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GeoNetZero CDT


GeoNetZero CDT
Room 2, Shell Building
School of Energy, Geoscience
Infrastructure and Society
Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh, EH14 4AS

Tel: +44 (0) 131 451 4725


The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) entitled GeoNetZero is a new program of PhD research and training set up to address key areas in Geoscience and their role in the Low Carbon Energy Transition and Challenge of Net Zero.

The GeoNetZero Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) research remit is focused on the role of Geoscience and its applications to progressing the transition to a Low Carbon Energy Economy and addressing the challenges of achieving Net Zero Carbon.

The GeoNetZero CDT is a natural evolution from the successful Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) CDT in Oil & Gas whose unique model of combined research and bespoke training is already providing the new generation of scientists and practitioners with the skills needed to reduce the environmental impact of oil and gas exploration and extraction and focus on responsible environmental management to speed up the process of reducing carbon use in the global economy.

The GeoNetZero CDT has received strong support from the UK Government throughout, most notably through its inclusion as the academic Postgraduate Training partner of choice in the 2021 North Sea Transition Deal.

Training Academy

Led by Professor John Underhill, Professor of Exploration Geoscience at Heriot-Watt, the CDT’s combined research and bespoke training model is a natural evolution from the success of the NERC CDT in Oil & Gas and its 125 PhD students whose expertise and research are being applied across the environmental and subsurface sciences.

Courses are led by staff from the academic and industry partners but the ethos of the training is that students and course leaders interact as peers.

The training curriculum covers a broad spectrum of geoscience and its applications e.g. Sedimentology, Stratigraphy, Tectonics, LiDAR, geo-informatics, reservoir management, but also subjects of more general application such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Communicating Science and Career Development.

The training is an excellent opportunity for students to interact with one another and representatives from other academic, industry and regulatory organisations, thus creating a wider PhD peer support group and generating a network of connections across the sector that leads to future employment options and collaborative ventures. 


Led and administered by Heriot-Watt University, the GeoNetZero CDT is a partnership of 12 academic institutions comprising Aberdeen, Birmingham, Dundee, Durham, Exeter (Camborne), Heriot-Watt, Keele, Newcastle, Nottingham, Plymouth, Royal Holloway (RHUL) and Strathclyde. Between them, these universities provide funding for up to a further 8 studentships to match the 8 funded by NEO Energy.

The CDT’s training program is funded by 9 industry sponsors; BP, Cairn Energy, Chrysaor, CNOOC, Equinor, ExxonMobil, NEO Energy, Shell and Total.

The CDT also has financial backing from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through funding from the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), its affiliate, the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the Ministry of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in support of the transition to underpin the applications of geoscience research and training to finding solutions that facilitate achieving the goals of a decarbonised economy.

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