Over the next decade, around 100 platforms and 7,500 kilometres of pipeline on the UK Continental Shelf are forecast for decommissioning, with costs estimated to be £59 billion to 2050. The industry aims to reduce this figure by 35%, a target set by the Oil & Gas Authority.

The MSc Decommissioning is the world's first and only Masters degree in decommissioning oil rigs, platforms and offshore structures. This programme focuses on the key aspects associated with decommissioning such as engineering, project management, business, law and health, and safety and environment and is specially designed for students from a broad range of backgrounds.

MSc Decommissioning is also available to study part-time online.

Study Information

At a Glance

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

The aim of this programme is to provide students with a broad range of knowledge and expertise in the physical process of taking offshore platforms out of service, including engineering, project management, business, law, health and safety, and environmental studies.

The MSc Decommissioning was designed in collaboration with major operators, supply chain companies and regulatory bodies and features guest lectures from leading decommissioning industry experts. In addition, many students have the opportunity to undertake industry-based projects as part of the programme.

In Semester 1 and Semester 2 you will undertake taught courses, followed by your research project, which you can design with faculty, based on your research interests or industry experience. Some students also have the opportunity to undertake their project with a company or external organisation and benefit from direct industry input and interaction.

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

The University of Aberdeen is the recognised leader in offshore oil and gas decommissioning and is home to the newly established National Decommissioning Centre of Excellence. Established with support from the Scottish Government, through the Oil & Gas Technology Centre, the centre will work in partnership with companies to develop and deploy technology that delivers cost-effective decommissioning at the end of field life, and during oil and gas production operations, including ‘small piece’ decommissioning techniques.

While the UK Continental Shelf is currently the largest decommissioning market in the North Sea, there are significant opportunities in key regions around the globe, where skills and knowledge of the decommissioning process is a huge advantage.

What You'll Study

Semester 1

Semester 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.

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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.

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Decommissioning of Offshore Installations: Regulatory Issues (LS502T)

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, core readings, discussion boards and interactive discussion. Introduction to key decommissioning issues - Law cohort, Introduction to Law, International Law, Domestic Law, 1958 Convention, UNCLOS 1982, International Maritime Organization guidance , UK guidance approach, Stakeholder engagement, Norway - External colleagues, USA - External colleagues, South East Asia - External colleague, 1996 Protocol. This course is available to students registering for the Online LLM Oil and Gas Law programmes (Dissertation or Professional Skills) and MSC Decommissioning.

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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.

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Semester 2

Semester 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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Law and Decommissioning: 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.

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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.

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Semester 3

Semester 3

MSc individual project

Compulsory Courses
Individual Project In Decommissioning (EG59R9)

60 Credit Points

The aim off the course is to permit students to undertake a piece of supervised academic research: to demonstrate critical thinking within a selected research subject; to collect, manage, and interpret data from a variety of sources; to prepare written documentation in a scientific manner appropriate for peer-reviewed publications.

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We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

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?

  • Broaden your knowledge of the key elements of the decommissioning process. 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 will likely attract a huge breadth of individuals, many of which will be currently working on decommissioning projects around the world. It will be a real opportunity to become part of a close knit group of learners. 
  • 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.

Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate

Please note that international applicants for this programme require an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate. The ATAS certificate must be obtained before applying for a Student Visa. You can submit an ATAS application up to 6 months before the programme start date, even if the offer is still conditional.

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

Fee Information

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £23,500
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 Academic Year
Home / RUK £9,200
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 Academic Year

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 InfoHub Tuition Fees page.


Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more and see our full range of scholarships.

Aberdeen Global Scholarship (EU)

The Aberdeen Global Scholarship is open to European Union (EU) students.

This is a £2,000 tuition fee discount available to eligible self-funded Postgraduate Masters students who are classed as International fee status and are domiciled in the EU, plus another £3,000 discount for eligible Postgraduate Masters students who would have previously been eligible for Home fees (Scottish/EU) fee status.

View Aberdeen Global Scholarship


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 . "

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
Programme Coordinator
Dr David Vega-Maza

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

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