Sanitary Engineering

You will learn to design sewage collection and treatment systems and develop rational approaches towards sustainable sanitation management via cleaner production, appropriate treatment and resources re-use, in a developing, urban, context

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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?

This specialization is designed for professionals interested in achieving and maintaining the environment and public health. It is particularly relevant to BSc-level engineers who are involved in (or wish to become involved in) the provision of sanitation services. Typical students include civil, process and sanitary engineers, university faculty and researchers, and technical managers.


Students who successfully complete this programme will receive a MSc degree in Urban Water and Sanitation.


Start: 18 October 2018
Application deadline: 01 August 2018

Learning objectives

After successfully completing this specialization, graduates will be able to:

  • Understand and explain the role of sanitation in the urban water cycle and its relation to public health and environment;
  • Develop rational approaches towards sustainable wastewater management via pollution prevention,
  • Appropriate treatment, and resource recovery and re-use at both centralised and decentralised levels;
  • Understand the relevant physical, chemical and biological processes and their mutual relationships within various sanitation components;
  • Define and critically analyse, assess and evaluate various urban drainage and sewerage schemes, and wastewater, sludge and solid waste treatment process technologies;
  • Analyse, synthesise, integrate, interpret, and discuss scientific and practical information in the context of preparing research and engineering projects including preparation of master plans, feasibility studies and preliminary designs;
  • Apply modern tools for technology selection and to model sanitation components;
  • Identify, develop and conduct independent research including field work, and laboratory research;
  • Contribute to the development of innovative approaches to the provision of adequate and sustainable sanitation services in developing countries and countries in transition.

