Petroleum Engineering MSc

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  • Academic title
    Petroleum Engineering MSc
  • Course description


    The MSc in Petroleum Engineering is a programme of lectures and project work, encompassing a wide range of petroleum engineering fundamentals, pertinent to the modern petroleum 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 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 he or she will be recruited.


    For those already employed in the oil industry, it may be possible to study on a part-time basis, including a Distance Learning version of the MSc PE degree.  Please contact us for further information.


    This provides greater convenience and flexibility for students who prefer to remain in employment.  Examinations are similar to those taken by residential students.  The only significant difference is the design project, which is configued as an individual assignment for distance learning candidates.


    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.


    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 over the years.

    The petroleum industry is subject to dramatic changes of fortune over time, with the oil price capable of very rapid rates of change in either direction.  Petroleum, however, remains the dominant source of energy, with current world production of oil and gas at record rates.  In a low price environment, companies face increasing technological and commercial challenges to keep their wells flowing and are increasingly dependent on input from petroleum engineers and geoscientists.  It is widely recognised that a steady influx of fresh people and ideas is vital for the longer term success and stability of an organisation, and it is therefore expected that recruitment will continue, especially for those with motivation and the appropriate qualifications.


        * Drilling Engineering
        * Petroleum Geoscience
        * Production Technology
        * Project Economics
        * Formation Evaluation
        * Reservoir Engineering
        * Reservoir Simulation


    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.


    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.


    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.


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


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


    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.


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


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


    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.

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