Water Management and Governance

The programme brings together the scientific study of water resources with practical planning and management skills. Participants are encouraged to study water management from a multi-disciplinary perspective and to seek integrated solutions. 

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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, 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?

Prospective water management students who compile a study profile from a wide range of available courses and variety of thesis research topics to ensure that the educational programme is fully aligned with their professional needs.


Students who successfully complete this programme will receive a MSc degree in Water Management and Governance


Start: 21 October 2021
Application deadline: 01 August 2021

Learning objectives

The Water Management and Governance MSc Programme aims to develop knowledge, insight and skills required to design, implement and evaluate water management policies and strategies to achieve effective governance of water resources. Once you have successfully completed this programme, you will be able to:

  • describe the rational for an integrated and interdisciplinary approach for managing the water system;
  • identify and critically assess the different functions of the water resources system and the – often competing – interests of the various water users;
  • design, apply and evaluate models for institutional arrangements with emphasis on institutional reforms, policy development and good governance;
  • conduct, independently or in a multidisciplinary team, research.

The eventual learning objectives depend on the thematic study profile, in which you can enroll during the course of the programme.

Structure & contents

The programme starts with a foundation phase consisting of an introduction to “Who and what make Water Management and Governance expertise?” and introductory modules about Water Resources Management and Water Governance. During this foundation phase the students will, under guidance of a coach, identify their personal learning goals, based on their professional background and career ambitions. Based on these goals, the students will select modules after the foundation phase that fit with their educational needs as part of their tailor-made track. The tailor-made track modules help to either broaden or deepen the student’s understanding of specific management and governance issues, to strengthen interpersonal and research skills, and to learn how to apply the necessary tools relevant for water management and governance. To some extent modules can be selected from other MSc programmes. Students can also opt for a module that they design themselves, referred to as Capita Selecta, which may include an internship, project assignment or a mini-thesis. Instead of choosing an individual tailor made track, students can also opt for one of the thematic profiles for which specific learning objectives are set and relevant modules are suggested. Currently the programme offers thematic profiles on River Basins and on Urban Waters.

  • 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
    • What and who makes Water Management and Governance expertise? Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Deal with different approaches & diversity in collaborating on water management and governance problems
      2. Apply critical reading and write a literature review, to understand how a particular water related controversy is articulated in scientific literature
      3. Appreciate differences between techno-managerial, political and interpretative approaches in diagnosing WMG problems and solutions
      4. Explain that knowing water is a situated practice, and what this entails for the role of WMG experts
    • Water Resources Management Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. apply concepts of water resources management to analyze problems of water demand and allocation
      2. use basic skills of QGIS to map and analyse hydrological processes
      3. assess and relate different components of the hydrological cycle: precipitation, evaporation, runoff, and analyse interactions between quantity and quality of water, between surface and groundwater, and between stocks and fluxes.
      4. understand basic concepts of sediment balances and euthropication and how they relate to the status of freshwater ecosystems
      5. understand the basic concepts of and interlinkages between the hydrological cycle and hydro-social cycle
    • Water Governance Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Identify and analyse different distributional processes and outcomes related to water governance
      2. Compare and contrast different scientific papers, case studies and theories on dynamic and political nature of water governance
      3. Distinguish and explain main discourses and theories on water governance
    • WMG Elective 5 Elective

      Water and environmental law M3577 or

      Managing water organisations M3715 or

      choose a module from another programme in term 5*

      *) Every participant may choose maximum 2 modules that are not listed above from other programmes

    • WMG Elective 6 Elective

      Water resources assessment and modelling M3764 or

      Analyzing water use practices - institutional analysis M3783 or

      choose a module from another programme in term 6*

      *) Every participant may choose maximum 2 modules that are not listed above from other programmes

    • WMG Elective 7 Elective

      Water conflict and cooperation M3708 or

      Water economics and finance M3732 or

      choose a module from another programme in term 7*

      *) Every participant may choose maximum 2 modules that are not listed above from other programmes

    • WMG Elective 8 Elective

      Rethinking urban water supply, sanitation and drainage M3597 or

      Water resources planning M3549 or

      Water conflict management and tools for waterdiplomacy M3709 or

      choose a module from another programme in term 8*

      *) Every participant may choose maximum 2 modules that are not listed above from other programmes

    • International Fieldwork Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Collect, select, interpret and analyse the data and information for research project in the study area
      2. Formulate research question, research methodology and data collection plan
      3. Recognize and distinguish between different data collection methods for knowing water and understanding water problems, taking into account the (potential) uncertainty of field observations.
    • WMG Elective 10 Elective

      Remote sensing for water resources management M3767 or

      Partnerships, networks &stakeholders analysis M3762 or

      choose a module from another programme in term 10*

      *) Every participant may choose maximum 2 modules that are not listed above from other programmes

    • WMG Elective 11 Elective

      Experimental methods in wastewater treatment M3746 or

      Water sensitive cities M3756 or

      Decentralised water supply and sanitation M3723 or

      Remote sensing for agricultural water management M3580 or

      Water resources planning under changing climate and environment M3637 or

      Wetlands for livelihoods and conservation M3214 or

      Sustainability and resilience of water organisations M3712 or

      Solid waste management M3703 or

      Advanced water transport and distribution M3765 or

      Strategic planning for river basins and deltas M3422 or

      Decision support systems in the water domain M3734

    • 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.

    • Research Project Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Interpret results and findings from the Fieldtrip in order to arrive at meaningful yet succinct conclusions and recommendations.
      2. Formulate and defend an argument by answering the research questions using evidence and data from a variety of sources along with appropriate methodological and analysis tools.
      3. Develop expertise in presenting and defending arguments by (a) developing and presenting a research presentation (poster and short pitch, podcast, video); and (b) creating an extended scientific abstract of 4 pages
      4. Define concrete research questions, aims and objectives as a framework for a small research project.
    • MSc Preparatory Course and Thesis Research Proposal Required
    • MSc research, thesis and defence Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Demonstrate academic attitude and learning skills (incl thinking in multidisciplinary dimensions & distinguishing main issues from minor ones), to enhance & keep up-to-date the acquired knowledge and application skills in a largely independent manner.
      2. Formulate well-founded conclusions and recommendations based on a comprehensive discussion of the results.
      3. Conduct research, independently or in a multidisciplinary team by selecting and applying appropriate research methodologies and techniques, collecting and analysing data.
      4. Communicate, debate and defend, clearly and systematically, findings and generated insights, and provide rational underpinning of these in oral and written presentations to a variety of audiences.
      5. Formulate research questions and hypotheses
      6. Explore the background of the research problem by critically reviewing scientific literature; Evaluate relevant theories and applying these theories to a relevant scientific problem; Assure adequate delineation and definition of the research topic

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
Email: m.baburek@un-ihe.org


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