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Energy Geosciences


The closing date for applications to start this course in September 2024 is 31 July 2024. Further detail here.

Key information

Duration: 1 year full time or 2 years part time

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

UK fees*: £13,200

International/EU fees**: £23,900

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 has redeveloped 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. On the course you will be exposed to a range of modules allowing to build your skillset for traditional petroleum E&P as well as sustainable resources and subsurface storage.

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. This 3 month (full time) fast-paced PG certificate programme is aimed professionals as well as students and researchers looking to upskill in geosciences applied to low carbon energy solutions.

From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.

Core Modules

  • The module comprises multiple sessions, delivered by three members of Earth Sciences staff, spread over two weeks. Topics covered included the physical nature (rheology) of rocks and soils, particularly in response to stresses in the ground; the estimation of those stresses and indirect measurement techniques; fault and fracture mechanics, joints; instability mechanisms and kinematic assessment of fractured rock masses; engineering stabilisation methods; fluid flow in porous/permeable soils and rocks; and flow through fracture rock masses.

  • The module comprises sessions covering statistical concepts, data analysis, regression analyses, principal components, and the estimation and propagation of errors. GIS topics include concepts, types of data, maps, projections, data management and analysis with the use of GPS and other raw data inputs. Students will learn workflows for contouring, thematic mapping, and project design. Learning activities include theoretical lecture classes and practical computational sessions.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of acquisition, processing and interpretation of seismic and well-log data. The module also covers fundamental elements of surveying and interpretation of shallow geophysical data including resistivity, gravity, magnetics, and shallow seismics. You will learn the limitations of these techniques in terms of understanding the geology of the shallow and deep subsurface. You will learn fundamental geophysical workflows and how to apply them to industry data.

  • The aim of this module is to provide students with the skills and knowledge required to recognise large scale structures in the field, on seismic data and on remote-sensing data, to interpret them in terms of their kinematics and geological evolution, to understand them in the context of tectonic processes and to apply that understanding to the analysis of hydrocarbon fields, subsurface storage, mineral deposits and modern hazards. The module deals with the characteristics and evolution of large-scale structures that control sedimentary basins and their fill. A review of remote sensing acquisition, processing and interpretation will be also be covered within the module. Students will take part in field-based training on subseismic-scale structures as well as examine seismic-scale outcrops across sedimentary basins.

  • 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.

  • The module comprises four main topics. The first topic focuses on source rock deposition and geochemistry, kerogen kinetics and numerical basin modelling, including exercises in the latter. The second topic covers the understanding and working knowledge of reservoir geophysics. The third topic aims to develop understanding and skills in play fairway analysis. The fourth topic presents the fundamentals of decision analysis and economic evaluation of subsurface leads and prospects. The final topic aims at the integration of this knowledge, along with work done in other courses in the programme, to complete a team-based evaluation of a subsurface system. The module also includes a field trip component where students can apply what learnt in the class.

  • The module will introduce the students to the principles of renewable energy with a focus on solar, wind, and, in particular, deep and shallow geothermal energy. Other forms of renewable energy will also be covered, such as hydroelectric energy (hydropower) and marine energy, with a brief mention of biomass. The module explores the current and potential use for producing electricity and space heating (and, for heat pumps, also space cooling) from renewable energy sources, with a particular emphasis of the ideal combination of steady sources such as geothermal energy with unsteady sources such as wind and solar energy.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • This module will describe the key principles of academic integrity, focusing on university assignments. Plagiarism, collusion and commissioning will be described as activities that undermine academic integrity, and the possible consequences of engaging in such activities will be described. Activities, with feedback, will provide you with opportunities to reflect and develop your understanding of academic integrity principles.


Throughout the course, students will experience a diverse learning experience as they will take part in theoretical classes, computer-based practicals as well as field classes. The eight taught course units are assessed by a series of courseworks. The units comprises 60% of the total assessment for the MSc course. The remaining 40% of the assessment comes from the Independent Research Project.


Normally, we require a UK 2:2 (Honours) or equivalent in a relevant subject such as Geology or Geophysics.

Candidates with a UK 2:2 (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 with professional qualifications or relevant professional experience in an associated area will also be considered

International & EU requirements

English language requirements

  • 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.
  • TOEFL iBT: 88 overall, with Reading 18 Listening 17 Speaking 20 Writing 17.
  • Duolingo: 120 overall and no sub-score below 100.

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*: £13,200

EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £23,900

Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course

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 in the academic year 2024/25. 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.

Royal Holloway reserves the right to increase all postgraduate tuition fees annually, based on the UK’s Retail Price Index (RPI). Please therefore be aware that tuition fees can rise during your degree (if longer than one year’s duration), and that this also means that the overall cost of studying the course part-time will be slightly higher than studying it full-time in one year. For further information, please see our terms and conditions.

** This figure is the fee for EU and international students starting a degree in the academic year 2024/25. Find out more 

*** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2024/25 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


Percentage of our research environment ranked world-leading or internationally excellent

Source: REF, 2021


Research output rated as world-leading or internationally excellent

Source: REF, 2021

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