Studying MSc Drilling and Well Engineering at RGU

Liza van den Berg moved from the Netherlands to Aberdeen to study her favourite course at RGU. She has now graduated with a distinction and also secured a job. Read on to learn more about her RGU experience…

Choosing RGU

My fascination for this subject sparked at a young age, as my dad worked as a drilling engineer. I grew up listening to stories about his work adventures and travels around the world. The fact that he had a job that was different every day inspired me to follow his footsteps.

I did my undergraduate degree in Applied Earth Sciences at a reputed university back home. I chose this area of study because I knew I wanted to have a career in the oil and gas industry and a more specialised degree was not available in Holland.

It is quite common in the Netherlands to do a master’s degree at an early stage. Therefore, once I completed my Bachelor’s degree, I was looking for a track that would suit me. I did not want to do a general engineering master’s. I wanted to specialise in drilling specifically.

I knew that only a handful of universities across the world offered a master’s level specialisation in this field. After doing some research, I discovered that RGU offered a one-year course in drilling and well engineering. Since all Master’s degrees in Holland are a two-year programme, studying at RGU meant that I could do exactly what I wanted and save a year!

Liza van den Berg, MSc Drilling and Well Engineering student

Because Aberdeen was only a short flight away from home, I had the chance to visit the university before deciding to start the course. The first time I arrived at the RGU campus I was immediately blown away by the size and how modern it was. When I got a tour around the campus, I immediately felt at home. The drilling simulator at the campus looked really awesome and it enabled us to experience drilling in the most realistic way possible. Without any further doubt, I decided to start the course full-time in September 2019.

MSc Drilling and Well Engineering course experience

Image of DART - Student Experience MSc Drilling and Well Engineering

One of my favourite parts of the course was taking part in multiple field trips and industrial visits. It gave us the opportunity to see some of the theory from class in practice. In the first semester, we visited a training rig just outside Aberdeen. This was a great way to experience the scale of drilling operations. For many of us, it was the first time seeing a rig at all.

This brings me to another favourite aspect of the programme, my class. The number of students pursuing Drilling and Well Engineering was very small. In the first semester, we were put together with students doing Petroleum Production Engineering and Oil and Gas Engineering because we shared the same modules. This worked out well for me because I got to interact with so many international and local students with various backgrounds. I found a group of people that I got along with and we would go out to the for drinks or food in our spare time. I was never lonely during my time at RGU.

Living in Aberdeen

Living in Aberdeen - Student Experience studying MSc Drilling and Well Engineering

The city of Aberdeen is lovely. Whether you choose to live in the city centre or a little outside, you will find at least one supermarket that is within a walking distance. Bus routes are well connected and regular, so you can get to any part of the city with ease. I visited some of the smaller towns and villages such as Stonehaven by bus and faced no issues at all.

If the sun is out and the weather is good, I would recommend a walk by the beach or River Dee.

Liza van den Berg, MSc Drilling and Well Engineering student

Final leg

Image of Liza and her friend - Student Experience MSc Drilling and Well Engineering

On the academic side of things, after two successful semesters, I began working on my final project that consisted of a dissertation and presentation. I did an investigation of how the emission of nitrogen oxides can be reduced for drilling operations as the rules for permits became stricter in The Netherlands that year. Working on a real-world problem with a company was a nice switch from the academic/theoretical environment that I was used to.

Finding a project can be challenging. My advice to future students is to start early. That way you will have the opportunity to find something you are interested in.

Liza van den Berg, MSc Drilling and Well Engineering student


Besides starting early with finding a thesis project, I also started applying for jobs early on. I wanted to secure a place in a graduate programme of one of the major oil companies. The recruitment period is usually in November/December so I knew I needed to be quick. Luckily, I passed all the online tests and got invitations for multiple recruitment days. This was a whole new experience for me. I had to fly to London in between exams to do interviews. In the end, I couldn’t be happier because I passed all my exams and also got a job!

A new beginning

I have started my new job as a graduate drilling and well engineer at Equinor UK. It has been very good so far. I am excited about all the new experiences and opportunities this new venture will bring.

Liza van den Berg, MSc Drilling and Well Engineering student

I am also scheduled to go offshore soon. I am so excited to experience the practical side of drilling. Furthermore, I have been shortlisted for the Energy Institute’s best Master Project award. I will be presenting my work to a panel and hopefully win the title too.

I received my final grade for the project a few days ago and I am happy to have passed the MSc Drilling and Well Engineering course with a distinction. We will be having a virtual graduation soon. It is disappointing that I can’t graduate at a live ceremony but I also understand the difficult times we are in now. I really hope that a proper celebration can take place on a later date when it is safe to do so.

Liza van den Berg

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