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The IHE Delft Institute for Water Education offers university level master programmes that embed research in education. Students are confronted with state-of-the-art knowledge, ideas, approaches and technologies both in the taught part and during the research projects in which they partake.
The educational concept of IHE Delft comprises five elements:
1. Relevance for development
The aim of the Institute’s MSc Programmes is to educate students primarily from development countries and countries in transition as well as students from developed countries with a strong interest in water and development to become creative problem solving professionals in the field of water and environment. The MSc curricula are geared towards supporting a greater understanding of sustainable development and the inherent challenges in achieving that.
Teaching staff and students come from all over the world and (research) partnerships with related institutes and universities play an important role in teaching. The educational environment can therefore be called truly international; it is characterized by pluralism and diversity and stimulates students while progressing in their studies to develop communication skills that will enable them to disseminate their professional knowledge and skills effectively.
2. The structure of the MSc Curricula: acquiring and integrating knowledge and skills
2a. The Delft-based, 18 month curricula of the MSc Programmes consist of 106 ECTS credit points and have a Taught Part (61 ECTS credit points) and a Thesis Research Part (45 ECTS credit points). Research skills are also built up during the taught part.
The Taught Part is formed by13 modules. A module consists of a teaching period (usually 3 weeks) and an exam period (within the exam week following each two consecutive modules). Modules may be shared between or among specializations and/or programmes. The taught part intends to acquiring and integrating knowledge and skills in 4 phases:
- Foundation phase: leveling knowledge and skills (2-4 modules)
- Specialization phase (4-6 modules), concluded by a field trip and field work (module #9)
- Electives phase: deepening and/or broadening knowledge and skills (modules #10-12)
- Interdisciplinary problem solving phase: integrating knowledge and skills (groupwork, module #13)
The Thesis Research Part consists of two modules on research methodology and MSc proposal drafting and defense, followed by a period of six months of individual research and writing of the thesis. The MSc thesis is defended publically at the end.
2.b The Delft-based, 12 month curriculum of the MSc Programme in Sanitation consists of 68 ECTS credit points and has a Taught Part (39 ECTS credit points) and a Thesis Research Part (29 ECTS credit points).
The taught part of the programme is formed by 13 modules, ranging from 1 to 6 weeks’ duration, including lectures, laboratory tutorials, field trips, case studies, group work, design exercises and discussions.
Preparations for the thesis research begin early on in the programme. During the taught part of the programme, one day is dedicated to these preparations every three weeks. Initially, these days are filled with more general topics such as research ethics, clarification of research methods, statistics, etc. In later modules, the research days are dedicated to literature review techniques that can be used, and students will apply them directly to the literature review for their own research topic that has been allocated to the individual students halfway through the taught programme.
Module 13 deals with advanced research methods, in preparation for the actual field work. Depending on their topic, students choose between lab based - (different types of experimental design, sampling strategies and analyses), and social science based - field research methods.
After completing this module, students work individually on their research proposal and prepare for the defence of that proposal. The field work part of the research will, in most cases, take place in a developing country, hosted and co-supervised by one of IHE's academic partners. Data analysis, thesis writing and the public thesis defence will take place in Delft.
3. Academic staff
The teaching staff is of PhD level, didactically skilled and comes from all over the world. All teaching staff members are active in research within their respective specializations which enables them to act as examples for their students. All full professors are also appointed by a Dutch university. Guest lecturers are hired to provide for specialist expertise that is not available from the teaching staff, and to share experience from real life practice in their specific professional field.
4. T-shape competency profiles
Effective problem solving in the field of water and environment requires knowledge-based competence from the physical sciences, water engineering, and/or the social sciences. The MSc curricula provide students with so-called T-shape competency profiles which enable them to cooperate within teams uniting various disciplines. The vertical bar of the T stands for specialist deep knowledge-based competence. The horizontal bar represents preliminary or working knowledge and skills from neighbouring disciplines, and also general academic skills, communication competencies (e.g. empathic, intercultural, networking competency) and other professional skills. Thus, team members who each bring their respective specialist knowledge are able to ‘embrace’, i.e. sufficiently understand, each other in interdisciplinary problem solving. For each MSc Programme and Specialization the vertical bar of the T-shape competency profile refers to the Final Qualifications under the Dublin Descriptor headings Knowledge and understanding, Applying knowledge and understanding, and Making judgments. The horizontal bar refers to the Final Qualifications under the Dublin Descriptor headings (Applying) Knowledge and understanding only in so far as preliminary or working knowledge in a neighbouring field is concerned; furthermore to Communication and Learning skills.
5. Didactic approach and lifelong learning
The teaching is ‘learner-centered’, ‘(inter)active’ and ‘research based’ and each teaching method and form of assessment used complies with the principles of this approach as explicated in teaching and assessment quality norms. Students also partake as learners and researchers in ongoing research projects, especially during the Thesis Research Part. The teaching and assessment methods employed within the modules stimulate and evaluate the students' development of critical thinking, creative problem solving and independent attitude characteristic of research based education.
To ensure intensive interaction between the individual students and teaching staff a high staff/student ratio is maintained. Furthermore, students work in small groups in order to enhance the learning effect of brainstorming, discussion, feedback, teamwork, communication etc. Academically educated professionals will only remain successful, if they are able to renew and expand their knowledge and skills on their own initiative and into new directions under their own guidance. The example set by the Institute’s staff and the active, learner-centered educational approach encourage the students’ openness to and capability of ‘lifelong learning’ throughout the curriculum.
The teaching and assessment methods employed within the modules stimulate and evaluate the students' development of critical thinking, creative problem solving and independent attitude characteristic of research based education.