Module code: ENG1087

Module Overview

The module is intended to:

Provide an introduction to the fundamental science of the formation of crude oil and natural gas, the geology associated with these deposits, the physical and chemical properties of these fossil fuels and Upstream Processing required before refining and marketing.

Provide the students with knowledge of the chemistry of crude oil and natural gas and how these fossil fuels can be separated, treated and converted into valuable products for energy and petrochemical uses. 

Module provider

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Module Leader

CHADEESINGH Ralph (Chst Chm Eng)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 4

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 62

Lecture Hours: 33

Tutorial Hours: 11

Guided Learning: 11

Captured Content: 33

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

Petroleum Fundamentals:

  • World energy demand, sources and projections.

  • Petroleum geology.

  • Amounts and locations of petroleum reserves.

  • Upstream operations (exploration and production).

  • Downstream operations (refining, supply and marketing).

  • Crude oil and refining economics.

  • Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the industry.

Petroleum Chemistry:

  • Physical and chemical properties of crude oil and natural gas, and their derivatives.

  • Analytical techniques for determining feedstock and product qualities.

  • Reactions involved in refining crude oil into finished products including hydroprocessing, catalytic reforming, catalytic and thermal cracking, alkylation, isomerisation.

  • Reactions involved in petrochemical operations including steam cracking for the production of light olefins (ethylene, propylene) for plastics, etc. and aromatics (benzene, toluene and zylene) for polystyrene, etc.

  • Introduction to catalysis (physical and chemical characteristics).

  • Different types of tubular, fixed bed and fluidised bed reactors.

  • Determination of yields and estimation of gross margin for identifying optimum operation.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework COURSEWORK 30
Examination 2 - HOUR INVIGILATED EXAM 70

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate a comprehensive range of learning outcomes.

Petroleum Fundamentals:

·         Learning outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 in the examination

·         Learning outcome 4, 6 in the coursework

Petroleum Fundamentals:

·         Learning outcomes 7-11 in the examination

·         Learning outcomes 7-11 in the coursework

Thus, the summative assessment for this module element consists of:

·        Coursework (30 %) :. a 1500-word essay based on research of a topical issue facing the Petroleum Industry

·        The examination (70 %) : a 2-hour Invigilated Exam

Formative assessment and Feedback

Solutions to tutorial sheets will be discussed during the tutorials.  

Module aims

  • The global importance of energy and the challenges facing the oil and gas industry.
  • Exploration, production and reserves of crude oil and natural gas.
  • The chemical composition of crude oil and natural gas.
  • Chemical reactions performed by a range of refinery and petrochemical processes.
  • The theory and practice of catalysis.
  • Yields and economics.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Describe how crude oil and natural gas have been formed and identify suitable rock formations where deposits can be found. KC
2 Advise how deposits of crude oil and natural gas are discovered and determine the characteristics and value of such reserves . KC
3 Provide a simple specification of the facilities for producing crude oil and natural gas. KC
4 Analyse and assess the quality and potential value of different crude oils for processing by refineries. KCT
5 Provide a simple specification of a refinery for processing crude oil into refined products. KC
6 Analyse and argue the challenges facing the industry and society. KCT
7 Determine the chemical characteristics of different crude oils based on physical property data . KC
8 Recognise how different crude oils and their fractions can affect the properties of refined products . KC
9 Appreciate the difference between thermal and catalytic cracking . KC
10 Identify the challenges of designing, operating and maintaining reactors on the industrial scale. CP
11 Estimate yields and simple profitability of a process CP

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • Introduce the students to the oil and gas industry by providing them with basic knowledge and understanding of petroleum as an energy source, its production and refining into useful products such as petrol and diesel.   

  • Introduce the students to the chemistry of oil refining and petrochemical processing. 

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • Lecture sessions with virtual visits to an offshore oil platform and an oil refinery, the use of educational videos with supportive coursework.

  • Independent learning. 



Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: ENG1087

Other information

The School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering is committed to developing graduates with strengths in Employability, Digital Capabilities, Global and Cultural Capabilities, Sustainability, and Resourcefulness and Resilience. This module is designed to allow students to develop knowledge, skills, and capabilities in the following areas 

Digital Capabilities: Through the module student will learn to navigate and utilise Virtual learning Environment (Surrey Learn). 

Employability:  Students will gain specific knowledge relating to fundamental petroleum chemistry in the context of refinery and petrochemical process operations. Students will acquire knowledge of the chemistry of crude oil and natural gas, and how these fossil fuels can be separated, treated and converted into valuable products for energy and petrochemical uses. These will enhance their employability in the chemical and petroleum engineering sector.

Sustainability: Students will gain an understanding about theory and practices associated with the global exploration and production of crude oil and natural gases, covering operation, environmental concerns and sustainability, as well as outlook for energy.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Chemical and Petroleum Engineering BEng (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Chemical and Petroleum Engineering MEng 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2023/4 academic year.