MSc Subsurface Energy Engineering / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course description

Dispersion of a solute under water and fluorinert conditions
Dispersion of a solute under water and fluorinert conditions

The Subsurface Energy Engineering Masters Programme offers a fascinating integrated taught and research curriculum in the context of energy and utilisation of subsurface systems to achieve cleaner and more sustainable energy.  

Research studies show that global demand for energy will increase 25% by 2050. To meet this demand while addressing the global warming challenge by moving towards cleaner energy, multi-dimensional societal, engineering-focused, managerial, and political efforts are needed. It is expected that two thirds of the global energy to be covered by renewable sources by 2050. However, the transition from fossil fuels to the renewable energy requires an integrated sustainable utilisation of existing energy sources including conventional fossil fuels and development of new technologies for decarbonisation and clean energy.

Geosystems in this context play a critical role as they not only offer sources of fossil fuels (oil and gas) but also renewable energy (e.g., geothermal energy) and capacity for decarbonisation (geological CO2 sequestration). The MSc Subsurface Energy Engineering - jointly developed in collaboration with the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences - will give a unique opportunity to students - with a prior qualification in engineering -  to learn engineering and modelling skills required such as  subsurface characterisation, rock and fluid physics, multiphase flow and transport in subsurface system, reservoir modelling and simulations, and reservoir fluid thermodynamics.  Students will acquire a deep and systematic conceptual understanding and practical engineering skills needed for diverse industry applications such as reservoir engineering, geothermal engineering and carbon sequestration. Additionally, the programme offers unique opportunities to talented students to work with the industry during the MSc research.

Manchester Engineering Campus Development (MECD), the University of Manchester's new £400m purpose built home for engineering and material science, is nearing completion. The physical move to the new development is scheduled to take place between January 2022 and December 2022. Whilst it is anticipated that access to equipment, or work on projects for which such access is required may be limited during the period of the move, plans are underway to ensure that any disruption caused is minimised, a wide selection of dissertation projects will continue to be available, and excellent student experience remains pivotal. If you have any questions about how the move may affect you, please contact .

Course unit details

This programme is subject to approval. The following course units are expected to form the content of the programme but may be subject to change.

Communication Skills and Project Preparation 1 & 2 (15 Credits): The course aims to equip students with the skills to communicate scientific information, knowledge and ideas to expert and non-expert audiences. Two field trips build on the concepts taught throughout the MSc program. Assessment of each trip focuses on field skills, using a series of exercises to develop these core skills.

Fundamentals of Applied Subsurface Geoscience (15 Credits): The course covers the business drivers to gather and interpret geological data for a range of applications. We describe the fundamentals of the subsurface environment; temperature and pressure, and key geological properties that are important in evaluating subsurface reservoirs.

Key Interpretation Skills: Formation Evaluation (15 credits): Geophysical and borehole data are the only data sources to describe the subsurface structure, its properties, and to reduce uncertainty in the subsurface. Data are typically used as input for modelling of the subsurface. This unit delivers an integrated overview of the acquisition, processing and interpretation of subsurface geophysical and petrophysical data with application to a range of subsurface problems.

Subsurface Physical -Chemical Transport Processes (15 credits): This unit will enable students to analyse and evaluate the fundamental physical and chemical processes in subsurface systems for oil and gas industry, geothermal energy recovery, geological carbon storage. Topics that will be covered within this unit include porosity, permeability, typical reservoir rocks (sandstone, carbonate), well testing and reservoir size estimation and reactive transport for carbon storage process and geothermal energy recovery.

Fundamentals of Numerical Modelling and Simulation (15 credits): This unit will enable students to analyse and evaluate the fundamental physical and chemical processes in subsurface systems for oil and gas industry, geothermal energy recovery, geological carbon storage. It will also provide training for writing the mathematical models required to solve a subsurface engineering and identifying and evaluating the proper boundary and initial condition applicable to a subsurface case study.

Properties of Subsurface Fluids (15 credits): The unit covers the properties of subsurface fluid systems, water and chemicals. We provide the theoretical and empirical bases in characterising the subsurface fluids, water and chemicals behaviour. We introduce key properties of water and chemicals used for geothermal heat extraction and enhanced oil recovery processes.

Subsurface Mechanics and Geoengineering (15 credits): All subsurface activities, from mining and drilling to construction, destabilize and deform the existing subsurface structure. The theories of stress, infinitesimal strain and elasticity, and the strength and modes of failure of rocks are topics that must be understood by the practising subsurface engineer.

Advanced Subsurface Modelling (15 credits): The unit covers topics related to numerical modelling of flow in subsurface porous systems including IMPES vs. fully implicit schemes, two-point flux approximation vs. multipoint flux approximation, and numerical simulation of 1D/2D single, two- and multiphase immiscible flow (e.g., oil/water, oil/surfactant solutions and oil/polymeric solutions).

Dissertation (60 credits)

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
MSc Dissertation CHEN61000 60 Mandatory


Jointly-developed with the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, this programme provides a unique opportunity to access combined expertise and facilities.

These include:

Imaging facility for high-resolution visualization of geographical materials.

Core flooding and microfluidic laboratories.

Industry standard petrophysics laboratory.

Rock deformation laboratory.

Access to industry software (Eclipse Matlab, Avizo, etc.)

Disability support

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