Careers with petroleum science and engineering

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Petroleum engineers are involved in the discovery, recovery and maintenance of the world’s oil and gas supplies. The activities are important because safe, affordable and clean energy is a requirement for future generations.

As a result the necessity for improved production from mature fields, alongside exploration for hydrocarbon reserves in increasingly challenging environments means that petroleum engineers with specific skills sets are in great demand across the petroleum industry.

Job opportunities for petroleum engineers are very diverse and occur along the entire value chain of hydrocarbon exploration and production. You can get your hands dirty on a drill rig, perform sophisticated analyses in the laboratory, or work with advanced computer software to create reservoir models. As a petroleum engineer you could work out in the field and travel the globe - or enjoy the relative comfort of an office job.

Helping you to find employment

Studying petroleum engineering here at Manchester means you study for an industry-oriented degree. An industrial liaison board oversees the course, and many of the teaching staff are either actively employed in the energy sector, or have industrial experience. They also maintain research programmes of direct relevance to the industry, and transfer their research into teaching.

Many students find internships with major companies and go on to successful careers. During the summer of 2012, two students were awarded internships with BG Group in Reading, whilst other students will be conducting internships with service companies (eg. RPS) and national oil companies (eg. Saudi Aramco).

Graduate employability is actively supported by:

  • Campus ambassador schemes, operated by major energy companies (BP, BG Group).
  • Company visits, in which major energy companies and contractors present their graduate programmes and employment opportunities. Companies like BP, BG Group, Shell visited in 2011-12. Dates and details for company visits are listed on this page.
  • An extremely active Student Chapter of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, which won Student Chapter of the month in February 2012. The SPE student chapter arranges evening presentations from industrial experts, and in 2012 hosted the SPE Young Professional Careers Event, which helps students to prepare for interviews with major energy companies.
  • Visits to companies to get to know the ins and outs of industrial operations. Recent visits included a drill rig (Total) and gas plant and core handling facility (Shell) in Aberdeen.
  • Scholarships and prizes sponsored by major companies for distinguished students and projects. This includes an annual PetroGeoscience award of £500 for the best overall first and second year student, and the opportunity to apply for BP scholarships in years 1, 2 and 4 of your study.
  • A dedicated careers team, both at university level and within the school, for CV clinics and careers advice.  Careers skills are also built into tutorial sessions in Year 1.

Continuing research

Past graduates from the School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Science have developed successful careers, many continuing to practise the skills and apply the knowledge they learned during their degree. Our teaching also inspires the next generation of researchers: the majority of undergraduates continue in education, studying for higher degrees such as masters or PhDs.

Find out more about our research

Typical jobs

Typical job descriptions for a petroleum engineer include:

  • Geologists, geophysicists and petrophysicists, who conduct formation evaluation to determine and quantify the volume of hydrocarbon in place using geophysical and geological data sets
  • Reservoir engineers: responsible for determining the volume of recoverable hydrocarbons, and designing methods for improved hydrocarbon recovery through application of novel technologies, and running economic forecasts on producing hydrocarbon fields
  • Production engineers: responsible for optimisation of production once a well has been drilled, for example by well stimulation
  • Drilling engineers: set up and supervision of safe drilling campaigns, planning and drilling technically challenging wells (eg. in deep oceans, into high pressure subsurface settings and under extreme climatic conditions)
  • Other fields include consultancy, groundwater and environmental engineering, government service, and even as technical consultants on project financing


What our students say

SEAES alumnus Chris Fortser

Chris Forster took our MSc in Petroleum Geoscience and is now a geologist for ConocoPhillips UK.

"My MSc in Petroleum Geoscience played a major role in me getting my dream job with ConocoPhillips."

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