a university is planning to open a campus in South Korea in an attempt to capitalise on its expertise in the oil and gas sector.

Aberdeen University, which specialises in offering courses in the offshore and energy industries, is commissioning research into the possibility of setting up a satellite campus more than 5,000 miles from the north east of Scotland, in a free economic zone in the south of the Asian country.

It is hoped a series of post- graduate qualifications and training courses will be offered in South Korea as part of a centre for offshore and energy-related research and education, including masters degrees in subsea engineering, energy management, petroleum engineering and renewable energy engineering.

If the plan comes to fruition, it would be the latest Scottish institution to set up a base overseas. Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University has moved into Dubai and Malaysia, Queen Margaret University has a Singapore campus, while Glasgow Caledonian University offers courses in New York.

However, Aberdeen, which was founded in 1495, would become the first of Scotland's five ancient universities to set up a foreign campus.

Its South Korean base would see courses delivered in English and is likely to follow the British academic year. Research companies have been asked to explore government regulations, the higher education market and the economy in the country, to assist the university in drawing up a business plan.

In a document provided to potential bidders for the research contract, the university states it has developed a profile "held in the highest regard" in the international energy, engineering, geoscience, economics and management circles, with the Granite City seen as a "hub for leading industry players".

The sentiment was echoed by Oil and Gas UK, which represents Britain's offshore oil and gas industry. Dr Alix Thom, the organisation's employment and skills issues manager, said: "This type of project is indicative of the global nature of the oil and gas industry and the value placed on the skills and expertise developed in the UK."

The firm that succeeds in winning the research contract, which will be awarded next month, will carry out interviews with businesses, other universities and potentially government officials in South East Asia. Aberdeen University plans to offer courses on a full-time basis over 12 months or part-time, over two years.

Researchers will be asked to examine whether there is an appropriate pool of staff in the region to deliver the courses, the monthly living costs for staff and students in the Hadong Galsa Bay area in the GyeongNam Province, and the fees students and employers would be willing to pay.

If the campus gets the go-ahead, it will signal the latest link between Scottish institutions and South Korea. An agreement was signed last year between the Scottish Government and the South Korean city of Incheon, promising to work together to make progress in the marine energy sector.

A spokeswoman Aberdeen University said the institution was "committed to embedding a culture of internationalisation across all our activities and in so doing enhance our reputation as a global university".

She added: "We are keen to explore options for strategic partnerships with regions and organisations, especially in subjects where we have particular strength and leadership.

"As part of this we are looking at a potential opportunity to provide graduate education as part of a centre for offshore and energy-related research and education in South Korea."