MSc Petroleum Engineering

The course

Delivery type
1 year (full-time) / 2 years (part-time)
Intake date
September, January* (* part-time only)



The MSc in Petroleum Engineering at Heriot-Watt University is a programme of lectures and project work that encompasses a wide range of petroleum engineering fundamentals pertinent to the modern petroleum industry.

The programme allows students to study specific courses as well as undertake a field development project (with other students) and an individual research project. Project work provides an opportunity for ideas and methods assimilated through lectures and tutorials to be applied to real field evaluation and development design problems. The courses are applied in nature and have been designed so that a graduate is technically well prepared for, and has a sound knowledge of, the industry into which they will be recruited.

The programme has the principal objectives of providing specialist, high quality learning and teaching, along with a range of transferable skills, research awareness and improved employability.

The course also provides flexible study options to interested candidates.

  • Full-time students can take four courses in the first and second semester and two projects to complete their degree within a year.
  • Part-time students can choose to complete the programme over the course of two years. In each year, they can take two courses per semester and two project in semester 3 of Year 2.”

January entrants

Students starting the MSc Petroleum Engineering in January should note that part-time studies run for four semesters (24 months) + projects (May to August, four months) (total duration 32 months). 


Read more about the UAE Federal Accreditation.

Course content

Semester 1

  • Petroleum Geoscience
  • Reservoir Engineering
  • Formation Evaluation
  • Drilling Engineering

Petroleum Geoscience

Concerns the origin, structure and internal geometry of reservoirs and the creation, migration and entrapment of hydrocarbons. Geological models form the basis for reserve estimation and development planning.

Reservoir Engineering

Concerns the physics, chemistry and flow of petroleum fluids within a reservoir. A range of analytical techniques are used to model fluid flow and for predicting how the reservoir might behave under various development scenarios, an important objective being the maximisation of energy recovered.

Formation Evaluation

Involves the measurement and interpretation of rock properties, such as porosity and resistivity, by means of well bore instruments.

Drilling Engineering

Involves a range of engineering disciplines in the design and safe construction of exploration and development wells. These wells are required either to gather information from or to drain oil and gas reservoirs.

Semester 2

  • Well Test Analysis
  • Production Technology
  • Petroleum Economics
  • Reservoir Simulation

Production Technology

Concerns the productivity of oil and gas wells. It includes the design, installation and operation of down-hole and surface systems, to optimise the controlled recovery of pipeline quality crude oil and gas. Safety and the ability to respond to changing situations are important considerations.

Petroleum Economics

Involves understanding the financial implications of engineering decisions, which are normally made in an environment of uncertainty.

Reservoir Simulation

Involves the construction of detailed, mathematical models of reservoirs, as a means of predicting their behaviour and performance.

Semester 3

  • Group Design Project
  • Individual Project

Group Design Project

Groups of about 10 students are provided with real data from a field, similar to that which would be available to an Operator prior to a development decision. Analysis of this data results in an assessment of the reservoir and leads to the design of an appropriate production system. Through this exercise, students gain valuable insight into the use of imperfect and incomplete data, to the integration of the various taught components of the course and to problems of group interaction. It is also an opportunity to teach a range of transferable skills such as teamwork, presentation and negotiation. During the project students have access to state-of-the-art computer technology and industry standard software. Assessment is by means of a written report and by group presentation.

Individual project

Students are required to carry out a detailed investigation of some topic related to petroleum geoscience or engineering. Projects are offered both by the Institute and by the industry, and normally include a wide choice of experimental research, computer modelling and real oilfield problems. Assessment is by means of both thesis and oral presentation.


Our programmes are recognised by graduate-recruiting businesses around the world, and many of our graduates are employed at the most senior technical and management levels in international oil and gas companies.

Entry requirements

For MSc entry, a good relevant engineering Honours degree (first or second class) with a background in chemical, bioengineering, mechanical, physics, oil and gas or geology with good mathematical competence will be considered. Equivalent overseas qualifications will also be considered.

To find out more about the specific entry requirements for your country, please refer to our International Entry Requirements.

If you hold a degree from a different background and believe you may qualify for this programme or to find out more about the entry requirements for this programme, please send an email to

English language requirements

Where English was not the medium of instruction during previous education, applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency equivalent to IELTS 6.5.

Fees and funding

  • AED 159449*

* All tuition fees inclusive of VAT

Financial support

We endeavour to arrange financial support for students accepted on to the courses, negotiating annually for industrial scholarships. These are allocated following interviews in early summer.

Scholarships and bursaries

See our range of degree entry, undergraduate, postgraduate taught and PhD scholarships and discounts.