Water Resources MSc/Diploma

  • Delivery: Full Time, Part Time, Distance Learning
  • Programme type: Taught Programme
  • Study location: Edinburgh
  • Entry date: January, September

Overview

Recent floods and droughts across the world highlight the need for our water resources to be better managed. The aim of this programme is to provide a sound understanding of sustainable water resources issues by developing the knowledge and skills necessary for the planning and management of these resources to meet the needs of society and the environment within the context of climate change.

Our students and graduates

The programme is mainly designed for graduates in civil engineering, earth sciences or other related disciplines and are typically looking to broaden their knowledge base, extend their technical expertise or gain further learning to meet the needs of the professional institutions. Applicants from other backgrounds planning to develop a career in water resources will also be considered. On completion, graduates will be able to offer employers a broad range of skills and advanced knowledge in a number of important areas of water engineering.  

Part-time and Distance Learning study options

This programme can be studied on a part-time basis or via Independent Distance Learning (IDL), ideal for those in employment or with other commitments, providing flexible study options that fit around work or family. As an IDL student you will not be required to attend any lectures, tutorials or other events at any of Heriot-Watt University’s campuses.

The Institute for Infrastructure and Environment (IIE)

This programme is delivered by Heriot Watt University’s Institute for Infrastructure and Environment . As a Water Resources postgraduate student you will be part of the Institute’s Graduate School, connecting you with staff, research associates and fellow students engaging in cutting-edge research in areas such as water management, ultra-speed railways, construction materials, geomechanics and more.

Professional recognition

This MSc degree is accredited as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for a Chartered Engineer (CEng) for candidates who have already acquired an Accredited CEng (Partial) BEng(Hons) or an Accredited IEng (Full) BEng/BSc (Hons) undergraduate first degree. See www.jbm.org.uk for further information.

Industry links

Where possible MSc dissertation projects are set up in collaboration with industry, the aim being to encourage contact between the student and industry, and to underpin the industrial relevance of the projects. Students are also encouraged to suggest their own topics and projects may be undertaken at overseas laboratories. 

This programme is supported by the Civil Engineering Industry Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from major multi-national employers AECOM, ARUP, Balfour Beatty, Halcrow, Jacobs and WSP Group. This committee convenes regularly and advises on the programme content and structure, ensuring quality, up-to-date content and relevance to industry needs.

Teaching and research excellence

Our teaching staff is engaged in a wide range of research within the field of civil engineering, with 50% of that research recognised as being internationally excellent by the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008).

With a history dating back to 1821, Heriot-Watt is one of the UK’s leading universities, and Scotland’s most international. Find out more about Heriot-Watt University’s reputation, rankings and international profile.

Career opportunities

Training is provided in water resources engineering, environmental engineering, flood risk management, integrated water resources management, environmental implications of water engineering schemes, and industrial software packages. On completion, graduates will be able to offer employers a broad range of skills and advanced knowledge in a number of important areas of water engineering.  

Primary employment destinations include: 

  • Leading UK and international consultants (e.g. Jacobs, HR Wallingford, JBA, Halcrow, Hyder Consulting and Fairhursts) 
  • Local and National Government (in the UK and elsewhere)
  • Environmental regulators (e.g. SEPA & EA) 
  • Academic institutions (including PhD study and research associate posts) 
  • Non-Governmental Organisations

Programme content

This programme, led by Dr Alan Cuthbertson, consists of eight courses. On-campus (full-time/part-time) students study seven mandatory and one optional course. Independent Distance Learning (IDL) students will study eight courses, all of which are mandatory.

Programme structure for on-campus students:

Semester 1Semester 2

Mandatory course:

  • Environmental Hydrology and Water Resources
  • Computer Simulation of River Flows
  • Water Conservation
  • Sustainability in Civil Engineering

Mandatory courses:

  • Urban Drainage and Water Supply
  • Water and Wastewater Treatment
  • Integrated Water Resource Management

Optional courses:

  • Construction Financial Management
  • Marine Water Discharges

Programme structure for Independent Distance Learners:

Semester 1Semester 2

Mandatory courses:

  • Environmental Hydrology and Water Resources
  • Computer Simulation of River Flows
  • Water Conservation
  • Sustainability in Civil Engineering

Mandatory courses:

  • Urban Drainage and Water Supply
  • Water and Wastewater Treatment
  • Integrated Water Resource Management
  • Marine Water Discharges

Course descriptions

Please find below the course descriptions. For more information on courses, please contact the Programme Leader.

Environmental Hydrology and Water Resources

Semester 1 (mandatory)

The aim of this course is to provide the students with a thorough understanding of the hydrological basis of water resources assessment, planning and management. In this regard, the course is designed to provide the learners with a board introduction to hydrological modelling, as well as a detailed appreciation of the following topics:

Methods of meteorological data collection & analysis techniques; surface water resources; collection and analysis of low stream-flow data; reservoir planning & design; uncertainty analysis in water resources planning; groundwater occurrence, evaluation & management.

Computer Simulation of River Flows

Semester 1 (mandatory)

This course will help students to develop an understanding of the theory under pinning and application of one-dimensional computer models for river flow prediction, as well as an understanding of the concept of sustainability applied to the design of flood protection schemes. Topics covered in the syllabus include:

Introduction to river modelling; GIS in river modelling; Governing St Venant equations; Data requirements; Model calibration; Hydraulic structures; Conveyance estimation system; Explicit finite difference schemes; Implicit finite difference schemes; Mathematical properties of finite difference schemes.

Water conservation

Semester 1 (mandatory)

This course will enable students to understand the drivers for water conservation and how conservation measures are best implemented. The course focuses on both the technologies available for water conservation, as well as on the implications of implementation. Students will be encouraged to develop skills in tailoring water conservation solutions designed not only to comply with legislation but that also provide best benefit within the context of their use. Subjects in the syllabus include:

Drivers for water conservation; relevant legislation; water consumption; attenuation principles; design principles to reduce water consumption; rainwater harvesting; greywater recycling; green/living roofs; storage, control and distribution of reclaimed water and treatment of reclaimed water.

Sustainability in Civil Engineering

Semester 1 (mandatory)

This course aims to equip students with the interdisciplinary attitudes, skills and knowledge necessary to allow them to contribute to the delivery of sustainable development within the civil engineering industry. This will include a broad introduction to the concepts, drivers and definitions associated with sustainability, as well as an overview of the history of sustainable development. More specific topics covered in the course syllabus include:

Urban design qualities and sustainable cities; the planning & leglislative framework; strategic environmental & environmental impact assessments; project design and planning; national and international sustainability indicators; audits and certification for sustainability and available assessment tools and methodologies. 

Urban Drainage and Water Supply

Semester 2 (mandatory)

This course introduces the learner to the broad theme of Urban Drainage and Water Supply, with the aim of providing understanding of the following topics: runoff estimation, rainfall estimation, system layout/design, pump system design, sediment transport, Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems, the role of computer simulations, service reservoirs, water distribution practice and groundwater supply. The course includes instruction on the use of Infoworks CS. Subjects covered in the course syllabus include:

Performance requirements (e.g. technical, public safety, whole-life operational, amenity and sustainability); combined and separate sewerage systems; rainwater quantification/climate change; overview of sewer sediments; storm Sewer Design; hydrodynamic flow models; SuDS; service reservoirs; water distribution practice; groundwater supply; leakage.

Water and Wastewater Treatment

Semester 2 (mandatory)

The aim of this course is to enable learners to understand the processes and technologies for water treatment including conventional and advanced wastewater treatment and the sizing of various treatment units. The course also provides awareness for the learner of the importance of effective wastewater treatment for river pollution control. Specific topics covered in the course syllabus include:

Introduction to water & wastewater characteristics; fresh water treatment (e.g. coagulation and sedimentation, filtration, disinfection); desalination technologies for sea water treatment; wastewater treatment (e.g. preliminary treatment design, primary tank design/secondary treatment, advanced wastewater treatment); land-based, low-energy and sustainable wastewater treatment systems; sludge handling, treatment & disposal; effluent disposal (including re-use).

Integrated Water Resource Management

Semester 2 (mandatory)

This course provides students with a solid understanding of the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management and the different policy instruments which govern the management of water resources at the regional and basin level. Topics covered in the course syllabus include:

Introduction to Integrated Water Resources Management and its associated policy agenda arising from the sustainability agenda (sustainability at the River Basin
level); Interrelationships between land, water and atmosphere; ecosystems, biodiversity and water resources; Water resources planning and management considerations (e.g. floods, droughts and environmental considerations); Environmental legislation governing river basins (EIA/SEA) and policy (Environmental Flow Allocations); Integrated management concepts in the Water Environment (IRBM/ICZM/IFM); Introduction to water governance and transboundary issues and management.

