Study this programme anywhere in the world and receive a fully accredited University of London degree

Petroleum Geoscience

MSc and PGDip

Available to study anywhere in the world

Finding new reserves and recovering existing reserves is becoming increasingly important. As a Petroleum Geoscientist, you’ll work with geological and geophysical data and be able to apply it in a variety of ways.

Factory and large pipes
The MSc is developed by Royal Holloway at one of the UK’s leading centres for Earth Science research.

Teaching is informed by leading research and links to the international oil industry, so you’ll benefit from the most relevant, up-to-date learning. You’ll become a part of a vibrant international graduate community, and make use of our extensive resources as you work towards a rewarding future career.

Programme details

Programme structure, modules and specification

This degree provides training in the skills needed to address a range of exploration and production challenges. It’s ideal for hydrocarbon industry professionals who wish to develop their knowledge and skills alongside their work. Students also undertake a two-week fieldwork trip in the UK, learning from some of the most advanced minds in the field.

This programme comprises six modules. To complete the MSc, you take an independent research project.

View Modules

You can take these core modules as standalone short courses if you wish to boost your skills or get a sense of the commitment required to study the full programme.

Key dates

2020-2021 session - January intake
Application deadline 14 December 2020
Registration deadline 8 January 2021
Programme starts January 2021
2021 session - October intake
Application deadline 1 October 2021
Registration deadline 15 October 2021
Programme starts October 2021

How you study

The programme is offered online and is fully supported by a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). You study at a time and pace that suits you (subject to course-specific deadlines) using the study materials provided, with support available from academic staff.

Study materials

We will send you study materials developed by academics at Royal Holloway. These include a Programme Handbook of practical information (such as how to enter exams); a Subject Guide for each course; and past exam papers and commentaries, which give you valuable insights into how to perform well in exams.

Online support

When you register, we will give you access to your Student Portal. You can then access your University of London email account and two other key resources:

  • The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) enables access to course materials, resources, and forums to discuss course material and work collaboratively with others. Tutors are available to answer queries and promote discussion during the study year through the VLE.
  • The Online Library provides access to over 100 million academic electronic items comprising E-books, E-journals, conference proceedings, etc. In addition, students can request items which are not held in the library via the library's Inter-Library loans service with the British Library.
  • Senate House Library provides free reference access for all registered distance and flexible learning students.

Student Support

We are committed to delivering an exceptional student experience for all of our students, regardless of which of our programmes you are studying and whether you are studying independently or with a Recognised Teaching Centre.

You will have access to support through:

  • The Student Advice Centre – provides support for application and Student Portal queries.
  • TalkCampus – a peer support service that offers a safe and confidential way to talk about whatever is on your mind at any time of day or night.

Time commitment

Based on studying two modules per academic year, we estimate that you will need to study for approximately 20 hours per week during the academic session (October to March), and allow preparation time for exams in June.

See a possible course schedule


The core modules are assessed by a single written exam (80%) and one or more individual assignments (20%). The project is assessed solely by a report.

You can sit exams at an approved centre anywhere in the world (mainly Ministries of Education or the British Council). Each centre charges a fee for hosting exams.

More about exams.

Entry requirements

What qualifications do you need?

For access to the Petroleum Geoscience programme, you will need the following:

  • An undergraduate degree (e.g. bachelor) in a physical science subject that is comparable to a UK second-class honours degree from an institution acceptable to the University.
  • Work experience in the oil and gas industry, e.g. conducting evaluations of petroleum systems. Any technical oil and gas related work will be considered.
  • [MSc only] Access to interpretation software, data, and expert supervision for the project. This normally requires employment in the industry, but we can admit you if can arrange alternatives.

If you don’t meet the academic requirements but you do have significant work experience, we will consider your application on its merits.

English Language requirements

You need a high standard of English to study this programme. You will meet our language requirements if you have achieved one of the following within the past three years:

  • (IELTS) International English Language Testing System - overall score of at least 6.5 and at least 6 in each test.
  • (TOEFL) Test of English as a Foreign Language - overall score of 92 or above with at least 22 in the Reading and Writing sub-tests and at least 20 in the Speaking and Listening sub-tests.
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English.
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (at grade C or above).
  • Duolingo: must achieve an overall score of at least 120.

