Water Systems and Global Change (WSG)

The Water Systems and Global Change Group is a solution-oriented multidisciplinary research group focusing on water systems and global change. We aim to create new knowledge to contribute to sustainable water systems in a changing global environment.

More about this thesis track

Water is an essential resource for humans and ecosystems. 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 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. Water quality issues related to nutrients, pathogens, chemicals, plastics and other pollutants are a problem across the world. Too little water is a problem, but too much water can also be a major problem, with floods causing damage. These problems are exacerbated by global change, including climate change. Integrated approaches are required to study water systems and global change.

Our teaching is focused on solution-oriented science for sustainable water system management under global change. We analyse and assess the impacts of climate and socio-economic changes on water systems and propose and test adaptation and mitigation strategies. We also develop water and climate services. To this end, we use simulation models, earth system observations, scenario analyses and field studies and we invite students from different backgrounds, and skills and interests to take part in our courses and research.


Students following the master's programme Environmental Sciences can choose to do a thesis in a topic that is closely related to ongoing research projects within the Water Systems and Global Change group or focus on their own water issues. The ongoing research projects within the Water Systems and Global Change Group relevant for MUE are grouped in the following themes:

  • Greenhouse gas emissions and land-use change
  • Global water quality
  • Water quality and health
  • Water quality and lakes
  • (Ground) water scarcity
  • Water-food-energy nexus
  • Climate services
  • Adaptation pathways
  • Nature-based solutions
  • Climate smart agriculture

Students can learn more about the education and research programme related to this discipline by visiting the page 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. Next to these thesis specific courses, you will follow courses from the common part and electives as summarized in the programme outline. For more information visit the study handbook or contact the study adviser.

Thesis track-related subjects
Subject Code
Modelling Future Water Stress WSG35306
MSc Internship Water Systems and Global Change WSG70224
MSc Thesis Water Systems and Global Change WSG80436
Restricted optional: Select at least two
Integrated Water Management WSG33806
Water Governance: Concepts and Practices ENP37306
Climate Change Adaptation in Water Management WSG34806
Natural Hazards and Disasters SDC35306

In order to prepare well for your thesis track, you can additionally choose supporting courses. These courses focus, for example, on quantitative and data sciences or laboratory skills. You can find the exact list in the study handbook at the section “Restricted Optionals (2) in Common part”.

This course overview is based on the Wageningen University study handbook, where you can find a more detailed course and programme description. The study handbook is guiding in case of any discrepancy.

Below you can see how your schedule might look like for your whole study programme:

MSc Environmental Sciences - Water Systems and Global Change schedule