Water Resources Management

You will study the ways in which water availability and use are matched, and seek to develop alternative land use and water allocation policies, including legal and institutional arrangements from the local watershed to the basin scale and beyond.     

  • 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?

This specialization is designed for engineers and managers responsible for planning, developing and implementing water resources projects and programmes. Experience has shown that students need to have an understanding of quantitative methods, such as statistical analysis, in order to successfully complete this specialization.


The degree students receive from UNESCO-IHE is the MSc degree in Water Management with a specialization in Water Resources Management.


Start: 19 October 2017
Application deadline: 01 August 2017

Learning objectives

After completing this specialization, graduates will be able to:

  • Describe and predict for a given water resources system the main hydrological, hydraulic, chemical and biological processes and how these processes are dynamically linked with aquatic ecosystems as well as with human activities such as land and water use and pollution;
  • Describe and explain the main concepts and instruments for analysing and influencing formal and informal arrangements for water quality management, including policies, laws and institutions, and by adopting a historical perspective;
  • Explain the key concepts for integrated, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary analyses of aquatic ecosystems and describe the challenges of such approaches;
  • Describe concepts to determine the value of water for various uses and users in (amongst others) economic and ecological terms and explain how these concepts can be used in water resources planning at various spatial and temporal scales.

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 + Principles of Integrated Water Resources Management Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Summarize the latest insights, context and concepts in integrated water management that are under debate in international and regional forums.
      2. Explain the main arguments for an integrated approach in the field of water management.
      3. Describe the major natural functions and human uses of river systems.
      4. Summarize the basics of GIS and Remote Sensing, and apply the techniques for typical applications in water management.
      5. Explain what science is and what scientific research entails including distinguishing the main methodological approaches.
    • The Water Resources System Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe how the physical water resources system works, and illustrate the interaction between quantity and quality (chemical, biological, ecological), between surface water, soil water and groundwater, between stocks and fluxes. Explain major natural functions and human use of water resources systems focusing on river systems including groundwater, wetlands, lakes/reservoirs and estuaries.
      2. Identify basic components to characterise the quantitative and qualitative nature of a water resources system and able to analyse the hydrology of a water resources systems.
      3. Discuss the main issues of debate in an integrated water resources system underpinned by description of the biophysical, chemical and hydrological processes and their interactions, natural functions and human use of a water resources system.
    • Water Governance Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Identify and analyse actors and decision making processes related to water governance
      2. Distinguish and explain main discourses and theories on water governance
      3. Identify context, purpose, perspective and arguments of scientific papers on water governance
      4. Compare and contrast different scientific papers, case studies and theories on dynamic and political nature of water governance
    • Water Economics Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe the principles of economics and the relevance of economics to water management
      2. Explain the cause of water resource issues using economic theory and concepts
      3. Identify economic instruments for water resource management
      4. Describe economic approaches to estimating the value of water in different use
      5. Apply economic theory and method to analyze issues of water resource management
    • 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 Resources Assessment Elective
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe different types of water resources data, generated from ground and RS measurements.
      2. Apply diverse methods of data processing and data validation for water resources assessment.
      3. Quantify the different components of the water resources spectrum (rainfall, river flow, groundwater), and assess availability and access at different scales.
      4. Describe and apply different methods of water quality monitoring and assessment.
      5. Analyse and quantify multiple uses of water for: agriculture, hydropower, domestic, environment and other uses
      6. Apply water accounting techniques as a quick method for assessing water resources, water use, and water productivity in a river basin context.
    • Institutional Analysis Elective
      Learning Objectives
      1. Analyze the role of institutions in water management.
      2. Summarize different approaches to institutional analysis linked to different schools of thought.
      3. Apply these approaches for analyzing cases of water management.
    • Water Systems Modelling Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Describe the procedure of the modelling protocol.
      2. Name and explain type of models used in different case studies.
      3. Build water resources models that simulate river basin processes.
      4. Clearly present the results of the water system models.
      5. Critically analyse model outcomes.
    • Water Resources Planning Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Explain basic concepts and notions in water resources planning.
      2. Describe major steps in the participatory and integrated water resources planning process.
      3. Identify and apply tools and models, such as stakeholder integration, environmental impact assessment (EIA), decision support systems, role plays and water system models, while engaging in water resources planning activities.
      4. Develop alternative water management strategies and compare and evaluate them by applying multi-criteria analysis.
      5. Discuss water resources planning and implementation in basins for specific context with special attention to basins in a developing country context.
    • International Fieldwork Required
      Upon completion, the participant should be able to:
      1. Compare the different water management perspectives and uses in practice in Spain and Portugal. Issues that will be elaborated upon during the fieldwork include Multiple uses for and multiple sources of water; Up and downstream water issues; Institutional framework and implementation of the EU WFD; Public and private water supply; Conventional and alternative waste water treatment and reuse; Large Dams and transboundary river basin issues; Ancient vs modern irrigation and water supply systems; Non conventional water resources: desalination and wastewater reuse; Formal and informal decision making processes.
      2. Formulate a problem statement
      3. Collect and analyse data from field measurements and interviews
      4. Develop a problem analysis
    • IWRM as a Tool for Adaptation to Climate Change Required
      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
    • IWRM Groupwork Required
    • MSc Preparatory Course and Thesis Research Proposal for WM Required

Tuition & fellowships

Information about tuition fees can be found here.

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

  • LPDP (Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education)

    For students with Indonesian nationality, graduated from an accredited Indonesian university or an overseas university acknowledged by the Indonesian Higher Education Directorate (DIKTI), maximum age 35 (for Master’s programme) or 40 (for PhD programme). 

    more info: http://www.lpdp.depkeu.go.id/beasiswa/

  • National Fellowships in Latin America

    These fellowships are for nationals from the mentioned Latin American country.

    Your country might also offer individual fellowships for studies abroad, contact your national Ministry of Education or a similar organisation/agency for more information.

  • 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
    • MSc in Water Science and Engineering

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

  • Stuned Scholarship Programme

    The stuned Scholarship Programme is open for professionals from all over Indonesia who have completed a Bachelor study, in particular educators, government officials, ngo officials and journalists. Stuned aims at a balanced gender representation (minimum 50% women) and gives preference to candidates from less developed areas in Indonesia.

    more info: www.nesoindonesia.or.id


    The deadline for applications for a Stuned Scholarship is March 1 for Short Courses and April 1 for Masters Programmes.

  • 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.
  • 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