Oil and Gas (NERC Centre for Doctoral Training) | University of Oxford
Kimmeridge Bay
Kimmeridge Bay
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Oil and Gas (NERC Centre for Doctoral Training)

About the course

You will undertake a four year programme as part of the NERC CDT in Oil and Gas. As an Oxford student, you will join a cohort based at other core and associate partner institutions across the country, led by Heriot Watt University.

There are twenty weeks of formal training in a range of subjects, consisting of week-long modules held at a variety of field and classroom venues around the country. The training will be delivered jointly by experts from the petroleum industry and from the academic partnership. Ten weeks of this training will be in the first year, followed by five weeks in each of the second and third years. An annual conference will be held to facilitate liaison with industrial partners, and opportunities for internships with affiliated companies or institutions (eg NGOs, environmental organisations) will be developed through the partnership.

After the first year, and between years two and three, a formal report, presentation and interview are required to confirm your status as a DPhil candidate. At the end of the degree you will submit a written thesis and this is examined by viva voce by an external expert in the field and moderated by an internal member of faculty. The final award is a DPhil in Earth Sciences.

Graduate destinations

Many graduates choose to stay in academia. Others go on to environmental work or work in industry. The Department of Earth Sciences has an active and vibrant alumni network. With an annual newsletter, alumni dinners, networking and other events throughout the year, there are many different opportunities to keep in contact with the department.

Multiple applications

In applying for this programme, you may submit further applications for up to two of the following associated programmes without paying an additional application fee.

You may only apply to one programme from Group B under this arrangement without paying further application fees.

Group A
Group B
Environmental Research (NERC Doctoral Training Partnership)DPhil in Earth Sciences
 DPhil in Engineering Science

For instructions, see Applying for more than one course in the Application Guide.

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in any subject.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a minimum of an upper-second or first class degree or the equivalent. Most candidates have a master's degree or the equivalent.

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Typically an interview may last for up to half an hour. During this time your application will be discussed in detail, and you may expect a challenging conversation with panel members. However, the department hopes you may find this a stimulating opportunity to discuss your work. The department will also try to arrange for you to meet with your potential supervisor and discuss project-related matters with them.

Publications

Publications are not required. 

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the standard level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Department of Earth Sciences to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work. 
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Department of Earth Sciences and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. 
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Department of Earth Sciences.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

Resources

The Department of Earth Sciences occupies a building specifically designed for the teaching and research needs of geoscientists. Whatever the area of the Earth sciences you have chosen to study at DPhil level, the specialist research facilities to which you will have access are world class. This is whether you require access to supercomputers, local workstations or state of the art mass spectrometers. In addition to the department’s facilities, the University library and e-resources provide access to archived and recent research journals. Research facilities are also available across the Maths, Physical and Life Sciences Division and take advantage of strong links with the local DIAMOND synchrotron high energy light source and Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Underlying support for all research groups within the department includes facilities for preparing thin and polished rock sections; IT support; a well-equipped machine shop; computer laboratory; SEM and FEG-SEM and a dedicated departmental library. You will have your own desk within a shared graduate student office and access to breakout rooms for small group meetings. Along with other graduate students, you will organise your own seminar program and also attend the department’s informal and formal seminar series. You will also have access to the Research Common Room (RCR) where they organise Friday ‘happy hour’ and other social events, but also during coffee and lunch  there are opportunities to meet and mingle with postdocs and faculty from across all research areas in the department.

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
c. £4,250£3,021c. £7,271
Overseas£19,335£3,021£22,356

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

Following the period of fee liability, you may also be required to pay a University continuation charge and a college continuation charge. The University and college continuation charges are shown on the Continuation charges page.

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

Many projects have associated costs such as field work, computing, consumables and laboratory costs. These are usually covered by scholarships advertised by the Department of Earth Sciences, but not always covered by scholarships the students may have been awarded from elsewhere. Students will need to establish with their supervisor whether they have funding available to cover any such costs.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page.

How to apply

You are advised to contact a potential supervisor(s) in the first instance before you apply.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Research proposal:
One to two pages

Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.

The overall page count should include any bibliography.

This will be assessed for:

  • the feasibility of successfully completing the project in the time available for the course (a maximum of four years);
  • commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course;
  • preliminary knowledge of research techniques;
  • capacity for sustained and intense work;
  • reasoning ability;
  • ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.

Your research proposal should focus on your research interests and experience rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

Written work:
500 words

You should submit a piece of written work with the following title:

"Discuss a research problem within the petroleum geosciences, briefly outline the information required to solve it, and suggest a line of research that - if conducted - could fill this knowledge gap."

The word count does not need to include brief footnotes or any bibliography.

The written work need not relate closely to the proposed area of study, but should be an area that you feel comfortable discussing as it may come up if invited for interview.

This will be assessed for:

  • comprehensive understanding of the subject area
  • understanding of problems in the area
  • ability to construct an defend an argument
  • powers of analysis
  • powers of expression.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, of which at least two must generally be academic

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

Professional references are acceptable if you have been away from academic study for more than five years; otherwise at least two of your references should be on your academic background.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation.