MSc in Petroleum Engineering


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description


The MSc in Petroleum Engineering at Heriot-Watt University is a programme of lectures and project work that encompasses a wide range of petroleum engineering fundamentals pertinent to the modern petroleum industry.

The programme allows students to study specific courses as well as undertake a field development project (with other students) and an individual research project. 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 they will be recruited.

The programme has the principal objectives of providing specialist, high-quality learning and teaching, along with a range of transferable skills, research awareness and improved employability.

January entrants

Students starting the MSc Petroleum Engineering in January should note that the part-time option runs for 4 semesters (24 months) + projects (May to August, 4 months) (total duration of 32 months).

Course content

Semester 1

  • Petroleum Geoscience
  • Reservoir Engineering
  • Formation Evaluation
  • Drilling Engineering

Petroleum Geoscience
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.

Reservoir Engineering
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.

Formation Evaluation
Involves the measurement and interpretation of rock properties, such as porosity and resistivity, by means of wellbore instruments.

Drilling Engineering
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.

Semester 2

  • Well Test Analysis
  • Production Technology
  • Petroleum Economics
  • Reservoir Simulation

Production Technology
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.

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

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

Semester 3

  • Group Design Project
  • Individual Project

Group Design Project
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 a group presentation.

Individual project
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.


Our programmes are recognised by graduate-recruiting businesses around the world, and many of our graduates are employed at the most senior technical and management levels in international oil and gas companies.

English language requirements

Where English was not the medium of instruction during previous education, applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency equivalent to IELTS 6.5.

Application deadline

Our Dubai Campus operates a rolling year-round admissions process: as soon as one intake has closed we begin accepting applications for the next one. It is also possible for you to defer your start date for up to a year.

Most students apply 6–10 months in advance of their chosen intake. We can accept applications up until 3 weeks before the start of each intake but you should note that a late application will almost certainly mean a delay in the provision of essential administrative services, such as your student matriculation card (without which you won't be able to access the library or online services).

Last updated Sep 2019

About the School

Pioneering British education in Dubai, with highly acclaimed degree programmes that meet the specific demands of local business and industry.

Pioneering British education in Dubai, with highly acclaimed degree programmes that meet the specific demands of local business and industry. Read less
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