Energy Resources & Petroleum Engineering Program

Faculty and students in the Energy Resources and Petroleum Engineering (ERPE) Program  at KAUST engage in interdisciplinary research to understand and model hydro-chemo-thermo-mechanical coupled processes in the subsurface, with emphasis on multiphase and reactive fluid flow (oil, gas, brine, water and steam).

The Energy Resources and Petroleum Engineering Program focuses on modern reservoir description, engineering and management. Students in this program receive broad training in basic scientific concepts, geology, geophysical characterization, and reservoir engineering. Our Students participate in scientific research activities that may include mathematical analyses, computational modeling, and/or laboratory/field studies. Ph.D. candidates focus on original research driven to advance the boundaries of knowledge.



M.Sc. students - students entering the M.Sc. program with a Bachelor degree.

Ph.D. students:

  • Type I – students entering the M.Sc./Ph.D. program with only a Bachelor degree
  • Type II – students entering the Ph.D. program with a relevant Master degree

Entry date is considered as an arrival date to KAUST.


Summary of M.Sc. and Ph.D. Requirements:



Summary of Program Timelines:




Assessment Test

Students are admitted to KAUST from a wide variety of programs and backgrounds. In order to facilitate the design of an appropriate study plan for each individual student, all M.Sc. and Ph.D. (Type I) incoming students will be required to take a written assessment during orientation week. There is no grade for the assessment. The purpose of the assessment is to determine whether students have mastered the prerequisites for undertaking graduate level courses taught in the program. The Academic Advisor uses the results of the assessments to design, if necessary, a remedial study plan with a list of courses aimed at addressing content areas that may impede a student from successful completion of the degree requirements

Students are encouraged to prepare for the assessment by refreshing the general knowledge gained from their undergraduate education before arriving at KAUST.

Students will be tested on the following subjects:

1. Engineering Mathematics

2. Physics and Mechanics

3. Chemistry and Thermodynamics

Each examination is 25 minutes long, consists of 12 multiple choice questions, and are taken one after the other in the week before the semester formally starts. All examinations are taken online using your KAUST Blackboard account.

In what follows, an outline of the material covered in each of these examinations is given in the document and below.

Engineering Mathematics

1. Concept of the limit and its properties. The calculation of limits. One- and two-sided limits.
Continuity. The Intermediate Value Theorem.
2. Definition of the derivative. Differentiation from first principles. Derivatives for standard
functions including the exponential, logarithmic, trigonometric, and hyperbolic functions.
Product, quotient, and chain rules. Higher-order derivatives. Derivatives of inverse
functions. Implicit and parametric differentiation. The Mean Value Theorem and Rolle’s
theorem. Differentiability.
3. Application of the derivative to finding the gradient of a tangent to a curve. Stationary
points. Maxima and minima problems. The differential and its application to errors. Rates of
change problems.
4. The primitive function and anti-differentiation. The indefinite integral. Techniques of
integration including substitution, parts, partial fractions, trigonometric substitutions, and t-
5. The definite integral and Riemann integration. Application of the integral to area and
volume. The first and second Fundamental Theorems of Calculus. Improper integrals.
6. Sequences and infinite series. The geometric and telescoping series. Alternating series.
Convergence and divergence of an infinite series. Test for convergence including the nth
term test, direct and limit comparison tests, the integral test, ratio and root tests, alternating
series test. Absolute and conditional convergence. The Alternating Series Estimation
7. Power series. Properties of power series. Radius of convergence. Taylor and Maclaurin
series. Application of power series. Taylor polynomials.
8. Complex numbers, Argand diagram, modulus-argument and polar forms, de Moivre’s
theorem, exponential form.
9. Vectors. Vector addition and multiplication by a scalar. Properties of vectors. Unit vectors
and direction angles. The scalar dot and vector cross products and their associated
properties. The scalar triple product. Vector identities. Application of vectors to three-
dimensional analytic geometry. Equations of lines and planes in space.

