Decommissioning, MSc

Decommissioning, MSc


This programme focuses on the key technical, commercial, regulatory and environmental aspects associated with the decommissioning of energy infrastructure.

This programme is also available to study online.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
12 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month

Over the next decade, around 100 platforms and 7,500 kilometres of pipeline on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS) are forecast for decommissioning, with costs estimated to be £59 billion to 2050. As the rate of decommissioning activity increases across the UKCS and around the globe, there are also increasing commercial opportunities for UK supply chain companies both at home and abroad.

Decommissioning therefore presents both challenges and opportunities for the energy industry, as the UK government seeks to ensure the full economic recovery of hydrocarbons while also enabling the achievement of the country’s net zero target by 2050.

By working closely with major operators, supply chain companies and regulatory bodies, the MSc Decommissioning is instilling the innovators with the necessary advanced understanding of the technical, commercial and regulatory aspects of decommissioning so that they can lead the transition to sustainable sources of energy.

The programme includes taught courses covering the various interdisciplinary aspects of decommissioning, followed by a research project based on your particular interests or experience, which can be undertaken with an external organisation.

We welcome students from a broad range of educational and industry backgrounds, including engineering, business, law and environmental science including experienced professionals who are looking to upskill or move into the growing decommissioning sector.

The University of Aberdeen is home to the National Decommissioning Centre. Established with support from the Scottish Government, through the Net Zero Technology Centre, the centre works in partnership with companies to develop and deploy technology that delivers cost-effective net-zero decommissioning.

What You'll Study

Stage 1

Compulsory Courses

Offshore Structures and Subsea Systems (EG50R1)

15 Credit Points

This course will equip students with the required knowledge of offshore and subsea oil and gas production systems, and to enable them to gain an appreciation of the infrastructure and facilities that need to be removed during decommissioning.

Well Plugging and Abandonment (EG50R2)

15 Credit Points

Decommissioning of offshore oil and gas infrastructure requires graduates to have a competent and realistic understanding of well plugging and abandonment. This course allows students to understand the scientific, engineering, and economic rationale for abandoning wells and decommissioning fields.

Decommissioning of Offshore Installations: Regulatory Aspects (LS502H)

15 Credit Points

This course provides a detailed overview of the international and domestic legal regulatory framework pertaining to the decommissioning of offshore oil and gas installations. Teaching and instruction will be by a variety of methods including podcasts, directed reading, and interactive discussion. Topics covered are: International law of the sea; global legal regime for offshore decommissioning; dumping – the UNCLOS, London and Oslo Conventions; Implementing international law in the UK and the Brent Spar Case; Legal and regulatory consequences of Brent Spar; the ongoing evolution of UK decommissioning law; the comparative dimension; waste. This course is available to students registering for the Online LLM Oil and Gas Law programmes (Dissertation or Professional Skills) and MSC Decommissioning.

Petroleum Economics and Project Evaluation (EC5005)

15 Credit Points

This course will introduce students to key techniques from economics and finance allowing them to understand the business decision making relevant to the petroleum industry and decommissioning. Students will learn how these principles help explain how investment and disinvestment decisions (such as cessation of production) are taken, how oil markets operate, and the government's role in setting environmental regulations and taxation allowances.

Stage 2

Compulsory Courses

Marine Environmental Impact Assessment (ZO5516)

15 Credit Points

In recent decades, concern about environmental damage in different parts of the world has led to public pressure on governments to regulate ‘developers’ and others so as to minimise adverse environmental effects, while allowing economic activities to continue. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been developed as a critical component of the approach to achieving sustainable development. It originated in the USA and has since been incorporated into the EU/UK legislative frameworks. It is therefore important to understand the nature of the EIA process and to be able to select, and use, suitable techniques.

Group Project in Comparative Assessment (EG55R3)

15 Credit Points

Decommissioning of oil and gas infrastructure is becoming a major issue for the North Sea and other mature basins. This course provides students with an insight into the process used to find the best decommissioning option for a particular installation, taking account of the complex interactions between, cost, technical feasibility, environmental and societal considerations and safety.

Process Shut Down, Structural Decommissioning & Disposal (EG55R1)

15 Credit Points

Decommissioning of oil and gas infrastructure is becoming a major issue for the North Sea and other mature basins. This course provides students with an overview of the stages of shutting down the production process and cleaning of the system and then the possible methods of removal of the structure.

Optional Courses

1 course from the options below:

  • Decommissioning of Offshore Installations: Commercial Aspects
  • Engineering Risk and Reliability Analysis

* Suitable only for students with Engineering, Maths or Physics background

Decommissioning of Offshore Installations: Commercial Aspects (LS552J)

15 Credit Points

The course provides students with a comprehensive overview of the commercial issues which arise when decommissioning offshore installations. The course will focus in particular upon the UK example and in particular will consider the matter in the light of the MER obligation.&nbsp It will consider key contractual clauses, innovative contracting models, the legal (including tax) issues which arise as a result of decommissioning costs, and the interaction between the law of decommissioning and the law of insolvency.

