Petroleum Geoscience

Maui A oil rig platform. Photo courtesy of Maui field operator Shell Todd Oil Services

Victoria University and GNS Science offer a unique programme in Petroleum Geoscience.

The School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences has an excellent record in teaching and research in a wide variety of geological, geophysical and geochemical areas. New Zealand’s unique petroleum systems are complex and provide a unique training ground for the petroleum geoscientist.

GNS staff provide extensive commercial services to the domestic and international petroleum industry as well conducting world class applied research programmes in petroleum geology. They have strengths in basin evolution, seismic technology and petroleum system analysis using leading-edge software.

Students can complete a Postgraduate Diploma in Science or Master of Science (MSc) in Petroleum Geoscience, which take one or two years respectively.

Graduates of the programme will have extensive knowledge of the latest techniques used in hydrocarbon exploration. They will also have first hand experience in working with the petroleum industry.

For more information, please contact

Postgraduate Certificate in Science in Petroleum Geoscience

The PG Certificate in Science can be completed in one trimester or part time over up to two years.


Postgraduate Certificate students must have previously completed a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree or equivalent degree or work experience with an average grade of B or higher in appropriate 300-level papers.

Course requirements

60 points of postgraduate study

The combination of courses must be approved by the School.

More information about the Postgraduate Certificate in Science is on the Faculty of Science website.

Postgraduate Diploma in Science in Petroleum Geoscience


Postgraduate Diploma students must have previously completed a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree with an average grade of B or higher in relevant 300 level courses.

Course requirements

120 points from:

The programme does not include a research project, although a project may be included where appropriate, and must be approved by the School.

More information about the Postgraduate Diploma in Science is on the Faculty of Science website.

Master of Science in Petroleum Geoscience

The Master's programme comprises two parts and is normally completed in two calendar years. Part 1 (the first year) involves course work and a research preparation course. Part 2 (the second year) is a full-time research project, leading to a thesis. Since the Masters programme is tailored towards applied problems in petroleum exploration and production, collaboration with the petroleum industry is seen as a vital part of project selection and students are encouraged to work with multi-disciplinary teams on exploration challenges.

Prerequisites part 1

Master's candidates must have previously completed a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree that includes at least 48 points at 300 level in physics, geology or mathematics, or a combination of those subjects. A suitable level of preparation in mathematics is also essential.

A B+ average in relevant 300 level courses, including 90 points from ESCI 301-399 (including ESCI 341 and 342), is required for acceptance into this programme. Students must also have the agreement of a supervisor for their proposed Part 2 thesis project.

Prospective students must also obtain a recommendation by a potential project supervisor before enrolment. All entries are subject to approval by the Convenor of the Geophysics/Earth Sciences Board of Studies.

Course requirements

120 points from the BSc(Hons) or other schedulesAll courses are worth 15 points.

  • ESCI 580 - Research Preparation
  • PGEO 401 - Basin Analysis
  • PGEO 511 - Technical Petroleum Geoscience
  • ESCI 403 - Stratigraphy and Sedimentology
  • ESCI 406 - Petroleum Geology
  • ESCI 407 - Global Tectonics
  • ESCI 411 - Exploration Geophysics
  • 15 additional points from a course approved by the Programme Director

PGEO 401 and 511 courses are specific to petroleum geoscience and are taught by staff from the hydrocarbons group at GNS Science.

Prerequisites part 2

Students require an average B+ grade in their Master's Part 1 courses. Students with a lower grade must discuss options with the programme director, which includes redirection into a suitable postgraduate diploma. Full-time research project in conjunction with GNS Science or a petroleum company. This project is written up as a thesis.

Course requirements

Part 2

PGEO 591 - Thesis


Demand for petroleum geoscientists remains high. A Master's qualification is generally regarded as the minimum requirement for entry to a job in this area.

Since the course began in 2006, it has produced a number of well qualified students.