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
    • Hydrology, Water Supply and Water Demand Management and GIS Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. identify and discuss the basic elements of hydrology, and apply hydrological principles in water and wastewater engineering.
      2. forecast water demand in a city, based on population forecasts, per capita use and Water Demand Management measures.
      3. comprehend GIS and remote sensing concepts; explain the basic principles underlying the GIS/model-based management of water systems; recognize the GIS-based analytical and problem-solving techniques for sustainable planning and management of urban water systems.
    • Chemistry and Public Health Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe bonds between elements and identify chemical reactions.
      2. Calculate stoichiometric relationships in reactions and balance them.
      3. Describe reactions in water treatment (flocculation, adsorption, disinfection, softening, etc.).
      4. Describe waterborne infectious diseases and the pathogens.
      5. List legislative requirements for safe water, and explain Water Safety Plan and QMRA concepts for waterborne infections.
      6. Reproduce pathogen reductions by treatment processes.
    • EPT, Microbiology and Integrated Urban Water Management Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Apply mass balance analysis to natural and engineered water systems, especially for the analysis of microbial growth and substrate conversion in CFST and plug flow reactors.
      2. Apply microbiological principles in water and wastewater engineering.
      3. To develop strategies for Integrated Urban Water Management, and to evaluate consequences for the wider social, economic and environmental context. The specific learning objectives for IUWM are: The knowledge/insight level: - To describe the urban water system (cycle), its components and interrelations, and its interactions with the (aquatic) environment. - To describe the causes of urbanisation and the effect on the urban water system. - To model water flows, material flows and energy consumption of an urban water system using a water balance software tool. The application level: - To apply theoretical concepts from systems engineering to the urban water system - To apply strategic and masterplanning of the urban water system, and describe links with general urban planning. The integration level: - To develop a strategy for IUWM, making use of water demand management and pollution prevention. - To clearly and coherently present your ideas in a well-organised formal academic report.
    • Urban Drainage and Sewerage Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe the purpose, need and importance of urban drainage and discuss the challenges of modern urban drainage. Describe different types of sewer systems and discuss design, construction, operation and maintenance aspects, conditions of applicability and relative advantage and disadvantage of different types of sewer systems.
      2. Describe the hydrological processes relevant to urban storm drainage and impacts of urbanization on hydrological processes and discuss basic concepts in catchment modelling. Describe basic concepts of fluid flow and discuss the principles, fundamentals and applicability of methods to analyze conduit and free surface flows.
      3. Critically determine and analyze quantity and quality characteristics of stormwater and wastewaters originating from urban environments as a basis for the design, operation and maintenances of urban drainage system facilities.
      4. Describe type of data required and processing methods for urban drainage management and process and analyses spatial and temporal data, design standards and regulations and health safety for proper deign, simulation and operation of urban drainage systems.
      5. Describe the inputs, outputs and functioning of urban drainage systems, explain the standard practice in designing urban drainage systems and develop simple drainage system designs.
      6. Explain the elements of an urban drainage system model, construct a simple model for analysis of hydraulics of a drainage system and interpret simple model results and use them for decision making in design, renewal and upgrading of urban drainage systems.
    • Conventional Wastewater Treatment Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. critically determine and analyse quality and quantity characteristics of wastewater originating from urban environments as a basis for the design, control and operation of sewage treatment facilities.
      2. discuss the physical, chemical, and biological processes applied for sewage purification and the complex interactions among them occurring in wastewater treatment systems.
      3. apply the knowledge on biological treatment processes and engineering on the process design and critical assessment of wastewater treatment systems and configurations for the removal of organic matter (as COD) and nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) as a function of environmental, operating and wastewater conditions and characteristics.
      4. discuss the principles, fundamentals and applicability of recently developed wastewater treatment processes such as innovative nitrogen removal processes and membrane bioreactors.
    • Resource Oriented Wastewater Treatment and Sanitation Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. describe the physical, chemical and microbiological processes occurring in anaerobic reactors and a number of natural systems
      2. critically reflect on the current sanitation systems encountered in many urban areas and to indicate ways to improve this situation in a sustainable manner;
      3. evaluate the possibilities for closing cycles of energy, water and nutrients
      4. evaluate the feasibility of the application of the technologies studied in this module in urban settings in the developing world
      5. carry out preliminary process design of treatment and reuse systems to assess the needs for capital, land, equipment and operation and maintenance
    • Wastewater Treatment Plants Design and Engineering Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Select the most suitable and cost-effective wastewater treatment process technology (among the most widely applied anaerobic, aerobic, land-based and on-site systems) to treat certain wastewater stream given its composition and characteristics and taking into account the required effluent standards.
      2. Carry out a preliminary design of a wastewater treatment system (based on the most widely applied anaerobic, aerobic, land-based and on-site systems) including the engineering process lay-out, hydraulic profile and process flow-diagram (PFD).
      3. Identify and estimate the construction, operational and maintenance costs of a wastewater treatment plant and the investments required to secure its satisfactory operation throughout the expected life-span of the system.
      4. Describe the main elements and components involved in the project planning, project management, and project administration for the design, engineering, construction, start-up and operation of a wastewater treatment plant.
    • Modelling Wastewater Treatment Processes and Plants Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. memorize the basics of wastewater treatment modelling (kinetics, stoichiometry, mass balances, hydraulics and matrix notations). Can develop a matrix for a biological model. Can use the computer software AQUASIM as a tool for modelling wastewater treatment processes. Can put a matrix in AQUASIM
      2. explain the nitrification and bio-P-process and the matrix of the biological models. Can put the matrix in AQUASIM and explain the outcome of the model run and the implications for wastewater treatment
      3. evaluate data and processes and apply it in a BioWin exercise, relates the use of BioWin as a tool for modeling activated sludge processes. Apply the theory with respect to modeling using a case study. Can put the model into BioWin and can discuss and explain the outcome of the model
      4. explain the modeling of anaerobic digestion. Memorize how the model works in BioWin
      5. explain the modeling of natural systems and the difference with activated sludge modeling. Can develop a simplified model for a pond system. Can simulate an existing model using AQUASIM and explain the results.
      6. explain the modeling of MBR + biofilm systems, simulate existing models using AQUASIM, explain results.
