Water Systems and Global Change

Solution-oriented science for sustainable water system management, that is our approach. We analyse and assess the impacts of climate change and population growth on water systems and propose and test adaptation strategies. 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.

More about this thesis track

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.

Water Systems and Global Change focuses on the process of matching supply and demand of information and knowledge in multi-stakeholder platforms in river-basin policy and decision making. It relies on the proper knowledge of river hydrology, river-basin dynamics, storage of water, and water quality and ecology issues. In this way the availability of water and the demands for agricultural use, stock breeding, nature conservation, hydropower generation, shipping, industry and household consumption are specified. The tools enable identification of the alternative ways (like technical measures, regulations, setting objectives) to balance the different interests involved in the river basin. 

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
Compulsory unless advised otherwise
Environmental Quality and Governance ENP-35806 2AF, 5AF M1
Principles of Environmental Sciences ESA-20806 1AF, 4WD M1
Research Methods in Environmental Science YRM-20306 1MO, 2MO M1
Restricted optional: select one out of these three options**
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 ECS-31806+ ECS-32806 6WD M1
Academic Consultancy Training and Modular Skills Training (MOS) YMC-60809+ YMC-60300 1WD, 2WD, 3WD+4WD, 5WD,6WD M1
Thesis track-related subjects
Subject Code Period* Phase
Compulsory unless advised otherwise
Modelling Future Water Stress WSG-35306 2MO M1
MSc Internship Integrated Water Management WSG-70424 1,2,3,4,5,6 M2
MSc Thesis Integrated Water Management WSG-80436 1,2,3,4,5,6 M2
Restricted optional: select (at least) one
Integrated Water Management WSG-33806 2AF M1
Climate Change Adaptation in Water Management WSG-34806 4WD M1
Restricted optional: select (at least) one
Water Governance: Concepts and Practices ENP-37306 3WD M1
Natural Hazards and Disasters SDC-35306 5MO M1
*MO = morning; AF= afternoon; WD = whole day
**The restricted optional subjects have to be selected in consultation and agreement with the study adviser.
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 - thesis track Water Systems and Global Change.jpg