Coastal Engineering and Port Development

You will be taught the technical background and practical skills to plan, model, design and manage coastal engineering and port development projects, and learn to analyse coastal problems and conceive appropriate solutions.

  • D
  • J

    What is Joint Programme

    Part of the programme is given at a partner institute, often in another country/continent. Joint programmes have varying start and end dates.

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Joint Programme, Hohai University, Nanjing, China, UNESCO-IHE, Delft, the Netherlands 18 months, starts in October

For whom?

You have a BSc degree in civil engineering or a related field and a hydraulic background. You have worked for at least three years in professional practice or at a university or research establishment, and is eager to acquire practical skills and knowledge to solve engineering and coastal zone / port management problems. A future career may be in government services, consultancy, or education and research institutes.


Students who successfully complete this programme will receive a joint degree in Coastal Engineering and Port Development awarded by Honai University and UNESCO-IHE.

Joint Programme

The Joint Programme in Coastal Engineering and Port Development is an educational programme of UNESCO-IHE, Delft, The Netherlands and Hohai University (HHU), Nanjing, China, which was offered for the first time in the academic year 2005-2007.


Start: 01 October 2016
Application deadline: 01 August 2016

Learning objectives

After completing this specialization, you will be able to:

  • Explain hydraulic and morphologic coastal processes and nautical and logistic aspects as well as their interactions with near shore and offshore structures;
  • Apply state-of-the-art coastal engineering design techniques to advance the needs of society for infrastructure and a safe environment;
  • Evaluate and implement coastal engineering solutions in a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary environment;
  • Develop strategies to cope effectively with problems related to natural coastal hazards (e.g. flooding, oil spill) and shoreline erosion problems incorporating the tension between anthropogenic coastal developments and natural coastal processes;
  • Apply hydraulic, nautical, logistic and economic theories in the planning and design of coastal and ports layout and port logistics.

Structure & contents

The programme starts at Hohai University in China, where students follow a number of courses before travelling to the Netherlands.

  • October - December

    Hohai University, Nanjing, China
    • Introduction to Water Science and Engineering: Specialisation Hydroinformatics Elective