Recommended Reading Material
1. Calculus, J. Stewart. Eight Edition (2015, Cengage Learning).
2. How to Integrate It: A Practical Guide to Finding Elementary Integrals, S. M. Stewart
(2018, Cambridge University Press).

Physics component
1. Electric charge. Electric fields. Coulomb's law.
2. Gauss’ law and applications of this law.
3. Electric potential. Capacitance and dielectrics.
4. Current, resistance, and resistivity.
5. Direct current circuits. Voltmeters and ammeters (both ideal and real). RC circuits.
6. Magnetic fields. Gauss’ law for magnetism.
7. Magnetic forces. Sources of the magnetic field. The Biot-Savart law and Ampère’s
8. Electromagnetic induction. Faraday’s law. Lenz’ law.
9. Displacement current. Maxwell’s equations.

Mechanics component
1. Statics of particles. Forces and moments (torques).
2. Equilibrium of rigid bodies. Centres of mass and centroids
3. Moments of inertia.
4. Stress and strain due to axial loading. Torsion
5. Pure bending. Beam analysis
6. Kinematics of particles (using energy and momentum methods). Newton’s second
7. Planar kinematics of rigid bodies.
8. Planar kinetics of rigid bodies (using equations of motion and energy and momentum

Recommended Reading Material
1. Sears and Zemanskys University Physics: With Modern Physics. Young, H. D., Freedman,
R. A., Ford, A. L., and Sears, F. W. (Addison-Wesley, 2021).
2. Vector Mechanics for Engineers: Statics and Dynamics (Twelfth edition). Ferdinand P. Beer,
E. Russell Johnston, David F. Mazurek, Phillip J. Cornwall, and Brian P. Self (McGraw-Hill,

Chemistry component
1. Matter and energy. What is chemistry? Atoms, molecules, and ions. Substances, ele-
ments, and mixtures. Changes and properties of matter. Periodic Table, Periodic Law.
Chemistry divisions. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC).
2. Scientific method: observation, law, hypothesis, experiment, data, results, and theory.
Accuracy and precision. Significant figures. Scientific notation. Basic experimental
quantities. Unit conversion. Basic statistics for data analysis.
3. Timeline of atomic theories and models. Elementary particles. Quantum numbers for
different orbitals. Electron configuration of atoms. Valence electrons and the octet rule.
4. Atomic/ionic radius. Electron affinity. Electronegativity. Ionization energy.
Polarizability. Isoelectronic configurations.
5. Lewis structures. Covalent, ionic, and metallic bonds.
6. Molecular geometry. The valence shell electron pair repulsion (VSEPR) theory.
7. Intermolecular interactions. Phase changes. Gaseous, liquid, and solid states.

Thermodynamics component
1. Fundamentals of thermodynamics.
2. Work and heat. The zeroth and first laws of thermodynamics.
3. Pure substances.
4. The second law of thermodynamics.
5. An ideal gas.
6. Carnot cycle.
7. Entropy.

Recommended Reading Material
1. Denniston, K. J.; Topping, J. J.; Dorr, D. R. Q.; Caret, R. L., General, Organic, and
Biochemistry, McGraw-Hill, 10th edition, 2020.
2. Smoot, R. C.; Smith, R. G.; Price, J., Chemistry: A Modern Course, Merrill Publishing
Company, 1990.
3. Chang, R.; Overby, J., Chemistry, McGraw-Hill, 13th edition, 2019.
4. Goldberg, D. E., Fundamentals of Chemistry, McGraw-Hill, 5th edition, 2007.
5. Gaffney, J.; Marley, N., General Chemistry for Engineers, Elsevier, 1st edition, 2018.
6. Çengel, Y. A.; Boles, M. A., Thermodynamics: An Engineering Approach, McGraw-Hill, 5th
edition, 2006.



ERPE Core Courses

Core courses are designed to provide students with the background needed to establish a solid foundation in the program area. Students must select a minimum of four ERPE core courses from the list below to satisfy program requirements.

