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Energy Geosciences

Energy Geosciences

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Please note the deadline to apply for this course is 1 June 2022. Find out more.

Key information

Duration: 1 year full time or 2 years part time

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

UK fees: £12,200

International/EU fees: £22,000

The course

Energy Geosciences (MSc)

In recognition of current climate discussion, there is a need to expand the energy mix to low-carbon sources whilst securing supply from traditional resources. Consequently, our internationally-recognised vocational Petroleum Geoscience programme is developing into our new MSc Energy Geosciences to reflect our timely academic transition at Royal Holloway to a broader geoscience training, encompassing traditional and renewable energy resources.

The MSc in Energy Geosciences provides you with the ideal training for a career in the hydrocarbon and renewable industry and growing low carbon energy industry.

Our teaching on Energy Geosciences at Royal Holloway, University of London is informed by leading research and strong links to the international energy industry, meaning that you’ll benefit from the most relevant, up-to-date learning. The course is flexible, enabling you to select from a range of course modules to tailor your learning to your own preferences and ambitions on the Petroleum Geosciences or the Renewable Georesources stream.  

You’ll study in the renowned Department of Earth Sciences, and contribute towards our leading research culture with your own Independent Research Project. You’ll become a part of a vibrant international graduate community, and make use of our extensive range of modern facilities and computer labs equipped with state-of-the-art industry software as you work towards a rewarding future geosciences career in the transforming energy sector. 

Our MSc programme has run since 1985, and has become recognised as one of the world’s premier training centres for the energy industry. We have established excellent industry links, and have helped over 600 graduates from 32 countries to progress into rewarding careers. Study Energy Geosciences at Royal Holloway and you’ll graduate with excellent employment prospects in a well-paid sector with job opportunities across the globe.

A PG Certificate in Energy Geosciences is also available for direct entry.

  • Benefit from a pioneering research culture.
  • Study a programme internationally recognised as one of the industry’s best.
  • Graduate with excellent employability prospects in the UK and overseas.
From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience, and this is particularly the case as we continue to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as we can.

Core Modules

  • 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. You will learn and apply industry-standard seismic interpretation workflows.

  • In this module you will learn to analyse geological structures ranging from outcrops to regional scale and to interpret and model their geometrical, kinematical and mechanical evolution. You will develop an understanding how geophysical and remote-sensing data can be used to interpret and model surface and subsurface structures. You will interpret a wide range of geological structures and you will learn how this knowledge can be applied to the analysis of subsurface structures and their relevance for stability and fluid flow in the subsurface. Further practical skills training of this module incorporates field-based training on subseismic-scale folds & faults related fracture systems using world-famous outcrop studies in Somerset in Devon, rock mechanics, geomechanics and structural analysis of sedimentary basins in diverse tectonic settings.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the processes of sediment supply and transport in clastic and carbonate 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 carry out practical work involving the description and interpretation of sediment cores and the use of that data to construct palaeogeographic maps.

  • In this 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, and an introduction to amplitude versus offset (AVO) and seismic inversion analyses. 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.

  • 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 energy geoscience. You will carry out research in collaboration with companies in the petroleum and renewable 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 report and give an oral and poster presentation at a symposium attended by examiners and guests from the industry.


You will be able to choose one pathway from the options below

Petroleum Geosciences pathway:

  • 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.

  • 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 sources to conduct a basin or play-fairway petroleum system evaluation in a major semi-mature hydrocarbon-bearing basin.

Renewable Georesources pathways:

  • This module will introduce you to the Geoscience (and wider background) needed to understand the exploitation of the subsurface for the storage of carbon dioxide (to reduce greenhouse gas emissions) and the storage of renewable energy (e.g. compressed air and hydrogen storage within salt).  The module introduction will cover the environmental, economic, political and social background to understand the business model that will enable these industries.  The module will then investigate the geophysical methods required to evaluate potential subsurface structures.  This module will also look at the science behind subsurface utilization (e.g. issues such as what structures and sediments are needed and how these are similar to, or different from, the structures and sediments that form hydrocarbon reservoirs).

  • In this module you will learn about deep and shallow geothermal energy, its use for producing electricity and space heating, and how geothermal energy (a steady source) can be ideally combined with solar and wind energy (non-steady sources). The focus is on understanding and using (1) shallow geothermy (heat pumps), (2) hot-dry-rock (enhanced geothermal systems), and (3) natural geothermal (hydrothermal) systems, both in sedimentary basins and in active volcanic areas. The module also covers the environmental, political/social, and economic aspects of geothermal energy. The module aims at providing the knowledge and skills needed for analysing and exploring for geothermal energy in the UK and worldwide.

Optional Modules

The taught course units are assessed by a series of courseworks. Each of the six units comprises 10% of the total assessment for the MSc course. The remaining 40% of the assessment comes from the Independent Research Project.


Geology or Geophysics.

Normally UK 2:1 (Honours) or equivalent in a relevant subject such as Geology or Geophysics. We will consider high 2:2 or relevant work experience. Where a ‘good 2:2’ is considered, we would normally define this as reflecting a profile of 57% or above. Candidates with a UK 2:1 (Honours) degree, or equivalent, in related subjects, such as Physics, Physical Geography or Oceanography will also be considered, provided that their degree contains significant components relevant to Geology, or they have significant industry experience and/or additional relevant training. Candidates meeting the minimum entry requirement of a UK lower second class degree (2:2) or equivalent will still be considered provided that they can demonstrate significant industry experience and/or additional relevant training.

International & EU requirements

English language requirements

All teaching at Royal Holloway is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.

The scores we require
  • IELTS: 6.5 overall. No subscore lower than 5.5.
  • Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 54. No subscore lower than 51.
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.

Country-specific requirements

For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please see here.

Our subsurface analysis programme at Royal Holloway, University of London was first established in 1985, giving us ample time to build valuable links with the international industry partners. We are now recognised worldwide as one of the energy 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 course 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 energy 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. 

  • Jobs fairs, skills workshops and visits from industry representatives provide students with excellent career opportunities.
  • 90% of graduates in work or further education within six months of graduating.
  • Graduate with a desirable Masters degree from a recognised world-leader in the energy industry.

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £12,200

EU and International students tuition fee per year**: £22,000

Other essential costs***: £1,000 for fieldwork trips

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.

* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying on the standard part-time course structure over two years are charged 50% of the full-time applicable fee for each study year.

All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. This means that the overall cost of studying the course via part-time mode is slightly higher than studying it full-time in one year. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information, please see our terms and conditions. Please note that for research courses, we adopt the minimum fee level recommended by the UK Research Councils for the Home tuition fee. Each year, the fee level is adjusted in line with inflation (currently, the measure used is the Treasury GDP deflator). Fees displayed here are therefore subject to change and are usually confirmed in the spring of the year of entry. For more information on the Research Council Indicative Fee please see the RCUK website.

** The UK Government has confirmed that EU nationals are no longer eligible to pay the same fees as UK students, nor be eligible for funding from the Student Loans Company. This means you will be classified as an international student. At Royal Holloway, we wish to support those students affected by this change in status through this transition. For eligible EU students starting their course with us in September 2022, we will award a fee reduction scholarship equivalent to 60% of the difference between the UK and international fee for your course. This will apply for the duration of your course. Find out more

*** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2022/23 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included. 

Nicola Scarselli

Director MSc Energy Geosciences

Senior Lecturer in Subsurface Imaging & Evaluation

Profile | 01784 443597

94% Percentage of our research research ranked world-leading or internationally excellent

Source: REF, 2014

2nd Ranking in the UK for Earth Sciences research

Source: REF, 2014

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