Petroleum engineering is central to safe, efficient and sustainable development of oil and gas assets to meet global energy and resource demands.
Since its establishment in 1975, the Institute of GeoEnergy Engineering (IGE) at Heriot-Watt University has delivered its internationally renowned petroleum engineering MSc programme, providing thousands of graduates with the knowledge and skills to tackle the oil and gas industry’s most challenging problems across the globe. The programme offers an interdisciplinary approach to exploration and extraction of petroleum resources.
The programme encompasses a wide range of applied petroleum engineering fundamentals, leading to development of a technically well-prepared graduate with a sound knowledge of the industry – through eight taught courses and two projects. During the field development project, students work together on real field data, considering the technical, economic and environmental aspects involved. For the individual research project, students select a specialist topic, for example related to geosciences, enhanced oil recovery, production chemistry or advanced drilling and completions, offered both by the Institute and by the industry.
The large student population is a multi-cultural mix of numerate science and engineering graduates, some from industry, some straight from their first degrees, coming from well over 100 countries. This blend provides the opportunity to discuss, reflect and consider more than just the academic side of learning, thus promoting a range of transferable skills.
Students will benefit from the excellent links with industry and research activities by staff at the Institute of GeoEnergy Engineering. The extensive alumni network supports the programme by offering professional talks, workshops and recruitment events, highlighting the relevance of this education to the oil and gas industry.
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 programme ensuring content is up to date and relevant to current industry needs.
Many of our international students are sponsored by major oil companies. There are a number of industry-based sponsorship opportunities for Edinburgh-based students primarily from the UK or EU countries. For more details, see the fees and funding section below.
Flexible study options
The programme is offered at the Edinburgh, Dubai and Malaysia campuses, in several approved learning partner centres and online. The programme can be studied full-time, part-time (Dubai and Malaysia) or via the flexible study mode of Heriot-Watt Online, ideal for those in employment or with other commitments.
|Mode of study||Duration|
|Part-time (Dubai and Malaysia)||2 years|
|Heriot-Watt Online||8 years|
How do I apply?
You can apply via the online application system.
It will tell you which information you will need to provide, including financial and English language documents.
Students on the Petroleum Engineering MSc undertake eight taught courses and two projects.
Behaviour of reservoir rocks, fluid properties, reserve estimation, fluid flow through porous rocks and drive mechanisms.
Introduction to geoscience in order to understand the terminology used by geoscientists, to use geoscience data to calculate the volume of hydrocarbons in the subsurface.
Fundamental concepts and techniques used in drilling engineering, design requirements of well planning and construction, optimise the design of a drilling program.
Petrophysical analysis of wireline log data, different tools and their uses, interpretation of logs and reservoir zonation.
Predicting reservoir dynamic behaviour: theoretical, numerical and practical flow simulation for history matching and forecasting.
Economic concepts involved in project evaluation; asset value, risk management, making informed decisions and screening and ranking of projects.
Well completions and servicing; artificial lift; perforating; formation damage; reservoir stimulation; sand control; surface facilities.
Well test analysis
Fundamentals and applications of pressure versus time and pressure versus depth for improved reservoir description and management.
Field development project
Integration of all taught elements of the programme in determining a development strategy or plan based on real field data.
Independent research project on a topic (related to petroleum engineering) of the students choice.
Graduates of the Petroleum Engineering programme 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 programme 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
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 Admissions Team (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 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.
- Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.
- Overseas includes applications from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in the UK. Read more about the application process for EU nationals.
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 scholarships.
Additional scholarship information
Many of our previous (mainly overseas) students have secured funding from industry sources; companies involved in oil exploration and production in their home countries or larger international companies that offer scholarship courses.
There are also a number of industrial sponsorships offered by international oil companies to our UK and EU students coming to pursue the degree on-campus in Edinburgh. These scholarships vary in nature as some cover tuition and or living expenses and some also offer summer work placement to do their individual projects. Examples of these companies are:
All eligible UK/EU applicants offered a place to study by 1 May will be asked if they would like to have their CVs and other application documents to be sent to participating petroleum companies.
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.