Find a Degree Postgraduate Taught Programmes Integrated Petroleum Geoscience
The programme (formerly MSc in Petroleum Geology) is regarded as one of the best of its kind in the world and is the only degree in the world that sits at the very heart of the UK oil and gas industry in Aberdeen.

Key Facts

Study Mode
Full-time (12 months)
Entry Date
Learning Mode
On-campus Learning

Programme Details

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. 



Why Study this Programme?

  • It has been running since 1973, and has achieved an excellent reputation as one of the top vocational training pathways.
  • Components of the programme 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.
  • Provides 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.
  • It develops 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.
  • It enhances 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.
  • Over the last decade, more than 98% of our MSc graduates have immediately been employed in the oil and gas industry or gone straight on to funded PhD research.
  • Hands-on field based study is a crucial part of the teaching on all our Geology related degrees. This programme is no exception, offering a trip to Sicily in semester 1 and a two-week trip to Utah in semester 2.
  • You will work on challenging exercises during the year which have been set by major oil and gas operators including Chevron and BP.
  • There is an opportunity for you to complete your MSc Project dissertation with an oil and gas organisation, giving the opportunity to experience current industry thinking and challenges.
  • There is opportunity for you to learn and communicate with specialists from other disciplines, in particular those involved in drilling, reservoir engineering, petrophysics, geochemistry, and geophysics. You will also develop key inter-personal and transferable skills in presentation, report-writing, team work, creative thinking, and problem solving.
  • Our geology graduates move into very successful careers with a large proportion working in senior roles in the industry.

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. 

MSc students have close interaction with the professional societies who meet regularly in Aberdeen:

  • Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain (PESGB);
  • Aberdeen Formation Evaluation (AFES);
  • Energy Institute;
  • Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE).
  • We host a Student Chapter of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)


 Skills Aquired

  • 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



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. 

Our Experts

Contact Information

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


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.

First Semester 


Second Semester 


 Third Semester 

Example projects from previous years:

1) Classical and modern approaches to examine reservoir connectivity in a mature field, West Siberia Basin

2) Hydrocarbon Migration and Fill History of the Rosebank Field, West of Shetland, UK


Learning Methods

Field Trip, Field Work, Group Projects, Individual Projects, Lectures, Research


 Practical work, projects and reports will be assessed continuously throughout the programme.  Examinations are held in December 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.  The degree of MSc shall not be awarded to a candidate who fails to complete the final report at a CGS grade of D3 or above, irrespective of their performance in other elements of assessment:  such candidates may, at the discretion of the Examiners, be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma if they have achieved the appropriate number of credits.  A Postgraduate Certificate will be available to candidates who successfully complete GL 5011 and GL 5012.



Team Work

Employers require graduates who not only have good academic qualifications but who also can show that they are capable of:

  • Creative thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Project planning
  • Teamwork
  • Communicating effectively

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.  

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.

 Field Trips

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.

 Utah Fieldtrip

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).

"BP has supported the MSc IPG degree over several years and has identified it as a key course from which to recruit graduate geoscientists. Aberdeen University uses local petroleum industry knowledge to produce well rounded geoscientists that are keen to start exciting careers in the energy industry" BP

Moritz Rosenkranz "Anyone pursuing a career in oil and gas should consider the University of Aberdeen. The quality of teaching is high and exposure to the industry is priceless. There are plenty of opportunities for networking around the city through various academia and industry hosted events." [More]
Matthew Warner "The school is a leader in Petroleum Geoscience, so its reputation for being the best was a major lure. Without my MSc I would never be working for one of the leading Exploration Companies. [More]
Paul Gannon "I feel that the Masters really prepared me for the industry I was about to enter by means of the practical work and subjects I was taught. My time in Aberdeen allowed me to start a level higher than had I not attended the Masters." [More]

Paul Gannon


"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." [More]



Academic Requirements

Our minimum entry requirement for this programme is a Geology or Geophysics degree at 2:1 (upper second class) UK Honours level (or an Honours degree from a non-UK institution which is judged by the University to be of equivalent worth).

Evidence of high marks in the following key subjects is essential for admission: Oil & Gas/Petroleum Hydrocarbons (not Engineering-based), Sedimentology, Petroleum Geology, Geophysics, Basin Analysis, Geochemistry and independent project work.

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 two-page CV/resume
  • academic reference letter OR employer if you have 2+ years of experience
  • a second reference letter (academic or employer)

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


We have one intake of students each 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 but will be considered for entry into the following intake as appropriate.

English Requirements

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 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. 


2016/17 Fees

UK/EU Students - £10,000

International - £26,500

Information on tuition fees, can be found on the University Registry website.


INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS PLEASE NOTE: the international field trip will be to the United States, so you will need to check your visa status in advance of your arrival in Aberdeen and, if it is required, apply for a U.S. visa.




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 opportunties is also maintained on the College of Physical Sciences Funding Page.


University of Aberdeen Alumni Discount Scheme

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



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