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Water and Wastewater Engineering MSc/PgDip/PgCert


Water and Wastewater Engineering Masthead

The Water and Wastewater Engineering programme is ideal for individuals who want to make a real difference to delivering reliable water supplies, or to maintaining and enhancing river and ground water quality. The programme is suitable for those from non-engineering and engineering disciplines alike: all we require is a science or engineering degree qualification combined with a keen interest in water and wastewater.  

Water is coming under increasing pressure from demographic and climatic changes. Treatment processes play a key role in delivering safe, reliable supplies of water to households, industry and agriculture and in safeguarding the quality of water in rivers, lakes, aquifers and around coastal areas. Well educated, skilled and experienced graduates are required to operate and manage vital water and wastewater treatment services. The demand for such graduates is already high and will only increase over coming years as environmental standards for water quality increase, and pressures on our water supplies continue to grow.

  • Course overview

    The course comprises eight assessed modules, a group project and an individual research project.

    The modules include lectures and tutorials, and are assessed through practical work, written examinations, case studies, essays, presentations and tests. These provide the 'tools' required for the group and individual projects.

  • Group project

    The group project is an applied multidisciplinary team based activity. It provides students with the opportunity, whilst working in teams under academic supervision, to apply principles taught during modules whilst taking responsibility for project tasks. Success is dependent on the integration of various activities, working within agreed objectives, deadlines and budgets. Students submit project reports and present their findings to representatives from industry. This develops professional practice in communication skills for technical and business areas of process development. Part-time students complete a single design project individually in a field of their choice.

  • Individual project

    Students select their individual project in consultation with their Course Director. This provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate independent research ability working within agreed objectives, deadlines and budgets. The project is sponsored by industry and usually includes a four month placement with the sponsoring company. Placements have been offered by all ten of the UK water utilities, the leading two French utilities, as well as multinational companies and SMEs operating in the water sector. Part-time students usually undertake their individual project with their employer.

  • Modules

    This course comprises eight taught modules, a group project and an individual project.


    • Water and Wastewater Treatment Principles
      Module LeaderDr Andreas Nocker - Einsiedler - Lecturer in Drinking Water Microbiology

      To acquire general knowledge of the conventional unit operations employed in water and wastewater treatment, including the scientific engineering principles on which they are based.

      • Classification, significance and concentration ranges of impurities in water and wastewater, including: suspended and dissolved solids, organic and inorganic compounds, trace contaminants and pathogens
      • Physical methods for removing particulates, including: screening and grit removal, sedimentation and filtration
      • Chemical dosing, including: precipitation; coagulation and flocculation processes (including basic concepts from colloid science); disinfection and chemical oxidation
      • Adsorption and ion exchange
      • Biological processes for wastewater treatment, both aerobic and anaerobic. Activated sludge, trickling filters and sludge digestion
      • Pumping and process control systems and strategies
      • Examples of flow sheets and unit operations used in treatment plants.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this study the student should be able to:

      • Understand the nature of impurities in waters and wastewaters, their concentrations and significance
      • Understand the basic principles of conventional treatment processes
      • Select appropriate processes, depending on the nature of the impurities to be removed and the intended use of the treated water or effluent
      • Complete a flow-sheet selection assignment showing how unit processes are selected based on incoming water quality.
    • Process Science and Engineering
      Module LeaderProfessor Simon Judd - Professor of Membrane Technology

      To acquire and, through completing tutorials, demonstrate knowledge of the basic principles of water chemistry, physics, microbiology and chemical engineering as applied to the treatment of water and wastewater.

      • Aqueous chemistry: moles and equivalents, solubility, the behaviour of acids and bases and the concept of pH, kinetics and equilibria, surface science and electrochemistry
      • Fundamental process principles: engineering and SI units, fluid mixing and flow through porous media, mass balance, mass transfer and elementary chemical reactor theory
      • Introductory cell biology: basic microbiology and biochemistry with reference to classification and terminology, structure of biochemicals and biochemical pathways of special interest to water and wastewater processes.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this study the student should be able to:

      • Understand the underlying basic biological, physical and chemical science principles and governing equations applicable to water and wastewater
      • Understand the relevant fundamental chemical engineering principles as applied to the processing of water and wastewater
      • Complete basic mathematical calculations relating primarily to water chemistry and biochemistry, engineering hydraulics and chemical engineering.
    • Biological Processes
      Module LeaderDr Ana Soares - Lecturer in Biological Processes

      To gain an understanding of the design principles, practice and operational experience of biological treatment processes.

