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An online short course focusing on the regulatory options for safety in the oil and gas industry, and how these operate worldwide.

A detailed overview of key issues in the regulation of petroleum operations, focussing on a global perspective of the principles of health and safety law, and environmental regulation.

Grow your professional skills as a senior manager, health and safety specialist, or energy lawyer practising in any petroleum province across the world – and enjoy the convenience of online distance learning with a top energy university.


For the offshore oil and gas industry the safety of its people and of our environment is top priority.

This short online course provides a detailed overview of key issues in health and safety law and environmental regulation in the context of the oil and gas industry.

You’ll study the theory of regulation,  different modes of regulation (either prescriptive or objective-based), health and safety regimes (focussing on regimes in the UK, US, Norway and Australia), and environmental regulation (public law, private law, prevention, liability, vulnerable areas).

The University has long been at the forefront of researching many novel developments in policy and regulation as the industry evolves both in the UK and globally. You’ll gain from this depth of expertise, decades of experience and influence in Europe’s energy hub, and strong ongoing links with the industry and its regulators.

The opportunity to combine this quality of teaching with the convenience of studying online, at any location, and fitting learning around employment and personal commitments, makes this short course ideal for lawyers and a wide range of professionals working both in the UK and throughout the world in the international oil and gas industry.

Why Aberdeen for this course?

The combination of track record, location, breadth of expertise, long experience, teaching and research strength, plus industry input, makes Aberdeen the obvious provider of first-class education in all areas of oil and gas. Aberdeen is listed in the top 10 energy masters by LLM guide

An education in energy from Aberdeen is recognised as among the best in Europe. As well as being a long-established seat of learning we are also a modern, progressive, internationally-focused university, strongly focused on developing talent and careers in the 21st century.

Our international School of Law is one the UK's elite training grounds for lawyers, ranked 5th in the UK for Law (The Complete University Guide and The Time Good University Guide 2019), joint 1st for Graduate Prospects (The Complete University Guide 2019) and highly rated for teaching, research and student care with 94% student satisfaction rating (NSS 2018).

We boast one of the largest, most internationally-experienced teams of oil and gas experts in any European law school, a team of leading in teaching and research across all legal fields pertaining to energy, including oil and gas, renewables and environmental law. 

Previous graduates have gone on to enjoy highly successful careers. These range from senior positions with oil and gas companies, with international law firms servicing the industry, and also with government organisations across the world.

You can study this credit-bearing online short course standalone, or as a taster to continue your professional development with a PGCert, PGDip, and progress to a full online Masters programme in our popular and topical portfolio across the spectrum of law. In an exit survey in 2016, 98% of students graduating from our LLM programme in Oil and Gas Law said that it had added value to their career prospects, and 97% would recommend this degree to others.

Our online and campus students benefit from the added focus and profile provided by the University’s Aberdeen Institute of Energy, its Centre for Energy Law, and a rich programme of energy-themed events throughout the year. You will also have access to the wonderful online resources of the award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library and the Law Library, with a first-class collection of reference works in law and related subjects.

As a member of the Aberdeen community you will gain all the benefits of over 500 years of rich academic heritage combined with 21st century innovation and dynamism which today creates and delivers sought-after, flexible, industry-focused, world class programmes.

What you'll study

You’ll gain a detailed overview of key issues in health and safety law and environmental regulation in the context of the oil and gas industry, from getting in a lifeboat to avoiding a major spill of oil in a sensitive environment.

The course will cover such topics as regulatory theory (the different modes of regulation, including command and control and goal-setting), health and safety (with specific sub-topics to include the UK regime, the US regime, the Australian regime, well integrity, identity of regulator) and environmental regulation (public law, private law, prevention, liability, vulnerable areas).

One of fundamental issues you’ll study is the two main approaches to regulation: the US regime which is prescriptive in that the regulator instructs the operator on a course of action, and the North Sea where an objective, principle-based regulatory framework has operated since the loss of 167 lives on Piper Alpha in 1988. The objective is to avoid harm to personnel and a spill of oil, and the operator must decide how best to do that. You’ll look at these diametrically-opposed systems and use Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico 2010, and Piper Alpha as case studies which proved watershed moments for the industry.

How you'll study

This online, 12-week distance-learning short course offers all the flexibility and convenience to study when, where and how you choose, and to fit your learning around your location, employment and personal commitments.

Our online courses are delivered through our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) as self-contained units of learning taught and assessed to the same quality as our degree programmes, and developed specifically for an online audience using a range of learning materials and assessment activities.

We aim to create an online classroom experience and student community which enables you to enjoy the same learning experience as students on our full degree programmes, including access to a suite of learning resources and support.

You’ll be guided through your programme a variety of methods including lectures, videos, core course notes, readings, discussion boards, access to the online resources of our award-winning libraries, and plenty of interactive discussion and support.

Our first-class support structure will ensure that you are not alone in your study. Contact with your course tutors will be through email, Skype or Facetime, and you can use social media and discussion boards to find and talk to your fellow students wherever they are.

Wherever you are in the world, as you enjoy the convenience of online distance study, you will still feel part of our very special Aberdeen learning community.


Our online courses are delivered through an online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and have been developed specifically for an online audience using a range of learning materials and assessment activities.

The assessment will include online short answer questions, scenarios and an advice to a party of an oil and gas operation. Much of the assessment will be problem based learning in which you will be given realistic situations and asked to respond with recommended actions.

Entry Requirements

Normally, a 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent) in Law will be required to be accepted onto this course. Relevant practical experience in a related field will also be beneficial.

All students entering the University, including online courses, must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study our programmes effectively. Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. For details of our pre-sessional English courses see our Language Centre website.