We regularly review and update our portfolio of courses to ensure that they meet the needs of industry now and in the future. As part of this review, the decision has been made to withdraw the Water and Sanitation for Development MSc. As part of the review we have now launched the Water and Wastewater Processes MSc. This new course provides two routes of study. An Engineering route and an Environmental Science route, which will continue to provide you with the skills and experience to prepare you for a career within the sector.

Make a difference to water and sanitation with your career choices

Many people living in urban and rural areas of low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) do not have access to safe water and sanitation service delivery. To achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), there is an urgent need to quadruple our current rate of global progress, which makes it necessary to build the relevant capacity to address this.

Our MSc in Water and Sanitation for Development will equip you with the skills and knowledge to deliver water supply and sanitation services around the world to protect public health and improve lives. It will enable you to develop a critical appreciation of the complexities that shape the sector and motivate you to make a real difference responding to it and to help achieve the sustainable development goals.

The MSc is delivered by our world leading experts and developed in partnership with a wide range of organisations and institutions from the water and sanitation sector. You will have the opportunity to conduct your thesis on a real-life project and benefit from professional development that will shape you into a leader equipped to solve global water and sanitation challenges. 


  • Start dateFull-time: October, part-time: October
  • DurationOne year full-time, two-three years part-time
  • DeliveryTaught modules - MSc: 40%, PgDip: 66.6%, group project (dissertation for part-time students) - MSc: 20%, PgDip: 33.3%, individual project - MSc: 40%
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip, PgCert
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time
  • CampusCranfield campus

Who is it for?

This course is ideal for graduates who wish to progress their career in the planning, implementation and management of sustainable water supply and sanitation projects to low- and middle-income countries. The course comprises assessed modules, group projects and an individual project. The modules include lectures, tutorials, practicals, simulations and workshops with an emphasis on analysis of real problems, with practical field work to reinforce learning.

Find out how Cranfield alumnus Sean Furey has used his Water and Sanitation for Development MSc since graduating

Your future career

Water and Sanitation for Development students are found at leading WASH institutions across the world. Recent students have gone on to jobs in water and sanitation engineering and management within other prestigious institutions including:

UNICEF, WaterAid, Mott MacDonald, McKinsey, Concern, Itad, Programme Solidarité Eau (pS-Eau) and many more.

We recognise the importance of identifying a clear career path when deciding to study for a postgraduate degree.  Here at Cranfield, you will receive full support in creating an effective career strategy from our dedicated careers service. Whether you are looking to secure your first role in the Water sector or you want to take your career to the next level, our careers service is tailored to you and your career goals.

Our courses are based on cutting edge research, so you can be sure that they are relevant in today’s employment market. This course is suitable for graduates who wish to work in the planning, implementation and management of sustainable water supply and sanitation projects with rural and urban communities in low and middle-income countries. The part-time option allows practitioners to extend their professional development within their current employment.

Cranfield graduates leave with the skills to make an immediate contribution in the international water industry, and many enjoy long-term careers in diverse roles such as consultants, managers, engineers, sanitation specialists and project managers. Some of our graduates went on to work in water and sanitation development with non-governmental organisations, emergency relief agencies, UN and similar international bodies such as UNICEF, Water Aid, CAFOD and SOIL. Graduates are also going on to work with global private sector organisations such as Mott MacDonald and Mckinsey & Company as well as take positions in government roles. The course also provides an ideal grounding for research positions and PhD programmes.



Cranfield Careers and Employability Service

Cranfield’s Career 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. Our strong reputation and links with potential employers provide you with outstanding opportunities to secure interesting jobs and develop successful careers. Support continues after graduation and as a Cranfield alumnus, you have free life-long access to a range of career resources to help you continue your education and enhance your career.

Watch Ranj Rihal from Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies at Cranfield Careers fair.

The way I work today has been heavily influenced by the course I did here because there was a strong emphasis on team working. It was very multicultural, it was not just about working as an individual researcher but really working within a team of professionals to achieve a solution, and that’s very much how I work today. There are a number of world centres where you come across people in the water sector and where they have studied, and Cranfield is one that you keep hearing.