Construction Financial Management

Semester 2 (optional)

The aim of the course is to enable students to appreciate and make an intelligent contribution towards the managerial and financial aspects of construction companies in general and construction projects in particular. This includes developing awareness and understanding of the need for financial planning and monitoring and the cost control process. The following subjects are covered within the course syllabus:

Financial management and control in contracting; corporate strategies in construction; financial management at company level; cash flow forecasting; costing; cost/value reconciliation at project level; production of financial accounts for construction companies; corporate analysis and ratio analysis; economic comparison; profitability measurement; construction plant financial appraisal; development appraisal techniques.

Marine Wastewater Discharges

Semester 2 (optional)

This course will provide students with a good understanding of the underlying physical processes controlling wastewater disposal in the marine environment and an awareness of commercial software available (e.g. CORMIX) for modelling wastewater discharges. It will also demonstrate the role of marine outfalls as part of a wastewater management strategy and provide students with an awareness of the relevant legislation controlling wastewater disposal. Topics in the syllabus include:

Introduction to turbulent buoyant jets and plumes (e.g. jet trajectories and dilution equations); Multi-port diffuser discharges in the marine environment (e.g. near-source merging of multiple 3D jets, dilution characteristics); Integral methods for buoyant jet modelling; Commercial software available for wastewater discharge modelling); Specific characteristics associated with hypersaline and particulate-laden discharges; The hydraulics of sea outfall design and performance (e.g. hydraulic requirements, outfall pipe sizing and diffuser arrangement, prevention of sea water intrusion, purging flows); The role of marine outfalls in wastewater management strategies; Legislative and social issues associated with marine wastewater discharges.

Dissertation

After successfully completing the taught elements at the end of Semester 2, the MSc students then embark on an independent research project for about 3 months, leading to the production of a dissertation. To qualify for the award of the MSc, the student would need to also pass the dissertation. 

Assessment

In the MSc marks are gathered from a combination of examination and project work – overall 66% examination and 33% project work. Students are supported and guided by coursework to prepare them for taught course examination assessments.

MSc and Diploma candidates are expected to pass all eight courses, although the average pass mark required for the MSc is higher (50%) than that of the Diploma (40%). Postgraduate Certificate students only need to pass in four courses. Most courses have compulsory coursework elements and written examinations.

Your career

Miguel M Piedra

  • Degree MSc in Water Resources
  • Present Job Senior Engineer, Rivers and Coastal at ARUP

Miguel completed his MSc in Water Resources Engineering Management in 2001 and he has worked in flood risk management, hydrology and hydraulic modelling ever since. He currently works as a Senior Engineer, Rivers and Coastal at ARUP.

Can you tell us about your current job?

I am a senior hydraulic modeller and hydrologist in Scotland, working in a variety of flood risk management projects for public and private clients throughout the UK and overseas. Applying current research and guidance in climate change impacts and hydrological data analysis are important parts of my job, but the aspect I enjoy most is thinking, drawing from my knowledge and experience to analyse and interpret data and model outputs and communicating them to colleagues and clients.

What was your experience of doing a postgraduate degree at Heriot-Watt University?

It was very good in terms of experiencing education in the UK, dramatically improving my language skills and gathering new knowledge and skills in my subjects of interest. It was also a fantastic opportunity to meet students from other countries, who are now friends.

Do you think your Heriot-Watt postgraduate experience gave you an edge in your chosen field and why?

Definitely, a large component of the course was focused on hydraulics, hydrology and hydraulic modelling, precisely the core of my current job. I am convinced that obtaining a degree from a UK university was key to starting a career in Scotland.

What advice would you give to a postgraduate student considering embarking on their studies at Heriot-Watt?

Take advantage of the opportunity, learn as much as you can on the subjects but also on the professional industry of your interest and - importantly - make contacts, relate to as many people as you can, it will help both your social and professional life.

Peter Robinson

  • Degree MSc Water Resources
  • Present Job Regional Director - Scotland Water District Lead at AECOM

Peter Graduated with a MSc in Water Resources Engineering Management in 1997 and now is responsible for AECOM's Water Business Line in Scotland and the Water Technical Practice Area Lead across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.        

Can you tell us about your current job?        

I currently have responsibility for a Business Unit operating in Scotland, employing circa 80 people delivering a wide variety of water related projects, from Flood Risk Management programmes in the Middle East to Pumping Stations in East Kilbride, Asset Management in the Central Belt to Sydney.  My role has a large element of business management, but also a technical side, working in Flood Risk and Surface Water Management.        

What was your experience of doing a postgraduate degree at Heriot-Watt University?        

My MSc provided me with the opportunity to seriously consider everything that I had learned as an under graduate and focus on the aspects of engineering that I enjoy, whilst also getting a better understanding of some technological aspects of water management.