Engineering Risk and Reliability Analysis (EG55P6)

15 Credit Points

The world is full of uncertainties and there is a level of risk in every human activity, including engineering. Many industries require an engineer to manage significant risks and design for high reliability, such as oil and gas, subsea, nuclear, aviation and large civil projects (e.g. bridges and dams). To meet these engineering challenges and make rational decisions in the presence of uncertainty, this course will introduce students to methods and tools used by engineers to analysis risk and reliability.

Stage 3

MSc individual project

Compulsory Courses

MSc Individual Project (EG59F1)

60 Credit Points

The MSc Individual Project is an independent piece of research based on a topic related to a student’s degree programme. Students are encouraged to focus on a problem confronting industry or a related area. The individual project provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate how the in-depth skills and knowledge they have gained during the taught courses can be used to provide solutions to practical problems. The individual project should contain a degree of original research.

We will endeavour to make all course options available. However, these may be subject to change - see our Student Terms and Conditions page.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £27,000
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year
UK £11,100
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year

Fee Information

Additional Fee Information

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our Tuition Fees page.

Funding Opportunities

  • Shell U.K. Limited is offering three £20,000 scholarships for students starting a Masters programme aligned with the Centre for Energy Transition (CET) commencing in September 2024. Find out more
  • NEO Energy, an independent full-cycle energy business in the UKCS, are offering two postgraduate scholarships in a variety of taught degree programmes at the University of Aberdeen. Each scholarship is valued at £20,000. Find out more.


Self-funded international students enrolling on postgraduate taught (PGT) programmes will receive one of our Aberdeen Global Scholarships, ranging from £3,000 to £8,000, depending on your domicile country. Learn more about the Aberdeen Global Scholarships here.

To see our full range of scholarships, visit our Funding Database.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • E-learning
  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Assessed by a combination of coursework and written examination. In addition MSc candidates must submit a dissertation on their individual project, and may be required to undergo an oral examination. The online learning coursework is submitted to the course tutor through the website and marks and comments will be sent back, also via the web. Arrangements can be made for examinations to be taken at a convenient place for you.

Why Study Decommissioning?

  • Teaching is based on the latest research from the National Decommissioning Centre which was established with support from the Scottish Government, through the Net Zero Technology Centre. The NDC works in partnership with companies to develop and deploy technology that delivers cost-effective net-zero decommissioning.
  • Broaden your knowledge of the key elements of the decommissioning process and gain an understanding of specific areas that you may not already be familiar with but would like to learn more about. 
  • Learn from world-class academics, many of whom have worked in industry and/or alongside industry on research collaboration. 
  • Close consultation has already taken place with those working in industry involved in decommissioning and this level of industry engagement will continue as the degree develops. 
  • This programme completes an impressive suite of energy-related degrees already offered by the University, which now cover all aspects of the oil and gas industry life-cycle. 
  • The degree attracts a broad range of students, many of whom are currently working on decommissioning projects around the world.
  • There are significant opportunities in key regions around the globe where skills and knowledge of the decommissioning process are going to be a huge advantage.
  • Current figures indicate that the UK will have a major shortage of workers skilled in these activities unless there is a significant increase in production of engineering and technical graduates from schools, colleges and universities as well as sustained retention of experienced workers within the industry. 

What Our Students Say

Iain Mackenzie

Iain Mackenzie

Iain Mackenzie

I would recommend the course to anybody who harbours an interest in decommissioning. Due to the mature nature of the North Sea oil and gas infrastructure, decommissioning is a growing part of the business within the UK and its North Sea neighbours.

Entry Requirements


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

2:1 (upper second class) UK Honours degree, or an Honours degree from a non-UK institution which is judged by the University to be of equivalent worth, in Engineering, Geosciences, Economics, Business, Law, or other science, technology and commercial degrees.

Other degree classifications will be considered if the applicant can demonstrate 3+ years of industry experience.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

an up-to-date CV/Resumé
Degree Certificate
a degree certificate showing your qualifications
Degree Transcript
a full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
Personal Statement
a detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme

Aberdeen Global Scholarship

Eligible self-funded post graduate taught (PGT) students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Explore our Global Scholarships, including eligibility details, on our dedicated page.

Aberdeen Global Scholarships


There are many opportunities at the University of Aberdeen to develop your knowledge, gain experience and build a competitive set of skills to enhance your employability. This is essential for your future career success. The Careers and Employability Service can help you to plan your career and support your choices throughout your time with us, from first to final year – and beyond.

Industry Links

In establishing the programme, industry feedback has included:

"We are very short of competency generally, and it’s good that AU is interested in helping plug that gap."

"The course is very timely. I think there would be interest in it and it offers a good way to encourage people to think about careers in decommissioning rather than viewing it as the end of the cycle with no opportunities."

"Concept is good given there will be a 40 year career in decommissioning ahead . "


This degree holds accreditation from

Our Experts

A range of academic experts will teach on the programme from across engineering, law, business, economics, environmental science.

Other Expert
Dr Richard D. Neilson

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. However, these may be subject to change - see our Student Terms and Conditions page.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Student Recruitment & Admissions
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX