Water Quality Management

You will be introduced to Water Quality Management (WQM) in the catchment, urban and rural environments, and provided with the technical knowledge and management skills for decision-making and environmental planning.

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

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For whom?

This specialization is intended for mid-career professionals in technical as well as management positions, with responsibilities or specific interests in water and environmental science and in maintaining environmental integrity in relation to human development.


Students who successfully complete this programme will receive a MSc degree in Environmental Science at UNESCO-IHE.



Start: 19 October 2017
Application deadline: 01 August 2017

Learning objectives

After successfully completing this specialization, graduates will be able to:

  • Identify the water quality impacts of human activities on aquatic ecosystems, as well as alternative remedial actions, under different levels of environmental stress and in different socio-economic contexts;
  • Explain principles, concepts and instruments of the main national and international water and environmental laws, and common and desired institutional and management arrangements;
  • Successfully interpret, design and optimise water quality monitoring and assessment schemes in the watershed, for example, by using statistical and modelling tools;
  • Critically analyse and evaluate alternative water quality management programmes in the watershed under different socio-economic and legal contexts, in a flexible way and often under data-poor conditions;
  • Conduct - either independently or in a multidisciplinary team - appropriate research in the field of water quality management, including the formulation of research questions and hypotheses, the selection and application of adequate research methodologies and techniques, and the formulation of well-founded conclusions and recommendations.