      • Key principles of biological processes including stoichiometry, kinetics and microbial pathways
      • The role of micro-organisms in activated sludge (aerobic processes) and digestion (anaerobic processes)
      • Application of fixed film processes including RBCs, MBBR, IFAS and trickling filters
      • Activated sludge principles, design and operation
      • Principles of oxygen transfer for suspended growth microbial processes
      • Anaerobic digestion principles, design and operation
      • Principles of heat transfer for optimum anaerobic digestion performance
      • Applications for extensive processes for wastewater treatment including reed beds
      • Biological nutrient removal including Annamox and alternative nutrient removal processes (struvite and adsorbents)
      • Advanced biological wastewater treatment including anaerobic wastewater treatment and application of biological processes for micropollutant removal
      • Laboratory session examining wastewater quality analysis.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Identify the range of conventional and advanced biological treatment processes for the treatment of bulk organics, nutrients and micropollutants
      • Understand the underlying biological principles on which the processes are based, and be able to apply these principles to unit process design and operation
      • Select appropriate processes for specific applications, and have some knowledge of practical design considerations
      • Execute and asses laboratory work for wastewater quality analysis (FT and PT).
    • Risk Management and Reliability Engineering
      Module LeaderDr Alireza Daneshkhah - Lecturer in Utility Asset Management

      Risk management has become the central function of a utility manager. Utilities provide essential public health and environmental protection services to society and those working in the sector need to be versed with the context, tools and requirements of good risk governance. This module then aims to equip technologists with the skills to commission, appraise and review risk assessments within the utility sector, specifically for water, wastewater and solid waste unit processes and assets to introduce the management and governance of risk within the utility sector technical, managerial and human factors.


      This module explores risks from the strategic to operational level and both quantitative and qualitative
      tools and techniques. It does this by exploring:

      • Drivers for risk management in the utility sector - why manage risk?
      • Corporate risk management structures, tools and techniques
      • Basic probability and statistics
      • The reliability, availability and maintenance of unit processes
      • Risk analysis tools and techniques
      • Assets, risk management and public health protection
      • Regulatory risk assessments in support of environmental permits
      • Communicating risk, building stakeholder confidence
      • Risk governance in the utility sector towards high reliability organisations.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this study the student should be able to:

      • Summarise the context of risk governance in the utility sector and explain organisational structures for risk management; relate these to corporate objectives, eg. licence to operate
      • Exemplify strategic, tactical and operational risk in the water, wastewater or waste sector
      • Identify and select from key risk analysis tools and techniques appropriate to a range risk problem under study; be confident about the rules for selecting risk techniques
      • Undertake reliability analysis calculations, understanding and calculating mean times to failure
      • Identify critical control points and devise risk management strategies for managing risks to and from engineered systems; relate these to the development of water safety plans 
      • Devise risk governance structures and debate key risk management competencies for individuals, organisations and specialists; recognise core features of a risk mature organisation
      • Scope out and critically evaluate environmental risk assessments in the context of regulatory permitting sitting, operations and discharge.
    • Chemical Processes
      Module LeaderDr Emma Goslan - Lecturer in Water Chemistry

      To gain an understanding of the design principles, practice and operational experience of conventional and advanced chemical treatment processes.

      • Key principles of chemical processes including kinetics, thermodynamics, solubility and fate
      • The role of solubility in chemical processes including precipitation, scaling and corrosion
      • Adsorption of organics by activated carbon. Kinetics and equilibria. Batch and column operation. Biological effects. Carbon regeneration. Applications
      • Ion exchange resins. Ion selectivity. Column operation. Regeneration of resins, co-flow and counter-flow
      • Applications, including demineralisation, water softening, removal of nitrate and heavy metals
      • Coagulation science and application in water and wastewater treatment. Role of floc formation and growth
      • Oxidation of trace: chlorine, ozone, hydrogen peroxide and other oxidants. Principle of advanced oxidation processes
      • Disinfection principles and key issues: formation of by-products
      • UV irradiation: applications for low and medium pressure lamps
      • The selection of chemical processes for specific contaminant removal.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this study the student should be able to:

      • Identify the range of conventional and advanced water and wastewater treatment processes for the removal of dissolved impurities (including toxic metals and trace organics) and the inactivation of pathogenic organisms
      • Understand the underlying chemical principles on which the processes are based, and be able to apply these principles to unit process design and operation
      • Select appropriate processes for specific applications, and have some knowledge of practical design considerations
      • Execute and asses laboratory work examining disinfection by-products (FT).
    • Physical Processes
      Module LeaderDr Peter Jarvis - Senior Lecturer

      To gain an understanding of the design principles, practice and operational experience of conventional and novel physical separation processes.

