Why study an MSc in Advanced Water Management?

The Advanced Water Management course builds on our 30 year legacy in Environmental Water Management. It includes contemporary issues and innovations in water management and a unique integrated skills training programme to better prepare students for a challenging career in water.

Managing water is one of society’s greatest challenges. What was once an abundant natural resource now requires careful management to ensure its availability and quality for future generations. Developed in partnership with leading organisations in the water sector, the Advanced Water Management MSc will prepare you for a successful and rewarding career optimising the use of water resources, in the water industry, government, consultancy, and the charitable sector.


Overview

  • Start dateFull-time: October, part-time: October
  • DurationFull-time: one year, part-time: two-three years
  • DeliveryTaught modules: 40%, group project: 20%, individual project: 40%
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip, PgCert
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time
  • CampusCranfield campus

Who is it for?

The course is ideal for graduates wishing to develop the expertise needed to solve environmental water management problems. It is designed to complement and expand your existing knowledge of science, policy and practice, making it suitable for students from a range of backgrounds. Recent students have joined us from undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in engineering (civil, hydraulic, agricultural), physical geography, chemistry and environmental sciences, as well as from professional careers.

Our strong industry links make the course particularly suited for those looking to work in the water industry, government or environmental and engineering consultancy, and a wide range of roles including water quality, water resources, aquatic habitat and wildlife, flood defence and policy.

8 reasons to study water at Cranfield

The option to undertake the course on a part-time basis allows you to extend your professional development within your current employment.

Your future career

Cranfield University water graduates are found all over the UK, EU and the world, working at all levels of the water industry, government, environmental and engineering consultancy, and charitable sector. You will therefore become part of a large and supportive alumni network.

Successful graduates have been able to pursue or enhance their careers in a variety of key roles such as:

Environmental Consultant, Hydrologist, Flood Risk and Drainage Engineer, Flood Risk Officer, Flood and Coastal Risk Manager, Environmental Hydrologist, Research Scientist, Civil and Water Management Engineer, Agricultural Engineer, Water Resource Modelling Specialist, Hydrogeologist, Water Quality Scientist, Team Leader Fisheries & Biodiversity, Water Resource Manager, Senior Consultant, Principal Consultant, Asset Strategy and Investment Programme Manager, Principal Water Resources Planner, Regional Director (Water).

Cranfield Careers Service

Cranfield’s Careers Service is dedicated to helping you meet your career aspirations. You will have access to career coaching and advice, CV development, interview practice, access to hundreds of available jobs via our Symplicity platform and opportunities to meet recruiting employers at our careers fairs. We will also work with you to identify suitable opportunities and support you in the job application process for up to three years after graduation.

Previous students have gone on to jobs within prestigious institutions including:

Consultancy - Mott MacDonald, Atkins- SNC Lavalin, Jacobs, Royal Haskoning, WSP, JBA, AECOM, MJA Consulting, OHES, Thomson Ecology. 
Water companies - Thames Water, Anglian Water, Severn Trent Water. 
Government/charity/other - Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, National Resources Wales, National Grid Canal and River Trust, Hertfordshire County Council, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, British Geological Survey.

Why this course?

Hear from Cyndi Lou about her experience of studying Water at Cranfield

At the UK’s only exclusively postgraduate university, you will benefit from the unique experience of working with researchers whose primary purpose is to understand the needs of their sector. All components of the Advanced Water Management course are designed with the same end goal in mind: to produce the best graduates for jobs in water resources, hydrology, water quality, habitat conservation and creation, and flood risk management.

To do this, you will first reinforce your knowledge of topics and methods in four core areas (hydrology and modelling, water quality and ecology, drought and flood risk, and water management at urban and catchment scales). You then integrate this learning and apply it to a real-world problem in the group project. Over a 10-week period, you will work in a team of 6-8 students from a range of MSc courses on a consultancy project, handling all stages of project design and delivery from initial meetings to scope out the work to the final report and presentation. Topics vary yearly as they respond to the needs of our industrial partners, put typically relate to water resources, aquatic ecology and flood risk management. Finally, you will delve into a single topic for your individual thesis project, strengthening your skills in project design and management; data collection, analysis and interpretation; and report writing, all of which are essential for your future career.