ERPE 200 Energy and the Environment 3
ERPE 210 Fundamentals of Carbonate Geology 3
ERPE 211 Data Integration for Geomodelling 3
ERPE 220 Sediments: Properties and Processes 3
ERPE 221 Geoscience Fundamentals 3
ERPE 230 Rock Mechanics for Energy Geo-Engineering 3
ERPE 240 Fractals, Percolation and Pore-scale Flow 3
ERPE 250 Reservoir Engineering Fundamentals and Applications 3
ERPE 260 Drilling Engineering 3
ERPE 331 Subsurface Geomechanics and Field Applications 3

Students may select four elective courses from any 200 or 300 level courses at KAUST. Courses above (under core courses) and those listed below are most often selected by ERPE students. Note: selections require approval from the academic advisor. The elective courses are designed to allow students to tailor their educational experience to meet individual and educational objectives.

ERPE 241Multiphase Flow in Porous Media3
ERPE 270/ME 214Experimental Methods in Research3
ERPE 310Sequence Stratigraphy3
ERPE 311Carbonate Diagenesis3
ERPE 315Energy Geoscience3
ERPE 331Subsurface Geomechanics and Field Applications3
ERPE 350Thermodynamics of Subsurface Reservoirs3
ERPE 351Modeling Naturally Fractured Reservoirs3
ERPE 360Field Development Planning3
ERPE 361Advanced Well Testing3
ERPE 362Enhanced Oil Recovery3
STAT 210Applied Statistics and Data Analysis3
STAT 220Probability and Statistics3
STAT 230Linear Models3
STAT 240Bayesian Statistics3
STAT 250Stochastic Processes3
AMCS 201 Applied Mathematics I 3
AMCS 206 Applied Numerical Methods 3
AMCS 231 Applied Partial Differential Equations I 3
AMCS 251 Numerical Linear Algebra 3
CS 201 Introduction to Programming with Python 3
CS 229 Machine Learning 3
ErSE 210 Seismology 3
ErSE 213 Inverse Problems 3
ErSE 222 Machine Learning in Geoscience 3
ErSE 253 Data Analysis in Geosciences 3
ErSE 260 Seismic Imaging 3
ErSE 309 Thermodynamics of Subsurface Reservoirs 3
ErSE 330 Pore-Scale Modeling of Subsurface Flow 3
ErSE 353 Data Assimilation 3


M.Sc. Degree Requirements:

The Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree is awarded upon successful completion of a minimum of 36 credit hours. A minimum GPA of 3.0 must be achieved to graduate.

The academic advisor must be a full-time program-affiliated assistant, associate, or full professor at KAUST. The academic advisor can only become project affiliated for the specific thesis project upon program level approval. Project affiliation approval must be completed prior to commencing research.

It is the sole responsibility of students to plan their graduate program in consultation with their advisor. Students are required to meet all deadlines and should be aware that most core courses are offered only once per year.

Individual courses require a minimum of a ‘B-’ for course credit. Students typically complete the M.Sc. degree within four semesters (18 months), however, they are strongly encouraged to complete the M.Sc. in three semesters (Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters, i.e., 12 months). Satisfactory participation in every KAUST's summer session is mandatory. Summer session courses are credit-bearing and apply towards the degree.

The non-thesis option is not supported by the ERPE Program. All M.Sc. students must conduct a capstone experience, including thesis preparation and oral defense.

Ph.D. (Type I) students who don’t complete the M.Sc. thesis requirement will not be eligible to earn the M.Sc. degree.

