Introduction

Geology and Petroleum Geology is the study of how the Earth works, and in particular, the nature and origin of the Earth’s natural resources.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
BSc
Duration
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
UCAS Code
F602
Pathway Programme Available
Undergraduate Foundation Programme
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Petroleum geologists use their deep understanding of the Earth’s geological structures to help find and extract hydrocarbons cleanly and efficiently.

The BSc Geology and Petroleum Geology is accredited by the Geological Society for London and begins with a thorough examination of main geological principles and disciplines that underpin our understanding of the structure and evolution of the Earth, and how this knowledge can be used to discover and extract natural resources.

In particular, this programme examines the main geological principles that underpin our understanding of the structure and evolution of the Earth. You will learn about the origin, structure and composition of the major rock groups and learn how we date geological events and how we gather and interpret data in the field.

In the final two years (Honours) you will specialise further in the geology related to the petroleum industry, including field and mapping techniques, structural geology & tectonics, petrology and sedimentology.

Geology at Aberdeen extends beyond the Earth to other planets. Using a combination of the vast online resources provided by NASA, and the UK Virtual Microscope’s Apollo collection, students make their own investigations of aspects of the geology of the Moon and Mars and compare results with the geological evolution of Earth.

One of the main components of the final year is the 5-week independent field project, when students undertake an independent research over the summer between years 3 and 4, and much of the autumn term is focused on working up the report.

Geology graduates enter a wide variety of professions, including oil and gas exploration and production, environmental geology, pollution control, geological surveying, volcanology, seismology and environmental consultancy.

What You'll Study

The courses of study are made up of a range of core courses and choices. In years 1-4, the core courses you study are the same regardless of whether you are aiming for the BSc or the MGeol.

Year 1

Year 1

Two core courses: Earth Through Geological Time, which looks at the evolution of the Earth over the past 4,500 million years, and Earth's Materials, looks at the origin, physical and characteristics of the rocks and minerals that make up the Earth.


Compulsory Courses
The Nature of The Environment Through Geological Time (GL1005)

15 Credit Points

For 4,500 million years the Earth has been, and still is, a continually evolving Dynamic Planet. The record is held in the rocks and fossils of the present continental landmasses and ocean basins. To deduce the history of the planet geologists must apply a large range of scientific principles and disciplines. These disciplines encompass the biological, chemical and physical sciences. The course provides a basic understanding of how the structure and evolution of the planet are deduced and how this information can be used to discover and extract natural resources such as fossil fuels and ores.

View detailed information about this course
Earth's Materials (GL1505)

15 Credit Points

Following on from GL1005 this course is an introduction to the petrogenesis of three major rock groups; igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary. Practical classes will centre around the use of polarizing microscope in the identification of the common rock-forming minerals. The relationship between plate tectonics and the petrogenesis of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, including types and styles of volcanic eruptions will be addressed.

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Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD1002)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 undergraduate students (and articulating students who are in their first year at the University), is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

Select a further 90 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 2

Year 2

Four courses all of which are taken for Single and Joint Honours programmes. These include Stratigraphical Principles, Petrology & Mineralogy, Geophysics and Introduction to Field Geology, which is a six-day residential course on the Isle of Arran.


Compulsory Courses
Stratigraphical Principles (GL2014)

15 Credit Points

This course is concerned with absolute and relative time-scales as used by geologists to date geological events and processes. Absolute dating using isotopic techniques, including the treatment of raw data, forms the cornerstone of the course. The use of the fossil record in relative and absolute dating is integrated with geological maps and absolute dating techniques to give a broad overview of the methods used by geologists to determine sequences of events in Earth's history.

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Petrology & Mineralogy (GL2015)

15 Credit Points

Petrology and mineralogy is a compulsory course for geology students. It covers igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary petrology. The course has a strong practical component and involves the preparation of workbooks based on individual study and practical exercises that use hand specimens, microscope work and chemical data.

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An Introduction to Field Geology (GL2510)

15 Credit Points

Field-based observation is an essential skill for understanding the origin of rocks, and is a vital reality-check for understanding how Geological Science is practised and developed. This course gives students experience with techniques for investigating rocks in their natural habitat, studying the crucial relationships between different units, and developing good habits for observing and recording data in the field. Students learn how to perceive geology in 3D, and to develop working hypotheses from incomplete evidence. This is achieved through a five-day residential field trip (takes place in the Easter break) which is preceded by wide-ranging practical classes and explanatory lectures.

