MSc Mature Field Management

The course

Online learning
Course award
Entry date
September, January



The bulk of the world’s hydrocarbons come from producing assets – so-called 'mature fields'. In turn, these supply the bulk of the world’s energy.

Managing these assets is therefore a central aspect of global energy supply, and will become more so as the world’s giant fields become progressively more mature.  Most industry jobs in exploration and production will be in this arena, requiring a talented workforce to fill them for decades to come.

Heriot-Watt's Institute of GeoEnergy Engineering has therefore created a new Masters programme to address this need. The topical content is necessarily broader than the existing IPE programmes, embracing not only geoscience, reservoir and well engineering but also surface engineering and the linkage between them in the form of integrated asset management (IAM).

The subject also demands a grasp of incremental petroleum economics and risk analysis, and a methodology for handling decision-making in assets in which production and data gathering are continuous. This methodology provides the link between the programme components and sits at the core of the group exercise, with Edinburgh’s own Forth Bridge as a visual metaphor for the process.

Finally the programme deals with the asset endgame. When does production cease, how can field life be extended, how do we decommission – or then recommission – and what are the potential uses of these reservoirs in the post-carbon era?

Flexible learning

This course can be studied via Online Learning, ideal for those in employment or with other commitments, providing flexible study options that fit around work or family. View our How online learning works pages to find out more. It can also be studied on-campus full-time or part-time.

The course is also available to study full-time at our Edinburgh Campus.

Programme duration

2½ - 8 years. On average, our PgDip courses studied online are completed in 2-3 years, while MSc courses are completed in 3-4 years. 

Course content

This course, led by Dr Karl Stephen, is composed of eight mandatory courses for those studying at PGDip level, each assessed by examination. For those looking to complete the course at MSc level a Field Management and an Individual Project (Dissertation) are also required. Students are required to study two initial courses, Managing the Reservoir and Strategy and Planning

Course content
Initial courses Follow on courses 
Managing the Reservoir "Cessation of Production?"
Strategy and Planning Managing the Surface
  Managing the Wells
  Optimising Productivity
  Optimising Recovery
  Producing Field Practices

Course descriptions

Please find below the course descriptions. For more information on courses, please contact the Programme Leader.

Strategy and Planning

The first course sets the theme for the programme: making value-based decisions in producing assets through iterative working of live data. Petroleum economics will be refreshed with a focus on incremental project economics, and followed by risk analysis specific to ranking mature field options: how to make optimally risked commercial choices.


Asset management requires a firm grounding in the three underlying components of reservoir, wells and surface engineering – an overview of the full producing system from the reservoir pore to the final flange on an export line. The aim is to create an understanding of the whole system rather than expertise in every sub-topic, and will be taught in three courses:

Managing the Reservoir - dealing with the core issues pertaining to an understanding of the reservoir as a producing system: surveillance, characterisation, geochemistry, geomechanics, analytical reservoir engineering techniques, static modelling, dynamic modelling and history matching large data sets.

Optimising Recovery - fluid fundamentals, drive mechanisms, lab & core work (SCAL), remaining oil distribution, enhanced oil recovery (EOR) options: polymer, gas flooding, water-alternating-gas (WAG), low salinity floods (loSal)

Managing the Surface - what happens after the wellhead: fluid treatment (produced water, sea water, oil, gas handling), data gathering, specs, flow assurance, export, power generation, EIA, sub-sea technologies and optimisation.

Technical Limits

Where are the technical limits and how can we do better?  Taught in two modules: optimising what we recover from the reservoir, and optimising the productivity from wells.  This includes an opportunity to access leading edge research at Heriot-Watt IPE.

Managing Wells - how do producing wells work dynamically and what are options in well construction.  This is core production technology and will be delivered as a shared module with the Petroleum Engineering MSc programme (the only module shared with another programme)

Optimising Productivity - logging, monitoring, scale, SSSV, artificial lift optimisation, failure prediction, hydrate prediction, water shut-off, well start up, dynamic well modelling, smart wells.

Production Field Practices

The practicality of implementing good ideas in the subsurface and at the surface.  Includes infill drilling (sidetracks, multilaterals, jetting, managed pressure drilling), workover techniques, well control issues and hydraulic fracturing, and the practicalities of surface facilities modification. The topics are linked through Integrated Asset Modelling (IAM)

"Cessation of Production?"

