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New generation of students enjoy studying Petroleum Geoscience

We interview Professor F.Javier Hernandez-Molina, Programme Director, about the international reputation of this programme in the hydrocarbon industry.

Students on a field trip to the world famous Devon and Wessex in England
Students on a field trip to the world famous Devon and Wessex geological formation in England.

Javier has been resident at Royal Holloway (RHUL), University of London for five years where he is Professor in Sedimentary Geology in the Department of Earth Sciences.

RHUL is recognised as one of the world’s premier training centres for the hydrocarbon industry. This member institution has run a MSc Petroleum Geoscience programme since 1985 and leads academically on a range of distance learning programmes.

With this long association the college has established invaluable links within the hydrocarbon industry of natural gas and fuels. Currently over 600 graduates from 32 countries have been helped to progress into rewarding careers in the Earth Sciences.

Javier gives us an insight into the degree, what makes it stand out in the hydrocarbon field, he also talks about the rewarding field trips and future prospects for graduates.

How did the department establish itself as one of the UK’s leading centres for Earth Science research?
It has been a combination of the high prestige of the Department of Earth Science, the expertise of lecturers involved with the subjects, the close link to companies, as well as the practical field trips organised for the students lead by experts such as Professor Ken McClay, Professor Jürgen Adam, Dave Waltham, Nicola Scarselli and Dr Domenico Chiarella.

What points give this degree an international reputation in the petroleum industry?
The internationalisation of the network, as well as the course content.

Given the fact that we have surpassed the peak of fossil fuel reserves and with climate change prominent, how can future students of the programme expect to diversify in this field of work?
More companies are diversifying their interests, for example renewable energies like solar, wind or geothermal, but specialists in hydrocarbon exploration are still needed to look for resources in new places like deep ocean areas.

Are there any interesting new reserves around the world which students can cover on the programme modules?
Probably not as big as the past but there are still many areas onshore and offshore for exploration.

Where are most of the field trips held and tell us a little bit about these?
The field trip is located in the Devon and Wessex Basin, in the region of south-west England. These field trips lasts 10-14 days and we look at basin analysis, petroleum system and reservoir analogues which is covered by the Petroleum system module. The next trip is in July.

What makes the south-west coast of England, like Somerset and Devon, so interesting to geologists worldwide?
The quality of the outcrops and the possibility for students to analyse the same elements that is possible to find in a petroleum system.

Tell us about how it works, do students choose from a list of companies suggested by RHUL for their research modules?
As part of our course, students can research on a topic of their choice within the field of petroleum geoscience. Students in most of the cases choose and suggest the topic and the related work, sometimes it can be based on real data from companies.

What are the exciting future developments in this field for students studying Petroleum Geoscience?
A successful career in the hydrocarbon industry or research, international and collaborative work with established large companies.

3D image showing deep water channel deposits in Australia
A 3D image of deep water channel deposits in Australia, showing key elements to look for in offshore exploration.

More about the programme and Royal Holloway, University of London

The geologist puts skills in geology, physics, chemistry, biology, and other fields to the practical task of locating energy sources.

Petroleum Geoscience is a flexible programme to study, and very much a physical geological driven programme as evidenced by the interesting field trips.

With this degree you'll join a worldwide network of alumni who are successful industry professionals in oil companies, geoscience IT, consultancy, and academia.

A career in geology gives you opportunities to travel and work around the world in locating energy sources, or working on existing reserves.

Apart from RHUL’s Department of Earth Sciences, ranking in the UK’s top 10 (The Complete University Guide 2019), it also ranks 2nd in the UK for ‘world leading and internationally excellent research’ in the most recent Research Excellence Framework analysis.

Interviewing Professor F.Javier Hernandez-Molina RHUL

Interviewing Professor Javier at Canary Wharf, London

Professor Javier leads at RHUL’s renowned Department of Earth Sciences, which is consistently ranked among the UK’s top 10 (The Complete University Guide 2019).