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 in GeoEnergy enables you to pursue a geosciences-related career in the future energy sector, as it transitions from fossil fuels to enable a low carbon economy.

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

You will learn about a variety of ways to reduce CO2 emissions from the energy sector to help in countering climate change, such as carbon capture and storage as well as energy storage technologies that compliment renewable energy provision.

GeoEnergy encompasses a range of energy technologies and sources that interact with the geological subsurface. This includes both established energy technologies including oil and gas extraction and unconventional production of fossil fuels, through to developing areas such as the production of geothermal energy and the storage of carbon dioxide, natural gas or 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.

The MSc has been designed specifically to explore a wider range of energy topics, giving you opportunities for a more varied career path.

You will benefit from the strength and reputation of our research groups. We are one of the largest groups of geoscientists in the UK, examining uses of the Earth’s subsurface such as:

  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Radioactive waste disposal
  • Energy storage (including compressed air, heat & hydrogen) and extraction
  • Unconventional and conventional hydrocarbons
  • Wet and dry geothermal heat
  • Subsurface fluid tracing using stable isotopes and noble gases

The oil industry can offer interesting and exciting careers for those who choose to follow a career within it. The developing geoenergy industry can offer similar challenges and opportunities, meeting the challenge of providing reliable low carbon energy that will be needed to meet the internationally agreed global decarbonisation targets.

Would you like to know what it’s really like to study at the School of GeoSciences?

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


We are committed to offering a high-quality education to all our students. Please be advised that there may be changes to course options and delivery due to COVID-19.

Changes to how we deliver teaching and learning experiences will be made to safeguard the health and safety of our students, staff and community, and to ensure we can maintain the highest standards for educational experience**.


This MSc programme comprises:

  • Compulsory and option courses
  • Dissertation

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 restricted on the basis of numbers, room capacity and timetabling constraints. It may not be possible to guarantee every offer holder their top choice of optional courses*.

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

Courses can be delivered through a mix of lectures, tutorials, seminars, workshops, practicals, laboratory work, short field trips and longer field courses. Please view each relevant course for teaching and assessment methods.

For more practical projects, the School of GeoSciences has a wide range of analytical equipment available for use. Please view in our Field Trips and Facilities section below.

Part-time study

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

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative. Please also be advised in the 19/20 academic year, the MSc GeoEnergy was named MSc Applied GeoScience (GeoEnergy).

Programme title Mode Course info
MSc Applied Geoscience (Geoenergy) 1 year (full-time) Programme structure 2019/20
MSc Applied Geoscience (Geoenergy) 2 year (part-time) Programme structure 2019/20
MSc Applied Geoscience (Geoenergy) 3 year (part-time) Programme structure 2019/20

*(Revised 11 December 2019 to include information on optional courses.) **(Revised 1 June 2020 to remove specific number of compulsory and option courses required and to add COVID-19 information.)

You will have a wide range of career opportunities in this emerging industry, and the ability to work toward a greener future.

This MSc will equip you with the advanced knowledge and skill 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. These may include carbon capture and storage, radioactive water disposal, geothermal energy and subsurface energy storage including compressed air energy and hydrogen storage.

Other pathways may include the monitoring of environmental and regulatory aspects of geoenergy and the prevention of pollution to ground water resources through the tracking of subsurface fluids.

COVID-19 and field trips

Fieldwork on the UK mainland for the academic year 2020-21 may be changed as the COVID-19 situation unfolds. The School of GeoSciences will follow advice from the University and the Scottish and UK Governments, as the situation develops over the next 12-18 months.

Where suitable, fieldwork will be relocated or rescheduled. We will also look at alternative arrangements such as digital experiences that will ensure you achieve the quality learning outcomes of your degree wherever you are based**.

Field trips

The 2020/21 programme may include a residential field excursion to the world-renown Scottish Highlands*.

