Postgraduate study

GeoEnergy MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: GeoEnergy

GeoEnergy is an emerging field and is of increasing importance globally as the world battles climate change, but relies on a secure supply of low carbon energy. I chose the programme as it focuses on an applied area of geoscience and allows you to apply existing knowledge, gain new knowledge and skills, all while focusing on real world applications. My advice for those studying for an MSc is to make the most of the one year you have!

Christopher McMahon MSc GeoEnergy
Christopher McMahon               MSc GeoEnergy

Your career in a lower carbon future starts here.

The MSc GeoEnergy enables you to pursue a geosciences-related career in the rapidly evolving energy sector, as it transitions from fossil fuels to a net-zero future.

You can contribute to achieving the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, including:

  • Goal 7: "Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy".
  • Goal 13: "Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts".

The programme uses subsurface geological knowledge to open a diverse range of career paths in lower-carbon energy technologies, the disposal of energy-related wastes and the evolving hydrocarbon industry.

You will learn about various ways to reduce CO2 emissions from the energy sector to help meet net-zero targets to tackle climate change. For example, you will learn about methods such as carbon capture and storage along with energy storage technologies that complement renewable energy provision.

We have specifically designed this MSc to explore a wide range of energy topics, giving you opportunities for a varied career path.

What is GeoEnergy?

GeoEnergy encompasses the entire range of energy technologies and sources that interact with the geological subsurface.

This includes both established energy technologies such as hydrocarbons to developing areas such as geothermal energy production and the storage of radioactive waste.

These technologies require either injection, extraction or interaction with fluids from the subsurface, which are subject to fundamental geological controls.

Understanding these controls is essential for responsible and safe utilisation of these energy-related technologies for a low carbon future.

Reputation, relevance and employability

You will benefit from the strength and international reputation of our research groups.

We are one of the largest groups of geoscientists in the UK actively researching a variety of GeoEnergy technologies, including:

  • carbon capture and storage
  • radioactive waste disposal
  • energy storage (including compressed air, heat and hydrogen)
  • geothermal energy
  • sustainable use of water resources
  • supply of critical elements for the energy transition
  • unconventional and conventional hydrocarbons

On our website, you can find out how our work supports global initiatives to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Is the MSc for me?

The rapidly developing GeoEnergy industry offers you challenges and opportunities in meeting the need for reliable low carbon energy. This is urgently needed to meet internationally agreed global decarbonisation targets and the United Nations' sustainable development goals.

This MSc is ideal for those seeking an environmentally responsible career focused on affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy.

It is also suitable for those seeking to retrain from the traditional energy industry to meet the low carbon needs of the future.

What’s it really like to study here?

Visit our blog, where students in the School of GeoSciences share their experiences of postgraduate study, living in Edinburgh and everything in-between.

When to apply

Please note: We may close applications to this programme earlier than the published deadline if there is high demand.

We strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

For dates and details, please refer to 'Application Deadlines' and 'How to apply' on the right panel of this page.

You should also avoid applying to more than one degree. Applicants who can demonstrate their understanding and commitment to a specific programme are preferred.

If you plan to apply to more than one programme, you should discuss your choices with us before you submit your application. Where possible, we may make an alternative programme offer if you have been unsuccessful in your chosen programme.

This MSc programme comprises*:

  • compulsory and option courses
  • dissertation

Courses are delivered by staff who are active researchers in each field. Their expertise is supplemented by selected guest speakers, generally from industry or other research organisations.

Throughout your studies, we will work with you to prepare you for the dissertation project. This will be your opportunity to explore a topic of your choice in relation to the programme and prepare a dissertation that you can use to demonstrate your work to potential employers.

Part-time study

As we are committed to helping people into education while continuing to work or managing family and personal commitments, you may study this programme part-time.

How will I learn?

You will experience a range of learning styles while studying, depending on the subject matter and courses you are taking.

You can view each relevant course for teaching and assessment methods through the ‘Programme Structure’ link under compulsory and option courses below.

Although we endeavour to provide a wide range of optional courses to choose from, these can be subject to change or cancellation at short notice. Places on optional courses can be limited due to course capacity and timetabling constraints. It may not be possible to guarantee every offer holder their top choice of optional courses.