My group project was working with French organisation PSL. I learned project management and teamwork, there's a number of people working together, people from different backgrounds, with different academic strains, coming together and working together as a team.

Cranfield offers a multitude of opportunities. It is accommodating, engaging and motivating.

From our past experience the students we have taken on board from here have been very good and very successful. We know if we’re taking a person on from Cranfield, technically and academically they know what they are doing. It’s how they apply that skill and that technology they’ve learnt and integrate it with the rest of our business and also the people around them.

Why this course?

Although much progress has been made over the last few decades, more than one billion people still lack access to a safe, reliable and affordable water supply; and more than twice that number lack access to basic sanitation. The course explores the core concepts of SDG6 and its linkage to the other sustainable development goals, while drawing upon the need for sustainability in implementing development and environmental management programmes.  

• Teaching is by a research-active faculty who work in developing countries, enabling you to benefit from real-world case studies throughout the course.
• There is opportunity to work on a real-life WASH project in a developing country for your thesis project.
• The courses include participation in a real-world borehole drilling course and other practical water engineering sessions to put theory into practice.
• Innovative teaching practices including ‘flipped classrooms’ and student-led exercises are a core key feature of the course.
• The course is supported by an active network of alumni with over 30 years’ worth of experience working in the WASH sector.

Graduates of the Water and Sanitation for Development MSc will be able to:

• Plan and design sanitation facilities and water sources in rural areas of lower income countries;
• Critically evaluate water, sanitation and hygiene  programmes and water resource management methods;
• Explain different management and finance models and evaluate how these might ensure access for the poorest;
• Assess how water, sanitation and hygiene services might vary in different contexts, specifically rural, urban and emergencies.

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


Informed by industry

The Water and Sanitation for Development MSc is closely aligned with water sector needs to ensure that you are fully prepared for your new career.

  • An Industrial Advisory Board for the programme scrutinises course content and ensures its relevance to the needs of global employers.
  • The teaching team are heavily involved in applied research and development, which leads the course content and aligns it with the latest sector thinking.
  • WASH sector personnel contribute to course lectures and projects, from companies such as: CARE International, Mott MacDonald, Oxfam, Practical Action, Skat and Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor.

Course details

The course comprises a taught programme of four 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
  • WASH intervention design and appraisal
  • Technical design and appraisa
  • Social and economic appraisal and evaluation.

Course delivery

Taught modules - MSc: 40%, PgDip: 66.6%, group project (dissertation for part-time students) - MSc: 20%, PgDip: 33.3%, individual project - MSc: 40%

Group project

The group project provides students with the opportunity to take responsibility for a consultancy-type project, while working under academic supervision. Success is dependent on the integration of various activities and working within agreed objectives, deadlines and budgets. 

Recent examples of group projects include:

Individual project

Students select the individual project in consultation with the thesis project coordinators. The individual project provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to carry out independent research, think and work in an original way, contribute to knowledge, and overcome genuine problems in water management. Many of the projects are supported by external organisations such as WaterAid, Oxfam and Excellent Development, and are based in low- and middle-income countries.


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.

Water Resource Engineering

Module Leader
  • Professor Jerry Knox

    As a water management professional you will need detailed knowledge of the design, construction and management of water sources for domestic and small-scale agricultural use, as well as of the engineering aspects relating of water pumps, open channel and piped distribution systems. This needs to be underpinned by an understanding of rainfall, evapotranspiration, runoff, groundwater recharge, groundwater storage, and groundwater movement. This module aims to provide you with a sound theoretical basis for the design of water resources capture and distribution systems, with learning reinforced by comprehensive practical experience. The focus will be on rural areas of lower-income countries.