Structure & contents

The programme starts with a foundation phase of 10 modules

  • October - April

    UNESCO-IHE, Delft, The Netherlands
    • Introduction to Environmental Science 1 Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Make a critical analysis of the global and national agendas and policies for "Water and Environment" in the context of sustainable development;
      2. Identify and describe the major global, regional and local environmental problems;
      3. Identify and describe the basic natural, chemical, hydrological and socio-economic processes in relation to the environment;
      4. Explain basic environmental concepts, such as ecological footprint, feedback mechanisms, ecosystem dynamics, carrying capacity and nutrient cycling.
      5. Apply basic principles of data analysis, statistics, environmental modelling and GIS
      6. Apply the principles of the scientific method to design, develop and communicate a research project
    • Introduction to Environmental Science 2 Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. See under module 1
    • Integrated Project Environmental Science Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe the environmental policy process and the role and sources of data and information that play a role in formulating policy
      2. Gather information on an environmental problem from various sources and critically assess its quality and role in the debate about the problem
      3. Formulate a scientific research question, compare and contrast scientific information relevant to the research question from a variety of sources and present the findings in a concise report
      4. make an oral presentation of scientific information
      5. Analyze, evaluate and present scientific data
      6. Perform a basic multi-criteria analysis in the context of decision making for an environmental problem
    • Water and Environmental Law Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. demonstrate and apply knowledge in the fields of national and international water and environmental law and to perceive and discuss the main concepts, theories, discourses
      2. apply, compose and recreate legal instruments to operationalize integrated water resources management (water quantity and water quality)
      3. demonstrate and apply knowledge in the field of contract management for use in water projects.
      4. analyze and prepare a contract for a specific situation
      5. describe and apply concepts of water allocation, water rights and international benefit sharing
      6. discuss and explain complexity of decision making for water allocation in national and international rivers.
    • Water Quality Assessment Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe different water pollutant groups, their risks and fates, and ways of modelling these fates
      2. Describe and apply the different tools,criteria and assessment methods for succesful monitoring of surface waters in river basins
      3. Describe basic groundwater quality monitoring concepts
      4. Design sustainable water quality monitoring programmes for river basins
    • Constructed Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. assess the value of wetlands and explain the use of natural and constructed wetlands for the treatment of wastewater;
      2. describe the concept of wastewater treatment by wetlands;
      3. design and operate a wetland treatment system.
    • Environmental Planning and Implementation Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Explain the concept and importance of sustainable development into environmental planning and management
      2. demonstrate basic knowledge on the principles, processes and methods of environmental assessment (EIA-SEA) and be able to apply them in water related plans, programmes and projects
      3. Apply and discuss economic valuation methods and policy instruments for environmental policy
      4. Apply basic theories behind policy enforcement, monitoring and evaluation to master effective environmental policies
      5. Use environmental information systems to support planning and management
    • Foreign Fieldtrip and Fieldwork Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. The international fieldtrip is an exposure tour to interesting sites in Europe and is aimed to become familiar with environment-related organisations and companies in Western Europe.
      2. After completion of the fieldwork participants will be able to conduct experimental fieldwork.
    • Aquatic Ecosystems Processes and Applications Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Conduct laboratory techniques used for basic limnological studies. Specifically, you will be able to measure physical-chemical properties, chlorophyll a concentration in seston and periphyton; measure and calculate primary production and community respiration, measure nutrient concentration and turbidity, calculate and measure ash free dry mass, and perform zooplankton counts.
      2. Develop a research question based on the experimental design.
      3. Analyze data using either statistical or modeling techniques to answer your research question.
      4. Produce a report in the format of a scientific article that presents your research question, the data supporting it, and a discussion of your results, including a review of relevant literature.
      5. Critically analyze your colleagues' work in the form of a professional peer review.
    • Solid Waste Management Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. suggest options for waste reduction at source so as to reduce quantities of waste generated;
      2. choose from an array of options to turn waste into economic goods;
      3. suggest treatment/disposal methods for waste from which the value has been taken out and to make basic calculations related to the conceptual design thereof;
      4. assess the impact of waste and waste management on other environmental compartments;
      5. roughly assess financial consequences of proposed management aspects in SWM;
      6. conceptually develop a solid waste management scheme for an urban area.
    • Watershed and River Basin Management Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. describe the main natural and anthropogenic interactions at a watershed scale; and how they can be aggregated to rive basin scale
      2. describe the role of water in sustaining different land uses, including ecosystems
      3. understand the watershed planning and management approaches, specifically in terms of soil and water management
      4. explain temporal and spatial scales issues in hydrology
      5. characterize the fundamental economic issues in watersheds and river basins and the role of economic valuation of acquatic ecosystem services in watershed and river basin management
    • IWRM as a Tool for Adaptation to Climate Change Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. describe the expected impacts of climate change on water resources and water use sectors in relation to (other) human activities
      2. identify the consequences of the predicted impacts of climate change and climate variability for integrated water resources management
      3. integrate climatic change conditions at different time and spatial scales into (risk) management in the water sector
      4. justify decisions on adaption to the impacts of climate change under uncertainty
    • Wetlands for Livelihoods and Conservation Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. understand the concept of ecosystem functions and services, and means of assessing it;
      2. develop adaptive management for wetlands in response to climate change;
      3. analyse problems and formulate objectives according to the Objective Oriented Planning (OOP) method;
      4. analyse systematically the role that stakeholders have in wetland planning and management;
      5. develop and carry out stakeholder interviews and surveys;
      6. construct a wetland management plan based on the guidelines of the Ramsar Convention.
    • Summer Course - Research Methodology for ES Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Discuss the latest insights, context and concepts of a contemporary issue of choice
      2. Able to justify his or her research in the context of UNESCO-IHE research lines, personal professional interests and preferably in local, national and regional contemporary issues.
    • Groupwork ES Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Solve complex environmental problems by integrating the content of the preceding modules;
      2. Make decisions on the basis of a limited amount of information;
      3. Work in a team to solve complex environmental problems
    • MSc Preparatory Course and Thesis Research Proposal for ES Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. concisely define the intended research topic, state precise aims and objectives, describe the research methodology, argue expected relevance and justification, and identify boundary conditions and self- or externally imposed limitations;
      2. list available literature and replicate main arguments expounded in the literature on the specified research topic;
      3. demonstrate analytical problem-analysis skills and the ability to distil the strategic issues to be addressed in the research phase;
      4. plan the research process in weekly time-steps and indicate essential milestones, targets and indicators, required human, financial and other resources, deliverables and perceived threats and constraints at each stage of the research project;
      5. develop and formulate the research proposal in a clearly written, well argued and convincing report, submitted within a set deadline;
      6. develop and formulate the research proposal in a clearly written, well argued and convincing report, submitted within a set deadline; successfully present and defend individual work, cross-reference it to and critically evaluate it in light of contemporary thinking in a specific field of study.

Tuition & fellowships

Tuition fee is the general tuition fee for Delft Based programmes, available here


The following fellowships are recommended for prospective students who wish to study Water Quality Management

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

    Participants from World Bank member countries can apply for a fellowship from the Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Programme (JJ/WBGSP). The call for applications for a JJWBGSP Scholarship is scheduled to open January 25, 2017. We strongly advise you to prepare your application before opening of the call:

    What can an applicant do before the call?

    • Read information posted on this website and review eligibility criteria carefully.
    • Apply to one or more of the JJWBGSP preferred and partnership master degree programs.
    • Begin gathering required documentation for the scholarship application, including: your current curriculum vitae (C.V.), proof of employment for each record of employment since earning a Bachelor’s degree, and certified copy of the certificate of your most advanced university degree earned.
    • Identify two professional recommenders.
    • In case you do not meet the program’s English language requirement: arrange to sit for a test as soon as possible. Test dates are very often full. Registration well in time will help you to have your test results in time.

    Please note that application guidelines that provide detailed application instructions will be posted on this website during the open call.

    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

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.
  • 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 Marlies Baburek
Admission and Fellowship Officer
Email: m.baburek@unesco-ihe.org