      • Introduction to physical processes principles relevant to understanding the design, operation and fault diagnostic of the range of physical processes encountered in water and wastewater treatment
      • Modern screening designs: bar racks, fine screens, rotating drums, moving belts. Removal, disposal of retained solids
      • Clarification processes including sedimentation, high rate systems, dissolved air flotation and their applications
      • Filtration design and practice including backwashing, filter floors, factors governing media selection and application in water and wastewater treatment
      • Membrane processes including materials, configuration, design and operation of porous membrane systems
      • Sludge processes including source characterisation, theory and practice
      • Key problem particles: algae, NOM and wastewater. Covering their characteristics and how they impact on the selection and operation of physical processes.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:

      • Understand the fundamental physical phenomena governing solid-liquid separation processes
      • Understand the factors affecting the selection, design and operation of conventional and innovative physical separation processes
      • Design and specify appropriate operating conditions for unit processes for physical separation as applied to water and wastewater treatment
      • Execute and assess laboratory work examining physical processes used in the solid-liquid separation sector.
    • Hydraulics and Pumping Systems
      Module LeaderDr Peter Jarvis - Senior Lecturer

      To provide the foundation in hydraulics and an understanding of pumping systems with reference to water and wastewater treatment flow sheets.

      • Principles of channel flows, weir and flumes
      • Hydraulic profiling
      • Flow distribution, divisions and combination
      • Flow through hydraulic structures and unit process
      • Time varying flows through treatment works
      • Pump system calculation
      • Principles and sizing of pumps
      • Sludge pumping systems
      • Pumping station design
      • Pump maintenance.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:

      • Calculate hydraulic profile through a treatment works
      • Design flow division and combination devices
      • Understand the effects of flow variations through a treatment works
      • Select and size appropriate pumps for different applications.
    • Water reuse and resource recovery
      Module LeaderDr Heather Smith - Academic Fellow

      This module delivers a holistic picture of water reuse, covering relevant technical, economic, and socio-political challenges. To illustrate these challenges, we draw on real world examples of schemes from around the world. The module provides attendees with the skills needed to critically assess water reuse challenges, as well as evaluate options and design appropriate solutions within the context of sustainable water management. This module follows a flipped classroom approach, wherein students access key content prior to class time and then use face-to-face class time with staff (through seminars and group discussion) to work on the application of acquired knowledge as well as confirming their understanding of background material.

      • Technologies for large-scale water reuse
      • Technologies for small-scale water reuse
      • Opportunities for resource recovery (nutrients and energy)
      • Governance issues and public engagement
      • Risk assessment and management
      • Large-scale water reuse for potable uses (e.g. aquifer recharge, reservoir augmentation)
      • Large-scale water reuse for non-potable uses (e.g. irrigation, industrial processes, domestic uses)
      • Small-scale water reuse (e.g. building-level greywater reuse).
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:

      • Describe their understanding of the theoretical aspects of water reuse and resource recovery in the context of sustainable water management
      • Describe their understanding of the socio-political context for water reuse and resource recovery, including the relevant policy environment and issues of public perception
      • Identify and evaluate opportunities for water reuse and resource recovery in wastewater treatment systems
      • Identify, summarise and evaluate technological options for water reuse and resource recovery
      • Devise a complete water reuse and/or resource recovery scheme, and summarise its key components, including significant costs, key associated risks, and potential risk mitigation measures.
  • Assessment

    Taught modules: 40% Group projects: 20%* Individual project: 40%

  • Start date, duration and location

    Start date: Full-time October, part-time throughout the year

    Duration: Full-time one year, part-time two - five years

    Teaching location: Cranfield

  • Overview

    The Water and Wastewater Engineering programme aims to develop:

    • Water and wastewater treatment scientists, technologists and engineers with the skills to solve practical problems, communicate effectively and work successfully both in teams and individually
    • High quality graduates trained and qualified to work in all areas of water and wastewater treatment and management enabling them to provide a valuable contribution to the UK and global water sectors
    • Understanding of water and wastewater systems through innovative teaching, achieved by blending theory, application and practice
    • Demand for Cranfield graduates has grown steadily as the education provided has become recognised as excellent, producing graduates able to step into a range of positions and make an immediate and real contribution to the effectiveness of water sector businesses and organisations. Graduates from these programmes are highly sought after by industry and government.

    Video: Cranfield students explain why they chose this course

  • Accreditation and partnerships

    This degree has been accredited by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).