The options for extending field life and a view of reservoirs and facilities in the post-carbon era: field extension opportunities, decommissioning and recommissioning techniques and post-carbon usage.  The general issue of managing subsurface energy, 

Field Management Project

Students work in teams and are provided with data from a mature field, similar to that which would be available to an operator prior to a re-development decision. Analysis of this data results in an assessment of the reservoir and definition of choices: the do-nothing option (the ‘NFA’), a collection of minor incremental projects or radical changes in production mechanism or field operations.
Students will work through the decision-making process following the Rail Bridge template and work out how these major decisions get made by making them themselves. Analysing, identifying, calculating value, risking and ranking.

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. The development plan is presented to a group consisting of examiners, industrial experts, and government representatives.

Individual Project (Dissertation)

Students are required to carry out a detailed investigation of a topic related to mature field management. Projects are offered both by academics and by the industry, and normally include a wide choice of experimental research, computer modelling and real oilfield problems. Assessment is by means of a thesis and oral presentation.


Industry links

The Institute also has an industry-based Strategic Advisory Board which monitors activities in the wider context of the needs of the industry and offer guidance on the course ensuring content is up to date and relevant to current industry needs. Seminar sessions are also conducted by staff from a variety of petroleum engineering companies.

Career opportunities

The courses provide specialist education tailored to the requirements of the upstream petroleum industry, which is undergoing significant changes and faces major challenges when operating mature field managements in the North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Middle East, Malaysia, East Asia and South America. Petroleum, however, remains the dominant source of energy for our society, with current world production of oil and gas at record rates and increasing volumes coming from existing and mature fields rather than new discoveries.

It is widely recognised that a steady influx of well-trained and industry-aware people with fresh ideas is vital for longer term success and stability of an organisation. The relevance of the education offered by this new MSc course in Integrated Mature Field Management, combined with careful selection of candidates and Heriot-Watt University’s long-standing global success in providing graduate training for the petroleum industry, will ensure that operating companies and oilfield service companies will continue to target Heriot-Watt for recruitment of graduates in the future, especially candidates who will be able to make sound technical contributions to the management and operation of mature fields.

Why Heriot-Watt Online?


Study towards the same high-quality qualification as if you were studying in-person, with no difference in degree certificate or transcript, including an Edinburgh campus graduation ceremony.

Flexibility and affordability

Study at a time and pace that suits you, and even while you work. HW Online offers pay-as-you-study courses and fees inclusive of exams and study materials, meaning you can focus on success, not extra costs.

Online community and help

Studying with us means you join an online community of over X students, allowing you to chat and learn from your fellow students through our virtual learning environment.

Employability and careers

Heriot-Watt produces more CEOs than any other University in Scotland, and 95% of graduates are in employment or further study within 6 months of graduation.

Lifelong connections

Upon completing your studies you will automatically join the UK’s oldest alumni association The Watt Club, with 147k members worldwide.

Track record

We’ve been providing high quality online and distance learning across the world for over 25 years.


Be part of a Business & STEM renowned University with over 200 years of heritage. We’re proud to be ranked #1 by The Times/Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022 for a number of our Engineering subjects, including Chemical, Civil, Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Entry requirements

Entrants to the course will normally have a good honours degree (minimum 2:2 or UK equivalent) in an engineering or relevant science discipline from a British or overseas university.

In addition to the academic qualifications, motivation, industrial experience and personality are taken into consideration.

Recognition of prior learning

We are committed to providing study opportunities to applicants who have a wide range of prior experiences through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). For more information on RPL, please contact the Online Admissions Team ( ahead of application. We can only consider requests for RPL at the time of application to a course of study. 

English language requirements

If English is not your first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above. We offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your masters course:

  • 14 weeks English for IELTS 5.5 (with no more than one skill at 4.5);
  • 10 weeks English for IELTS 5.5 (with minimum 5.0 in all skills);
  • 6 weeks English for IELTS 5.5 (with minimum 5.5 in reading and writing, and minimum 5.0 in listening and speaking).


Tuition fees for 2021 entry
Status Per course Per research project
UK / EU / Overseas £1250 £1120

Additional fees information

For Online\Distance learning students the current fees are £1,250 per course and £1,120 for each research project. This programme consists of 8 courses (modules) and 2 research projects (MSc only) and you pay for each course prior to studying.  Therefore the total cost of studying a MSc Mature Field Management is £11,540.  Please refer to the Frequently asked questions for more information on fees and funding for Online\Distance learners.

Scholarships and bursaries

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.

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