Profiles MSc Water and Sustainable Development

Students are initially required to choose both a track and a disciplinary profile to follow throughout their master programme. These can be modified and the students can select additional profiles at a later date after meeting with their coach. Throughout the modules the students select, they will approach the track theme from the disciplinary profile/s they have selected. Below is a brief description of the profiles.

Engineering and Hydrology

Keywords: Water infrastructure analysis & design; Hydraulic & hydrological engineering; Hydraulic & hydrological modelling; Hydrological processes; Groundwater; River morphometry; Sediment transport; River basin development


The engineering and hydrology profile is about learning the theory and practical knowledge for designing and building technical interventions, whether man-made or nature-based, and river basin water resources assessment, to address issues such as climate adaptation, flood and drought prevention, and food and energy security.

In Water, Food and Energy, you will explore the interlinkage of water with other essential aspects of sustainable development: food and energy. The modules build upon state-of-the-art irrigation practices and energy generation; from marine to inland waters, including urban energy sourcing and hydropower schemes.

In Water Hazards, Risks and Climate, you can explore coastal protection or deepen your knowledge in the analysis of climatic variability. Modules targeting urban environments include content on conventional and sustainable drainage systems, together with open-source geographical information systems.

In Water and Health, you can focus on designing sanitation and water supply structures and processes, in which different facets of engineering are considered, from sanitation and chemical to hydraulic engineering. Groundwater, surface water, desalination and water reuse are some of the areas in which the students can specialise.

In Water Resources and Ecosystem Health, you can study hydraulic engineering with a river basin perspective and on the water cycle, particularly on surface to groundwater flows, and the strong link to ecosystems and the services they provide.

Availabe in the following tracks:

Governance and Management

Keywords: Water politics; Water policy; Water justice; Water diplomacy; Water conflicts; Water cooperation; Planning; Water law; Water management


Decisions about how to sustainably manage and govern water from local to transboundary levels, across sectors, and between competing usage interests are intrinsically political in nature. The aim of the governance and management profile is to train and educate water professionals and experts to have the knowledge and capacity to develop, plan, implement and evaluate water policies and strategies in support of (transformations to) ecologically wise and socially equitable use of water.

Beyond a basic understanding of water resources management, policy and politics, planning, law, organizations and institutions, you can deepen your knowledge in specific areas based on your interests. These range from economics, strategic planning, law and transformative change to tools like modelling, remote sensing, participatory management or conflict resolution. You will engage with interdisciplinary approaches to identify and appreciate the perspectives of different water users, stakeholders, disciplines and approaches on diagnosing and addressing water management and governance challenges.

Availabe in the following tracks:


Keywords: Biodiversity; Conservation; Aquatic ecology; Urban ecology; Restoration ecology; Agroecology; Water quality assessment; Bioassessment; Ecosystem service assessment; Environmental impact assessment


The environment profile focusses on the human pressures on, and threats to, ecosystem health.

You can focus on how water and nutrients in water bodies come together and create the physical and chemical environment in which aquatic organisms find themselves. Or you can explore the biological diversity of aquatic ecosystems, the effects of multiple stressors on them and the organisms that have to cope with these. You will learn to measure change and assess the ecological health of aquatic ecosystems. You might then choose to learn about the ecosystem services freshwaters provide and how to model these or how to restore them as part of a basin management cycle, and to couple this knowledge with environmental impact assessment and law.

If you are interested in food systems, you might choose to learn about agricultural systems, and the interplay between food system governance and sustainable food production, which in turn impact habitat conservation and people’s livelihoods.

Availabe in the following tracks:


Keywords: Recovery and reuse; Humanitarian WASH; Non-sewered sanitation; Faecal sludge management


Sanitation generally refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human urine and faeces. Sanitation is high on the global agenda: universal access to clean water and sanitation is one of goals that make up the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The aim of the sanitation profile, which is offered in the Water and Health track, is to educate professionals to have the knowledge and capacity to develop, plan, implement and evaluate sanitation provision based on the comprehension of the broader technological, socio-economic and public health issues and their relevance and interrelationships within the sanitation service chain.

In the sanitation profile you will be critically analyzing and evaluating options and alternatives for safe and sustainable sanitation solutions. Therefore, the topics range from the relationship between sanitation practices and public health, sanitation systems and services, treatment processes and technologies, governance structures and stakeholder interactions, and financing sanitation interventions and valorization of end products. 

Availabe in the following track:

Digital Innovation and Hydroinformatics

Keywords: Physically based and data driven modelling; Decision support systems applications; Optimisation of water systems; Artificial Intelligence for water systems; Remote sensing; Citizen science and observation; Earth observation; Artificial intelligence; Spatial analysis and GIS; Coding


The challenges of managing water resources are increasingly being met with the support of novel digital technologies, utilizing existing and new data sources (e.g. Earth Observation and Citizen Science), merging traditional modelling of water systems with new approaches from the field of Artificial Intelligence, all aiming to provide better understanding of related physical processes and to support decision-making.

The digital innovation and hydroinformatics profile deals with such novel digital technologies as earth observation, big data analytics, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and computer-based modelling.

Two specific profiles are available:

Digital Innovation, where you will learn methods and models to quantify water availability, water demands and ecosystem conditions in river basins using diverse data, such as remote sensing, sensors, open access databases and model outputs; and

Digital Innovation and Hydroinformatics, where you will learn optimisation and forecasting, systems analysis and decision support, integrated into hydroinformatics systems that assist water management under uncertainty and global change, in the context of disaster, climate resilience and sustainability.

Availabe in the following tracks:


Connect with us

Never miss a thing!