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Petroleum Geophysics at Imperial College

Imperial College London offers a postgraduate course in Petroleum Geophysics. The aim of the course is to impart high standard education in the field of Geophysics. The duration of this MSc course is one year, full-time, which covers the principles and use of geophysical methods in the hydrocarbon industry.

The course in Petroleum Geophysics is designed for graduates seeking careers in the petroleum and associated service industries and also for graduates with some industrial experience. Distinctively, the course encompasses various aspects of petroleum engineering and has a strong focus on production-related aspects of geophysics. The course emphasizes present industry practice and encompasses commercial software and technology packages and lectures from prominent industry experts. The course comprises a substantial amount of fieldwork and projects. It aims at developing transferable skills in addition to technical proficiency. The course commences in early October.

Eligibility Criteria

The least entrance requirement is an upper second class Honours degree in either an engineering or physical science from a UK university or any equivalent. professionals with diverse educational background but related industrial experience are also encouraged to apply.

Course Structure

Core Modules

  • Petroleum engineering
  • Petroleum geology
  • Geostatistics
  • Formation evaluation and petrophysics
  • Rock physics
  • Signal processing and inverse theory
  • Seismic techniques
  • Near-surface and non-seismic geophysical methods
  • Advanced seismic data processing and imaging
  • Advanced seismic data acquisition
  • Reservoir characterization
  • Seismic interpretation
  • Petroleum economics
  • Quantitative seismic analysis


  • Dorset, UK: integrated analysis of petroleum systems; characterization of outcrop analogues for subsurface reservoirs
  • Colorado, USA: joint geophysical field camp with Boise State University and Colorado School of Mines

Group Project I

Students from the Petroleum Engineering and the Petroleum Geosciences Msc courses jointly undertake a major multidisciplinary exercise. The college has a team consisting of students from all three courses. This team uses the latest industry software to undertake the reservoir characterization and development planning of a hydrocarbon field from the UK continental shelf. The project lays emphasis upon the activities of an integrated oil company.

Group Projects II

This project focuses upon the seismic data analysis and processing of a wide range of examples datasets. Students shall learn present practices in interpretation and processing using industry-shared methods and software.

Independent Project

Students shall undertake an individual project during the June to September. Some of the projects comprise a placement in oil companies, offering opportunities to obtain insights into current industry practices.

Career Opportunities

Currently, there is a worldwide shortage of geophysicists. Graduate students from the Petroleum Geophysics course may expect to be employed by oil companies and service contactors. They may be involved in the acquisition, interpretation and processing of seismic and other geophysical data. Upon complete this course, students get into diverse fields such as working with organizations which provide IT services to the oil industry. They may get into petroleum service divisions of financial institutions as well as research for a higher degree.

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