The geological field excursion will provide a real-world synthesis of the separate strands of the MSc GeoEnergy:

  • hydrogeology (sedimentary aquifers);
  • nuclear waste disposal in both hard and soft rocks;
  • carbon capture and storage;
  • unconventional and conventional hydrocarbon production;
  • subsurface reservoir quality.

Visiting the world-class geological exposures of the Scottish Highlands will provide students with a unique opportunity to interpret analogues of the rocks required for GeoEnergy technologies and will gain improved geological field skills, which are highly transferable.

Local trips

Scotland is rich in geological diversity. The programme provides a number of opportunities for day trips that may encompass either local field work or site visits to a range of 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.

Please note: Field course locations may change for a variety of reasons. Any changes to the main destination of the field course will be announced as soon as possible. There are no additional fees for compulsory field trips and excursions.

Specialist software and facilities in the School of GeoSciences

Dissertation projects require a wide range of facilities. Some need little more than access to the University Library or a computer. However, we also have a range of specialist software that can be used by students.

For more practical projects, the School of GeoSciences has a wide variety of analytical equipment that is available for use during the dissertation phase of the Msc.

An example of specialist software includes:

  • Petrel: industry-standard seismic interpretation - kindly donated by Schlumberger.

  • PetroMod: basin-modelling - kindly donated by Schlumberger.

  • Permedia Suite: fluid flow modelling - kindly donated by Haliburton.

  • Move: subsurface data integration, cross-section construction and 3D model building - kindly donated by Midland Valley.

  • RokDoc: rock physics modelling from wireline log and pressure data - kindly donated by Ikon Science.

  • OpenGeoSys: an academic code for simulation of thermo-hydro-mechanical-chemical (THMC) processes in porous and fractured media

  • Eclipse: industry-standard subsurface fluid flow modelling - kindly donated by Schlumberger.

Some of our analytical equipment that is available for use include:

  • Thin-sections and microscopes (transmission; reflection; UV; cathodo-luminescence; fluid inclusion) for petrography – a core technique for many rock-based projects.
  • Scanning Electron Microscope: we have a a new Carl Zeiss SIGMA HD VP Field Emission SEM and Oxford AZtec ED X-ray analysis and Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) system. Good for detailed petrography of sandstones and limestones.
  • ICP Analysis: Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry and Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry. We have used this for projects involving the reaction of CO2 with reservoir rocks, for example.
  • Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometry: The facility now has two gas source isotope ratio mass spectrometers with automatic carbonate preparation systems. Often used for characterising calcite cements in reservoirs or seal rocks.
  • XRF Facility: The instrument may be used for qualitative or quantitative analysis of geological materials.
  • X-ray Diffraction: this provides the mineralogical composition of a sample.
  • Chemical Analysis: we can conduct a wide range of traditional chemical analysis, for example the determination of inorganic carbonate content in a sample.
  • Electron microprobe: we have a world-class Cameca SX100 instrument

We also host a variety of world-class experimental facilities, some of which have been used by MSc students. These include:

  • CO2 flow rigs, for studying how fluids interact with rocks as they flow through.
  • 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.

*(Revised 28 January 2020 to include updated information on 2020/21 field trip.) **(Revised 1 June 2020 to add information on possible restricted field trips in light of COVID-19.)

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.

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

For 2020 entry we accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 20 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections; the "Enabling Skills" sections are not considered)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 20 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

*(Revised 21 February 2020 to remove PTE Academic from 2021 entry requirements. Revised 21 April 2020 to include TOEFL-iBT Special Home Edition in 2020 and 2021 entry requirements.)

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, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, 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.

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:

Tuition fee deposit

If you receive an offer of admission, either unconditional or conditional, you will be asked to pay a tuition fee deposit of £1,500 to secure your place on the programme.

Find out more about tuition fee deposits:

Field excursions

There are no additional fees for field excursions in compulsory courses. Travel is covered by the programme, however incidental/ personal expenses are to be met by the student.

Tuition fees

School of GeoSciences Scholarships

Browse funding opportunities

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

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

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

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

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