Petroleum Refining Systems Engineering MSc

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Why Surrey?

Created in response to the worldwide shortage of qualified engineers in the petroleum-refining systems-engineering industry, our programme combines technologies, operations and economics with modelling, simulation, optimisation, and process design and integration.

Programme overview

This programme will equip you with the essential knowledge for engineering careers in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors.

Upon completion of the course you will have gained a comprehensive understanding of oil refining and associated downstream processing technologies, operations and economics; process safety and operations integrity; and methods for the optimal design of process systems.

You will learn about the general economics of the energy sector, oil exploration and production, as well as renewable energy systems.

Furthermore, your study of the various aspects of petroleum refining will be augmented by unique work assignments at a virtual oil-refining and chemical company.

Programme structure

This programme is studied full-time over one academic year and part-time students must study at least two taught technical modules per academic year. It consists of eight taught modules and a dissertation.

Example module listing

The following modules are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.

Educational aims of the programme

The programme aims to provide a highly vocational education that equips the students with the essential knowledge and skills required to work as competent engineers in the petrochemical sector.

This is to be achieved through combining proper material in two popular and complementary topics: process systems engineering and petroleum refining. The key objective is to develop a sound understanding of oil refining and downstream processing technologies, process safety and operation integrity, as well as systems methods for the optimal design of process systems.

A balanced curriculum is provided with essential modules from these two areas supplemented by a flexible element by way of elective modules that permit students to pursue subjects of preference relevant to their backgrounds, interests and/or career aspirations.

An integrated approach is taken so as to provide a coherent view that explores the interrelationships between the various components of the programme.

Programme learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

The programme aims to develop the knowledge and understanding in both petroleum refining and systems engineering. The key learning outcomes include:

  • State-of- the-art knowledge in petroleum refining and petrochemical processing, in terms of the technologies of processes that comprise a modern refinery and petrochemicals complex
  • The principles for analysing and improving the profitability of refining and petrochemicals processing
  • General Safety, health, and environment (SHE) principles on a refinery and petrochemicals complex
  • Methods and systems for ensuring safe and reliable design and operation of process units
  • State-of- the-art knowledge in process systems engineering methods, in the areas of: modelling and simulation of process systems, mathematical optimization and decision making, process systems design and process and energy integration
  • Advanced level of understanding in technical topics of preference, in one or more of the following aspects: petroleum exploration and production, economics of the energy sector, sustainable and renewable systems, supply chain management

Intellectual / cognitive skills

The programme aims to strengthen cognitive skills of the students, particularly in the aspects of problem definition, knowledge and information acquiring, synthesis, and creativity, as collectively demonstrable through the successful completion of the research dissertation.

The key learning outcomes include the abilities to:

  • Select, define and focus upon an issue at an appropriate level
  • Collect and digest knowledge and information selectively and independently to support a particular scientific or engineering enquiry
  • Develop and apply relevant and sound methodologies for analysing the issue, developing solutions, recommendations and logical conclusions, and for evaluating the results of own or other’s work

Professional practical skills

The programme primarily aims to develop skills for applying appropriate methods to the design and operation of petroleum refining processes. The key learning outcomes include the abilities to:

  • Apply knowledge of the operation of refineries to analyze and to improve the profitability of refining and petrochemical processing
  • Apply relevant principles, methods, and tools to improve the safety and operation integrity of refineries
  • Apply systems engineering methods such as modelling, simulation, optimization, and energy integration to improve the design of petroleum refining units and systems

Key / transferable skills

The programme aims to strengthen a range of transferable skills that are relevant to the needs of existing and future professionals in knowledge intensive industries irrespective of their sector of operation.

The key learning outcomes include the further development of the skills in the following areas:

  • Preparation and delivery of communication and presentation
  • Report and essay writing
  • Use of general and professional computing tools
  • Collaborative working with team members
  • Organizing and planning of work
  • Research into new areas, particularly in the aspect of literature review and skills acquisition

Global opportunities

We often give our students the opportunity to acquire international experience during their degrees by taking advantage of our exchange agreements with overseas universities.

In addition to the hugely enjoyable and satisfying experience, time spent abroad adds a distinctive element to your CV.

Learn more about opportunities that might be available for this particular programme by using our student exchanges search tool.

Related programmes

Postgraduate (Taught)

Related departments/schools

Related research areas

Programme leader

Dr Tao Chen

Find out more

General enquiries:

+44 (0)1483 681 681

Admissions enquiries:


Programme facts

Type of programme:


Programme length:

  • Full-time: 12 months
  • Part-time: 24 months

Start date:

Feb 2017, Sep 2017

Entry Requirements

A minimum 2.1 honours degree (or overseas equivalent) in an engineering, science or related subject. Practitioners with suitable qualifications and relevant experience in engineering, science or technology are also welcome to apply.

View entry requirements by country

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, 6.0 in each component (or equivalent)

We offer intensive English language pre-sessional courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.


Study mode Start date UK/EU fees Overseas fees
Full-time Feb 2017 £8,000 £18,000
Part-time Feb 2017 £4,000 £9,000
Full-time Sep 2017 £9,500 £19,000
Part-time Sep 2017 £4,800 £9,500

Please note these fees are for the academic year 2017/2018 only. Annual fees will rise by four per cent (rounded up to the nearest £100) for each year of study.

A complete list of all fees for our Masters Programmes


The Surrey International Scholarship for Excellence

For all (with the exception of MBA) postgraduate taught courses starting in September 2017 within the Surrey Business School and the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management we are offering all applicants who hold a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent the opportunity to be awarded between £2,000 and £4,000 through the Surrey International Scholarship for Excellence Scheme. Download a flyer or read more for eligibility and to apply.

For more details

Discounts for Surrey graduates

Thinking of continuing your education at Surrey? As an alumnus of Surrey you may be eligible for a ten per cent discount on our taught Masters programme fees. Learn more.

For more details

Admissions Information

Our Admissions Policy provides the basis for admissions practice across the University and gives a framework for how we encourage, consider applications and admit students.

Further information for applicants

Postgraduate Study Advice

Steps to Postgraduate Study is an official, independent guide for anyone considering a taught postgraduate course. The guide is produced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, the Scottish Funding Council and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland.

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Modules listed are indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication. Please note that not all modules described are compulsory and may be subject to teaching availability and/or student demand.