Course details

Study options

Full-time: 1 year, Part-time: Up to 5 years

UK/EU fee

£1,140 per 20 credits* (2019/20)

International fee

£19,500 for the full programme (2019/20)

Course level




Start date



Kedleston Road, Derby Campus

Course description

Achieving this MSc will help raise your profile as a skilled, confident and versatile petroleum geologist with high standards of professional judgement.

The Geology Society Accreditation Logo


Our MSc Applied Petroleum Geoscience provides the ideal combination of academic and practical teaching to help you embark on a fulfilling career, or advance your existing career, in the petroleum industry.

Professional credibility

This is a topical and comprehensive course, well regarded across the sector. It was awarded accreditation from The Geological Society, an independent body of academics and industrialists, which reflects the high standard of teaching we offer and its direct relevance to the sector.

Studying an accredited course lends substance to your CV. It represents the first step towards applying for professional status as a Chartered Geologist or Chartered Scientist and allows you to apply one year earlier.

Meaningful industry insights

We have drawn on our strong links with the oil industry to design and deliver this course. Group work and team projects are devised with the advice of our industry colleagues to ensure they prepare you for professional work practices.   

Our tutors have extensive experience of research and consultancy in areas such as petroleum exploration, basin evaluation and petroleum reservoir sedimentology. You will also benefit immensely from the expertise of our associate lecturers who are active in the industry and ensure the course content reflects latest developments.

As part of your studies, you’ll have the opportunity to network with employers at professional regional meetings, conferences and careers days held by bodies such as the Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain, the London Petrophysical Society and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

an iceberg

Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC)

Specialising in securing clean environments, nature recovery, and resilience to natural hazards, we work collaboratively to safeguard our planet for future generations.

Learn more about our research Learn more about our research

Turning theory into practice

Reflecting our commitment to real-world learning, teaching takes place not only in the classroom and laboratory but also in the field – in Derbyshire and other parts of the UK. You will have the chance to apply the theory to practical investigations which explore aspects of petroleum geology such as reservoir sedimentology, core logging and field geometry. 

We also introduce you to the specialist professional software packages on which the oil industry now depends for its analytical work.  

Convenient, friendly and supportive

If you’re an international student, you must apply for the full masters course and study it over one year, starting in September. If you’re a UK or EU resident, you can choose to study full time or part-time. We aim to offer maximum flexibility for individuals who need to fit their studies around work schedules. Modules are offered in four or five-week blocks to allow for short periods of study leave from work.

The MSc has attracted students from across the UK and Europe such as Greece and Germany and from farther afield such as Nigeria, Ghana, Thailand, Pakistan, Oman, Libya, Tunisia, Angola, Kenya, India, Cameroon, Malaysia, the Kurdistan Regional Authority and the USA. It means you will have the chance to share experiences from global perspectives.

Because class sizes are small, you will also benefit from high levels of support and guidance from our approachable and enthusiastic teaching team.

Flexible learning stages

The course is made up of three stages: Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma and MSc.

The Postgraduate Certificate stage involves an intensive 14-week course taught in the autumn semester. Thanks to the high degree of industry involvement in the course, you’ll be introduced to latest thinking in areas of petroleum geology, petroleum techniques, and geological and commercial risk.

Because this can be taken as a short stand-alone course, UK/EU students may choose to leave after gaining the Certificate and apply for entry-level work. Alternatively, they can progress to take three Postgraduate Diploma modules in sequence in spring semesters and then move on to complete the Independent Project for their MSc. Those who choose to study part-time will need to be in Derby for four or five-week periods for each module.

The MSc stage enhances your specialist knowledge and experience as you will conduct an independent project, working with data to address a current industry issue of your choice. UK/EU students can take this stage full time for four months at Derby during the summer semester, completing in August, or part-time over one year while they work.

What you will study

This course is made up of three stages: Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, and MSc.

You’ll study modules such as:

  • Petroleum Geology
  • Petroleum Industry, Petroleum System, Resevoir Sedimentology - You’ll become familiar with the petroleum industry, elements of the petroleum system, with a focus on resevoir sedimentology
  • Petroleum Techniques
  • Geophysics, Downhold Logging (offshore petro-physics) and Basic Wellsite Operations - This module will introduce basic skills for interpreting seismic data on a workstation and for analysis cores. You’ll also learn about the significance of different wireline log tools for characterising reservoir, drilling and safety parameters
  • Geological and Commercial Risk
  • Geochemistry, Appraisal, Development - This module focuses on the geological and commercial factors considered during the exploration, appraisal, development and production phases of a hydrocarbon pool
  • Advanced Petroleum Geology
  • Reservoir Models and Field Analogues - During this module you’ll investigate reservoir characteristics such as geometry and lateral facies variation affecting porosity and permeability, generate a deterministic reservoir model, and extend your knowledge of carbonate fields and analogues
  • Subsurface Analysis
  • Geophysics, Petrophysics and Wellsite Management - You’ll study the geophysical and petrophysical properties that describe the occurrence and behaviour of rocks and fluids, including the measurement of field data from wells and seismic surveys and the processing of that data
  • Basin Analysis
  • Formation, Modelling, the Play Concept - You will examine basin formation at a variety of scales, integrating both field and subsurface data to develop petroleum play concepts. You’ll consider how basin geometry and sedimentary fill change over time, and learn how to assess the technical and commercial risks associated with hydrocarbon exploitation in various basin types
  • Independent Project - During this triple module you’ll carry out your own research project focused on integrated topics such as well correlation and reservoir modelling, seismic interpretation, or basin modelling. You will submit a substantial written report that demonstrates your research and professional skills

Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

How you will learn

You'll attend lectures, workshops, field and lab based practical sessions and tutorials.


Assessment will include written coursework, oral presentations, timed essays and practical assessments.

An expert teaching team:

Associate specialists:

Entry requirements

An undergraduate degree (2:1 or above) or equivalent in a geoscience subject.

International students should have the above or an international equivalent. If English is not your first language, you will need to hold IELTS 6.0 or above in all categories.

Fees and funding

2019/20 Fees (August 2019 - July 2020)


£1,140 per 20 credits*

£1,140 per 20 credits*


£19,500 for the full programme


*Note – at postgraduate level, you’ll need to gain the following number of credits in total to obtain the awards below.

Postgraduate Certificate60 Credits
Postgraduate Diploma120 Credits
MA or MSc180 Credits

This means you will gain 180 credits in total to complete the full MA or MSc. If you are studying part time you will normally complete your studies over two or three years, depending on the course structure.

Please note that all fees may be subject to annual increase.

Additional costs and optional extras

Students chatting to each other

International student scholarship

We're offering a £2,000 scholarship for all eligible international students studying a full-time postgraduate taught programme (PGT). Terms and conditions apply.

Find out if you're eligible for an international scholarship Find out if you're eligible for an international scholarship

How to apply


This course is the ideal preparation for entry level jobs and graduate training programmes in the petroleum industry. Your first role could be in a service company supporting the oil industry in areas such as basic reservoir analysis, data gathering and analysis, mudlogging, or data management. 

It is also valuable for professionals already working in the industry who have their sights set on more senior roles. Our graduates now hold positions in offshore service industry companies such as Baker Hughes, ENSCO, GEOLOG International Geoservices and Schlumberger. Others are working in small to medium sized oil and service companies such as Corelab, Getech (Leeds), IHS Seismic MicroTechnology, Occidental Petroleum, Oceanfix Intl., Perigon, Robertson (CGG), and Schlumberger Training and Software Support.

We place great emphasis on enhancing your employment and promotion prospects so we aim to equip you with scientific skills, industry insights, and transferrable professional skills.  You will, for instance, receive training to ensure your communication skills are up to industry standards. Our career development workshops and mock interviews will help you recognise your strengths and prepare for the right sector of the industry.

In addition, the MSc is a stepping stone to further studies at PhD level if you would like to conduct more in-depth research into aspects of petroleum geoscience. Some of our graduates have also used it as a platform to pursue academic careers and are now teaching at UK and Nigerian universities. 

Programme leader

Dr Dorothy Satterfield

Contact us

If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

Contact us Contact us

† Additional information about your studies

If a visa is not required.

Download programme specification

Teaching hours

Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

Additional costs and optional extras

We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, state-of-the-art facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.

Included in your fees

Mandatory costs not included in your fees

Optional costs not included in your fees

Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.