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Geophysics (GL2511)

15 Credit Points

This course establishes the fundamental principles underlying the main methods of geophysical exploration data and their interpretation as applied to Earth Sciences. This includes some basic principles of continuum mechanics and stress and strain as used in structural geology as well some basic principles of geophysical fluid dynamics as relevant to sediment transport and deposition in sedimentology.

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

Select a further 60 credit points from courses of choice.

Year 3

Year 3

Year 3 is the start of the Honours degree and all but one course option in each semester is geology focused. At year 3 there are two main residential field courses as well as day field trips.


Compulsory Courses
Principles of Petroleum Geology (GL3018)

15 Credit Points

This course introduces students to the key issues surrounding being a geologist in the petroleum industry. With the changing nature of hydrocarbon exploration and production, both conventional and unconventional hydrocarbons are considered. The key concepts of the origin and generation of hydrocarbons, reservoir rocks and subsurface reservoir structures (traps) are introduced, together with some of the key techniques used within the industry (e.g. reservoir geology, petrophysics and formation evaluation). Practical issues such as how hydrocarbon wells are drilled and how rocks are sampled in the subsurface are also considered.

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Structural Geology & Tectonics (GL3027)

15 Credit Points

This course covers all main aspects of structural geology and tectonics and entails 1 hour lectures and 3 hour practicals each week, together with a field excursion to relatively local geology. The significant practical component allows 'hands on' learning with worked examples being provided by staff. The field excursion allows students to directly apply skills and techniques that have been covered in preceding lectures and practicals. with worked examples then provided in follow-up sessions. The course covers a spectrum of brittle and ductile structures that are developed across a range of scales from microscopic to mountain belt.

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Igneous & Metamorphic Petrology (GL3520)

15 Credit Points

This course is in 2 parts. In part 1, the students explore the links between tectonic setting and magma genesis, with particular reference to geochemical signatures recorded in the rocks. In part 2, students look at how different bulk protolith compositions control the metamorphic mineral paragenesis, with an emphasis on observing and recording evidence from textures in thin sections. In a world of post-peak oil, exploration for new reserves is now moving to igneous and metamorphic rocks, and a thorough understanding of these rocks is essential for the practising geologist.

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Sedimentology (GL3521)

15 Credit Points

Sedimentology is fundamental to interpreting past climate and geography from the evidence in the rock record of the environment in which sediment was deposited. This course develops the skills needed to make such interpretations by cultivating proficiency at description and process-based interpretation of sedimentary successions, and showing how study of modern environments is used to decipher sedimentary processes. We review the controls on the preservation of sediments to make the rock record, including an introduction to the concepts of genetic (sequence) stratigraphy, and see how this can improve discovery and recovery of water and hydrocarbon resources in the subsurface.

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

Select one of the following options:

Junior Honours

  • Field and Mapping Techniques 2 (GL3525)
  • Select a further 15 credit points from from courses of choice.

Designated Degree:

  • EITHER Project/Dissertation (GL3508) OR Field and Mapping Techniques 2 (GL3525)
  • Select a further 15 or 30 credit points from courses of choice.
Field & Mapping Techniques 2 (GL3525)

30 Credit Points

This course teaches the advanced field skills necessary for all practising geologists, and serves as preparation for the summer mapping project (GL4023). The material builds on that covered in GL3026 (Field & Mapping Techniques 1). Preliminary laboratory classes in Semester 2 are used to prepare students for the field exercises on the 10-day field trip. The students will learn how to systematically collect, analyse and present their own field data as part of wider scientific studies.

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Project / Dissertation (GL3508)

15 Credit Points

A dissertation not exceeding 5,000 words based upon an original geological investigation or a literature review.\_x000D_ \_x000D_ Or, where appropriate, the submission of a piece of independently executed fieldwork, in the form of a map and brief accompanying memoir, may be permitted at the discretion of the Course Coordinator.

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Year 4

Year 4

One of the main components of the BSc final year is the 5 week independent field project. You undertake your independent research over the summer between years 3 and 4, and much of the autumn term is focused on working up the report.


Compulsory Courses
Geological Mapping Project (GL4023)

45 Credit Points

35 days of individual geological field mapping. During the exercise the student will devise and carry out a research project based on an aspect of the area mapped and submit a final map and report.

