Geology has been taught at the University of Aberdeen for over 150 years and there has been a separate Geology Department since 1922. Today, the Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology at the University is a recognised centre for excellence in petroleum geology research and training.

The Department has an international reputation, with many of our former graduates in prominent positions in academia, industry and government worldwide. The Department has excellent support from technical and administrative staff and our laboratory facilities include CL, EPMA, FI, SEM/EDAX, GC and GC-MS equipment and well equipped seismic and petrophysics laboratories.

Through collaboration with other Departments in the University, we have access to a range of other equipment including ICP-MS, XRD, Raman and NMR. A wide range of stable and radiogenic isotope facilities is accessible through the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre in East Kilbride.

The Graduate School offers an induction programme and skills training opportunities for all research students to support their studies and to help with career planning.

MSc by Research

Students undertake a research project under the guidance of an academic supervisor and, unlike a postgraduate taught degree by coursework and dissertation, there are no formal lectures or seminars and work is not formally examined until after the final thesis is submitted. The thesis is required to display evidence of originality or present a satisfactory, orderly and critical exposition of existing knowledge within the field concerned.


A PhD is a Doctorate of Philosophy, a prestigious qualification that demonstrates talent, academic excellence and a thirst for knowledge. It usually culminates in a thesis based on research carried out over the course of 3-4 years. The research must “make a distinct contribution to knowledge and afford evidence of originality as shown by the exercise of independent critical powers”.

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Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Degree Qualification
MSc or PhD

Our Research

Our research is concerned with the geological evolution of sedimentary basins. Sedimentary basins contain the long-term record of the planet’s evolving environment and climate; they chart tectonic evolution of the lithosphere; they hold the bulk of the Earth’s fossil fuels, water resources and significant concentrations of economic minerals. Our research embraces the formation of sedimentary basins and lithosphere geodynamics, their structure and sedimentary fill, the evolution of the deposits and their fluids and the generation, location and exploitation of resources. We address not only fundamental geological questions concerning Earth processes but also the development of resources for societal benefit - through the extraction of hydrocarbons to the use of geological reservoirs as repositories of societal waste.

Prospective research students should define their research interests explicitly in terms of sedimentary basin geology in the context of the research themes of the discipline.

Our Experts

Head of Department
Professor Randell Stephenson
Head of Research Area
Professor Andrew Hurst

Fees and Funding

View the tuition fee rates

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


The majority of our postgraduate students who graduated in the last five years joined oil companies or oil service companies. Other significant areas of employment are further education (higher degrees) and academic research posts.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Postgraduate Research School
University of Aberdeen
Crombie Hall
AB24 3TS