Help shape a more resilient and sustainable future with an MSc in Water and Wastewater Engineering

Communities depend on safe and reliable water and wastewater services. There is an urgent need to transform those services to improve protection for public health, provide better care for the water environment, cope with climate change, and become fit for a low-carbon future.
Our MSc in Water and Wastewater Engineering will equip you with an advanced understanding of the technologies at the heart of those services, including conventional ones as well as more radical, innovative systems. You will also gain a real-world perspective on the evolving global sector in which those technologies are utilised.
Our academic staff are world-leading experts in the field, and their cutting-edge research directly informs our teaching to help us go beyond standard textbooks. Throughout the course you will cover theory, application and practice while working in our world-class facilities, including our very own working sewage treatment works.


  • 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 Water and Wastewater Engineering course 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.

Well-educated, skilled and experienced graduates are required to design, 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.

8 reasons to study water at Cranfield

Your career

Hear from Ranj Rihal from Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies at the Cranfield careers fair

Our graduates are highly sought after by industry and government, and demand has grown steadily as the education provided has become recognised as excellent. Some graduates progress on to academic research. This course produces 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 such as Severn Trent Water, Anglian Water, Thames Water and DEFRA. 

Cranfield Careers and Employability Service

Our Careers and Employability Service can help you find the job you want after leaving Cranfield. We will work with you to identify suitable opportunities and support you in the job application process for up to three years after graduation. We have been providing master's-level training for over 20 years. Our strong reputation and links with potential employers provide you with outstanding opportunities to secure interesting jobs and develop successful careers. The increasing interest in sustainability and corporate and social responsibility has also enhanced the career prospects of our graduates.

Learn more about career opportunities with a postgraduate degree in water

Why this course?

Hear from Aphiwe Jikazana, who studied the Water and Wastewater MSc and continued on to her PhD at Cranfield

Water is under increasing pressure from demographic and climatic changes. Water engineering and 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. This course is designed to enable you to develop a career addressing these challenges.

  • Study a truly interdisciplinary course, which covers a balance of engineering, environmental science and risk management.
  • Conduct your MSc thesis working on industrially-relevant projects.
  • Our research-active faculty work alongside the water industry, consultancies and policy makers, helping to align the course with the latest sector thinking, giving you a competitive edge in your career.
  • External experts from industry, environmental agencies and the third sector are also invited throughout the course to share their experiences and knowledge.
  • There are fantastic opportunities to gain applied knowledge, including filed trips, group design project and an applied MSc thesis, all of which will put into practice the theoretical knowledge you need.
  • Innovative teaching practices, including 'flipped classrooms' and student-led exercises, are embedded throughout this course.
  • Our group and individual projects are supported by external companies, which means you are able to benefit from our links with industry to develop your practical skills and build up your network of contacts before you leave Cranfield.

This MSc is supported by our team of professional thought leaders, read Dr Pascal Finkbeiner and Dr Edwina Mercer's blogs about their Cranfield research and where a Cranfield MSc can take you.

Informed by industry

The Water and Wastewater Engineering MSc is designed to meet the training needs of industry, and it has a strong input from experts in their sector to ensure you are fully prepared for you career.

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

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.

Course details

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


Water course structure diagram 

Knowledge and skills pathways

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. The knowledge and skills pathways for this course are:

Written communication
Oral communication
Policy and regulation
Process economics for water engineering
Towards zero carbon treatment.

Course delivery

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

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.

Recent group projects include: 

Individual project

Students select their individual project in consultation with the thesis project coordinators. 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 previously 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.


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.