     This module is 20 credits.
      • The hydrological cycle and anthropogenic influences.
      • Basics of 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.
      • Precipitation, measurement of precipitation amount and intensity, spatial analysis. Interception and depression storage.  Evapotranspiration, Penman approach, actual evapotranspiration. Runoff processes; overland flow, interflow, base flow.
      • Discharge measurement; velocity area methods. Structures; hydraulic principles of weirs and 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.
      • Water sources: surface water abstraction; rainwater harvesting; surface water storage; protected springs – principles and practices; wells and boreholes.
      • Open channel and gravity and pumped pipe systems for water conveyance: - hydraulic principles, design practices.
      • Mud rotary, cable percussion and manual drilling techniques including record keeping (logging).
      • Exploration and investigation techniques available for groundwater studies.
      • Post-drilling activities - borehole development, test pumping, water quality sampling and testing.
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Describe the basic hydraulic principles of static and moving water.
    • Design piped water distribution systems, specifying appropriate pipe sizes, materials, and pumps configuration.
    • Conceptualise the occurrence and movement of groundwater and evaluate groundwater flow problems.
    • Design a borehole from a set of site data, including supervising a borehole drilling rig and understand the necessary post-drilling activities.
    • Evaluate the working principles and requirements of small-scale water supply technologies, including handpumps and rainwater harvesting systems at household and community levels.

    Water, Society and Development

    Module Leader
    • Dr Alesia Ofori

      This module will evaluate the socio-economic and political enablers and barriers to the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene services across urban and rural contexts. It will locate the provision of water within broader processes of societal change and development, providing you with the theory and practice of development and a critical discussion of mainstream developmental concepts and strategies. You will examine the water governance challenges across multiple scales (international, national, and local), particularly in ‘developing’ countries.  The module will illustrate how these challenges can be communicated, researched, and managed. You will be equipped with relevant tools and methodologies for the management and implementation of WASH interventions, providing students with a detailed approach to social research methods and design.

      This module is 20 credits.



      • Theory and Practice of Development.WASH and development.
      • Evaluating WASH scarcity across scales (transboundary, national, urban &rural).
      • The gender-WASH nexus.
      • WASH service delivery in urban and rural contexts: politics, management and governance.
      • Social research: paradigms, methods, ethics and design.
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Analyse and critically appraise the key theories and frameworks of development, emphasizing their applicability and limitations within the field of development studies.
    • Determine the influence of mainstream concepts in water development on policy formulation and governance, considering their impact on local, regional, and global scales.
    • Compare and contrast the various governance and management challenges encountered in various contexts of water management, identifying and proposing practical and effective solutions to address these challenges.
    • Evaluate the need, demand and supply for water, sanitation and hygiene services across urban, peri-urban and rural contexts.
    • Design appropriate research methodologies, development frameworks, and governance tools to execute, monitor, and evaluate water development interventions and research projects. 

    Public Health, Hygiene and Sanitation

    Module Leader
    • Dr May Sule

      Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 requires that governments ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

      Underpinning this Goal are a set of aspirational targets to be accomplished by 2030, requiring: the achievement of universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all; the achievement of access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation; and improvements to water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimising release of hazardous chemicals and materials, and halving the discharge of untreated wastewater to the environment. 

      As future workers in this sector, you should be equipped with a technical understanding of sanitation technologies and water and wastewater treatment processes. You will also need a critical appreciation of their applicability within different scenarios and contexts. This technical competence must be deployed with due consideration to the benefits of improved services and a cleaner environment including public health improvement, quality of life, convenience, dignity and personal safety.  Furthermore, the vital importance of human behaviour and behaviour change must also be considered within the context of hygiene, ending unsanitary practices such as open defecation, and the creation of demand and willingness to pay for a more sanitary environment.

      This module is 20 credits.

      • Pathogen Exposure and Disease.
      • Water Quality & Public Health.
      • Drinking Water, Chemicals & Health.
      • Water Treatment Principles.
      • Water Treatment Challenges.
      • Advanced Technologies in Water Treatment for Development.
      • Community Considerations for Appropriate Water Treatment.
      • Introduction to Wastewater Treatment.
      • Low Energy Wastewater Treatment.
      • Advanced Technologies in Wastewater Treatment for Development.
      • Resource Recovery from WS&S Technologies – Nutrients, Water and Energy.
      • Appropriate Technology Selection.
      • Water Safety Plans.
      • Health and hygiene: classification of water- and excreta-related disease; relationship between water, sanitation and related disease; risk behaviours in relation to water-and excreta-related disease; hygiene evaluation and promotion.
      • On-site excreta disposal systems: Why they are not used, benefits of their use, pit latrines, VIP latrines, pour-flush latrines, composting latrines, septic tanks, soakage systems, ecological sanitation.
      • Urban sanitation: Conventional and low-cost sewerage, container-based sanitation, faecal sludge management.
      • Sanitation management.
      • Systems thinking approaches to WASH and Casual Loop Diagrams.
      • Circular economy (transition to Circular Sanitation systems) and challenges in implementing.
      • Policy, planning and challenges in delivering infrastructure.
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Identify the principal transmission routes of water and excreta-related diseases.
    • Describe different water quality parameters and how they are measured.
    • Evaluate the basic principles of drinking water and wastewater treatment and how these can be used at different scales including household, community and municipal.
    • Assess how different treatment technologies might be applicable in different contexts.
    • Design a basic sanitation and hygiene programme for taking into account behavioural and technical dimensions.