By completing this course, you will become part of a long line (>30 years) of environmental water management alumni who can now be found across the entire water sector, from entry-level scientists to senior managers and regulators, around the world. Learn more in the careers section at the bottom of this page.

This MSc is supported by our team of professional thought leaders, read Dr Chloe Sutcliffe's blog about her Cranfield research and where a Cranfield MSc can take you.

Informed by industry

Cranfield has unrivalled links with industry. Our students benefit from our extensive contacts and track record of close collaboration with government agencies and the water and environmental sector. These links include industrial advisory panels, group project sponsors and thesis consultants.

Our courses are reviewed each year by a panel of industry advisors from leading companies and institutions in the sector. This ensures that the skills you acquire are up-to-date and what employers want. Some of the companies on our panel include Anglian Water, CIWEM, Environment Agency, Future Water Association, International Medical Corps, JBA Consulting, Mott Macdonald, PumpAid, RRC, Save the Children and Severn Trent.

Course details

The course comprises a taught programme of four assessed modules, a group project and an individual project.

 

Water course structure diagram 

Learning support

Water students benefit from a comprehensive, structured training in key competencies to support their learning and career development. Each course has a set of integrated knowledge and skills pathways. These pathways are mini-courses that run over the whole length of the MSc programme.  Knowledge and skills pathways are tailored to each discipline in the Water programme. All students follow oral and written communication pathways, and depending of the course, pathways also include design, social and economic appraisal, data analysis, policy and regulation, geographical data analysis (GIS) and climate change. They are not assessed but support your learning in the taught modules, help you to complete the group and thesis projects, and develop core competencies for your career.

Key: P= Pathway   M= Module   GP = Group Project  IP = Individual Project

 

Course delivery

Taught modules: 40%, group project: 20%, individual project: 40%

Group project

A unique component of a Cranfield University taught MSc is the group project. Group projects are usually sponsored by industry partners and provide students with experience of working on real challenges in the workplace along with skills in team working, managing resources and developing reporting and presentation skills. Experience gained is highly valued by both students and prospective employers.

Find out more about past group projects

Individual project

You will be able to select your individual project in consultation with the thesis project coordinators. The individual project provides you with the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to carry out independent research, think and work in an original way, contribute to knowledge, and overcome genuine problems. You have the choice to work on projects sponsored by industry or related to current Research Council, EU or industry funded research. Recent sponsors of individual projects include:

  • AB Sugar
  • ASDA
  • Atkins
  • British Geological Survey
  • British Sugar
  • Canal and River Trust
  • Catchment Partnerships
  • Environment Agency
  • ESWAG
  • Innocent
  • Luton Borough Council
  • Marks & Spencers
  • River Restoration Centre
  • Royal Horticultural Society
  • WSUP
  • WWF-UK

Modules

Keeping our courses up-to-date and current requires constant innovation and change. The modules we offer reflect the needs of business and industry and the research interests of our staff and, as a result, may change or be withdrawn due to research developments, legislation changes or for a variety of other reasons. Changes may also be designed to improve the student learning experience or to respond to feedback from students, external examiners, accreditation bodies and industrial advisory panels.

To give you a taster, we have listed the compulsory and elective (where applicable) modules which are currently affiliated with this course. All modules are indicative only, and may be subject to change for your year of entry.


Course modules

Compulsory modules
All the modules in the following list need to be taken as part of this course.

Surface and Groundwater Hydrology: Processes, Measurement and Modelling

Module Leader
  • Professor Ian Holman
Aim

    This module concentrates on the conceptualisation, quantification and modelling of surface and groundwater hydrological processes. You will gain an understanding of rainfall, evapotranspiration, runoff, discharge, groundwater recharge, groundwater storage, and groundwater movement, all essential for those involved in the science, engineering or management of the water environment.  The module further addresses how this understanding can be embedded within a range of different types of numerical models to address environmental and management challenges. The module offers you the opportunity to strengthen your analytical abilities with a specific mathematical emphasis, including programming and modelling, which are key skills to launch future careers in science, engineering and technology. 

