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Petroleum Geoscience

MSc and PGDip

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.

Course details

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.

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 holds thousands of journal articles which you can access free of charge. A dedicated helpdesk is available if you have any difficulties in finding what you need.

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.

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.

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 2017-2018 session. These may be increased by up to 5% per year.

Academic year


Registration fee

£ 1,692

Module fee

£ 1,725

Project fee (MSc only)

£ 2,613

Total MSc

£ 14,655

Total PGDip

£ 12,042

Total per module (taken on a standalone basis)

£ 2,148

Additional Costs

You will also need to budget for exam centre fees, which are paid directly to the venues where you sit your exams.

We accept most traditional payment methods, including debit/credit card, international money order, and Western Union.

How to pay your fees

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 (Programme Director)
Royal Holloway, University of London

What do employers think of our graduates?

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

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.

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?

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."