Petroleum Geoscience

MSc Petroleum Geoscience
Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 90)
The MSc in Petroleum Geoscience at UCD offers bright and motivated geoscience graduates a vocational training in the broad range of technical fields associated with hydrocarbon exploration and production, as a prelude to a career in the petroleum industry or to further studies at PhD level.

The main aims of the MSc Petroleum Geoscience are to:
- Deliver a comprehensive technical grounding in all aspects of geoscience bearing on the search for, and production of, hydrocarbons, both conventional and unconventional

- Nurture and develop critical reasoning skills using 'problem-based' learning and a wide range of practical exercises using subsurface, outcrop, behind-outcrop and geophysical datasets

- Provide quality vocational training in subsurface and related data acquisition, quality-control, interpretation, data integration and uncertainty

- Demonstrate and give first-hand experience of typical industry workflows including the use of a suite of software packages (basin modelling, seismic interpretation, fault properties and reservoir modelling)

- Develop essential transferrable skills (e.g. effective report writing, project management, team working) and the ability to communicate and work with cognate disciplines (e.g. drillers, petroleum engineers)

This programme provides graduates and junior company staff seeking career advancement with the key knowledge, skills and tools required to be successful geoscientists within the petroleum industry and applied research organisations. We value ambition and passion to be expert problem-solvers through the application of sound geological reasoning, models and quantitative techniques. We provide a learning environment that develops students' ability to solve complex subsurface problems in a creative but pragmatic manner, to present results effectively to management, and to work both individually and in teams within a competitive environment as required in a business context. A strong emphasis is placed on learning and assessment through individual and team-based practical exercises in both the classroom and field. Students work with a wide range of industry datasets and workflows, using state-of-the-art techniques and software. The curriculum facilitates direct engagement with industry personnel via tailored short courses, joint fieldwork and business-style technical pitches.

Demonstrate a broad technical grounding and strong competence in the geoscience aspects underpinning petroleum exploration, appraisal, development and production operations
Show an advanced level of 3D and 4D understanding of the subsurface as well as critical reasoning skills developed through a wide range of practical exercises and a broad field-based curriculum
Manage, QC, analyse and integrate large subsurface seismic and well datasets with an awareness of data limitations and interpretation pitfalls.
Work with limited data and multiple hypotheses, balancing and assessing the merits and implications of competing models and designing work programmes to limit uncertainty.
Use and apply a wide range of current industry software to solve subsurface problems.
Quantify, evaluate and convey risk in exploration decisions.
Design and evaluate reservoir management strategies based on geological and reservoir production data.
Work in mixed ability and multidisciplinary teams and engage in effective dialogue with cognate disciplines (drilling, engineering, environmental).
Appreciate the nature of the upstream petroleum sector, including company structures, exploration and development strategies, and strategic planning.
Understand the wider energy, environmental, regulatory and economic context of developing conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon resources.
Display a high level of professional and ethical integrity particularly in relation to data confidentiality, intellectual property and social licence to operate.
Formulate, drive and execute a piece of independent research addressing an applied petroleum geoscience question.
Operate to industry-standard Health and Safety requirements, particularly with regard to field work in remote areas.
Clearly communicate ideas and results to management, regulatory bodies and to public forums.
Build on an early network of contacts in the petroleum geoscience community.

Entry requirements

• This programme is intended for applicants with a degree in Geology, Geoscience, Earth Science, Geophysics or a cognate discipline. An upper second class honours or international equivalent is required.

• In exceptional circumstances, credit will be given for those with a lower second class honours degree with relevant work experience.

• Applicants whose first language is not English must also demonstrate English language proficiency of IELTS 6.5 (no band less than 6.0 in each element), or equivalent.

Subjects taught

Stage 1 - Core

Structural Geology

Seismic Techniques


Basin Analysis & Modelling

Depositional Systems

Petroleum Systems

Fieldwork 1

Fieldwork 2

Exploration Geology

Production Geology and Field Management

Independent Research Project




1 year full-time

Enrolment dates

Next Intake:2019/2020 September

* Courses will remain open until such time as all places have been filled, therefore early application is advised.

Post Course Info

Career Opportunities
Petroleum products are important for power generation, transport and as a chemical feedstock and are likely to remain so for decades despite emerging new technologies. Geoscience plays a pivotal role in guiding exploration and helping to plan and manage efficient and profitable oil and gas production. It is also essential for understanding and confronting many of the associated risks, safety issues and environmental concerns facing the industry.

Petroleum geoscientists are much in demand and find employment in a wide range of companies, consultancies, regulatory agencies, governmental organisations and academia. A career in petroleum geoscience requires a detailed knowledge of all aspects of the petroleum system from pore- to basin-scale. The petroleum geoscientist works with a wide range of different types of data and needs to be aware of how these are acquired, processed, used and integrated. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to interface effectively with those in cognate disciplines are also key.

The UCD School of Earth Sciences run a one-year Petroleum Geoscience MSc. This taught Masters Course will provide an ideal opportunity to get 'hands-on' experience with subsurface and related data, to acquire the necessary technical knowledge and transferrable skills, and to interact and work closely with fellow students and staff, all within a highly supportive environment. The course will reflect the multi-disciplinary nature of petroleum geoscience, with coursework extending from the geological and geophysical through to reservoir engineering, along with very significant components of fieldwork and practical experience of industry-style work. It is anticipated that the course will act as focal point for industry recruitment, with co-opted industry instructors contributing to some modules, presenting case studies and attending and participating in some of the field courses.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time

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    Course provider