    Resilience, Shocks and Emergencies

    Module Leader
    • Dr Alison Parker

      The combined pressures of climate change, population growth and urbanisation create a demand for transformation in the relationship between development and resilience. As proposed in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Sendai Framework, there is a need to embed resilience within public, private and community planning so to support sustainable services and livelihoods in this era of rapid change. While there is no widely accepted definition, the concept of resilience implies both long-term thinking, to better anticipate and plan for emerging challenges, and the ability to deal with near-term (and potentially unexpected) shocks and disruptions. Achieving this ambition creates significant challenges for water, wastewater/sanitation and hygiene in terms of how to supply growing populations (in planned and/or unplanned settlements); how to plan new, and manage ageing, infrastructure; how to interact with the natural environment; and how to deal with the increasing frequency and severity of disruptive events and the growing uncertainty surrounding them. This module will examine these challenges and provide you with the skills to identify, contextualise and evaluate different management strategies and approaches. 

      This module is 20 credits.
      • Global challenges and future trends for water and wastewater management including population growth and the climate crisis.
      • Long term planning, community and city disaster response where it relates to water and sanitation.
      • Nature & type of shocks (natural and man-made disasters, rapid- and slow-onset, complex emergencies), and phases of emergencies (acute, post-acute, transition to development/normality).
      • Disaster/emergency response: sheltering displaced people, protecting public health (water supply and sanitation), coordination with other sectors and between stakeholders (humanitarian, public authorities).
      • Introduction to frameworks for humanitarian response and relief (e.g. SPHERE and Common Humanitarian Standards).
      • Safety & security issues – acceptance, deterrence and protection. Personal, organisational and served population security. Ambushing, kidnapping, theft, mines, ongoing conflict, building collapse and natural threats, for both local population and aid workers.


    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Explain key global challenges for water, wastewater/sanitation and hygiene management and their implications for long-term planning at community, city and regional scales (including climate change, population growth, and infrastructure provision).
    • Differentiate and describe the characteristics and phases of different types of disruptions, shocks and emergency situations that impact on WASH systems.
    • Identify and discuss the main issues surrounding responses to shocks and emergencies in different contexts, including relationships between key actors (national, municipal, humanitarian), logistics and longer-term management.
    • Evaluate, select and design appropriate strategies (tools, technologies, management approaches) to help enhance resilience and respond effectively to shocks and emergencies.

    Teaching team

    You will be taught by our internationally-renowned research and academic staff with skills in natural and social sciences and engineering, all of whom have extensive experience of solving real-life water management problems. Many staff are actively involved in the preparation and evaluation of water supply and sanitation programmes in developing countries on behalf of non-governmental and international organisations. They successfully combine professional experience with high-quality teaching and research skills. Most are members of the Higher Education Academy. As well as external contributors from the WASH sector, our regular external lecturers include: Toby Gould (Independent Consultant in Emergency WASH); Sean Furey, Visiting Teaching Fellow in Appropriate WASH Technology (SKAT, Switzerland); Dr Foyeke Tolani, Visiting Teaching Fellow in Behavioural Change and Hygiene (Oxfam GB); Dr Richard Franceys (Independent Consultant in WASH financing); and Ian Ross, Visiting Teaching Fellow in Sustainable WASH Services. The Admissions Tutor is Dr Imma Bortone and the Course Director is Dr May Sule.


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

    CIWEM logo

    How to apply

    Click on the ‘Apply now’ button below to start your online application.

    See our Application guide for information on our application process and entry requirements.