    This module is 20 credits.
Syllabus
    • Land-atmosphere interactions: measurement of precipitation amount and intensity, spatial analysis. Interception and depression storage.  Evapotranspiration, actual evapotranspiration and soil water availability. Runoff processes; water balances.
    • Hydraulics: SI Units, properties of fluids, basic mechanics. Hydrostatics: Pressure, pressure measurement, pressure and forces on submerged surfaces. Fluids in motion: Types of flow. Continuity, energy and momentum equations and their applications. Behaviour of a real fluid.
    • Discharge measurement; velocity area methods. Structures; hydraulic principles of weirs & flumes. Stage measurement. Rating curves and other methods. 
    • Groundwater: Aquifer properties (transmissivity, storage coefficient, significance); recharge, groundwater movement including flow lines and equipotentials, natural flow, flow to wells; conduct and analysis of pumping tests including limitations and assumptions.
    • Overview of the types of models applied; mechanistic, semi-empirical and empirical models. Why these different forms exist, their strengths and weaknesses. How they are applied?
    • Introduction to systems analysis. Overview of the basic concepts and how this relates to model design.
    • Model parameterization, sensitivity testing, calibration/validation, model uncertainty, model performance evaluation, predictions and scenarios. 
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Explain the processing governing the surface and sub-surface movement of water within a catchment.
  • Select and apply appropriate measurement techniques and understand their measurement uncertainty.
  • Analyse and interpret a range of hydro-meteorological data.
  • Identify and evaluate the standard types of numerical models in use in hydrological sciences.
  • Apply a process of hydrological model design, building, calibration and validation to a catchment to meet stated objectives, and critically evaluate the usefulness and uncertainty of the model 


Good Ecological Status

Module Leader
  • Dr Pablo Campo Moreno
Aim

    Water bodies are fundamental features of the landscape. Whether they are rivers, canals, wetlands, ponds, lakes, estuaries or the open coast, they are important habitats that support diverse ecological communities and provide essential services to society. Therefore, countries have developed regulations to protect the quality of these water bodies and methods to assess status. Around the world, quality is increasingly being assessed based on a wide set of physical, chemical and biological attributes of the water body. In the UK, quality is assessed based on its ecological and chemical quality under the Water Framework Directive (WFD), which became part of UK law in 2003. This module will provide you with an overview of WFD and other relevant water quality regulation and policy that govern the management and assessment of surface waters. It will also provide you with a background in ecological processes, aquatic communities, and survey design and data analysis to help those working in environmental water management to interpret water quality data in the context of the catchment characteristics and pressures.

    This module is 20 credits.
Syllabus
    • Importance of water quality for human health, drinking water and the environment.
    • Water quality regulation and standards.
    • UK methods to assess the status of surface water bodies.
    • The physical and chemical attributes and processes structuring the biological community in aquatic ecosystems in the landscape (e.g. rivers, lakes, floodplains, estuaries and coastal zones).
    • Design of water quality monitoring programmes: sampling strategies, sampling methods, quality assurance, and data handling.
    • Water quality sampling & analysis: field sampling techniques and laboratory analysis methods.
    • Statistical analysis of ecological and water quality data.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Explain the chemical, biological and hydromorphological processes and their interactions that determine the ecological status of a surface water body.
  • Evaluate water quality and ecological data based on knowledge of the sampling and data analysis methods, and analyse them to identify significant spatial and temporal differences.
  • Interpret ecological and water quality data based on scientific understanding of aquatic organism occurrence, movement and distribution and natural and anthropogenic influences from the river network and catchment. 

Water in Cities and Catchments

Module Leader
  • Dr Robert Grabowski
Aim
    There is a growing recognition that sustainable solutions to environmental water management problems require a coordinated approach. With climate change, aging infrastructure, and an increasing human population growth with its increased demand for urban development, food and water, we require creative and effective policy, management and technological solutions that address multiple problems and increase the resilience of our natural, economic and social systems. In this module, you will develop the skills to critically evaluate and analyse environmental data and information in a spatial context and to assess them in light of current drivers (e.g. regulatory and socioeconomic) to develop integrated solutions for water supply, wastewater treatment, water quality, flooding, conservation of aquatic ecosystems, etc.

    This module is 20 credits.


