The MGeol programme in Aberdeen is designed to bridge the gap between our Petroleum Geology BSc programme and higher degrees, be they a taught masters course or a PhD. It also enhances employment prospects by providing hands-on access to technical data and software, much of it arising directly from industry. 

We benefit from our excellent collaboration and employment record with industry. Aberdeen has the highest concentration of practising Earth Scientists in Europe, and is a major global hub in the international oil and gas business.

The MGeol is an undergraduate degree – you apply for it as any other UG course, through UCAS (for UK students). If you are already an Aberdeen student, you can transfer onto MGeol if you are following an appropriate BSc (eg Geology and Petroleum Geology). Through the UK the MGeol is now the most usual route taken by Earth Scientists into a PhD and satisfies European expectations of a pre-PhD university education (opening greater opportunities for higher study abroad). However, the generic training in problem-solving and teamwork are also especially valued by non-Earth Science employers, making the MGeol a good choice for students considering broader career paths. It is also widely used as a bridge into taught vocational masters courses.

Here in Aberdeen, the MGeol builds upon research strengths within the School of Geosciences, especially within the framework of sedimentary basin systems. This expertise provides a research-led context for understanding the Earth processes that form, deform and fill sedimentary basins, the better to understand their records of past climate and environmental change and as hosts to critical natural resources. Teaching involves conventional lecture-practical classes supplemented by technical workshops but with a substantial use of student-led learning. Expect to work both alone and in groups, supported by a wide range of mentors and state-of-the-art research facilities.

In the first half-session (semester) you will study four 15 credit courses. Together these provide a foundation for a 60 credit research project that you will complete in the second half-session.

The taught component is delivered in focused “short-courses” that involve lecture-practical slots together with structured exercises in which you can apply methods and ideas, both as an individual and in teams. Fieldwork is embedded within these courses.

Entry qualification

You will need to achieve a 2.1 (CAS  of 15 or higher) in your BSc to get a place on the MGeol programme.


The easiest option for UK students is to apply for the MGeol programme before you arrive in Aberdeen – in place of BSc. This does not compel you to remain on the MGeol – it is possible to simply opt to graduate with a BSc if that is what you decide during your fourth undergraduate (final BSc) year.

Programme manager 2014: Professor Rob Butler


Course details:

Integrated sedimentary basin systems

(15 credits)

The aim of this course is to develop skills in integrative earth science, pulling together modern research on sedimentary basin evolution and applying this to  fieldwork in a sedimentary basin system. The course involves an extended residential fieldtrip, based on a geotraverse across a well-exposed sedimentary basin system. This fieldwork is supported by a short series of classes that introduce basin systems and basin-forming mechanisms.

After completing the course students are expected to be able to:

  • Integrate understanding on sedimentary basins and apply this to their own observations
  • Challenge geological models and interpretations
  • Collect and manage field observations and data to build integrated geological hypotheses and understanding
  • Appreciate scales in space and time within sedimentary basins
The Basin Fill

(15 credits)

The aim of this course is to develop skills in analysing and interpreting the geological materials that fill sedimentary basins. This course involves a combination of theory and practical work, including lectures, and a 4-5 day field class to sedimentary systems.

After completing the course students are expected to be able to:

  • Make and record primary sedimentological and allied stratigraphic observations
  • Recognise and analyse the geological record of a range of depositional environments
  • Apply methods of sequence stratigraphy to predict facies variations in space and time
  • Relate depositional systems to underlying tectonic and climatic processes
Geological modelling

(15 credits)

The aim of this course is to develop skills in applying geological models in scientific investigations, especially in the prediction of subsurface structure and properties, together with the validation of structural interpretations. The course involves substantial workshop-based and student-led practical work designed to provide direct experience of these key components. Key software will be introduced by hands-on workshops (3x3 hours) to introduce applications and key workflows. Thereafter there will be extensive student-led mini-project activity with students using software to build and interrogate geological models.

After completing the course students are expected to be able to:

  • Understand the philosophical basis and rationale for geological modelling and discuss the assumptions and uncertainties inherent in the various methods and approaches
  • Use geological models to validate hypotheses and to make predictions, especially of subsurface structure and properties
  • Use aspects of selected industry-standard software
Geoscience research skills and data analysis

(15 credits)

The aim of this course is to develop critical thinking, presentation and project design skills for research together with an enhancement of the necessary skills in numeracy, data manipulation and data interpretation. The course involves substantial workshop-based and student-led practical work designed to provide direct experience of these key components.

After completing the course students are expected to be able to:

  • Work successfully as part of a team
  • Construct and challenge scientific arguments
  • Synthesise extensive and diverse information in the Earth Sciences
  • Use and manipulate numerical data in a robust fashion
  • Design and document workflows for scientific investigations
  • Present scientific knowledge and results to peer-groups, to users of scientific know-how and to the public at large
Research Project

(60 credits)

This course provides the opportunity for students to undertake a piece of original, self-directed research in their chosen aspect of the Earth Sciences.You will be able to develop your research into a format appropriate for communication with other geological researchers and the scientific community as a whole, integrating previous knowledge and skills gained during geological course-work.

Projects are supported by a mentor, with regular tutorials and briefings together with further technical training as needed.


Fieldwork is a compulsory part of the MGeol. 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.

The cost of fieldwork is met by individual students. We will let you know the expected cost of the taught field teaching programme before the programme starts each year.