Hydraulic Engineering and River Basin Development

You will develop scientific and engineering knowledge needed to design and implement projects for sustainable use of river systems and their resources, learning about the design of hydraulic structures, modeling of the river, and flood management.

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    What is Delft based

    This programme will run entirely at UNESCO-IHE in Delft, the Netherlands

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Delft based, IHE Delft, The Netherlands18 months, starts in October

For whom?

You have a BSc degree in civil engineering or a related field and a hydraulic background. You are eager to acquire practical skills and knowledge in the fields of river engineering and river basin development. A future career may be in government services, consultancy, or education and research institutes. Preferably you have worked for some years in professional practice or at a university or research establishment.


Students who successfully complete this programme will be awarded with an MSc degree in Water Science and Engineering by IHE Delft.



Start: 18 October 2018
Application deadline: 01 August 2018

Learning objectives

After completing this specialization, you will be able to:

  • Understand physical processes and natural phenomena in river basin systems, the effect of human interference in river basins, such as river structures and training works, and the management of floods and droughts;
  • Master the major hydraulic methodologies and applications for the design of (large) river structures and river modelling techniques with regard to data collection, processing and analysis;
  • Evaluate and analyse river basin systems and processes at a wide range of scales for the purpose of water resources, including morphological assessments, impact analysis of hydraulic structures and natural hazards assessment and mitigation taking into account relevant aspects of environmental, economical and social planning and management;
  • Design and conduct hydraulic research, experiments and tests for both practical and scientific purposes;
  • Have the skills to apply and integrate relevant concepts and methodologies in the area of hydraulic, hydrological and geotechnical engineering and research as well as applying computational principles within the context of hydraulic engineering.

Structure & contents

This specialization consists of 14 modules covering a total of 12 months, this is followed by a 6-month research and thesis phase. Graduates of the programme will be awarded 106 ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits.

