Water Systems and Global Change (WSG)

Solution-oriented science for sustainable water system management, that is our approach. Because due to ongoing human population growth, increasing use per capita and unequal spatial and temporal distribution of resources, human water demands frequently exceed the carrying capacity of aquatic and wetland ecosystems. As a result, over-exploitation of surface water and groundwater resources occurs, leading to shortages and making water a contested resource. Freshwater resources are further reduced by pollution. Some 2 million tons of waste per day are disposed of in surface water.
We analyse and assess the impacts of climate change and population growth on water systems by conducting integrated water system assessments. And we propose and test adaptation strategies. We thus take an integrated approach across water, food and energy systems, at multiple spatial and temporal scales.

More about this thesis track

Research Focus

Our research is encompassing themes like: water pollution, water scarcity and water stress analysis, water-food-energy nexus, adaptation planning, use of nature based solutions in adaptation, climate smart agriculture, land-use climate interactions, etc.
As a group we have two cross-cutting research themes:

1. Climate-water information services
We develop excellent science-based climate and water services, tailored to the needs and in interaction with users such as farmers and water managers.

2. Future water stress
We develop novel tools to identify and evaluate solutions for future water stress. These tools account for the demand for water by society and nature, the availability of water, and the quality of water. We will study this on the basin, regional, continental and global scale, in spatially explicit models.

We use simulation models, earth system observations, scenario analysis and field studies and we invite students from different backgrounds, and skills and interests to take part in our courses and research.

Students can learn more about the education and research programme related to this discipline by visiting the website of the Water Systems and Global Change group.


The following courses are part of the MSc programme Environmental Sciences when selecting the thesis track Water Systems and Global Change. Besides these courses, for the common part of the programme several supporting courses are available which have to be taken if your study adviser deems it necessary (these are not listed in the table below, but summarized in the programme outline). Also, there is room for optional subjects which you may use to broaden your scope or to deepen your knowledge on a topic in your specialisation. For more information visit the study handbook or contact the study adviser.

The common part
Subject Code Period* Phase
Environmental Quality and Governance ENP-35806 2AF, 5AF M1
General Safety ** ZSS06000 M1
Fieldwork Safety ** ZSS06200 M1
Compulsory unless your study advisor advises otherwise:
Principles of Environmental Sciences ESA-20806 1AF, 4WD M1
Research Methodology in Environmental Science YRM-20306 1MO, 2MO M1
Restricted optional: select one out of these four options ***
Research Master Cluster: Proposal Writing YWU60312
European Workshop Environmental Sciences and Management ESA-60312 1WD, 6WD M1
Environmental Education and Learning for Sustainability and Teaching, Learning and Capacity Building for Sustainable Development ELS-31806+ ELS-32806 6WD M1
Academic Consultancy Training and Modular Skills Training (MOS) **** YMC-60809 1WD, 2WD, 3WD+4WD, 5WD,6WD M1
Minors (optional)
Environmental Education
Environmental Communication

Thesis track-related subjects
Subject Code Period* Phase
Modelling Future Water Stress WSG-35306 2MO M1
MSc Internship Water Systems and Global Change WSG-70424 1,2,3,4,5,6 M2
MSc Thesis Water Systems and Global Change WSG-80436 1,2,3,4,5,6 M2
Restricted optional: select (at least) two
Integrated Water Management WSG-33806 2AF M1
Water Governance: Concepts and Practices ENP-37306 3WD M1
Climate Change Adaptation in Water Management WSG-34806 4WD M1
Natural Hazards and Disasters SDC-35306 5MO M1
* MO = morning; AF= afternoon; WD = whole day
** e-learning
*** The restricted optional subjects have to be selected in consultation and agreement with the study adviser.
**** To get the list of the skills courses, go to Osiris Course Catalogue, select “courses’ in the green menu bar. On the left side (grey area) click “Modular Skills Training Course (MOS)” and check the box “Yes, this is a Modular Skills Training courses”
This course overview is based on the Wageningen University study handbook. The study handbook is guiding in case of any discrepancy.

Below you can see how your schedule might look like:

MSc Environmental Sciences - Water Systems and Global Change.jpg