    • International Fieldtrip and Fieldwork UWS Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. International Field Trip: To expose the participants, during a two week fieldtrip to a European country, to different international practises in the design, operation and management of water supply, wastewater, solid waste and urban civil infrastructure networks.
      2. Field Work: The fieldwork, carried out typically within the Netherlands but on location, is a one week work to make the students familiar with performing research on location, how to process real data, and to apply the newly acquired knowledge to a practical situation.
    • Industrial Effluents Treatment and Residuals Management Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Define cleaner production and explain the advantages and disadvantages of applying cleaner production activities. Implement cleaner production activities on a selected industrial sector. Describe industrial water management strategies for pollution prevention including the planning and performance of water audits, the implementation of waste minimization plans, and the adequate selection of wastewater treatment technologies Implement industrial water management strategies for pollution prevention on a selected industrial sector Define industrial effluent toxicity and identify problems associated with industrial effluent toxicity Illustrate how to measure industrial effluent toxicity and explain alternatives to deal with toxic effluent streams
      2. Define the most commonly applied wastewater treatment technologies and explain their most suitable industrial waste treatment applications as well as their advantages and disadvantages Select the most appropriate treatment technology and design a wastewater treatment train (sequence of treatmen processes) to treat an industrial effluent stream for a selected industry
      3. Define sludge handle and sludge treatment and explain the needs for sludge handle and treatment activities in the context of industrial wastewater treatment Describe sludge handling and treatment processes such as sludge conditioning, thickening, stabilization, and dewatering Design sludge thickeners and anaerobic sludge digesters Describe sludge drying and sludge incineration processes
      4. Recognize wastewater treatment technologies applied to indsutrial waste treatment and analyze industrial waste schemes from case studies presented from a diverse range of industries Integrate cleaner production, industrial water management, wastewater treatment processes, and sludge handling and disposal in the design on an industrial waste treatment process for a slected industry
    • Water Treatment Processes and Plants Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. to creatively apply (gained) knowledge and experience regarding water quality and conventional treatment methods in design and engineering, operation & maintenance and rehabilitation of conventional water treatment processes and plants;
      2. to critically analyse water quality data and to select the most attractive raw water resource;
      3. to design and engineer a water treatment plant (conventional and advanced water treatment plants for both ground water and surface water treatment);
      4. to execute plant performance studies and to evaluate results, as well as to propose improvements in order to rehabilitate a malfunctioning plant;
      5. to show professional knowledge and know-how for operating (process & quality control, troubleshooting) and maintaining of manually and semi-automated water treatment plants;
      6. in addition participants' skills will be improved through aspects such as: problem solving, decision making, oral presentations, writing reports, working in small task forces.
    • Urban Water Systems Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. gain a sound overall understanding of processes that are necessary for analysis and planning of urban water systems.
      2. gain an understanding of processes that are necessary for modelling, analysis and planning of water distribution systems.
      3. gain an understanding of processes that are necessary for modelling, analysis and planning of sewerage and drainage systems.
      4. conduct modelling of Urban drainage Networks: Use advanced simulation software for urban drainage systems, including surcharge, sewer overflow, water quality issues; analyse model output and desire if some part of the system shall be changed; recommend possible solutions to improve the function of a drainage system to prevent flooding and pollution of receiving waters
      5. gain an understanding of processes that are necessary for modelling, analysis and planning of wastewater treatment plants.
      6. gain an understanding of impacts from urban water systems on receiving environment.
    • Advanced Water Transport and Distribution Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. distinguish between various sources of water quality problems in distribution networks;understand the basic corrosion mechanisms and suggest the list of preventive and reactive measures;
      2. understand the theory of advanced hydraulic and water quality modelling; apply state-of-the-art network software for assessment of irregular operational scenarios and develop a reliability-based and cost effective design using computer model.
      3. recognise the GIS and remote sensing technologies, and familiarise with the GIS-based techniques for sustainable planning and management of WTD systems;
      4. understand the theory of transient flows, and plan the measures to prevent/control water hammer;
      5. select modern tools for monitoring of operation, and planning of maintenance of WTD systems.
    • Decentralised Water Supply and Sanitation Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. know different technologies/methods for small-scale water abstraction and water treatment that can be used at household or small community level
      2. understand the basics of sustainable sanitation technologies including nutrient reuse in agriculture (ecological sanitation), soild waste management and fecal sludge management and their implementation in small towns, peri-urban and urban poor areas of developing countries
      3. prepare concept design for small-scale water supply treatment and ecosan technology
      4. facilitate planning, financing, implementation and operation and maintenance of decentralised water supply and sanitation infrastructures based on stakeholder participation and community management
    • Faecal Sludge Management Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe the way how excreta and faecal sludge are characterised.
      2. Know which technologies can be applied for which type of faecal sludge (settling tanks, planted and unplanted drying beds, etc)
      3. Name the key stakeholders in FSM.
      4. Describe the relationship between sanitation and health.
      5. Name the challenges in emergency sanitation and know how emergency sanitation can be addressed.
      6. Be familiar with the latest developments in sustainable (on-site) sanitation solutions that can be applied in high density low income areas.
    • Summer Course and Research Methodology for UWS Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Discuss the latest insights, context and concepts of a contemporary issue of choice
      2. Able to justify his or her research in the context of IHE Delft research lines, personal professional interests and preferably in local, national and regional contemporary issues.
      3. Apply basic statistics into research.
    • Groupwork Sint Maarten Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. apply and integrate his or her knowledge obtained during the Specialisation to solve water and sanitation related issues.
      2. compare the complex water and sanitation issues applied to a real case scenario with the examples from the classes
      3. defend his or her input in a team of specialists as well as in an interdisciplinary team.
      4. assess his/her own strengths and weaknesses with respect to working in a group.
      5. efend the groups' findings to a team of experts in the field.
    • MSc Preparatory Course and Thesis Research Proposal for UWS Required

Tuition & fellowships

Information about tuition fees can be found here.

The following fellowships are recommended for prospective students who wish to study Sanitary Engineering

  • 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:

  • 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:

  • 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:

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



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