  • October - April

    IHE Delft, The Netherlands
    • Week 1 + Introduction to Water Science and Engineering Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. 1 Discuss and explain the relevant issues of the global agenda for water and sustainable development; understand the field of water science and engineering, identify its different specialisations and understand the structure of the programme at IHE Delft;
      2. 2 Reviewing, understanding, and applying: a) Mathematical concepts and techniques relevant to water science and engineering; b) Statistical and frequency analysis concepts and techniques that are relevant to water science and engineering;
      3. 3 Understand processes at the surface of the Earth that form and sculpt landscapes. Geologic processes comprise sedimentation compaction, tectonic uplifts and subsidence, and act on a long time scale. Geomorphologic processes comprise the action of water, wind, ice, fire, and living things on the surface of the Earth, along with chemical reactions that form soils and alter material properties. Geomorpological processes act on an intermediate time scale. Furthermore, in the very recent past during the anthropocene, humans have profoundly altered the landscape. Human induced processes are relatively short term, and occur rapidly. Many of these factors are strongly mediated by climate. What is the role of water as an agent of change, and how do water systems respond to these various driving forces?
    • Hydrology and Hydraulics Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe the main concepts of steady/unsteady and uniform/non-uniform flow.
      2. Understand and describe the principles and basic equations of water flow and to apply them to various practical situations.
      3. Carry out basic measurements in the wave and current flumes at the hydraulic laboratory.
      4. Understand, describe and apply the concepts of hydrology needed for their specialisation.
      5. Understand the concepts of Geographical Information Systems and apply them in practical examples relevant to their specialization.
      6. Understand the main techniques of remote sensing and know when their use is appropriate or inappropriate.
    • River Basin Hydraulics, Geotechnics and Remote Sensing Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. understand hydraulic concepts useful in river basin structure design and management
      2. gain solid knowledge of optical remotely sensed data collection and analysis for water resources and river basin development
      3. manage geotechnical (soil and rock) concepts relevant to river basin development
    • River Morphodynamics Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. understand some basic principles of river morphology and river morphological changes.
      2. assess long-term and short-term impacts of human interventions.
      3. understand the basics of river biogeomorphology.
      4. perform 1-D morphodynamic modelling of rivers with mobile bed.
    • Data Collection and Analysis and Design Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. 1 Gain an in-depth knowledge of the monitoring schemes and field techniques for water and sediment sampling.
      2. 2 Be able to apply methods for validation and processing of data, including developing flood frequency statistics.
      3. 3 Gain an introduction to the concepts of deterministic and probabilistic design for river and coastal structures.
    • River Basin Development and Environmental Impact Assessment Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Understand the concepts of River Basin Development, including Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM); Familiarise participants with potential uses of water resources and development options, factors affecting these and problems involved; Understand the principles and advances in integrated planning, development and multi-sectoral management of water resources; Understand the concepts behind and approaches of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
      2. Make a plan for the development of a river basin, including alternative strategies out of which decision makers can choose from and the impacts these alternative strategies have on the criteria that indicate the development goals of the basin. As part of that they should be able to describe likely environmental impacts on the water environment (from WRD projects, explain the principles of environmental (social) impact assessment (EIA/ESIA) and distinguish and describe the different methodologies available to environmental assessment. Based on that they should be able to apply EIA for a RBD plan and communicate the results to others.
      3. Understand the basic of economics in RBD and the importance of good governance for the implementation of RBD plans and the operational management of river basins.
      4. Use state of the art modelling tools to simulate the distribuion of water to stakeholders within a river basin, and evaluate the impact of future scenarios and develop strategies to manage expected consquences
    • River Structures Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. 1) to analyze the interaction between flow and hydraulic structures in natural open channels
      2. 2) to create preliminary hydraulic design of selected river structures
      3. 3) to determine the consequences of different design solutions on the natural river behavior
    • Planning and Delivery of Flood Resilience Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. define and analyse flood risk as well as flood resilience/robustness.
      2. develop and evaluate (river) flood risk management strategies, with a focus on protection, prevention and preparedness.
      3. explain the need for and place of community resilience (as a set of 4 capacities) in flood event management.
      4. apply Adaptive Delta Management for large rivers and estuaries, including the concepts of Adaptation Tipping Points and Adaptation Pathways.
    • Fieldtrip and Fieldwork WSE Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Demonstrate a multidisciplinary overview of actual technical, research and organizational activities in the field of water management, hydraulic engineering and hydrology.
      2. Report detailed technical information received.
      3. Select and apply different, appropriate field instrumentation and measurement methods in practice and organise the measurement.
      4. Critically analyse field results, and identify/recognise possible areas of error or uncertainty.
      5. Integrate quantitative measurements with qualitative terrain observations and prior information to evaluate and analyse the relevant predominant processes in a study area.
      6. Apply this assimilation of data to engineering cases.
    • Modelling and Operation of River Systems Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Familiarize participants with structure of equations used to represent water phenomenas, numerical solution techniques and their representation in modelling systems and practical use of these.
      2. Provide participants practical experience with standard models and develop an understanding of modelling in river and lake systems
      3. Understand principles of reservoir control and optimisation, and develop operational rules for (multi-purpose) reservoir operation
      4. Develop critical assessment in assessing quality of model calibration and validation, verification and uncertainty
    • Summer Courses - Research Methodology for WSE Elective
    • Groupwork WSE Elective
    • MSc Preparatory Course and Thesis Research Proposal Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. concisely define the intended research topic, state precise aims and objectives, describe the research methodology, argue expected relevance and justification, and identify boundary conditions and self- or externally imposed limitations
      2. list available literature and replicate main arguments expounded in the literature on the specified research topic
      3. demonstrate analytical problem-analysis skills and the ability to distil the strategic issues to be addressed in the research phase
      4. plan, using the project management approach, the research process in weekly time-steps and indicate essential milestones, targets and indicators, required human, financial and other resources, deliverables and perceived threats and constraints at each stage of the research project
      5. develop and formulate the research proposal in a clearly written, well argued and convincing report, submitted within a set deadline
      6. successfully present and defend individual work, cross-reference it to and critically evaluate it in light of contemporary thinking in a specific field of study
    • MSc Research Work Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Explore the background of the research problem by critically reviewing scientific literature; Evaluate relevant theories and applying these theories to a relevant scientific problem; Assure adequate delineation and definition of the research topic; Formulate research questions and hypotheses.
      2. Conduct research, independently or in a multidisciplinary team by selecting and applying appropriate research methodologies and techniques, collecting and analysing data.
      3. Formulate well-founded conclusions and recommendations based on a comprehensive discussion of the results
      4. Demonstrate academic attitude and learning skills (including thinking in multidisciplinary dimensions and distinguishing main issues from minor ones), to enhance and keep up-to-date the acquired knowledge and application skills in a largely independent manner.
      5. Communicate, debate and defend, clearly and systematically, findings and generated insights, and provide rational underpinning of these in oral and written presentations to a variety of audiences.

Tuition & fellowships

Information about tuition fees can be found here.

The following fellowships are recommended for prospective students who wish to study Hydraulic Engineering and River Basin Development

  • Joint Japan Worldbank Graduate Scholarship Programme (JJ/WBGSP)

    ATTENTION: The call for applications for a JJ/WBGSP (Preferred Partner) Scholarship will open on 22 February 2018. The deadline to submit your admission letter to the Worldbank is 12 April 2018, so make sure you have send your application for admission to IHE Delft before 21 March 2018.