Computer requirements

We set minimum basic computer requirements because your study resources are accessed via the Student Portal and it is vital that you can access this regularly. For this degree, you will need an internet-connected device with the following:

  • A minimum screen size of 7”
  • An HTML5-compliant browser (e.g. recent Firefox or Chrome)
  • The ability to read and generate PDF documents.

MSc students may require some specific requirements for the research project. This is discussed with the supervisor at the design stage. Access to essentials such as interpretation software is a requirement for entry to the programme.


The fees below apply if you begin during the 2021-2022 session. These may be increased by up to 5% per year.

Academic year 2021-2022
Recognition of Prior Learning (per module) 113
Registration fee 2056
Module fee 2095
Project fee (MSc only) 3175
Total MSc 17800
Total PGDip 14624
Total per module (taken on a standalone basis) 2607

Disclaimer: Currency conversion tool.

Additional Costs

You will also need to budget for:

  • Textbooks (could extend to around £300 per year)
  • Exam centre fees, which are paid directly to the venues where you sit your exams
  • Tuition costs if you study at a Recognised Teaching Centre.

How to pay your fees.

Please note: all student fees shown are net of any local VAT, Goods and Services Tax (GST) or any other sales tax payable by the student in their country of residence. Where the University is required to add VAT, GST or any other sales tax at the local statutory rate, this will be added to the fees shown during the payment process. For students resident in the UK, our fees are exempt from VAT.

Further information on Sales Tax.

Your payment provider may apply additional transaction fees. (If in doubt, please check with them before making a payment.)

Further information about fee payment options can be found in the “How to pay your fees” link above.


Career opportunities

This degree has an international reputation for excellence in the petroleum industry and will enhance your career prospects. Petroleum Geoscience graduates are successful industry professionals who go on to work at senior level in oil companies, geoscience IT, consultancy, and academia.

"We have established excellent industry links and have helped hundreds of graduates to progress into rewarding careers. You’ll graduate with excellent employment prospects in a well-paid sector with job opportunities across the globe."

Professor David Waltham (Deputy Programme Director)
Royal Holloway, University of London

What do employers think of our graduates?

In some countries, qualifications earned by distance and flexible learning may not be recognised by certain authorities or regulators for the purposes of public sector employment or further study. We advise you to explore the local recognition status before you register, even if you plan to receive support from a local teaching institution.

Academic leadership

The MSc is developed by Royal Holloway at one of the UK’s leading centres for Earth Science research. Boasting excellent global links and industry-funded petroleum geology research, the centre offers an up-to-date and commercially relevant Master’s course that has been running on-campus since 1985.

Programme Director

Dr Hernández-Molina is currently Reader in the Department of Earth Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is a specialist in seismic stratigraphy, sedimentary processes and basin analysis, and is experienced in general core description and sediment structures identification. His research focuses on sequence stratigraphic analysis, sea-level change and cyclicity in sedimentary records, with special emphasis on the influence of bottom-current circulation along continental margins as well as the study of Contourite Depositional Systems (CDSs), in both low latitude (e.g. Gulf of Cadiz) and high latitude (e.g. Argentine & Antarctic) margins.

Deputy Director

David Waltham is Professor of Geophysics at Royal Holloway, University of London. With almost 30 years’ experience in the field, David’s research interests include astronomy, geology and astrobiology – namely, the application of physics to problem-solving. His work has appeared in academic journals including Astrobiology, Astronomy & Geophysics, and the Journal of Sedimentary Research.

Funding your study

Without the cost of moving to London, studying for your University of London degree anywhere in the world represents excellent value for money. However, there are additional sources of support depending on where you live and how you choose to study.

More on funding your study

Can I get sponsored?

If you're employed, your employer may be willing to cover part/all of the programme fee if you can make a compelling case as to how this programme will boost your contribution to the workplace.

Our courses are ideal for employers because they get to retain you as an employee and benefit from your learning from the moment you begin.

How can I get sponsored by my employer?

What our students think


agreed the reality of the programme was what they expected or better.


agreed the flexibility of the programme met their needs.


agreed the programme was intellectually stimulating.

Apply online

Irewole John Ayodele MSc Petroleum Geoscience, Nigeria

Irewole John Ayodele - MSc Petroleum Geoscience - Nigeria

"The University of London has given me the flexibility to do my MSc whilst still working. I've recommended it to my friends in oil companies in Nigeria."