  • Informed by industry

    Our courses are designed to meet the training needs of industry and have a strong input from experts in their sector. These include:

    • P A Consulting
    • Joint Research Centre, Ispra
    • Adas
    • Cresswell Associates
    • Chartered Institute of Waste Management
    • Geospatial Insight
    • Oakdene Hollins
    • Golder
    • Astrium Geo-information Services
    • Unilever
    • Landscape Science Consultancy
    • WRc PLC
    • FWAG
    • RSPB
    • ERM
    • GIGL
    • WRG
    • Environment Agency
    • Chartered Institute of Water and Environment Management
    • Enviros
    • Health Protection Agency
    • Neales Waste
    • Natural England
    • National Trust
    • Trucost
    • SLR Consulting
    • Highview Power Storage
    • Nomura Code Securities

    Students who have excelled have their performances recognised through course awards. The awards are provided by high profile organisations and individuals, and are often sponsored by our industrial partners. Awards are presented on Graduation Day. View the 2014 Prize Winners booklet.

  • Your teaching team

    The Centre is recognised internationally as a centre of excellence for postgraduate courses. It is the UK's largest academic group specialising in process technologies, engineering and policy for water quality improvement, and is a member of British Water and the International Water Association. Industry practitioners teach alongside leading academics, ensuring you are exposed to cutting-edge tools, techniques and innovations.

  • Facilities and resources

    The School of Applied Sciences operates facilities and associated equipment which are often unique to Cranfield. Students on programmes associated with the Centre for Water Science benefit from this infrastructure which includes:

    • The on-site sewage treatment works, with its own dedicated pilot-plant hall
    • State-of-the-art clean water, fermentation, microbiology, wastewater and water chemistry laboratories
    • A containerised laboratory also operates at one of the University's halls of residence where grey water treatment pilot plants are stationed.
  • Entry Requirements

    Candidates must possess, or be expected to achieve, a First or Second class UK Honours degree in a relevant science, engineering or related discipline, or the international equivalent of these UK qualifications. Other relevant qualifications, together with significant experience, may be considered.

    English language

    If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification.  The minimum standard expected from a number of accepted courses are as follows:

    IELTS - 6.5

    TOEFL - 92 

    TOEIC - 800 (Important: this test is not currently accepted by the UK Home Office for Tier 4 (General) visa applications)

    Pearson PTE Academic - 65

    Cambridge English: Advanced - C

    Cambridge English: Proficiency - C

    In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test.  We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score if too low.

    We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date).

    Students requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa will also need to meet the UKBA Tier 4 General Visa English language requirements.  The UK Home Office are not currently accepting TOEFL or TOEIC tests for Tier 4 (General) visa applications. Other restrictions from the UK Home Office may apply from time to time and we will advise applicants of these restrictions where appropriate.

  • Fees

    Home/EU student

    MSc Full-time - £6,800


    The annual registration fee is quoted above. An additional fee of £1,080 per module is also payable.

    MSc Part-time - £1,070 *

    PgDip Full-time - £5,000

    PgDip Part-time - £1,070 *

    PgCert Full-time - £2,500

    PgCert Part-time - £1,070 *

    Overseas student

    MSc Full-time - £16,250

    MSc Part-time - £8,500

    PgDip Full-time - £12,000

    PgDip Part-time - £6,250

    PgCert Full-time - £6,000

    PgCert Part-time - £4,500

    Fee notes:

    • Fees are payable annually for each year of study unless otherwise indicated.
    • The fees outlined here apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2014 and 31 July 2015 and the University reserves the right to amend fees without notice.
    • All students pay the annual tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
    • Additional fees for extensions to registration may be charged.
    • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) pay international fees.
  • Funding

    Funding opportunities exist, including industrial sponsorship, School bursaries and a number of general external schemes.  For the majority of part-time students sponsorship is organised by their employers. We recommend you discuss this with your company in the first instance.

  • Application process

    Online application form. UK students are normally expected to attend an interview and financial support is best discussed at that time. Overseas and EU students may be interviewed by telephone.

  • Career opportunities

    The Centre for Water Science's links to industry, underpinned by the reputation of its courses, enable successful students to secure positions and develop their careers in UK water companies, utilities across Europe, the major international engineering consultancies, major engineering and service contractors, and government agencies.  

    The Centre is recognised internationally as a centre of excellence for postgraduate courses. It is the UK's largest academic group specialising in process technologies, engineering and policy for water quality improvement, and is a member of British Water.

    Industry practitioners teach alongside a wide-range of subject specialists. In addition, group and individual thesis projects are supported by sponsoring companies, and prizes are awarded annually to recognise success. Graduates also go on to academic research.

    Former students are invited to join the Centre's Alumni Association which offers excellent networking opportunities throughout the world.