  • Core Courses (12 credits)
  • Elective Courses (12 credits)
  • M.Sc. Thesis Research or Research/Capstone Experience (12 credits) designed to provide students with the research experience
  • Graduate Seminar (ERPE 398, non-credit) – all students are required to register and receive S grade for every semester until graduation with only one (1) unsatisfactory (U) grade permitted; 12 seminars minimum will be organized by the ERPE Program; students are required to attend 9 to pass; students must attend 6 of 9 in their resident program; students are optional to take at most 3 seminars in other programs of the PSE division; students can only attend 1 seminar in one week (to avoid extreme scenarios like attending 5 seminars in one week)
  • Successful completion of one Winter Enrichment Program (WEP)

Students must have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA. A minimum of 12 credits of thesis research (297) is required. Students are permitted to register for more than 12 credits of M.Sc. thesis research with the permission of the academic advisor. The selected academic advisor must be a full time program-affiliated assistant, associate, or full professor at KAUST. This advisor can only become project-affiliated for the specific thesis project upon program level approval. Project-affiliation approval must be completed prior to commencing research.

A written thesis and an oral defense of the M.Sc. thesis are required. It is advisable that students submit a final copy of the thesis to the thesis committee members at least two weeks prior to the defense date.

The thesis defense committee, which must be approved by the dean, consists of three KAUST faculty. If additional expertise is needed, the committee could be extended, subject to dean’s approval. At least two committee members must be affiliated with the program. The chair may be any KAUST faculty familiar with the program rules. This membership can be summarized as:

Member Role Program Status
1 Chair Within or outside program
2 Faculty Within program
3 Faculty Within or outside program
4 Additional faculty or research scientist Within or outside program


  • Members 1, 2, and one of 3 or 4 are required
  • Co-chairs may serve as member 2 or 3
  • Adjunct professors and professors emeriti may retain their roles on current committees, but may not serve as chair on any new committees
  • Professors of practice and research professors may serve as members 2 or 3 depending upon their affiliation with the student’s program, they may also serve as co-chairs
  • Visiting professors may serve as member 3

Ph.D. (Type I) students can apply to receive M.Sc. degree under M.Sc./Ph.D. program. Before the actual M.Sc. Thesis Defense, all points below need to be fulfilled:

  • Successful completion of a minimum of 36 credit hours
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 must be achieved to graduate, individual courses require a minimum of a B- for course credit.
  • 12 credits of Master Thesis Research (ERPE 297), as a part of 36 credits requirement
  • Four ERPE Core Courses (total 12 credits) and four Elective Courses (total 12 credits)
  • Students are required to register and receive S grade for every semester until graduation with only one (1) unsatisfactory (U) grade permitted
  • Completion of one Winter Enrichment Program (WEP)


Steps to Follow:

Step 1. Apply for Master with Thesis. Fill the form_6. The application deadline for graduating in:

  • Fall 2022 – August 28
  • Spring 2023 – January 22
  • Summer 2023 – May 28

Step 2. Submit Petition for M.Sc. Thesis Defense Examination. The deadline to defend the Thesis is no later than two (2) weeks before the last day of a semester (Fall, Spring, or Summer). Fill the form_1. The petition period for graduating in:

  • Fall 2022 – from August 28 to September 08
  • Spring 2023 – from January 22 to February 02
  • Summer 2023 – from May 28 to June 01

Step 3. Before the Defense, submit your Thesis to the Office of the Registrar for format checking. Also, use Turnitin on the Blackboard to reveal and fix plagiarism, if to be found.

Step 4. Submit Results of M.Sc. Thesis Defense Examination. Fill the form_2.

The student, who fails the Thesis Defense, is allowed to retake it and then graduate with M.Sc. degree. The further pursue of Ph.D. degree won’t be permitted.

Step 5. After the Thesis Defense submit the copyright form to the Office of the Registrar and the GPSA.

Step 6. Submit Final Approval of M.Sc. Thesis Requirements. Fill the form_3.

Step 7. After the successful M.Sc. Thesis Defense, the student is automatically reenrolled, with the approval of Academic Advisor, to pursue Ph.D. degree within M.Sc./Ph.D. program. No additional procedures are required from the student.

Step 8. Student has to start from scratch Ph.D. research, meaning that NONE of the material that was used for M.Sc. Thesis can be used for Ph.D. Dissertation.

Step 9. Student has the right to withdraw from M.Sc./Ph.D. program and finish with the obtained M.Sc. degree. Fill the Withdrawal from KAUST form.