Hydroinformatics - Modelling and Information Systems for Water Management

You will be able to solve problems of hydraulics, hydrology and environmental engineering for better water management using simulation modelling and IT. You will also get acquainted with models applied to water-based systems, learn to design and integrate decision support systems, and develop skills to provide expert advice to managers and users of advanced tools.

  • D

    What is Delft based

    This programme will run entirely at UNESCO-IHE in Delft, the Netherlands

  • J
  • E

Delft based, UNESCO-IHE, Delft, The Netherlands18 months , starts in October

Apply now for


For whom?

Hydroinformatics engineers participate in defining, building and supplying the tools that enable decision-makers to manage aquatic resources and the environment. They work with engineers, scientists and people from other interest groups. This specialization is designed for hydraulic, environmental and water resources engineers from universities, consulting firms, research institutes, water boards and other government agencies. The typical participant uses or advises others in the use of mathematical models and hydroinformatics systems for planning, designing or managing the aquatic environment.


Students who successfully complete this programme will be awarded with an MSc degree in Water Science & Engineering by UNESCO-IHE.


Start: 19 October 2017
Application deadline: 01 August 2017

Learning objectives

After completing this specialization, you will be able to:

  • Have a good understanding of the fundamentals of a range of physical processes, advanced modelling techniques and information technology for water management;
  • Be able to select and use simulation models applied to water-based systems in a wide variety of hydraulic, hydrologic and environmental engineering situations;
  • Be able to use current software tools, and know their advantages and limitations;
  • Know how to design, develop and integrate decision-support systems and tools;
  • Be able to provide advice to managers and users of advanced tools;
  • Understand and practice collaborative work, making use of Internet-based platforms.

