Hydrology and Water Resources

You will deal with surface and groundwater, addressing both water quantity and quality, learning to understand human influences on the hydrological system, and apply tools, such as modelling, for the proper integration of hydrological knowledge and analysis in water resources planning and 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 aim to work in river basin management, prediction and mitigation of floods and droughts, water resources assessment (quantity and quality), water supply, hydropower, land use and development, environmental survey and planning, and other related fields.


Students who successfully completed this programme will be awarded with an MSc degree in Water Science and Engineering.


Start: 18 October 2018
Application deadline: 01 August 2018

Learning objectives

Graduates who have undertaken the Hydrology and Water Resources specialization will be equipped with:

  • An in-depth understanding of theories and concepts in surface and subsurface hydrology, the physical, chemical and biological interactions between the hydrosphere, the lithosphere, the biosphere and the atmosphere.
  • A thorough awareness of natural and human-induced variations of hydrological systems.
  • Good knowledge of the literature and contemporary research questions in hydrology.

 Graduates will be able to:

  • Apply and integrate relevant physical, chemical, applied mathematical, computational and earth-scientific principles and concepts.
  • Use information and communication technology within a hydrological context.
  • Master the major hydrological methodologies and applications with regard to water quantity and quality, including techniques for data collection, processing and analysis, and the application of catchment hydrological modelling and aquifer modelling techniques.
  • Evaluate and analyse hydrological systems and processes at a wide range of scales in both space and time for the purpose of water resources assessment, natural hazard assessment and mitigation, and environmental planning and management.
  • Design and conduct hydrological research and experiments for applied or scientific purposes, independently or within a team.

In addition, graduates will:

  • Be aware of the importance of hydrology to society, the relationship of hydrology and other disciplines such as ecology, meteorology and climatology.
  • Be able to co-operate within a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary framework with due consideration of ethical and social aspects related to the application of their knowledge and skills.


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.
    • Hydrogeology Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. understand groundwater occurrences, aquifer classification and aquifer properties in various geological settings;
      2. understand the concepts related to groundwater storage, recharge and discharge;
      3. understand steady state and transient groundwater flow processes and their physical description;
      4. the ability to apply analytical solutions to solve steady state and transient groundwater problems;
      5. determine groundwater balances and to carry out pumping test analyses.
    • Surface Hydrology Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Explain the global hydrological cycle and water budget, the global energy budget, and the relation between, hydrology, climate, soils and vegetation.
      2. Explain the surface hydrological processes related to evapotranspiration, soil water movement and rainfall-runoff dynamics, and the concepts and theories that describe the physics of these processes.
      3. Independently apply the understanding with analytical methods and conceptual models to quantitatively assess the surface hydrology for situations at catchment scales.
    • Water Quality Required
      Learning Objectives
      1. Apply basic chemical principles and determine reactions that play a role in the determination and evolution of water quality;
      2. Determine the various (contaminant) transport mechanisms taking place in (sub)surface hydrology;
      3. Apply appropriate methods to monitor, analyze and assess the water quality characteristics of hydrological systems.
    • Tracer Hydrology and Flow Systems Analysis Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. apply knowledge of the concepts of tracer hydrology, with emphasis on environmental isotopes.
      2. apply knowledge of the concept of hydrochemical facies analysis.
      3. independently use these methodologies to quantitatively assess characteristics of hydrological flow systems.
      4. carry out comprehensive hydrological flow systems analyses in surface water and groundwater systems in different hydro-climatic regions and geological conditions.
    • Hydrological Data Collection and Processing Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Comprehend the need for hydrological data and information, and the roles and functions of National Hydrological Services.
      2. Comprehend the activities involved in water resources-related data collection, processing, storage and retrieval.
      3. Explain the principles and concepts used in hydrological observing networks and routine data collection.
      4. Apply standard methods for processing and analyzing hydrological data to prepare water resources information.
      5. Apply hands-on experience with collecting, processing and comparative analysis of hydrometeorological station data.
    • Groundwater Data Collection and Interpretation Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. understand and interpret hydro(geo)logical time series and spatial data
      2. understand the underlying principles of methods applied to groundwater exploration and monitoring;
      3. plan a groundwater investigation programme and to interpret the results of such a programme;
      4. learn methods and procedures used in groundwater monitoring;
      5. design a groundwater monitoring network and to assess the required measurement frequencies.
    • Integrated Hydrological and River Modelling Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Understand and describe the structure of physically-based hydrological models and the methods used by these models to simulate the behaviour of distinct hydrological phenomena;
      2. Distinguise components of hydrological modelling software for hydrodynamic simulation, catchment process simulation and surface water quality simulation;
      3. Translate a given hydrological problem into a model definition using available data;
      4. Conduct a model calibration/validation procedure and to interpret the simulation results to assess model performance and to suggest improvement in the model set-up; and
      5. Independently carry out a hydrological modelling study and to report the results.
    • Groundwater in Adaptation to Global Change Impacts Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. assess the impacts of present and future global water consuming and contaminating activities on groundwater resources
      2. analyze the occurrence, benefits and challenges of managed aquifer recharge as a tool for climate change adaptation;
      3. carry out a feasibility study for the implementation of a managed aquifer recharge project
      4. explain feedback mechanisms between groundwater, irrigation agriculture and socio-economics in water stressed regions;
      5. use modeling tools for optimal management of coupled groundwater-agricultural systems
      6. define the urban water balance concept including the role of groundwater;
      7. differentiate between a number of key pollutants and processes in urban groundwater
    • 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.
    • Applied Groundwater Modelling Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. be familiar with the principles and procedures of groundwater modelling;
      2. construct a groundwater model using state of the art modelling software;
      3. use the model for simulation of groundwater flow, contaminant transport and salt water intrusion;
      4. apply groundwater modelling techniques for groundwater resources management and protection.
    • MSc Preparatory Course and MSc Research Proposal Required
    • Summer Courses - Research Methodology for WSE Elective
    • Groupwork WSE Elective
    • 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 Hydrology and Water Resources

  • 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

  • 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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