MSc Programme in Water and Sustainable Development

This programme targets early and midcareer water professionals, who have the ambition to gain knowledge and skills to tackle water challenges while enhancing their career opportunities within the water sector or related organizations.

Application for admission

Application for admission to the programme starting in 2022 is now closed. Application for admission to the programme starting in 2023 is expected to open in fall 2022.

At a glance

The MSc in Water and Sustainable Development starts each year in November as of 2022. Its curriculum consists of common parts, thematic track modules and a thesis research part. The contents of the common parts are the same for all students, whereas the thematic track modules and MSc thesis research are part of a customized learning trajectory based on your personal learning ambitions.

Key Programme Features

Customized study trajectories
The programme offers maximum flexibility to customize study trajectories to individual learning needs and career opportunities.

Active coaching
Coaches support students in building their customized programme and provide study advice throughout the programme.

Learning activities within the programme encourage multidisciplinary collaborations and engage students with interdisciplinary approaches.

Problem-orientated curricula
The programme offers problem-orientated curricula based on actual water-related challenges that engage students in critical and innovative thinking, to be able to handle future challenges.

Professional skills
The programme stimulates the development of (inter)personal and cognitive competences, necessary to create a well-rounded professional, confident in communicating, persuading and providing leadership.

Lifelong learning
Continued learning after graduation is encouraged through online courses, webinars, refresher courses and other activities provided for alumni.

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Thematic Tracks

After a joint start with all students in module 1, you will follow six modules based on your personal learning objectives and academic background. These modules are grouped in four closely connected and partly overlapping thematic areas -shown below- based on societal water challenges.

Disciplinary Profiles

Within the thematic track you can choose a disciplinary profile: Engineering and Hydrology, Governance and Management, Environment, Sanitation or Digital Innovation

Mixed weeks and the interdisciplinary project

The track modules are interspersed with so-called mixed weeks, in which one or two days are reserved for exams, half a day for portfolio development and coaching, while the remaining days are dedicated to skills training.


The transferrable skills are introduced in lectures and exercises during these weeks; in the consecutive modules the skills are being put to practice. For example, group dynamics training and academic writing is introduced the first mixed week in December. Modules 3 and 4 following this mixed week will contain group exercises and essay writing on the topics taught in the modules.

Upon conclusion of the thematic track modules (2-7) you will start with the interdisciplinary project (module 8). In this module you make a preliminary analysis, from an interdisciplinary perspective, of a water-related problem, work in teams to formulate possible solutions and propose measures to address the identified problems, threats and opportunities.

Water is a very precious and valuable resource and it is an integral part of our environment. Therefore, I want to be involved in the global conversation around its management and protection.
Hoor Al Amin, Jordan
MSc Student at IHE Delft

Thesis Research

Preparations for the thesis research begin early in the programme. During the mixed weeks, academic skills that are necessary for a successful completion of the MSc thesis are introduced, such as critical reading, literature review and scientific writing. Your coach guides you in selecting a research topic that suits your learning goals and career ambitions, as part of your tailor-made trajectory.

The topic can be based on your professional experience or suggested by your employer. Alternatively, you may choose from a list of possible research topics proposed by staff that are often related to ongoing research activities.

From mixed week 3 onwards, you start discussing with your mentors on the research questions and objectives, and can start with your literature search and preliminary reading.

In the final module you develop your MSc thesis proposal and take preparatory short courses, necessary for your thesis research.


Some parts of this module are compulsory for all students, such as lectures on philosophy of science, research ethics and guidance on developing a research proposal and protocol. Other parts depend on the topic and methodology that will be followed during the research. These parts include short courses on data collection, management and analysis; laboratory skills; modelling; remote sensing/GIS; interview techniques; or other relevant research methods. In some cases, these are existing courses, in other cases this may be an individual tailor-made tutorial.

You will spend at least half of the time of this module writing your individual research proposal. Important elements of the proposal are framing the problem in the larger societal context, formulating research questions, objectives and the conceptual framework, justifying the selected research methodology and planning the implementation (including field work where relevant). At the end of the module, you defend your proposal through an oral presentation to the supervisory team.

The thesis research can be done at IHE Delft, at another location in the Netherlands with involvement of the Dutch water sector, in your home country, or at an IHE Delft partner institute abroad. In case of the latter, the partner must preferably be linked to an existing IHE Delft project and/or known as a reliable partner from past experience. The supervisory team at IHE Delft will have regular contact (circa once a week) with you during the research phase.

In October, you will conclude your research by presenting your thesis to the Examination Committee which include the supervisory team members and an independent member.

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Application and admission

You are academically admitted to the MSc in Water and Sustainable Development based on your initial preference for a thematic track and disciplinary profile.

This programme is accredited by NVAO, the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders.


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