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

    UNESCO-IHE, Delft, The Netherlands
    • Week 1 + 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 UNESCO-IHE;
      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.
    • Hydroinformatics: Modelling and Information Systems for Water Management Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Explain the main principles of computer organisation and operation, local and wide-area networking including Internet, main types of software
      2. Carry out practical GIS applications related to aquatic systems using ArcGIS software
      3. Know and be able to apply main notions and principles of algorithmic design and other areas of computer science
      4. Know about the methodologies, architectural approaches and project management techniques of software engineering. Define requirements, analysis, and design for software code development and associated procedures and systems architecture
      5. Apply these principles in developing water related prototype software
    • Modelling Theory and Computational Hydraulics Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Explain the structure of the 1D, 2D and 3D flow equations as representations of conservation laws and know when to use the full dynamic equations and their approximations
      2. Classify differential equations in terms of ODE/PDE and determine the nature of a given PDE
      3. Indicate the nature of the initial and boundary conditions for well posed elliptic, parabolic and hyperbolic problems. Apply the method of characteristics to solve equations
      4. Implement finite difference schemes to solve ordinary and partial differential equations
      5. Analyse a numerical scheme and indicate if the scheme is likely to exhibit numerical diffusion, dispersion and/or instability and implement different numerical schemes for water related problems
      6. Build a river flood model using SOBEK 1D and 2D, including specification of geometry and boundary conditions
    • Modelling and Information Systems Development Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Develop a computer code for calculating free-surface flow in canals and provide interpretation of a series of test involving various initial and boundary conditions
      2. Know about the main notions and types of information and knowledge systems and implement information systems using database technology using MS-Access
      3. Understand and explain the foundations of mathematical modelling, its relationship to systems and control theory, main modelling paradigms, selecting modelling software
      4. Understand the process of model building: data analysis, model calibration and verification, models integration. Appreciate a number of examples of using models in solving water-related issues, use of models by decision makers and other stakeholders
      5. Understand and use main principles and methods of analysing and predicting models uncertainty; be able to develop computer code for analysing uncertainty of a hydrological model
      6. Specify, design and build a simple modelling system with graphical user interface using rapid application development environment (Delphi) for software implementation
    • Computational Intelligence and Operational Water Management Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. 1. Understand the main optimisation techniques
      2. 2. Understand and explain how real-time control systems work
      3. 3. Identify the potential of control to solve hydrological problems
      4. 4. Sketch a general plan for a regional real-time control system
      5. 5. Know the main techniques of data-driven modelling from machine learning (neural networks, model trees, instance-based learning, fuzzy systems, etc.) and select proper methods and tools for building data-driven models
      6. 6. Correctly classify a modelling problem as a physically-based, data-driven, or hybrid
    • River Basin Modelling Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Understand and explain the multi-purpose nature of river basins and approaches for their integrated planning and management.
      2. Understand and model flow processes in porous media
      3. Use MODFLOW to simulate groundwater flow in the saturated zone
      4. Understand and model hydrological processes in catchments
      5. Use NAM to simulate rainfall runoff in a natural catchment
      6. Know how to use MIKE-SHE to model both surface and groundwater flow in a natural catchment, including the unsaturated zone
    • River Flood Analysis and Modelling Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Understand and explain the main flood management problems;
      2. Understand and explain the governing processes of flood generation and propagation;
      3. Identify the proper modelling methodology for a given problem;
      4. Utilise their hands-on experience in the step-by-step modelling procedure (geometry, bathymetry, boundary conditions, forcing) needed to carry out a practical study with MIKE11, SOBEK 1D or HEC-RAS package;
      5. Know how the river flood model may be used for structural and non-structural measures for flood mitigation
    • Urban Flood Management and Disaster Risk Mitigation Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Develop enhanced understanding of the effects of climate variability on the hydrology that affects urban areas
      2. Understand the structure, service provided and failures of the service for urban stormwater /drainage networks; Urban Drainage Asset Management and Optimisation, and learn how to model these systems and how to apply a typical modelling product (MOUSE, MIKE11, MIKE21 and SWMM)
      3. Develop understanding of how to use the models to assess the performance of existing systems and how to design the new ones within the context of different flood risks (pluvial, fluvial, coastal and flash floods)
      4. Learn how to build safe and reliable urban drainage models and how to evaluate system performance against different standards (engineering, environmental, public health, etc.), and develop understanding of novel techniques for modelling the complex geometry and interaction between surface water (including floodplains), sub-surface flows and urban drainage infrastructure (1D and coupled 1D/2D)
      5. Learn how to produce different flood risk maps in a GIS environment and how to calculate different types of flood damages, and
      6. Develop understanding of structural and non-structural flood resilience measures such as, conventional and innovative structures, early warning systems, etc., and understand how to develop effective flood disaster management plans
    • 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.
    • Flood Risk Management Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. On completion of this module the participants are able to: Understand and explain the main principles of flood risk management;
      2. Understand the Hydroinformatics tools available for flood risk management;
      3. Conceptualise the main principles of EU flood directive and have knowledge about European experience in flood risk management;
      4. Understand and explain the main principles of flood forecasting and warning and uncertainty issues associated with flood forecasts;
      5. Familiarise with the different flood forecasting models;
      6. Utilise their hands-on experience in the step-by-step modelling procedure to build flood inundation models.
    • Urban Water Systems Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. gain a sound overall understanding of processes that are necessary for analysis and planning of urban water systems.
      2. gain an understanding of processes that are necessary for modelling, analysis and planning of water distribution systems.
      3. gain an understanding of processes that are necessary for modelling, analysis and planning of sewerage and drainage systems.
      4. conduct modelling of Urban drainage Networks: Use advanced simulation software for urban drainage systems, including surcharge, sewer overflow, water quality issues; analyse model output and desire if some part of the system shall be changed; recommend possible solutions to improve the function of a drainage system to prevent flooding and pollution of receiving waters
      5. gain an understanding of processes that are necessary for modelling, analysis and planning of wastewater treatment plants.
      6. gain an understanding of impacts from urban water systems on receiving environment.
    • Hydroinformatics for Decision Support Required
      Learning Objectives
      1. Understand the role of system analysis in water resources planning and management
      2. Formulate and solve water resources problems as optimisation problems
      3. Distinguish and properly use different types of decision support methods for water problems
      4. Build simple software applications that integrate data and models, both as stand-alone and Internet-based
      5. Understand the potential of newly available data sources (e.g. remote sensing, web resources, data generated from climate and meteorological models) in advanced integrated modelling and decision support
    • Summer Course Serious Games for Decision-Making Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Understand the design principles of multiplayer serious games
      2. Develop a functional game design for decision-making and planning (based on a systems analysis of actors, interests, problems, goals, indicators, etc.)
      3. Have insight in the complexities of decision-making in (spatial and environmental) water management projects at large (conflicts of interests, and financial, technical, social feasibility of implementation of proposed solutions)
      4. Have developed skills for making decision in complex situations by developing and playing the game (negotiation, consensus seeking)
      5. Be aware of the usage possibilities of games for solving real-life complex (water and environment development) management challenges
    • Groupwork WSE Required
    • MSc Preparatory Course and Thesis Research Proposal Required
    • MSc Research Work Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. 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; Formulate research questions and hypotheses.
      2. Conduct research, independently or in a multidisciplinary team by selecting and applying appropriate research methodologies and techniques, collecting and analysing data.
      3. Formulate well-founded conclusions and recommendations based on a comprehensive discussion of the results
      4. Demonstrate academic attitude and learning skills (including thinking in multidisciplinary dimensions and distinguishing main issues from minor ones), to enhance and keep up-to-date the acquired knowledge and application skills in a largely independent manner.
      5. 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.