Science and Engineering Principles in Water and Wastewater Treatment

Module Leader
  • Dr Marc Pidou

    As the first module of the Water and Wastewater Engineering MSc, this module will provide you with a base of knowledge on which the subsequent modules will build. By broadly covering the water industry, conventional unit operations employed and the basic scientific and engineering principles - all essential knowledge for water and wastewater engineers. More specifically, as part of this module, you will first acquire knowledge of the water industry, its structure and processes, relevant regulations and applicable process economics. Subsequently, you will acquire general knowledge and understanding of the conventional water and wastewater treatment processes used in the industry, which will then all be covered in greater details in the following modules. Finally, you will learn about the basic scientific and engineering principles on which these treatment processes are based including water chemistry, hydraulics and pumping, mass balance, mass and heat transfers, reactor theory, chemical and biochemical kinetics.

    This module is 30 credits.

    • 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, including activated sludge, trickling filters and sludge digestion.
    • Process control systems and strategies.
    • Process economics and optioneering.
    • Water sector structure and legislation.
    • Aqueous chemistry: moles and equivalents, solubility, the behaviour of acids and bases and the concept of pH, kinetics and equilibria.
    • Reactors – plug flow and continuous stirred tank.
    • Kinetics – chemical and biochemical.
    • Mass balances.
    • Mass and heat transfers.
    • Principles of channel flows, weirs and flumes.
    • Hydraulic profiling.
    • Flow distribution, divisions and combination.
    • Flow through hydraulic structures and unit process.
    • Principles and sizing of pumps.
    • Sludge pumping systems.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Explain the basic principles of conventional water and wastewater treatment processes.
  • Examine the nature of impurities in waters and wastewaters and select appropriate processes for their removal (design of flow sheets).
  • Explain and compare the structure and operation of the water sector, including legislations.
  • Apply economic costing to water and wastewater treatment systems.
  • Apply relevant fundamental scientific and engineering principles (i.e. water chemistry, hydraulics and pumping, mass balance, mass and heat transfers, reactor theory, chemical and biochemical kinetics) to water and wastewater treatment processes.

Treatment Processes for Water and Wastewater

Module Leader
  • Dr Francis Hassard

    This module will provide you with the skills required to select, design and monitor water and wastewater processes in order to deliver safe drinking water or wastewater treated to the consents required to safeguard water body health. You will gain an understanding of and implement the design principles, practice and operation of conventional and advanced chemical, physical and biological processes for water and wastewater treatment.

    This module is 30 credits.
    • Key principles of chemical, physical and biological processes relevant to the selection,  design, operation and fault diagnostics of treatment processes encountered in water and wastewater treatment.
    • Coagulation science.
    • Adsorption of organics by activated carbon.
    • Ion exchange resins.
    • Disinfection principles and key issues: formation of by-products. 
    • Oxidation of trace: chlorine, ozone, hydrogen peroxide and other oxidants. 
    • UV irradiation.
    • Screening designs.
    • Clarification processes including sedimentation, high rate systems, dissolved air flotation and their applications.
    • Filtration design and practice including factors governing media selection and application in water and wastewater treatment.
    • Membrane processes including materials, configuration, design and operation of porous membrane systems.
    • Sludge properties and treatment by anaerobic digestion (design and operation) .
    • Principles and application of biofilm processes including RBCs, MBBR, IFAS and trickling filters.
    • Activated sludge principles, design and operation.
    • Applications for extensive processes for wastewater treatment including reed beds and other nature based solutions (including catchment management).
    • Advanced biological wastewater treatment including anaerobic wastewater treatment and application of biological processes for micropollutant removal.
    • Biological nutrient removal.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Identify the range of conventional and advanced chemical, physical and biological treatment processes for the treatment of water and wastewater.
  • Determine the factors influencing the selection, design and operation of conventional and innovative physical, chemical and biological processes. 
  • Select appropriate treatment processes for specific applications.
  • Explain the underlying operating principles on which the treatment processes are based and be able to apply these principles to unit process design and operation.
  • Evaluate the importance of monitoring of chemical, physical and biological treatment processes for optimisation and diagnostics of in drinking water and wastewater treatment.