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Geological Synthesis (GL4530)

15 Credit Points

Students will take a number of approaches to synthesizing information, especially directed to petroleum geology. Six case studies in petroleum exploration topics will be presented, based on the special expertise of staff. Students will write up a synthesis of one study, using sources provided by staff. In groups, students will address topics to be researched, co-ordinated and written up in 7 hours, simulating rapid response to management in an oil company office. There will also be 2 one-day field excursions, each followed by data synthesis and submission of a report.

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Surface and Subsurface Digital Imaging (GL4529)

15 Credit Points

The subsurface course module will cover the input, storage, management, mapping and image process of seismic dataset. The module will be taught through laboratory practicals supported by short introductory lectures to the seismic acquisition, processing and interpretation and that will cover general theories, methodologies and applications. The laboratory exercises will be based on using and implementing Petrel and Midland Valley's Move software to solve a range of issues and to highlight their use for seismic interpretation and test.

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Petroleum Geology: Geochemistry and Geofluids (GL4028)

30 Credit Points

The course will train students in techniques that can be employed especially in petroleum geology, but also in other branches of geology. The techniques focus on the manipulation and interpretation of geochemical data. A 4-day field excursion is embedded within the course, to illustrate petroleum systems, including work in the evenings on organic biomarker data related to the trip, and collection of samples for subsequent laboratory work. Two portfolios of work will be prepared, on unconventional hydrocarbon sources and basin burial histories. This course is excellent preparation for further training in petroleum geology.

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

Select a further 15 credit points from courses of choice.

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

  • Field Trips
  • Field Work
  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lab Work
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course;
  • practical assessments of the skills and competencies learnt on the course; and
  • written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, year of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study Geology and Petroleum Geology?

  • The BSc Geology and Petroleum Geology is accredited by the Geological Society of London.
  • Field study forms a major part of our teaching, and our location in Aberdeen means our students benefit from easy access to numerous wonderful field locations throughout Scotland such as Arran, Skye, and the Scottish Highlands, including many sites in the Geological Society of London’s 100 Great Geosites
  • A part of their Honours Curriculum geology Level 4 students have extended their geological reach to Earth’s Satellites and other planets.   Profs Javier Martin-Torres and Maria-Paz Zorzano of the Department of Planetary Sciences have joined forces with Drs Alex Brasier and Malcolm Hole of the Department of Geology & Geophysics to deliver a 15 credits module on Planetary Sciences.  
  • Being based at the heart of Europe’s energy industry also means that our programmes benefit from direct industry involvement, including industry advisory panels, guest lectures, site visits, industry-supported projects, and numerous career networking events.
  • You will have the opportunity to join Aberdeen University Geology Society the Student Chapter of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists to expand your knowledge, skills and professional networks beyond the classroom.
  • One of the main components of the final year is the 5-week independent field project, when students undertake independent research over the summer between years 3 and 4, and much of the autumn term is focused on working on the report.
  • Geology and Petroleum Geology graduates enter a variety of professions, particularly in exploration and production in the oil and gas industry, but also in other sectors including the groundwater industry, environmental consultancy and geological surveying.

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

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


General Entry Requirements

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB*

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB*

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB*

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

A LEVELS

Standard: BBB*

Minimum: BBC*

Adjusted: CCC*

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL, with two Mathematics/ Science subjects at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 including a minimum of H3 from two Science or Mathematics subjects.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see www.abdn.ac.uk/study/articulation for more details.

SQA Highers

Standard: AABB*

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB*

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB*

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

A LEVELS

Standard: BBB*

Minimum: BBC*

Adjusted: CCC*

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

More information on our definition of Standard, Minimum and Adjusted entry qualifications.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL, with two Mathematics/ Science subjects at HL.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 including a minimum of H3 from two Science or Mathematics subjects.

Entry from College

Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see www.abdn.ac.uk/study/articulation for more details.

The information displayed in this section shows a shortened summary of our entry requirements. For more information, or for full entry requirements for Sciences degrees, see our detailed entry requirements section.