    The Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program (JJ/WBGSP) is open to women and men from developing countries with relevant professional experience and a history of supporting their countries’ development efforts who are applying to a master degree program in a development-related topic. View the complete list of JJ/WBGSP preferred Master Degrees currently offered here (IHE Delft programmes are listed under UNESCO-IHE).

    more info: www.worldbank.org

  • Orange Knowledge Programme

    The Orange Knowledge Programme merges the Netherlands Fellowship Programmes (NFP) and NICHE into a single integrated approach. The Orange Knowledge Programme aims to advance the development of the capacity, knowledge and quality of both individuals and institutions in higher and vocational education. 

    more info: www.un-ihe.org/orange-knowledge-programme

  • Rotary Scholarship for Water and Sanitation Professionals

    Rotary and IHE Delft Institute for Water Education are working together to tackle the world’s water and sanitation crisis by increasing the number of trained professionals to devise, plan, and implement solutions in developing and emerging countries. Through this partnership, The Rotary Foundation will award 10 scholarships annually for graduate students working or living near a Rotary club and provisionally admitted to one of the following MSc programmes (joint programmes are not eligible):

    • MSc in Urban Water and Sanitation
    • MSc in Water Management and Governance
    • MSc in Water Science and Engineering

    more info: http://www.un-ihe.org/Rotary-Scholarships-for-Water-and-Sanitation-Professionals

  • Stuned Scholarship Programme

    The Stuned Scholarship Programme is open for professionals from all over Indonesia who have completed a Bachelor study, in particular educators, government officials, ngo officials and journalists. Stuned aims at a balanced gender representation (minimum 50% women) and gives preference to candidates from less developed areas in Indonesia.

    more info: www.nesoindonesia.or.id


    The deadline for applications for a Stuned Scholarship is March 15, 2018 for Masters Programmes. Application for StuNed Master programme will be opened in January 2018.

  • WMO Fellowships

    WMO is partnering with IHE Delft to jointly support two to three fellowships a year from developing and least developed countries to undertake an MSc in one of the agreed IHE Delft programmes.

    To be considered for a fellowshipfor the academic year 2018-2020 under WMO / IHE Delft joint funding applicants must:
    a) have unconditional admission to one of the following IHE Delft programmes: Hydrology and Water Resources; Hydraulic Engineering and River Basin Development; Hydraulic Engineering - Land and Water Development; Hydroinformatics - Modelling and Information Systems for Water Management; Water Quality Management; or, Hydraulic Engineering - Coastal and Port Development. Unconditional admission implies IHE Delft have agreed to both your academic and language suitability.
    b) complete and submit a WMO Fellowship Nomination Form (FNF) to WMO by 1 March. The FNF MUST be submitted through, and approved by, the Permanent Representative (PR) of your country with WMO, click here for the contact details of the PR of your country. Please note that the PR may give preference to personnel from the National Meteorological Service or National Hydrological Service of their country. The WMO Fellowship Nomination Forms (FNF) are available here.
    c) be medically fit (see WMO FNF for details).  

    For WMO to consider the fellowship nomination all of the above conditions must be met. Successful and unsuccessful applicants will be notified through the PR of their country by the end of July 2018. For further information email: detr@wmo.int.

    more info: www.wmo.int

    more info: www.wmo.int

Application & Admission

Admission requirements

Academic admission to IHE Delft MSc Programmes may be granted to applicants who provide evidence of having:

  • A university level Bachelor’s degree in an appropriate field, which has been awarded by a university of recognised standing, comparable in level with a Bachelor degree from a research university in the Netherlands.
  • A good command of the English language, if this is not the first language. All non-native English-speaking applicants must satisfy the English language requirements for IHE Delft's educational programmes.
  • A strong motivation to successfully complete the programme.

Several years of professional experience in an area of work related to the specialisation is an asset.

Application procedure

For admission to the programme please complete the online application, the link to the application section of our website is available at the top of this page.

You need to submit the following documents:

  • Certified copies of degrees/diplomas.
  • Certified copies of academic transcripts. Authenticated or certified copies are copies with an official stamp to verify that the copies are true copies of original documents. This official stamp may be from one of the following: a solicitor/notary, the educational institution from where the student gained the diplomas or the local council/local authority/local government office.
  • Two reference letters, preferably one from a person that can judge students' professional abilities and one from a person that can judge his/her academic abilities. One recommendation letter has to come from the current employer (if available) and another one from the university the student graduated from. Letters have to have an official letterhead and need to be signed.
  • Motivation letter (maximum 500 words explanation why he/she applies for admission to the chosen programme).
  • Copy of passport.
  • Copy of results of English language test score (if required, see English language requirements).

Please note all documents are required to be in English, or officially translated into English.

One cannot apply for more than one programme per academic year, unless there is a period of at least 3 months between the starting dates of the programmes of interest. If a student applies for an Erasmus Mundus programme for which Erasmus Mundus fellowships are available, he/she can also apply for another programme. If the other programme is also an Erasmus Mundus programme, the applicant can submit up to 3 applications.

More information

Further questions about the application procedure can be addressed to:

Ms Marlies Baburek
Admission and Fellowship Officer
Email: m.baburek@un-ihe.org



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