Tuition & fellowships

Information about tuition fees can be found here.

The following fellowships are recommended for prospective students who wish to study Hydroinformatics - Modelling and Information Systems for Water Management

  • Joint Japan Worldbank Graduate Scholarship Programme (JJ/WBGSP)

    ATTENTION: The call for applications for a JJWBGSP Scholarship is now open from January 25 to February 23, 2017.

    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.   

    Guidance for this call for applications, including details on how to apply, and greater details on the eligibility criteria, selection process and benefits are provided  in the application guidelines, FAQs, and the complete list of JJ/WBGSP Preferred (.xlsx 49 KB) Master Degrees currently offered. Please read these documents before starting your application.

    Once you are familiar with the application requirements and processes, click here to apply, and refer to the “Accessing your online application” and “Navigating your online application” to navigate step-by-step the online application.

    more info: www.worldbank.org

  • Netherlands Fellowship Programme (NFP)

    The Netherlands Fellowship Programmes (NFP) promote capacity building within organisations in 51 countries by providing training and education through fellowships for professionals.

    The overall aim of the NFP is to help increase both the number and the competencies of skilled staff at a wide range of governmental and non-governmental organisations. You have to be nominated by your employer to be eligible for the fellowship. There also has to be a clear need for training within the context of your organisation. 

    Fellowship application procedure per modality: 

    • For more info about how to apply for a NFP fellowship for a MSc Specialization at UNESCO-IHE click here
    • For more info about how to apply for a NFP fellowship for a Short Course at UNESCO-IHE visit the Short Coursewebpage

    more info: www.studyinholland.nl


    Use the Nuffic Grantfinder to find a suitable fellowship

  • Rotary Scholarship for Water and Sanitation Professionals

    Rotary and UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education are working together to tackle the world’s water and sanitation crisis by increasing the number of trained professionals to devise, plan, and implement solutions in developing and emerging countries. Through this partnership, The Rotary Foundation will award 10 scholarships annually for graduate students working or living near a Rotary club and provisionally admitted to one of the following MSc programmes (joint programmes are not eligible):

    • MSc in Urban Water and Sanitation
    • MSc in Water Management and Governance
    • MSc in Water Science and Engineering

    more info: http://www.unesco-ihe.org/Rotary-Scholarships-for-Water-and-Sanitation-Professionals

  • WMO Fellowships

    WMO is partnering with UNESCO-IHE to jointly support two to three fellowships a year from developing and least developed countries to undertake an MSc in one of the agreed UNESCO-IHE programmes.

    To be considered for a fellowshipfor the academic year 2017-2019 under WMO / UNESCO-IHE joint funding applicants must:
    a) have unconditional admission to one of the following UNESCO-IHE programmes: Hydrology and Water Resources; Hydraulic Engineering and River Basin Development; Hydraulic Engineering - Land and Water Development; Water Resources Management; Hydroinformatics - Modelling and Information Systems for Water Management; Water Quality Management; or, Hydraulic Engineering - Coastal and Port Development. Unconditional admission implies UNESCO-IHE have agreed to both your academic and language suitability.
    b) complete and submit a WMO Fellowship Nomination Form (FNF) to WMO by 1 March. The FNF MUST be submitted through, and approved by, the Permanent Representative (PR) of your country with WMO, click here for the contact details of the PR of your country. Please note that the PR may give preference to personnel from the National Meteorological Service or National Hydrological Service of their country. The WMO Fellowship Nomination Forms (FNF) are available here.
    c) be medically fit (see WMO FNF for details).
    d) inform Ms Ineke Melis, UNESCO-IHE liaison officer for WMO fellowships, in case you are going to request WMO support: i.melis@unesco-ihe.org

    For WMO to consider the fellowship nomination all of the above conditions must be met. Successful and unsuccessful applicants will be notified through the PR of their country by the end of July 2017. For further information email: detr@wmo.int.

    more info: www.wmo.int

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 recommendation 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 have an official letterhead and need to be signed and dated.
  • 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 Marlies Baburek
Admission and Fellowship Officer
Email: m.baburek@unesco-ihe.org