English Language Requirements

To study for an Undergraduate 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 - 6.0 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0

TOEFL iBT:

OVERALL - 78 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

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

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

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

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

International Applicants who do not meet the Entry Requirements

The University of Aberdeen International Study Centre offers preparation programmes for international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements for undergraduate study. Discover your foundation pathway here.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
RUK £9,250
Students Admitted in 2021/22
EU / International students £20,700
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 Academic Year
Home Students £1,820
Tuition Fees for 2021/22 Academic Year

Scholarships and Funding

Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who pay tuition fees may be eligible for specific scholarships allowing them to receive additional funding. These are designed to provide assistance to help students support themselves during their time at Aberdeen.

Additional Fees

  • 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.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Undergraduate EU Scholarship

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

This is an £8,000 tuition fee discount available to eligible self-funded Undergraduate students who would have previously been eligible for Home (Scottish/EU) fee status.

View Undergraduate EU Scholarship

Careers

Each year, over 91% of our Geology graduates are in employment or further study 6 months after graduating.

Our degree(s) in Geology open up career opportunities with the global oil and gas industry, as well as other key sectors. Our degrees are highly respected by the oil and gas industry and our graduates are in high demand.

Geology is also a subject that opens up tremendous opportunities for further study, either at an MSc level or PhD.

The vast majority of Aberdeen Geology & Petroleum Geology graduates find employment within the hydrocarbon or mineral exploration and exploitation sectors. Additionally, postgraduate specialised study is a popular pathway toward careers in the oil industry.

Career Opportunities

  • Associate Technical Professional
  • Borehole Geologist
  • Data Manager
  • Field Engineer
  • Logging Geologist
  • Mudlogger
  • Site Engineering Geologist
  • Well Planning Engineer

Accreditation

This degree holds accreditation from

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Opening 2022 - Science Teaching Hub

Our state-of-the-art Science Teaching Hub will provide students with a digitally focussed environment including advanced analytical tools, research-grade equipment and flexible laboratory spaces.

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Top 100 in the World - Geology, QS Ranking 2021

Geology at the University of Aberdeen is ranked in the top 100 in the world.

What our Alumni Say

Tom Theurer

Tom Theurer

Tom Theurer

Graduated 2019

The geology department is a wonderfully diverse and welcoming place, filled to the brim with extraordinarily passionate and skilled individuals. Aside from the numerous fascinating field excursions and research opportunities within the course itself, I was also given the opportunity to assist in departmental research, studying microfossils within a sedimentary core from a Ukrainian impact crater.

Becky Wain

Becky Wain

Becky Wain

Job Details
Graduate Geologist
Graduated 2013

The links with many different industries allows the university to be among the best for research and development so you will know that you are learning the most up to date and relevant information during your studies.

Don Duncan

Don Duncan

Don Duncan

Job Details
Independent Consultant
Graduated 1976

The Department of Geology and Mineralogy had a very good reputation, as far as I could ascertain, in those pre-internet days, for turning out geologists who could fit into almost any speciality.

Roneta Holland

Roneta Holland

Roneta Holland

Job Details
PhD Student
Graduated 2015

Aberdeen is the European Oil capital and this university is the best place to study petroleum industry-related subjects. The University is well connected - some of the lecturers are former industry workers.

Joselia Ferreira

Joselia Ferreira

Joselia Ferreira

Job Details
Earth Scientist, Chevron
Graduated 2014

I enjoyed the fact that the university is very international and has top quality Professors with good knowledge and reputation that are known within the Oil and Gas Industry. The subjects I had targeted the oil industry.

Our Experts

You will be taught by research active academic staff, each with vast knowledge and experience of working in and/or with industry. Some of our staff are truly leading and renowned Geology academics. Each one is passionate about the subject and fully supportive.

Other Expert
Dr Malcolm Hole
Programme Coordinator
Dr David Muirhead

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.

Features

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SPE Student Chapter

SPE Student Chapter

Society of Petroleum Engineers, Student Chapter is one of the 230 student chapters around the world. Currently, our chapter is managed by 6 elected committee members and is advised by Dr. Akisanya. We have more than 150 members.

Find out more
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Aberdeen University Geological Society

Aberdeen University Geological Society

Student-led social and professional events and networking.

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Geology Field Trips

Geology Field Trips

Scotland can claim to be the birthplace of geology and many fundamental ideas and concepts have been inspired by its wonderful field locations. We make full use of this natural resource, running our field training in world-famous locations.

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Discover Uni

Discover Uni draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

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