MSc Geoscience for Sustainable Energy / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

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Course unit details:
Independent Research Project

Unit code EART60172
Credit rating 60
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The independent project is intended to demonstrate that the student can apply the technical and communication skills learnt in the taught part of the MSc/Diploma course to an independent piece of research that is relevant to either hydrocarbon exploration or production. The work is presented in the form of a poster, written dissertation and a conference style oral presentation.

This course unit detail provides the framework for delivery in 20/21 and may be subject to change due to any additional Covid-19 impact.  Please see Blackboard / course unit related emails for any further updates.


This unit forms an independent, but supervised research project based around a petroleum geoscience theme. Students are encouraged to design their ideal research topic with staff, or alternatively be assigned a project in their area of interest.

A typical project may involve field work, petrophysical samples or workstation based analysis of 3D and /or 2D seismic and associated well/ production data. Students may use University of Manchester research facilities to gather and analyse data. In the past, projects have made use of SEM/ QEMSCAM, XRD, X-ray computed tomography (CT) and traditional microscopy, UAV (drone) imagery, petrophysical and other laboratory facilities.


Learning outcomes

On the successful completion of the course, students will be able to: 

  • Conceptualise and design a research project within the context of Petroleum Geoscience that applies, and builds on skills learnt in the taught part of the MSc/ Diploma.
  • Demonstrate skills in project and time management
  • Implement skills in research methodology, particularly the integration and critical analysis of data
  • Compose a scientific argument, discriminating between evidence and interpretation of data
  • Generate a well written technical report and poster presentation
  • Construct and present an oral summary of their research project

Teaching and learning methods

This unit takes place over approximately 12 weeks from the end of May.  During this time the student will organise and direct their independent research project with the help of a University of Manchester supervisor. Research data is typically sourced from subsurface studies, reports, field work, the literature, or directly from an energy or geophysical company; the final report can be kept confidential if required.

The content of the dissertation will be agreed with the supervisor and also, if applicable, with an industrial sponsor. A formative assessment of the introductory section and regular supervision discussions aim to ensure that the project work is progressing on track.


Assessment methods

Dissertation draft (0%)

Presentation (individual poster) (10%)

DIssertation, 10,000 words (75%)

Oral (individual), 12 mins +3 for questions (15%)


Feedback methods

Dissertation draft - Formative assessment on introduction, aims/objectives and intended report structure. Feedback provided in individual meeting, or as a marked-up script

Presentation (individual poster) - During the poster creation process

DIssertation, 10,000 words - N/A

Oral (individual), 12 mins +3 for questions - N/A

Recommended reading

Project specific

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Project supervision 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 594

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Rufus Brunt Unit coordinator

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