Vincent Sheppard


Vincent graduated with an MSc Petroleum Engineering in December 2019. He currently lives in Dorset and has worked in the oil and gas industry for 34 years as a geoscientist.

Can you tell us about your current job? 

I started my career as a geophysicist working in seismic acquisition and processing. From there I moved into seismic interpretation working on exploration and production projects across the globe. My last position was as Chief Geophysicist with UK oil field service company Petrofac. I recently retired and moved to Dorset.

Why did you decide to study a MSc Petroleum Engineering online?

Although I had planned my retirement, I wanted to close the subsurface loop of geophysics and geology, of which I had practical expertise, by studying the Msc in Petroleum Engineering. Working full time, I decided studying as a distance learning student best suited my situation.

What was your experience of studying online? 

With the eight examined modules and two projects I was aware of the time commitment and pressure this puts you under. Working alone requires self-discipline but course tutors were always available online to help with queries. Webinars throughout each course were very beneficial to me.

What have you enjoyed about your MSc degree programme at Heriot-Watt? 

While I was working as a geoscientist and taking each of the engineering modules, I was able to interact a lot more closely with my engineering colleagues even to the point of asking them technical questions to justify particular decisions on projects we worked together. Much to their surprise coming from a geoscientist!

What’s the most unexpected or surprising thing you experienced studying your MSc?

I was surprised how huge my personal achievement felt to me when I found out I had been awarded my masters. Not only had it closed my subsurface knowledge circle, but I had now come full circle to return to Edinburgh where I graduated in 1985 in Geophysics only this time at Heriot-Watt with an Msc in Petroleum Engineering.

What impact has the MSc degree programme had on you and your career?

Having obtained my masters at Heriot Watt I am proud of the fact that I have organised my work, study and home life to maximise my learning experience and achieve my goal. For me learning is a continuous life-long process and I am now looking forward to tackling my new education challenges with confidence.

What advice would you give to an online postgraduate student considering embarking on their studies at Heriot-Watt?

In my case online study required a lot of commitment, self-discipline and support from family. The pace of study is driven by the student alone. For me studying one module per semester worked well. It allowed the time to study and to prepare well for the exams.


MSc Petroleum Engineering, Heriot-Watt University, 2019