By studying the MSc GeoEnergy, you will:

  • acquire cutting-edge knowledge of GeoEnergy technologies, many of which are essential if ambitious emissions-reduction targets are to be achieved. These are taught by experts in their fields who are regularly publishing on these topics.
  • learn about the critical technical aspects of these technologies, as well as factors that influence acceptance and their use, such as cost, regulation, drawbacks and how the public views the technology.
  • be provided with opportunities to practise talks to convey your knowledge to your classmates. Communicating your knowledge to others is an essential skill. To help you develop these skills, our staff will provide feedback on these talks, and some are formally assessed.
  • gain experience writing reports and designing posters, summarising your knowledge on a subject, and drawing conclusions from a wide range of data types. This will equip you with communication skills that are essential to many career pathways.

The MSc GeoEnergy provides a range of career opportunities in this emerging industry and the ability to work toward a lower-carbon future.

You will be equipped with the advanced knowledge and skills required to use subsurface geological knowledge for future GeoEnergy applications.

This will open a diverse range of career pathways in GeoEnergy technologies and the disposal of energy-related wastes.

Potential employment opportunities may be within:

  • Energy companies
  • Civil engineering companies
  • Environmental regulators
  • Environmental consultants
  • Local or national government agencies
  • National research laboratories
  • Non-governmental organisations

Alternatively, many of our previous students have gone on to further study, including PhD programmes.

Careers Service

Our award-winning Careers Service plays an essential part in your wider student experience at the University, providing:

  • tailored advice
  • individual guidance and personal assistance
  • internships and networking opportunities (with employers from local organisations to top multinationals)
  • access to the experience of our worldwide alumni network

We invest in your future beyond the end of your degree. Studying at the University of Edinburgh will lay the foundations for your future success, whatever shape that takes.

Field trips

The programme includes a geological field excursion which will provide a real-world synthesis of the separate strands of the MSc GeoEnergy.

We aim to visit the world-class geological exposures of the Scottish Highlands, which will provide you with a unique opportunity to interpret analogues of the rocks required for GeoEnergy technologies. You will also gain improved geological field skills, which are highly transferable.

Field course locations may change for a variety of reasons, including the health and safety of our students, staff and communities, and to ensure we can maintain the highest standards for your educational experience. Where suitable, fieldwork will be relocated or rescheduled. We will also look at alternative arrangements that will ensure you achieve the quality learning outcomes of your degree. We will announce any changes as soon as possible.

Local day trips

Scotland is rich in geological diversity. The programme provides several opportunities for day trips that may encompass either local fieldwork or site visits to various locations across southern Scotland.

Previous day trips have included geological localities along the Lothian coast near Edinburgh, including the world-famous Hutton’s Unconformity at Siccar Point.

As part of the programme of events to welcome new students, we also organise a series of visits to local, GeoEnergy-related attractions. These have previously included the National Coalmining Museum and Scottish Oil Shale Museum.

There are no additional charges for field trips.

Specialist software and facilities

We support our dissertation projects by providing access to a wide range of specialist software and analytical equipment.

We also host a variety of world-class experimental facilities which can be used in dissertations by our students.

These include:

  • Experimental equipment for studying how fluids (CO2, H2, water) interact as they flow through rocks.
  • The ‘GREAT-cell’ for studying the flow of fluids through large rock samples (30 cm diameter) under typical subsurface pressure conditions.
  • Micro-CT scanner for imaging fluids within the porespaces of rocks.

You can explore some of these facilities on our website:

These entry requirements are for the 2023/24 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2024/25 academic year will be published on 2 October 2023.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a science or engineering subject. We will also take any relevant professional experience into account.

We may also consider your application if your background is not specifically related to these disciplines provided you have relevant work experience in a related area.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:


If you receive an offer of admission you will need to pay a deposit to secure your place.

  • £1,500 (this contributes towards your tuition fees)

Find out more about tuition fee deposits:

Field trips and field courses

We do not charge extra fees for compulsory field trips or field courses. The programme fees will cover costs of travel, accommodation and subsistence on compulsory field trips. However, you must pay for incidental or personal expenses.

Living costs

You will be responsible for covering living costs for the duration of your studies.

Tuition fees

Featured funding

School of GeoSciences scholarships

Scholarships and student funding

You can find funding opportunities, tuition fees and costs of living for prospective UK and international postgraduate students on the University website.

You are also encouraged to undertake your own research into the range of potential scholarships and other funding outside the University for which you may be eligible.

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Room 332, Grant Institute
  • School of Geosciences
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FE

We aim to review applications and make selection decisions throughout the cycle.

You can apply up until the final selection deadline listed. However, if there is high demand, we may close applications to this programme earlier than the published deadline.

We strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

This is particularly important for applicants who may need sufficient time to take an English language test or to obtain other supporting documents.

The final deadline may be extended if any places remain on the programme.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Room 332, Grant Institute
  • School of Geosciences
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3FE