Water and Wastewater Assets: Lifecycles, Risks and Futures

Module Leader
  • Dr Jitka MacAdam

    This module builds on previously acquired knowledge of technological solutions used in water and wastewater treatment by introducing a holistic approach with the aim to tackle future challenges faced by the water sector. You will cover a range of topics encompassing  everything from the initial asset plans, understanding the risk to the assets, how are these risks changing and how do we address and manage these futures. This module is designed around the Asset Management Plan (AMP) cycle and includes topics broadly covering asset and risk management as well as future trends in the water sector. 

    This module is 20 credits.

    • AMP cycle.
    • Asset characteristics, functions and design life.
    • Pressures on asset integrity & design life.
    • Concepts of performance, serviceability and asset deterioration.
    • Failure modes and effects analysis.
    • Building and managing efficient delivery of large programmes of repair, inspect, operating and maintenance tasks.
    • Integrated asset management & Whole Life Asset Management.
    • Risk based approaches to asset management.
    • Drivers for risk management in the utility sector.
    • Corporate risk management. 
    • Risk analysis tools and techniques.
    • Operational risk management.
    • Communicating risk, building stakeholder confidence.
    • Risk governance in the utility sector.
    • Futures/disruptive innovations.
    • Opportunities for water reuse and resource recovery (nutrients and energy).
    • Economic regulation, historic approaches and future trends.
    • Price review process.
    • Project analysis, selection and approval process.
    • Public engagement, including the role of the customer and affordability.
Intended learning outcomes

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

  • Discuss functions and life-cycles of all physical assets within the water and wastewater sector with emphasis on factors that influence their lifetimes and reliability and apply appropriate methods for condition assessment, maintenance scheduling and renewal planning.
  • Identify and evaluate the significance of key trends and trajectories in the water and wastewater sector (e.g. stricter regulation, growing emphasis on reuse and resource recovery), and describe how they are influencing asset planning and development.
  • Identify and explain the significance of strategic, tactical and operational risks in the water and wastewater sector, and describe how these risks are shifting in the face of identified trends and trajectories.
  • Apply appropriate strategies, tools and techniques for managing and mitigating risks for water and wastewater systems.
  • Evaluate the efficient and effective use of resources by the water industry on national as well as more local (catchment/company/department) level.

Teaching team

The Cranfield Water Sciences Institute 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.

Course Director, Dr Heather Smith and other leading academics, teach alongside industry practitioners ensuring you are exposed to cutting-edge tools, techniques and innovations. Some industry practitioners and external lecturers involved on the course include Clive Deadman, 1905 Investment Ltd - Asset management; Miguel Angel Cano, Severn Trent – Applied hydraulic and pumping systems; Sarah Fane – OFWAT; Peter Vale, Severn Trent - BNR operation and diagnostics; Robbert Kleerebezem, TU Delft – Organic resource recovery from industrial wastewater; Steve Bungay, Environmental consultant – heat transfer; John Fawell, Independent consultant - public health linked to drinking water quality.

The Admissions Tutor is Dr Emma Goslan and the Course Director is Dr Heather Smith.


The MSc of this course is accredited by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).

CIWEM logo

The deep learning I have acquired, especially in the key principle of wastewater treatment systems, the constant opportunity to interact with experienced water professionals during classes and the site visits to UK water company facilities have helped me a lot to deepen the knowledge that I have acquired during classes.

Cranfield opened a lot of doors for me. I got my job offer with Mott MacDonald, three months away from finishing the course. I believe the experience I got from Cranfield, and especially the group project helped me.

It is the best place because the interactions between students and lecturers are superb.

The MSc Water and Wastewater Engineering course has been challenging but also stimulating and exciting. The lectures are very interactive and engaging and oftentimes, there are even external presenters including Cranfield alumni, who deliver presentations on certain topics.

How to apply

Applications need to be made online. Click the 'Apply now' button at the top of this page. 

Once you have set up an account you will be able to create, save and amend your application form before submitting it.