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The MSc in Petroleum Engineering is designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills to tackle the oil and gas industry’s most challenging problems. Upon graduating students will be able to understand, frame and solve the most complex of upstream problems in today’s petroleum industry.
These courses provide specialist education tailored to the requirements of the upstream petroleum industry. The relevance of this education, combined with careful selection of candidates, has encouraged oil and oilfield service companies to target Heriot-Watt for recruitment of graduates since 1976.
The Petroleum Engineering degree is delivered by the Institute of Petroleum Engineering, a world-leading Institute committed to delivering research and training courses that meet the needs of the international petroleum industry. Students have been attending the Institute of Petroleum Engineering at Heriot-Watt University to study for the MSc course in Petroleum Engineering since 1975.
The MSc in Petroleum Engineering is a course of lectures and project work, encompassing a wide range of petroleum engineering fundamentals, relevant to the current petroleum engineering industry.
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 on this course are applied in nature and have been specifically designed so that our students are technically well prepared for, and have a sound knowledge of, the industry.
Students on the Petroleum Engineering course come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including directly from undergraduate degrees such as chemical, mechanical, mining and petroleum engineering as well as geology and applied chemistry. Others are oil and gas industry professionals looking to broaden their knowledge and extend their technical expertise.
Our students come to us from all parts of the world, in the last few years the students in all three MSc courses within the Institute of Petroleum Engineering have come from over 30 different nations.
Students on the Petroleum Engineering MSc will benefit from the excellent links with industry and research activities by staff at the Institute of Petroleum Engineering. The Institute also has an industry-based Strategic Advisory Board who 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.
Flexible study options
This course can be studied full-time, part-time or via Online Learning, ideal for those in employment or with other commitments, providing flexible study options that fit around work or family.
Those studying by online learning may choose to benefit from a range of intensive classroom based Continual Profession Development (CPD) workshops offered by NExT at locations worldwide and led by Heriot-Watt University academic staff or approved NExT instructors. There is one 5-day instructor-led workshop for each of the eight MSc Petroleum Engineering courses.
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How do I apply?
You can apply via the online application system.
It will tell you which information you'll need to provide, including financial and English language documents.
The Programme Director may arrange to hold a telephone interview with you.
Course contentDetailed course guide
Students on the Petroleum Engineering MSc undertake eight taught courses and two research projects.
The taught courses are:
Students will gain an understanding of the rock and fluid properties of a hydrocarbon reservoir. They will also learn to describe the nature of the fluid flow and pressure distribution in a reservoir as well as develop an understanding of the effects of production/ injection on recovery of reserves.
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.
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.
Students will gain an understanding of the concept of formation evaluation and well logging as well as the physical principles of the tools used in logging. They will also learn to characterise the formation based on interpretation of well logs.
Students will develop an understanding of the role of simulation in reservoir engineering. This provides students with an insight into the value of simulation and the appropriate numerical techniques to enhance hydrocarbon recovery.
This course provides an understanding of the economic concepts involved in project evaluation as well as the value of investments. Students will also learn to evaluate risks associated with economic decisions.
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.
Well test analysis
This course provides an understanding of the fundamentals of well testing to derive reservoir properties and its integration with geology. The first five chapters discuss the classical well test theory (i.e. pressure versus time) whereas the next three chapters present the principles and applications of distributed surveys (i.e. pressure versus depth) for improved reservoir description.
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.
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.
Graduates of our Petroleum Engineering course are much sought after by oil operating and oilfield service companies both in the UK and worldwide. Graduates go on to work for major global oil and gas operating companies, service companies as well as smaller consultancies in petroleum engineering. The course also provides an excellent springboard for graduates wishing to pursue a career in research.
Read our graduate profiles to find out what some of our recent graduates said about their experiences studying Petroleum Engineering at Heriot-Watt.
Masters (MSc) level entry applicants must have one of the following:
- Minimum of 2:2 honours degree or equivalent academic qualification in a related subject area.
- For postgraduate conversion courses, non-related degrees will be considered.
- Corporate (or chartered) membership of relevant professional institutions will also be considered
Candidates who do not meet the above entry requirements or have no formal academic qualifications will be considered individually based on their CV and possibly interview. Admission via this route will be at the discretion of the Director of Recruitment.
Recognition of Prior Learning
Heriot-Watt University is committed to providing opportunities to applicants who have a wide range of prior experiences through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Prior learning at postgraduate level is normally recognised to gain exemption from individual courses within a course based on an existing academic qualification. Note that the prior learning must have been rated at the level of the courses for which RPL is sought, yet credits from an award already held by an applicant can only contribute to a higher award in the same discipline, e.g. from PG Diploma to MSc. If you believe that you qualify for RPL, please contact the Learning & Teaching Support Team via firstname.lastname@example.org, who will guide you through the RPL application procedure.
The school will only consider students' requests for RPL at the time of application for their course of study.
English language requirements
If English is not the applicant’s first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above. Please refer to English language requirements for further details.
Some applicants may be asked for alternative evidence in line with UKVI recognised English speaking countries. Applicants who have previously successfully completed courses delivered in the medium of English language may be considered and will be required to provide documentary evidence of this. Examples would be secondary school education or undergraduate degree. A minimum of at least one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required.
All evidence of English language needs to be dated within two years of the commencement of study.
We also offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your master’s programme:
- 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no more than one skill at 4.5)
- 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum of 5.0 in all skills)
- 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with minimum of 5.5 in reading and writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking and listening)
Applicants will need good mathematical ability to succeed on their programmes. Students should have experience in university level mathematics of the sort commonly encountered on engineering degrees (e.g. a pass, or passes, in previous university level maths-based courses/modules) and be confident in further development of these skills.
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* If you are unsure which category you fall in to, you should complete a fee status enquiry form, which allows us to assess your fees.
Additional fees information
All course costs are covered by the tuition fee. This includes full electronic versions of the course notes, core text books, field trips and any day trips arranged as part of the course.
Students should budget additional funds sufficient to cover living expenses such as accommodation, travel to and from the university, food, clothing and leisure pursuits.
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 taught scholarships.
Additional scholarship information
Many of our past students have gained funding from industry sources, both those companies involved in oil exploration and production in their home countries or larger international companies that offer scholarship courses. For example:
- Nigerian Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF)
- Bolahak, Kazakhstan
- Commonwealth Scholarships
- Chevening scholarships
There are also a number of industrial sponsorships available every year to UK and EU students coming to pursue the degree on-campus in Edinburgh. All eligible UK/EU applicants offered a place to study by 14 May will have their CVs or applications automatically sent to participating petroleum companies, who offer a limited number of sponsorships each year to our students, across all three courses.
The number of sponsorships offered will vary depending on the companies’ needs and situations, and the quality of the student applicants. Successful applicants are usually informed in July. Full details can be found on the University’s Industry Scholarships web page.