Study abroad in Edinburgh

Course finder

Semester 1

Petroleum Systems (EASC10108)


Earth Science





Normal Year Taken


Delivery Session Year



Course Summary

Hydrocarbon resources fuel the entire Western-World lifestyle, yet the easily located resources are rapidly depleting, those remaining are in settings that are complex and difficult to access. Prospecting requires a high degree of understanding of both geological and geophysical aspects of basin exploration, and particularly the interplay between these two disciplines. Hydrocarbon exploration provides many intellectual challenges, Interpreting the subsurface, based in limited (and very expensive) data to optimise resource recovery requires a deep understanding of geology and geophysics, with prediction into data-poor areas a key skill. The subject is inter-disciplinary, involving both geology and geophysics.The course utilises a variety of teaching methods:- Lectures and practical classes cover the petroleum system and the application of geophysical techniques to exploration and other subsurface problems- Interpretation of seismic reflection profiles of a sedimentary succession at the basin margin near Helmsdale using state-of-the-art digital software, and seismic data kindly donated by Schlumberger. Please note that we aim to reinstate the residential field trip to Helmsdale in September 2021 if Covid-19 restrictions permit. Should this not be possible, we will revert to a backup option.

Course Description

Syllabus (MW = Mark Wilkinson, MC = Mark Chapman)- Conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon resources- Origin of Oil and Gas- Petroleum Geochemistry- Source rocks- Maturation and migration- Plays, traps and field volumes- Drilling and wireline logs- Introduction to Northern and Southern Sea petroleum geology- Introduction to digital seismic interpretation- Introduction to digital basin modellingCourse summary by week:W1:Session 1 Lecture 1: Introduction to course; petroleum systems; unconventional hydrocarbon resources (MW)Session 2 Lecture: Introduction to seismic reflection interpretation 1 (MC)W2:Session 1Lecture: Introduction to the geological evolution of the Inner Moray Firth, as background for the seismic interpretation exercise (MW)Session 2 Lecture: Introduction to seismic reflection interpretation 2 (MC)Online test: Geological evolution of the Inner Moray FirthOnline discussion: Geological evolution of the Inner Moray FirthW3:Session 1Lecture: Origin of oil and gas; source rocks (MW) Practical: UK Hydrocarbon resources (MW)Session 2 Lecture: Introduction to seismic reflection interpretation 3 (MC)W4:Session 1 Lecture: Maturation of source rocks; geochemical compositions of crude oils (MW)Practical: Calculation of burial and maturation using PetroMod basin modelling software (MW) Session 2 Practical: Digital Seismic Interpretation (MC)W5:Session 1Lecture: Migration from the source rock; migration to the trap; sealing of trap; fluid pressure in the subsurface. (MW)Practical: Estimating the reserves of an oilfield (MW)Session 2 Practical: Digital Seismic Interpretation (MC)W6:Session 1Lecture: Petroleum systems, plays, traps and fluids (MW)Practical: Moderated discussion of future sources of energy (MW)Session 2 Practical: Digital Seismic Interpretation (MC)W7:Session 1Lecture: Drilling and wireline logs (MW)Practical: Wireline log interpretation (MW)Session 2 Practical: Digital Seismic Interpretation (MC)W8:Session 1Lecture: Introduction to Southern North Sea plays (MW)Practical: Core logging JCMB Room 6307 for practical note that this exercise will only take place if approval can be gained from the School's safety officer.Session 2 Practical: Digital Seismic Interpretation (MC)W9:Session 1Lecture: Introduction to Northern North Sea plays (MW)Practical: Digital seismic interpretation: Southern North Sea (MW). Session 2 Practical: Digital Seismic Interpretation (MC)W10:Session 1Lecture: Using the subsurface including Carbon Capture and Storage (MW)Practical: Geological Carbon Storage (MW)Session 2 Practical: Digital Seismic Interpretation (MC)

Assessment Information

Written Exam 50%, Coursework 50%, Practical Exam 0%

Additional Assessment Information

Written Exam 50%Coursework 50%Assessment will consist of:Coursework, set in Week 5, consisting of 2 essays from 4 available, to cover a reasonable range of the course material. 1 week will be allowed for the assessment. Defined word limit per essay and expectation of modest extra reading (2 - 4 references per essay). The questions will be of similar style to the exam ones, to give students experience of the format and feedback on progress. (50%)Exam, 1 hour 30 minutes duration. 2 long-answer questions chosen from 4 options; 1 or more of the questions may have multiple sub-questions. There is no practical element to the exam e.g. no accurate plotting of graph, calculation or use of computers. No length limit. (50 %) NOTE: The exam will have questions based upon some or all of the following parts of the course: - The practical classes - The lectures - The seismic interpretation exercise (but will not include knowledge of how the Petrel software works)Assessment deadlines: Coursework essays: Friday week 6 semester 1Moderation: In this course, all assessments will be moderated via Sampled Second Marking. This is a process whereby an academic member of staff, different from the marker, looks at a samples of the work to ensure consistency of marking. Where multiple markers mark the same assessment moderation also verifies that all markers are marking to the same standard. The moderator is not double marking and cannot change individual marks. They can only make recommendations to adjust marks.

view the timetable and further details for this course


All course information obtained from this visiting student course finder should be regarded as provisional. We cannot guarantee that places will be available for any particular course. For more information, please see the visiting student disclaimer:

Visiting student disclaimer