Syllabus
    • Global challenges for water management.
    • Policy and regulatory framework for integrated water management (UK, EU).
    • Future of water and wastewater services.
    • Management and technological solutions applicable at different spatial scales.
    • Strategic catchment and urban planning.
    • Natural capital and ecosystem service. 
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this study you should be able to:

  • Describe the spatial dimensions and linkages between the main global challenges for water management and explain the underlying and associated social, economic and environmental factors and interactions.
  • Evaluate evidence and conclusions from key regulatory and planning documents from regulators, managers, municipalities and industry to identify possible conflicts or unrealised synergies in management and development goals.
  • Develop integrated solutions within the spatial context of the catchment and city, considering the natural environment and socio-economic factors, and assess their impacts using appropriate appraisal methods.

Managing Flood and Drought Risks

Module Leader
  • Dr Dolores Rey Vicario
Aim
    Extreme weather events are considered top global risks. Every year, many places around the world are affected by droughts and floods leading to severe impacts on people, the environment, agricultural and industrial production, and water supply infrastructure. Climate change will increase the frequency and severity of these natural hazards. Thus, we need to improve our ability to characterise and understand their occurrence, duration and intensity; and to effectively implement management responses to reduce vulnerability and minimise their impacts. This module will focus on droughts and floods, covering their definition, forecasting, impacts and management options. The module focuses on impact and management responses in three key sectors – domestic, businesses and the environment.
     
    This module is 20 credits.
Syllabus
    • Introduction. Definition of risk. Roles and responsibilities in drought/flood management.
    • Drought metrics (Standardised Precipitation Index (SPI), SPEI, Drought Palmer Severity Index (DPSI), Potential Soil Moisture Deficit (PSMD) and their spatio-temporal relevance to different sectors.
    • Flood probability. Storm hydrographs and unit hydrographs.  Probability and return period analysis of hydrological events. Design floods. Estimation of peak flows using Flood Estimation Handbook (FEH) methods.
    • Soft and hard engineering strategies to mitigate drought/flood risk at local (individual business) and catchment scales.
    • Management approaches to tackle drought/flood risk at different levels.
    • Cost-benefit analysis for assessing different management options to tackle weather extremes.
    • Climate change and water-related weather extremes.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Define drought and flood risk, their main characteristics and impacts, and policy landscape.
  • Calculate and apply different drought indicators(metrics) including assessing their utility and limitations.
  • Determine the likelihood of a flow of a given magnitude for gauged and ungauged catchments and catchments using the Flood Estimation Handbook (FEH and ReFH) methods.
  • Critically evaluate the role of alternative approaches to managing drought/flood risks.
  • Explain the impacts of climate change on the frequency and severity of drought/flood risks.

Teaching team

You will be taught by our internationally-renowned research and academic staff with skills in hydrology, ecology, engineering and policy, who have extensive international experience of solving real-life water management problems. They successfully combine professional experience with high-quality teaching skills, and are all members, or are working towards membership, of the Higher Education Academy. External experts from industry, environmental agencies and the third sector are also invited throughout the course to share their experiences and knowledge. The Admissions Tutor is Dr Emma Goslan and the Course Director is Dr Dolores Rey Vicario

Accreditation

The MSc of this course is accredited by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM). As a graduate of the MSc course, you are eligible for graduate membership in this leading professional body.

CIWEM logo

After the induction week, I knew I had enrolled at one of the best postgraduate universities in the United Kingdom. Cranfield University’s tenacious link with industries all over the country was a chance for me to practically and effectively make an impact.

The academic set-up and structure of lectures so far have made it interesting and educating for me, as it has impacted and ameliorated my thinking skills, writing skills and problem-solving approach. I have also made new friends from around the world. 

As a Civil Engineer I had the technical background to solve engineering problems, but I really wanted to develop myself as a water manager, with an emphasis in environment, and get the necessary practical knowledge to start working as an engineer, that’s what I achieved in Cranfield and now I feel completely ready for it.

We have worked with several Cranfield MSc students who have completed their summer thesis using the Upper Wensum Restoration Scheme as subject matter. I find Cranfield students committed and always interested in their investigations. The mix of nationalities generates some fresh and interesting perspectives on issues and solutions. We liked the work done by two MSc students so much that we took them on as graduates!


How to apply

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