Do you think your Heriot-Watt postgraduate experience gave you an edge in your chosen field and why?        

Taking the opportunity to explore more of a speciality provided me with a solid background and being able to choose the right position for my career to start, I started work during the tail of a recession and appreciate that my career has relied on a degree of luck, some good decisions, but also a solid background.

What advice would you give to a postgraduate student considering embarking on their studies at Heriot-Watt?        

Make sure you don’t sit back and let the opportunity pass by, the world of engineering is moving at an ever increasing pace and this is your opportunity to get on, get involved and take it in the right direction.    

Zak Ritchie

  • Degree MSc Water Resources, BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering
  • Present Job Project Hydrologist/Flood Risk Engineer, SLR Consulting

"Having already completed my Civil Engineering BEng Hons the year before, I chose to return to Heriot-Watt to continue my postgraduate studies with an MSc in Water Resources, due to the high profile reputation of its Civil Engineering heritage.

"My decision to return was also based on the technical relevance of the programme in relation to my field of interest and because the staff show real enthusiasm for their respective subjects and are happy to welcome you to their office to provide assistance at any time.

"I really enjoyed gaining knowledge in a field that I am already passionate about and having lecturers who share that, such as Dr Adebayo Adeloye who makes the whole experience even better.

"I have benefited from my experience at Heriot-Watt in several ways: I have come away with high confidence and a solid knowledge behind me in my chosen career; my communication skills have improved markedly; and it has helped shape the way I view tasks and problems and how I subsequently overcome them. Most of all, the challenge of completing my MSc has brought out the best in me, personally and professionally and I have undoubtedly benefited in many ways for the future ahead."

Career opportunities

Training is provided in water resources engineering, environmental engineering, flood risk management, integrated water resources management, environmental implications of water engineering schemes, and industrial software packages. The programme is suitable for graduates in civil engineering, earth sciences and related disciplines. On completion, graduates will be able to offer employers a broad range of skills and advanced knowledge in a number of important areas of water engineering.  

The programme builds on the experience and reputation which the programme team has established over several years.

Primary employment destinations include: 

  • Leading UK and international consultants (e.g. Jacobs, HR Wallingford, JBA, Halcrow, Hyder Consulting and Fairhursts) 
  • Local and National Government (in the UK and elsewhere)
  • Environmental regulators (e.g. SEPA & EA) 
  • Academic institutions (including PhD study and research associate posts) 
  • Non-Governmental Organisations

Entry requirements

For MSc level entry applicants must have:

  • Minimum of 2:2 honours degree or equivalent academic qualification in cognate and semi-cognate subject area. For PG conversion programmes, non-cognate degrees will be considered. Corporate (or chartered) membership of relevant professional institutions will also be considered.

For PG Diploma level entry applicants must have:

  • Third class honours degree in a cognate or semi-cognate subject area PLUS 2 years of relevant experience at an appropriate level completed post qualification.
  • Cognate or semi-cognate ordinary degree PLUS 3-4 years of relevant experience at an appropriate level following graduation. 
  • Candidates who do not meet the above entry requirements or have no formal academic qualifications will be considered individually based on their CV and interview.  Admission via this route will be at the discretion of the Director of Admissions and the number of successful applicants will be restricted. 

There is no entry at PG Certificate level except through exceptional agreement with approved learning partners.

Non-graduating study at masters level:

  • Entry is based on CV or on formal academic qualifications or graduate (or incorporated) membership of a relevant professional institution. 

Distance Learning January entry

Distance learning students can choose to start their studies in January or September. The January intake is not available to students studying on-campus.

English language requirements

If English is not the applicant’s first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above. 

Applicants who have previously successfully completed programmes delivered in the medium of English language may be considered and will be required to provide documentary evidence of this. Examples would be secondary school education or undergraduate degree programme. A minimum of at least one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required. 

Distance learning students

Please note that independent distance learning students who access their studies online will be expected to have access to a PC/laptop and internet.

Tuition fees

Tuition fees for 2014 entry (by residency status)
Status*Full-timePart-timeDistance Learning**
Scotland / Non-UK EU£4980£2690£1050/£750
England/Northern Ireland/Wales£5880£3180£1050/£750
Overseas£16120£8390£1050/£750

* If you are unsure which category you fall in to, you should complete a fee status enquiry form, which allows us to assess your fees.

** Fee per course

Additional fee information

** £1050 per course, £750 per research project.

Scholarships & bursaries