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Petroleum Geoscience by Distance Learning

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Petroleum Geoscience by Distance Learning

  • Option 2 years full time or 5 years part time
  • Year of entry 2021
  • Campus Egham

The course

The hydrocarbon industry is crucial to provide us with domestic energy, transportation, plastics and other everyday needs. Petroleum Geoscience by Distance Learning with the University of London lets you earn a Masters degree in this booming sector which fits around your work or family commitments.

Choose from a range of course modules to tailor your learning, studying online over a period of years to earn your MSc. This flexible programme lets you choose between the standard course structure, a postgraduate diploma or a series of individual taught courses, letting you fit your studies around your daily life.

You’ll graduate with a Masters degree from the University of London by studying with the University of London International Programmes featuring academic direction from the renowned Royal Holloway Department of Earth Sciences. The programme finishes with a one-week field trip and research project, letting you contribute to our leading research culture while you develop your skills and knowledge.

Royal Holloway is recognised as one of the world’s premier training centres for the hydrocarbon industry, and has run a Petroleum Geoscience MSc programme since 1985. We’ve established invaluable links within the industry while helping over 600 graduates from 32 countries progress into rewarding careers in the Earth Sciences. Study Petroleum Geoscience (by Distance Learning) to enhance your career development without the need for full-time study. 

All applications must be made through the University of London International Programmes website.

Make an enquiry

  • Study a programme recognised internationally as one of the industry’s best.
  • Benefit from adaptable part-time learning fitted around your daily life.

Core Modules

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.


Optional Modules

All modules are core

Full details of the assessment process can be found on the University of London International Programmes website.

This course may be studied up to 5 years part-time.

94% Percentage of Department of Earth Sciences' 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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