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MScPetroleum Geoscience

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Interested? To learn more about this study programme, entry requirements and application process, please contact one of our consultants in a country nearest to you.

Programme structure

Core modules
Tectonics and Lithosphere Dynamics
This module is split into three components. The first will introduce you to modern plate tectonic theory and its application to understanding of formation of sedimentary basins based on earthquake data, tomography, gravity and magnetics. The second covers different tectonic settings and examines how the mechanical properties of plates can be applied to understand deformation, subsidence and heat flow within sedimentary basins. The third examines a range of terranes through the interpretation of remote sensing imagery and includes training in the use of geographical information systems (GIS) for compiling geological databases.

Geophysical Analysis
In this module you will develop an understanding of the methods by which seismic data are acquired and the impact of acquisition parameters on data quality. You will look at the basics of horizon and fault correlation, tying seismic data to well data, and 2D and 3D interpretation methodologies. You will consider the principles of seismic wave theory, the main steps involved in the processing of a typical seismic processing sequence, and the limitations of the technique in terms of imaging the subsurface, including an introduction to the concept of amplitude versus offset (AVO). You will examine and apply industry-standard seismic interpretation workflows.

Structural Analysis
In this module you will develop an understanding of large scale structures in the field and how seismic data and remote-sensing data can be used to interpret them in terms of their kinematics and geological evolution. You will also look at these structures in the context of tectonic evolution and how this knowledge can be applied to the analysis of hydrocarbon fields, prospects, and mineral deposits. This module is taught in four week-long stages, the first of which is largely field-based. You will examine the theoretical aspects of fault and fold growth and initiation, analysing the evidence for these using outcrop studies in Somerset in Devon. The other stages consider rock mechanics and petroleum geomechanics, and the types of structures found in sedimentary basins.

Petroleum Systems
In this module you will develop an understanding of the various elements of a petroleum system, including source rocks, migration pathways, reservoirs, seals and trapping structures. You will look at source rock deposition and geochemistry, kerogen kinetics and numerical basin modelling. Using an Eastern Mediterranean basin example, you will carry out play-fairway analysis to construct petroleum system summary charts, and produce gross depositional environment (GDE) and common risk segment (CRS) maps. You will examine hydrocarbon plays, using quantitative methods, and conduct volumetric estimates, risk analyses and simple economic analysis of individual leads and prospects. Working as part of a team, you will integrate data from various soruces to conduct a basin or play-fairway petroleum system evaluation in a major semi-mature hydrocarbon-bearing basin.

Independent Project
You will have the opportunity to carry out an in-depth piece of independent research on a topic of your choice within the field of petroleum geoscience. You will carry out research in collaboration with companies in the petroleum industry, who will also provide data and / or a component of your supervision. You will attend an induction session at the start of the project and present short updates at regular review seminars. You will produce a 15,000 word report and give an oral and poster presentation at a symposium attended by examiners and guests from the industry.

Optional modules
In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

You will take either Sedimentology and Regional Tectonic Analysis or Reservoir Geoscience and Advanced Structural Analysis.

In this module you will develop an understanding of the processes of sedminent supply and transport in clastic sedimentary systems. You will look at depositional processes and the characteristics of deposits formed in glacial, aeolian, alluvial fan, fluvial, lacustrine, lagoonal, coastal, marine shelf and deep marine environments. You will examine carbonate sedimentary systems and the application of sequence stratigraphy in analysing carbonate platforms and ramps. You will also cary out practical work involving the description and interpretation of sediment cores and the use of that data to construct palaeogeographic maps.

Regional Tectonic Analysis
In this module you will develop an understanding of the main techniques of regional tectonic analysis and how these can be applied to formation of various geological structures, particularly those that have the potential of act as traps for conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon reservoirs. You will look at the use of seismic interpretation, focal mechanisms, probabilty analysis of fracture networks, and general stress and displacement analysis for tectonically active regions. You will consider the formation and evolution of passive margins, including the technique of basin subsidence analysis, and carry out a regional tectonic analysis to examine the likely conditions for the formation of conventional fractured reservoirs. You also will evaluate the condition of formation for unconventional hydrocarbon reservoirs including gas shales, basement reservoirs, and reservoirs associated with various types of intrusions.

Reservoir Geoscience
In thid module you will develop an understanding of the basic physical principles of reservoir geoscience and how to apply them in general reservoir studies. You will look at reservoir geophysics, including the standard technique used in well-log analysis, permeability development and maintenance in porous and fractured reservoirs. You will examine seismic interpretation techniques, including training in the use of standard software for reservoir geoscience, such as Petrel. You will consider porosity and permeability development and fluid transport in porous and fractured reservoirs, analysing fracture-related permeability and fluid transport using numerical approaches. You will evaluate the use of Darcy’s law for flow in porous rocks and the cubic law for flow in rocks, seeing how these laws apply together in large fault zones, and their overall effect on, and control of. fluid transport in reservoirs.

Advanced Structural Analysis
In this module you will develop an understanding of model fluid transport in fractured hydrocarbon reservoirs. You will look at the structural geology and fracture mechanics applied to conventional and unconventional fractured reservoirs, including hydraulic fracturing of gas shales. You will consider the basic theories on the mechanics of fault formation and development, the relation between faulting and permeability, and how these theories can be applied to fluid transport in reservoirs and potential reservoir leakage. You will also examine advanced analytical methods for analysing aperture variations in fractures, and associated fluid transport, where the driving pressure varies along the fracture rather than being constant. You will gain practical experience in applying numerical-modelling methods to rock structures such as faults, extension fractures, folds, and reservoirs, using commerical boundary-element and finite-element codes such as Beasy and Comsol.

Career opportunities

Petroleum Geoscience at Royal Holloway, University of London was first established in 1985, giving us ample time to build valuable links with the international oil industry. We’re now recognised worldwide as one of the hydrocarbon industry’s premier training facilities, having helped more than 600 graduates from 32 countries progress into rewarding careers in the Earth Sciences.

This flexible Masters programme will equip you with a range of skills and knowledge necessary to achieve a fulfilling career in a sector with many well-paid career opportunities in the UK and abroad. There is huge demand for well qualified petroleum geoscientists, and as we’re considered world leaders in the field, you’ll graduate as a highly desirable candidate for employers in a variety of sectors.

Apply now! Fall semester 2023/24
Application period has ended
Please see the university profile or contact us for the deadlines that apply to you
Apply now! Fall semester 2023/24
Application period has ended
Please see the university profile or contact us for the deadlines that apply to you