      Course at HU

    • Water and Sustainable Development (Capita Selecta Lectures) Elective

      Course at HU

    • Mathematics Elective

      Course at HU

    • Statistics Elective

      Course at HU

    • Computer Use – (Office Packages) Elective

      Course at HU

    • Hydraulics Elective

      Course at HU

    • Hydrology Elective

      Course at HU

    • Introduction to Coastal Engineering Elective

      Course at HU

    • Tides and Tidal Currents Elective

      Course at HU

    • Waves Elective

      Course at HU

  • December - April

    UNESCO-IHE, Delft, The Netherlands
    • 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.
    • Introduction to Coastal Science and Engineering Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Understand the basics of coastal engineering.
      2. Analyse the behaviour of waves in oceanic and coastal waters
      3. Describe tides and tidal currents and be familiar with methods for tidal computations.
      4. Understand the principle of soil mechanics.
    • Coastal Systems Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. basically understand processes in coastal hydrodynamics and morphology;
      2. assess processes related to salt intrusion and density currents;
      3. understand the basics for numerical aspects, be aware of the limitations and characteristics of hydronamic numerical models, know the principle of finite differences and finite element-based methods.
    • Port Planning and Infrastructure Design Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Have an insight in the design and construction, the interaction between all influencing conditions and factors and the construction procedures of berthing structures (bulk cargo terminals etc). Application in a design excercise.
      2. Design the layout of a port and understand how to review the activities in a port in relation to design. Know how to apply the planning process for the lay-out of a port and development of various types of terminals.
    • Coastal and Port Structures Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Understand the difference between alternative types of breakwaters and governing factors for their selection; Design breakwaters from conceptual to detailed and prepare the layouts and detailed cross-sections.
      2. Have an overview of structures and vessels used in the offshore industry, their behaviour under conditions of winds, waves, currents, environmental loading.
      3. Understand the basic principles of scaling factors and know how to design a scale model to reproduce certain hydraulic phenomena.
    • Environmental Aspects of Coasts and Ports Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Understand and be able to quantify the interactions between the environment and hydraulic engineering projects on coasts and in harbours, get acquainted with sustainable development and management of coasts and ports and the relevant technical, legal and institutional aspects.
      2. Familiarise with the different coastal protection schemes and the governing factors for their selection and impacts. Understand the different methods for the management of the coastline and how to apply them in practice.
      3. Be able to apply the engineering principles in solving a combined coastal/port problem.
      4. Have a better insight in the natural characteristics and physical processes of coastal ecosystems.
      5. Assess possible impacts of human activities and climate change on coastal systems and think of innovative alternatives for coastal engineering and management, for example via "building with nature".
    • Management of Coasts and Ports (ICZM Seminar) Elective
      Learning Objectives
      1. deal with the needs and methods for an integrated approach to problems in the coastal zone and be aware of the various users and impacts on user functions in the coastal zone, be aware of the need of interdisciplinary cooperation in the development of coastal zone management schemes.
      2. have a better insight in the natural characteristics and physical processes of coastal ecosystems and their management.
      3. asses possible impacts of human activities and climate change on coastal systems.
      4. think of innovative alternatives for engineering and management, for example via "building with nature"
    • Management of Coasts and Ports (International Port Seminar) Elective
      Learning Objectives
      1. Learn about the international character of a port; the supply chain and port logisics; economic aspects of ports, and port organisations.
      2. Learn about strategic planning; design and construction of port infrastructure; life cycle approach, and port maintenance.
      3. Get acquainted with practical aspects of port management and engineering.
    • 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.
    • Geotechnical Engineering and Dredging Required
      Learning Objectives
      1. assess geo-engineering aspects of different hydraulic engineering activities such as structure soil interaction and foundation methods and to apply standard soil mechanical calculation methods;
      2. assess the use of sheet piling in quay wall design and will be able to apply analytical end numerical methods used in designing a sheet pile;
      3. assess the need of dredging, project phasing, soil investigation and production, survey systems, cost estimating and pricing, tender procedures and contracts;
      4. -assess the technical and contractual aspects of geomarine investigations and will be able to set up and organise a survey programme;
    • Flood Protection in Lowland Areas Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. carry out a basic design of dikes, revetments and closure dams
      2. understand concepts and advances of flood risk management with due consideration of societal aspects, including flooding issues in the floodplain and coastal zone, management of flood risk, planning aspects and a variety of non-structural measures
      3. understand and apply concepts and advances in tools used for coastal flood modelling and flood forecasting
      4. understand and apply the principles of flood frequency analysis and risk based approaches to design of hydraulic works
      5. understand (the practical application of) probabilistic design theory
    • Groupwork WSE Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Develop a Master Plan for Water Resources Management
      2. Do design projects in their own discipline as a part of the pre-feasibility study for the proposed Master Plan.
      3. Use an engineering approach based on suitable technical considerations.
      4. Develop multi-disciplinary project activities in integrated teams.

Tuition & fellowships

Information about tuition fees can be found here

The following fellowships are recommended for prospective students who wish to study Coastal Engineering and Port 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:

  • 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:

Application & Admission

Admission requirements

Academic admission to the Master programmes may be granted to applicants who provide evidence of having:

  • a university level Bachelor’s degree in an appropriate field for the specialization, 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 all UNESCO-IHE's educational programmes.

Working experience in an environment related to the specialization is an asset. At least three years experience is in general preferred.

Application procedure

For admission to the programme please complete the online application form. The link is available at the top of this page. Collect the required documents and attach them to the online application form:

  • 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 be printed on company (logo) paper and signed.
  • Motivation letter (maximum 500 words explanation why he/she applies for admission to the choosen 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.

Once academically accepted this admission remains valid for three consecutive years. In principle one can not apply for more than one programme per academic year. However, if a student applies for an Erasmus Mundus programme, he/she can also apply for another programme as long as it is not also an Erasmus Mundus programme. Academic admission to the programmes will be granted on the basis of a decision taken to that effect by the Academic Registrar, upon advice of the programme coordinator.

More information

Further questions about the application procedure can be addressed to:

Ms. Ineke Melis
Admission and Fellowship Officer


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