BEng (Hons) Petroleum Engineering - University of Portsmouth
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BEng (Hons)

Petroleum Engineering

UCAS codeH850

full time3yrs

placement option1yr

Go overseas for fieldwork and placement opportunities

Course Overview

Why take this course?

Whether we like it or not, we rely on the long-term supply of gas and oil. Petroleum engineers play a very important role in resolving this problem and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

This course gives you a broad ranging knowledge of all the phases involved in finding (exploration), drilling and extracting oil.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Carry out fieldwork on one of our many UK field trips to geological sites
  • Use our state-of-the-art geological and geotechnic labs for practical work
  • Put learning into practice by doing a paid work placement, either in the UK or overseas

What opportunities might it lead to?

This course is accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and will lead to Chartered Engineer (CEng) status with further learning. It puts you in an excellent position to start a career as a professional engineer and you’ll possess specific skills to succeed in the petroleum industry and its associated service sector.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • mineral and petroleum exploration
  • reservoir engineering, simulation and performance management
  • drilling and production engineering
  • drilling fluid analysis
  • mud/wireline logging (formation evaluation)
  • petroleum refinery operations




Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • Hands-on opportunities to gain practical experience by solving real-world problems
  • Approachable and passionate lecturers with industrial experience 
  • Excellent facilities and good employment prospects

Browse all courses in Engineering

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Structure & Teaching

Year one

This first year provides you with a broad understanding of petroleum engineering and you’ll cover general topics of an engineering and geology nature.

Core units in this year include:

  • Introduction to Petroleum Engineering
  • Communication and Engineering Technology Appreciation
  • Introduction to Petroleum Engineering
  • Petroleum Engineering Principles
  • Petroleum Chemistry
  • Earth Processes
  • Mathematical Principles

Year two

Broaden your knowledge gained in the first year. You’ll study the specific areas within the petroleum industry allowing you to specify which area appeals to you the most.

Core units in this year include:

  • Reservoir Engineering
  • Drilling Engineering
  • Petroleum Refining Operations
  • Numerical and Computational Methods in Petroleum Engineering
  • Petroleum Geoscience
  • Petroleum Reservoir Fluid Properties and Thermodynamics

Year three*

In your final year you will focus on production-related topics. There are also plenty of opportunities for you to get out in the field alongside working on a number of different projects.

Core units in this year include:

  • Individual Project
  • Petroleum Production Engineering
  • Petroleum Reservoir Simulation
  • Enhanced Oil Recovery and Field Development
  • Formation Evaluation and Well Logging

*This course is also available as a 4-year sandwich (work placement)

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.


You will be taught through a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials (personal and academic), laboratory and project work, CAE system activity and open access study. The course has a strong practical emphasis and we pride ourselves on working at the leading-edge of technology and learning practices.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 33% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 67% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 27% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 73% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 18% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 82% studying independently and 0% on work placement


A range of assessment methods encourages a deeper understanding of engineering and allows you to develop your skills. Here’s how we assess your work:

  • written examinations
  • coursework
  • practical tests
  • project work
  • presentations

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 84% by written exams, 8% by practical exams and 8% by coursework
  • Year two students: 68% by written exams, 0% by practical exams and 32% by coursework
  • Year three students: 43% by written exams, 0% by practical exams and 57% by coursework

Tutor's View


Dr Ozgur Gundogan
Lecturer in Petroleum Engineering

Do you ever wonder how oil and gas are discovered and produced from underground that can be several kilometres deep? It is far from just drilling a hole and requires far more advance technology to produce them as we work in more challenging environments. The course covers a wide range of topics to teach efficient, safe and environmentally responsible ways of producing oil and gas. If you are interested in maths, science and geology and want to shape our society by providing advance technology for supplying oil and gas, this is a course for you.

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Facilities & Features


We offer a fully equipped geological, geochemical and a recently refurbished geotechnics lab. Brimming with ultra-modern equipment, here’s a taste of what you have to work with:

  • x-ray diffractometer
  • x-ray fluorescence spectrometer
  • scanning electron microscope
  • atomic absorption spectrophotometer

Maths Café

Drop in any time and get one-to-one help with that tricky maths or stats problem. With handouts on key topics to take away and computer aided learning packages, we can get the problem solved and help you improve your numeracy skills.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Industry standard software

The Petroleum Engineering course at the School of Engineering, University of Portsmouth received a generous donation of a software suite worth more than £1,335,161.50 from Petroleum Experts (Petex), UK.

Integrated Production Modelling (IPM) suite is developed by Petroleum Experts, the specialized petroleum engineering software developer with headquarters in Edinburgh. They are used extensively as a standard prediction tools by more than 350 oil and gas companies worldwide.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

Currently, there is a major international shortage of qualified engineers in the petroleum industry and our course is designed to enable you to take advantage of the exciting and highly rewarding career prospects in this area. Due to the remote locations of oil reserves, petroleum engineers are usually required to travel a lot working for domestics and multinational companies. They also earn the highest average starting salary amongst graduate engineers (2010 NACE, SPE survey).

You’re likely to find work in oil and gas exploration, reservoir modelling, engineering and management, drilling and production, refinery operations, product marketing, management and finance. There are also employment opportunities in related areas such as equipment manufacture and supply, consultancy and regulation.

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • petroleum engineer
  • reservoir engineer
  • drilling engineer
  • gas engineer

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

Taking a placement year in industry could be one of the best decisions you make as more often than not, it leads to further opportunities after graduation. SPEC, our Student Placement and Employability Centre, not only helps you to arrange your placement but acts as a source of information and guidance throughout the recruitment process and beyond. We help on anything and everything related to employability skills as well as assisting you in gaining other types of work experience.

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

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Apply now or visit us

Apply for 2018 entry

To apply, you'll need this course's UCAS code, which is at the top of this page, and the University of Portsmouth institution code – P80.

Apply now

After you apply, we'll invite you to an Applicant Experience Day where you’ll get to speak to lecturers and meet your future classmates.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

University of Portsmouth
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Winston Churchill Avenue
Portsmouth PO1 2UP

T: +44 (0)23 9284 8484