MSc Petroleum Geoscience for Reservoir Development and Production / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course description

Dr Rufus Brunt explaining the details of sedimentological processes at an outcrop on  Staithes field
Dr Rufus Brunt explaining the details of sedimentological processes at an outcrop on Staithes fieldtrip

The Petroleum Geoscience for Reservoir Development and Production MSc at Manchester is taught over one calendar year by leading researchers in the field.

Development geologists are focussed on how to maximise recovery from oil and gas fields, to deliver the most sustainable and environmentally-efficient extraction of those resources by extending the life of existing fields. This course aims to meet ongoing industry need for skilled personnel by training graduates that specialise in appraisal, development or production geoscience and the fundamentals of reservoir engineering. 

As part of the course you will be trained in seismic interpretation, which leads into modelling of the reservoir, fluid flow, and the impact of recovery mechanisms and dynamic displacement. 

The knowledge and techniques taught at Manchester are also directly applicable to developing subsurface technologies in geothermal energy, carbon capture and storage and network gas storage. 

We have close links with industry, including major energy companies that provide additional input into our courses, deliver some of the content, and are instrumental in providing cutting-edge datasets for investigation as part of the MSc projects. 

Petroleum Geoscience for Reservoir Development and Production is ideal if you wish to pursue a career in the energy industry working in appraisal and development of hydrocarbon fields. It will provide you with the skills to communicate with exploration geologists and production engineers. 

The skills and knowledge you develop will also provide a solid basis for a postgraduate research in the fields of sedimentology or basin research.


  • You will develop knowledge of the tools and techniques used to explore for hydrocarbons and extract them in an efficient and sustainable manner.
  • You will develop critical awareness of ongoing changes within the energy industry, in particular academic and applied advances in exploration, development and production technologies, energy transition and carbon mitigation and sequestration .
  • We will teach you the skills to evaluate subsurface geological systems in order to assess value and recovery potential of resources, or as potential repositories for geothermal fluids and for storage of CO2 or other gases.
  • You will learn how to effectively communicate scientific ideas to specialist and non-specialist audiences, through written and spoken presentations.

Special features

Staithes, Yorkshire, one of the localities on our North England field course to examine the analogue
Staithes, Yorkshire, one of the localities on our North England field course to examine the analogue for the North sea petroleum system


Fieldwork on Manchester's Petroleum Geoscience program is provided at no extra course. In addition, you will be provided with a fieldwork package worth £250, including boots, coat, rucksack and measuring equipment.

A key element of the course is fieldwork, which aims to synthesise and reinforce material taught in lectures and practical classes. They provide the opportunity to learn relevant field techniques, and to compare field analogues with core, wireline logs and seismic sections.

Over the duration of the course several trips are conducted:

  • One-day field trip to classic localities at Mam Tor, Derbyshire, UK.
  • Five days on the North Yorkshire coast, UK, to investigate source, seal and reservoir elements.
  • One-day excursion to gain experience of core analysis at the BGS core store, Keyworth.
You will experience a seven-day overseas field trip at the end of the taught part of the course. This is currently to the Spanish Island of Mallorca. It provides an opportunity to study both clastics and carbonate reservoirs, comparable to working petroleum systems in North Africa and the Mediterranean. This region is noted specifically for superb outcrops of the Miocene carbonates, where the depositional processes, environments and diagenesis can be observed. The trip provides insight into the distribution of carbonate facies and reservoir in a sequence stratigraphic context.

Additional course information

Our student community

Postgraduate students from Manchester's Basins, stratigraphy and sedimentary processes research Group run award-winning AAPG and EAGE student chapters .

These groups regularly invite industry personnel to deliver talks on careers, academic projects and exploration / production activities. As well as insight into energy industry activities, these events providing valuable networking opportunities for Petroleum Geoscience students.

Teaching and learning

Taught postgraduate students have around 20 hours contact time a week, and you are expected to spend around 30 hours in private study. Your week will be made up of:
  • Lectures
  • Online materials
  • Laboratory classes
  • Staff-led and peer-led group work
  • Individual research projects
  • Computer-based tuition - you will be trained in software used to process and analyse digital subsurface data using our industry-specification dedicated computer workstation cluster
  • Workshops

Coursework and assessment

  • Assessment is through various methods. Traditional examinations take place in January and May each year, while the majority is through in-course assessment of coursework, practical and project work.
  • One-third of the program is composed of the Independent Research Project, with assessment based on a written thesis and a presentation made at the end-of-year MSc conference.

Course unit details

Program structure

Semester 1 is taught jointly between the programs' Petroleum Geoscience for Reservoir Development and Production' and 'Petroleum Geoscience for Exploration'. Teaching builds a foundation of knowledge in petroleum geoscience. The core subjects cover the fundamentals of petroleum geoscience, such as reservoir geology, geophysics fundamentals, petrophysics, operations geology, fundamentals of exploration and production geoscience and geochemistry.

Semester 2 is focussed on Development and Production. Both programs share integrated subsurface description, then you will learn the fundamentals of reservoir engineering and the life cycle of hydrocarbon fields before applying your skills to the Development Group Project.

MSc Independent Project

You will spend the final 12 weeks of the program on the MSc Independent Projects. These are challenging, but rewarding, and involve the collection, analysis and integration of a dataset linked with Petroleum Geoscience. To achieve best results, projects are matched to student interests and may involve single datasets or combinations of seismic, fieldwork, wireline log, well core, thin sections, petrophysical data, etc.

Projects are written up as a short thesis. You will also present your project findings at the MSc conference in front of an invited audience. Some project work produced for Manchester's MSc has proved to be of sufficient quality to be accepted for publication as journal articles. Recent examples include:

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Reservoir Engineering Fundamentals EART60012 15 Mandatory
Development Group Project EART60112 15 Mandatory
Integrated Subsurface Description EART60152 15 Mandatory
Independent Research Project EART60172 60 Mandatory
Communication Skills and Fieldwork EART60230 15 Mandatory
Field Depletion Planning EART60282 15 Mandatory
Key Interpretation Skills EART60381 15 Mandatory
Play Fairway Analysis EART60391 15 Mandatory
Fundamentals of Applied Subsurface Geoscience EART61031 15 Mandatory

Scholarships and bursaries

We offer a number of postgraduate taught scholarships and awards to outstanding UK and international students each year.

If you're a current or recent student at The University of Manchester and plan to start a master's course in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, you may be eligible for our Manchester Alumni Scholarship Schemes .

The University of Manchester is committed to widening participation in master's study, and allocates £300,000 in funding each year. Our Manchester Masters Bursaries are aimed at widening access to master's courses by removing barriers to postgraduate education for students from underrepresented groups.

For more information, see the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences  Fees and funding  page or visit the University of Manchester funding for masters courses website for more information


Computing facilities 

The program uses a high-specification workstation cluster, and we are a Schlumberger centre of excellence - providing access to software such as Petrel, PetroMod and Eclipse. Additionally, access to other leading software can be provided, including Kingdom Suite, GeoTeric and Paleoscan. 

Research facilities 

MSc research projects have access to analytical facilities within The University of Manchester, including SEM and optical microscopes, XRF, XRD, and more.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: