functions in a multi-disciplinary environment. The training is also valuable as a springboard for those desiring a research career or intending to do a PhD.
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. Many of our staff have been employed in the industry, and all are currently involved on research with the industry. All our staff have regular interaction with industry staff, which ensures the course is kept up-to-date and focused.
MSc students have close interaction with the professional societies who meet regularly in Aberdeen:
We host a Student Chapter of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG).
The course content recognizes the increasingly diverse backgrounds of the students, as more first degree courses are modularised with significant non-geological components. The course content is designed as far as possible to fill in the gaps for such students, although we rely on the students to work at making up for their own weaknesses, under our guidance. Numeracy skills are important; we advise students to assess their own needs for additional training.
Programme of Study
Practical work, projects and reports will be assessed continuously throughout the programme. Examinations are held in January and April on the preceding Term's curriculum. An oral examination will be held. Candidates will be expected to present a final report on a relevant and approved major topic.
Employers require graduates who not only have good academic qualifications but who also can show that they are capable of:
We strive to create an environment within which the students can develop these skills. In particular, we encourage the students to take responsibility for their own development.
As well as the training in these aspects inherent in the course syllabus, we have two additional ways to stimulate student development.
Groups and Group Tutors
The MSc class is divided into groups from the very beginning of the session. We are creating a closer parallel of the way industry works, so helping the students with the transition from formal education to employment. The students are encouraged to work and act as a group in every possible way. Taking a trivial example, when it comes to getting photocopies of papers, one member of the group gets the original, rather than all the students competing.
Each group is allocated to a member of the MSc teaching staff who acts as group tutor. Usually the students would approach the tutor of the course component about technical matters, but the allocated staff member is the initial point of contact for students seeking additional help or information. Group tutors will arrange short meetings and tutorials at which the students may also raise general matters of concern that they would rather not raise in front of the whole class. Conversely, some communication with the students will be via a group representative rather than directly with each individual. The groups and the tutors are free to make use of this system in whatever way they wish.
Team Development Programme
All students participate in a Challenge Day in the first half session. This is run jointly with students from the MSc in Oil & Gas Enterprise Management.
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. This will help them in the rest of the MSc course and in securing future employment.
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 packages on computer workstations, including Petrel and the entire Landmark seismic interpretation, well log correlation, and modelling suite. The course uses the Geographix Discovery suite in the seismic components.
Studying real rocks, in the field, is undoubtedly the best way to get to understand them properly. Field work provides the opportunity to study large scale examples of a wide spectrum of geological phenomena, and to evaluate them in the context of petroleum geoscience and the hydrocarbon industry. This stimulates observation and synthesis skills, as well as reinforcing and consolidating material and ideas presented in the taught coursework.
We see it as vital to include in the course quality field work experience. It is essential not only to study siliciclastics, but to include carbonate settings (in which half the world's oil is reservoired). We also want to provide experience that is of truly international relevance, so as to help ensure the UK retains its position as a global source of expertise.
We also must allow for the fact that fewer students are coming to us with traditional single-honours geology degrees, and those with joint honours tend to have had much less experience of rocks in the field.
Sicily Field Trip
This is a 4 day trip to Sicily in November where we examine petroleum systems developed in Mesozoic carbonates and Cenozoic turbidite successions develped in passive margin and foreland thrust belt settings respectively. Assessment is through group work in the field.
The main field work training is a 14-day excursion to Utah and northern Arizona, U.S.A. The superb rock exposures in the SW USA enables a wide range of subjects to be given quality treatment. We include: good coverage of structural geology (e.g. full-size collapsed salt anticline, fault heterogeneity and diagenesis) and regional basin-wide correlations of fluvial, aeoliuan and shallow marine strata. We review sequence stratigraphy across an entire basin (the Cretaceous deltaic sequences in the Book Cliffs), and we demonstrate why so many companies are using this location as outcrop analogues for reservoir modelling and training. In summary, we are able to demonstrate properly a wide range of exploration and development scale geological problems.
Concerns about Fieldwork
Fieldwork is a compulsory part of this course. Fieldwork may involve crossing rough terrain, including steep gradients, rocky areas and along cliffs, and may take place during inclement weather. Any student with concerns about this, who feels adjustments or additional support may be required, should contact the University's Disability Adviser or the Department Disability Co-ordinator as early as possible. The Department is committed to making reasonable adjustments to enable students to achieve the learning outcomes of the degree programme.
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. At present the oil majors are short of qualified staff, so have increased direct recruitment of MSc graduates. Numerous companies visit the department to recruit students from the course directly (13 companies in the 2012-2013 academic year).
Our normal, minimum entry requirements for this programmes is a degree, or equivalent qualification at a high 2.1 (upper second class) or above, in Geology, Geophysics or in combined honours. It is important that your transcripts demonstrate sufficient Geology has been covered. Students with a first degree in Engineering will not be considered.
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 www.abdn.ac.uk/study/international/english-requirements.php. This programme requires that you meet the 'Postgraduate Higher' 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. Late applications may be asked to wait until the next intake should the programme coordinator feel there is insufficient time to consider the application. Prospective students who require a visa to study in the UK are advised to apply as early in the year as possible to secure a place. Applications received after 30th June from students who need to apply for a visa to study in the UK will not be processed for entry in September of that year but may be considered for entry the following year as appropriate.
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.
Information on tuition fees, including the current fee level, can be found on the University Registry website.
PLEASE NOTE: International students should be aware that the international field trip will be to the United States, so they will need to check their visa status in advance of their arrival in Aberdeen and, if it is required, apply for a U.S. visa.
A list of funding opportunties is also maintained on the College of Physical Sciences Funding Page.
The University of Aberdeen is very pleased to offer a 20% discount on postgraduate tuition fees for all alumni who have graduated (or about to graduate) with a degree from the University of Aberdeen. More Information
Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
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