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

New set-up MSc Programmes

IHE Delft introduces a new set-up for its MSc Programmes. From 2022 onwards, the Institute offers the MSc Programme in Water and Sustainable Development (68EC/120EC).

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.


IHE Delft is member of:


Start: 21 October 2021
Application deadline: 01 August 2021

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
    • Introduction to Water and Development Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Familiarize with the educational environment and procedures of IHE Delft and collaborate in multidisciplinary and intercultural teams
      2. Recognize and distinguish different ways of knowing and framing water questions and problems in order to appraise water challenges from an interdisciplinary perspective
      3. Reflect critically on water related interventions, formulate own standpoint and engage constructively in debates
      4. Place the specialized knowledge on own discipline into a broader understanding of water related issues, challenges, debates and developments
    • Introduction to UWS 1 Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. List legislative requirements for safe water and develop Water Safety Plan.
      2. Describe reactions in water treatment.
      3. Describe waterborne infectious diseases and pathogens.
      4. Develop paragraphs, avoid plagiarism, analyse, interpret and present data.
      5. Calculate stoichiometric relationships in reactions and balance them.
      6. Describe elements and bonds between them.
    • Introduction to UWS 2 Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Understand the basic concepts of GIS (Raster, vector, projections, geospatial analysis) and use a GIS for: Thematic mapping, ◦Basic data processing and editing, Basic geoprocessing and analysis, DEM processing and catchment delineation.
      2. Forecast water demand and formulate water demand management measures.
      3. To discuss the basic concepts of fluid properties, hydrostatics, fluid flow in closed conduits, and basic hydraulic structures.
      4. Identify and discuss the basic elements of hydrology, and apply hydrological principles in water and wastewater engineering.
      5. Practice critical reading and scientific writing
    • Introduction to UWS 3 Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Identify the basic principles of microbial metabolism and microbial interactions within the environment. Application of microbiological methods for water and wastewater engineering.
      2. 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.
    • Urban Drainage and Sewerage Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe the chemical and biological processes that take place within sewer systems, and evaluate their implications for the design and operate of urban drainage systems
      2. Be able to judge different design options and alternative scenarios
      3. Explain the standard practice in designing urban drainage systems. Prepare drainage system designs by integrating information on hydrological, hydraulic, economic and practical engineering concerns.
      4. Critically assess and analyse 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.
    • Conventional Wastewater Treatment Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. discuss the principles, fundamentals and applicability of recently developed wastewater treatment processes such as innovative nitrogen removal processes and membrane bioreactors.
      2. discuss the physical, chemical, and biological processes applied for sewage purification and the complex interactions among them occurring in wastewater treatment systems.
      3. 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.
      4. 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)
    • Resource Oriented Wastewater Treatment and Sanitation Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. critically reflect on the current sanitation systems encountered in many urban areas and to indicate ways to improve this situation in a sustainable manner;
      2. carry out preliminary process design of treatment and reuse systems to assess the needs for capital, land, equipment and operation and maintenance
      3. evaluate the feasibility of the application of the technologies studied in this module in urban settings in the developing world
      4. evaluate the possibilities for closing cycles of energy, water and nutrients
      5. describe the physical, chemical and microbiological processes occurring in anaerobic reactors and a number of natural systems
    • 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 to treat certain wastewater stream given its composition and characteristics and taking into account the required effluent standards.
      2. 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.
      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. 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).
    • Modelling of Wastewater Treatment Processes and Plants Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Can explain the modeling history and the state of the art of activated sludge modelling.
      2. Can use the computer software AQUASIM as a tool for modelling wastewater treatment processes. Can put a model in AQUASIM and explain the outcome of the model run and the implications for wastewater treatment.
      3. Can explain the modeling of MBR systems. Can simulate an existing model using BioWin and explain the results.
      4. Can memorize the basics of wastewater treatment modelling (kinetics, stoichiometry, mass balances, hydraulics and matrix notations). Can develop a matrix for a biological model.
      5. Can discuss the application of modelling in wastewater treatment using practical examples.
      6. Can evaluate data and processes of an activated sludge wastewater treatment plant. Apply the theory with respect to modeling in a case study using Excel and BioWin. Can discuss and explain the outcome of the model.
      7. Can relate the activated sludge computer exercise in BioWin with the real wastewater treatment plant.
    • International Fieldtrip and Fieldwork UWS Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. International Field Trip: To expose the participants to different international practises in the design, operation and management of water supply, wastewater, solid waste and urban civil infrastructure networks.
      2. Fieldwork: To familiarize the participants with performing research on location, how to process real data, and how to apply the newly acquired knowledge to a practical situation.
    • Module 10 UWS (elective) Elective
      • M3648 - Industrial effluents treatment and residuals management
      • M3551 - Water treatment processes and plant design
      • M3610 - Urban water systems
    • Module 11 UWS (elective) Elective
      • M3609 - Experimental methods in wastewater treatment
      • M3048 - Water sensitive cities
      • M3593 - Decentralised water supply and sanitation
      • M3580 - Remote sensing for agricultural water management
      • M3637 - Water resources planning under changing climate and environment
      • M3214 - Wetlands for livelihoods and conservation
      • M3543 - Sustainability and resilience of water organisations
      • M3417 - Solid waste management
      • M3438 - Advanced water transport and distribution
      • M3422 - Strategic planning for river basins and deltas
      • M3647 - Decision support systems in the water domain
    • Summer course Elective

      Five-day summer course. Elective topics include Sustainable Development Goals, nature based solutions, leadership, gender issues and serious gaming, all related to water science/engineering/management.

    • Groupwork Sint Maarten Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Defend the groups' findings in front of a team of experts in the field.
      2. Recommend engineering solutions to water and sanitation related problems.
      3. Assess his/her own strengths and weaknesses with respect to working in a group.
      4. Analyze complex water and sanitation issues in a limited time frame and with limited background information available.
      5. Apply and integrate the knowledge obtained during the specialisation to solve water and sanitation related issues
      6. Defend his/her input in an (interdisciplinary) team of specialists.
    • Thesis Research Proposal Development for UWS Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Prepare participants for independent working in the laboratory.
      2. Prepare participants for writing an MSc proposal | thesis.

Tuition & fellowships

Information about tuition fees can be found here.

Application & Admission

Admission requirements

Academic admission to IHE Delft MSc Programmes may be granted to applicants who provide evidence of having:

  • A Bachelor degree at level B/B+ (US system) or 2nd upper (British system) 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. Exceptions can be made if a candidate is below this level, but has a substantial experience in the field of the programme and/or has a strong motivation to join the programme.
  • 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 Recommendation letters which must be printed on official letterhead paper and need to be signed and dated. We do not accept recommendation letters which are older than 1 year nor which have copied and pasted signatures and/or letterheads. If you are employed, one of the recommendation letters should be from your current employer and not older than 3 months.
  • Motivation letter; explain in maximum 500 words why you wish to be admitted to the chosen programme and how it will benefit you in the future. The letter must show that you understand what the chosen programme is about.
  • Copy of passport.
  • Copy of results of English language test score (if required, see English language requirements).

If any of the original documents is not in English we additionally need an official English translation by a sworn translator.

Multiple MSc applications (for the same academic year) are not allowed, 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 scholar ships 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 found at our FAQ page, or can be addressed to:

Ms Marlies Baburek
Admission and Fellowship Officer


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