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Course content

Source rocks form oil and gas, and are classified according to the quality and quantity of their organic content which is determined by organic productivity and the depositional conditions of the paleo-environment. In this course we deal with source rock formation and maturing, as well as their classification, including molecular parameters for characterization of oils, bitumen and gases, with practical exercises.

In addition to source rocks, are maturation, migration and trap filling key elements in an overall understanding of the “Petroleum System”.

We study the GS-FID/MS, biomarker and stable carbon isotope analytical methods. The course also provides an introduction to how petroleum geochemical methods are used in oil and gas exploration, and also an understanding of how naturally occurring hydrocarbons are distributed in sedimentary systems.

Learning outcome

After taking this course you will:

  • Understand the use and implications of modern geochemical analytical methods integrated towards a “Petroleum System Understanding”. This includes the formation of oil and gas, migration, and accumulation in traps.
  • Understand the distribution of oil and gas in sedimentary basins, and what determines the phase type in traps (oil v gas) related to maturing, migration and cap rock conditions.
  • Have acquired a basis on which to correlate oil-source, oil-oil and oil-gas and for basic analysis of source rocks.
  • Have the foundation for pursuing the subject in research, or in an exploration perspective, alternatively in work with pollution issues/bioremediation.
  • Have received an introduction to the factors controlling oil prices in relation to actual geopolitics. Organic matter in sediments was the basis for the “Industrial Revolution” plus high intensity farming, and shale gas/oil is one of the recently promoted energy sources in a world where organic carbon still accounts for 70-85% of the energy demand.
  • Have experience with presenting a scientific paper.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Recommended previous knowledge

Some basic knowledge in chemistry would be helpful.

Overlapping courses


8 hours of lectures per week (4h+2h+2h). Extensive use of “hand-outs” and scientific papers is the nucleus of the teaching effort. Some class exercises in identification of compounds in chromatograms from GC-FID, GC-MS (biomarkers), Rock-Eval and TOC methodology is provided.

Scientific papers will be discussed in plenum. Students will, as part of their teaching, each present one paper from the syllabus.

Attendance at the first lecture is compulsory. Students who fail to meet, are considered to have withdrawn from the course unless they have previously given notice to the Student administration (

We reserve the right to change the teaching form and examination of the course in semesters where 5 or fewer students have been admitted.

The teaching does not involve direct exposure to lab or field environments. Thus, there is no direct need to take out a separate travel and personal risk insurance.


  • Presentation of a scientific paper must be approved before sitting for the written examination of the course.
  • Final written examination (3 hours) counts for 100%.

Examination support material

Approved calcuator.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English.You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Students who can document a valid reason for absence from the regular examination are offered a postponed examination at the beginning of the next semester.

Re-scheduled examinations are not offered to students who withdraw during, or did not pass the original examination.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

It will also be counted as one of the three attempts to sit the exam for this course, if you sit the exam for one of the following courses: 

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Every autumn


Every autumn

Teaching language