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SOES6064 Barrel Award

Module Overview

This is a team project, which depends for its success on the skills, abilities, efforts and teamwork of the participating students. The winning team from Southampton will be put forward to compete in an international competition organised by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Restricted to MSci Geology and MSci Geophysics students who are ALSO taking SOES6059 Basin Analysis. It is also offered to students on the taught MRes Marine Geology and Geophysics programme. Optional module for MSci Geology, MSci Geophysics and MRes students. Note: Numbers are restricted to 20 students. If the module is oversubscribed, places will be allocated by the Coordinator based on academic performance in Year 3 and the need to create balanced teams with both MSci Geology and MSci Geophysics representation.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The module provides a means by which SOES students in the fourth year of an MSci Geology or MSci Geophysics programme can participate in AAPG's Imperial Barrel Award Program (IBA). The IBA is an annual, international, prospect exploration and evaluation competition, created for geoscience graduate students, between Master's level university student teams. The teams compete on the basis of their skills in evaluating the data provided and making a presentation on their results. Successful teams have the chance to win scholarship funds for their Universities, which are to be dedicated to petroleum geoscience education. The program is rigorous and contributes to AAPG's mission of promoting petroleum geoscience training and advancing the careers of geoscience students. AAPG's IBA is a global competition, where the University teams analyse a complete dataset in six to eight weeks prior to the competition. Each team selected for the international competition delivers their results in a 25-minute presentation to a panel of industry experts. Students gain experience using real technology on a real dataset. Additionally, students benefit from the feedback from the industry panel, the opportunity to impress potential employers in the audience, and the chance to win cash prizes for their schools. The winning team will be selected on the basis of technical quality, clarity and originality. All students registered for SOES6064 work, as teams, on the IBA project; and are assessed internally both individually and as teams. The winning team within OES is then selected to participate in the international AAPG competition. Background The IBA is a hands-on opportunity for students to experience the creative process and the high-tech science that is the foundation of the Energy Industry today. The 'Barrel Award' has been part of the MSc Petroleum Geoscience course at Imperial College, London for more than 30 years. Started in 1976, the program originally focused on the North Sea - a frontier basin where interpretations required using colour pencils. Today, Southampton is one of many institutions internationally who join AAPG and the IBA in using new technology to provide students a unique learning experience using data sets from basins around the world. Although the technology has changed, the key learning elements of the program remain remarkably similar to the original concepts pioneered by Imperial College.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Evidence of rigorous and creative technical evaluations
  • The ability to work to a strict deadline
  • The ability to work effectively within a team
  • The ability to make decisions based on incomplete data
  • The ability to give convincing oral presentations to a panel of industry experts.


You will work in teams of 5 students, to analyse and interpret an exploration data set provided by, and representative of current practice in, the energy exploration industry. Assessment is by group presentation at the end of the course, and includes a competition between the teams. The winning team from Southampton will be put forward to compete in the international competition of the European section of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG Europe), and the chance (should they win the European section competition) to go on to compete at the international finals in the USA.

Special Features

See also 

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

The core ethos of this activity is that it is a team project, which depends for its success on the skills, abilities, efforts and teamwork of the participating students. The end product is an interpretation and evaluation of the data provided, communicated through a team presentation. This should be entirely the result of each team's work, and not that of the supervising staff. Staff input will be limited to overall organisation, and to providing appropriate advice or help when it is requested. The coordinator will act as facilitator and overall advisor. Other staff may act as specialist advisor(s) in particular technical areas as needed. A wide range of support can be provided for those students who have further or specific learning and teaching needs.

Supervised time in studio/workshop140
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

Group Presentation (70%): A 25 minute seminar presentation on the group's project results, to which each member of the group must contribute. Assessed using the criteria defined by AAPG. Awarded a group mark, by a judging panel consisting of University staff and external experts. Group Executive Summary Document (15%): a 1-page (double sided) Executive Summary document to accompany the presentation. Awarded a group mark by the co-ordinator. Individual contribution: assessed on the basis of each individual's contribution to the team, and be determined by peer assessment (15%).


MethodPercentage contribution
Group presentation 70%
Group report 15%
Individual contribution 15%
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