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Course Content

Course content

PLEASE NOTE: This course is not currently open for new applications. If you'd like to be kept up to date, let us know using the Register Interest button.

Water is a key resource globally, nationally and regionally. As the world's population increases governments are increasingly forced to act to protect and manage water resources more effectively, creating demand for scientists and managers to understand, monitor and manage natural and regulated water systems.

Why study Catchment Hydrology and Management at Dundee?

We offer an authoritative source of training for national and international students seeking to pursue careers within environmental and regulatory industries. Through a mixture of theory and practice this programme will provide you with training in aspects of applied hydrology, catchment management, environmental modelling (including risks such as flooding and water scarcity) and water law.


The School of the Environment has recently completed a major investment in upgrading its hydrometric field equipment for use by SCM students. In addition to our already strong resource base in flow measurement equipment, covering ADCP, ADV, radar and more traditional impeller based instruments, we have now expanded our water level monitoring equipment to 25 instruments.

Fieldwork and problem-solving aspects of the course are being extended in 2012, with students being responsible for selecting, installing and operating their own sites and analysing the data from them. We have three experimental catchment facilites in Scotland, in the Cairngorms and the Scottish Borders, and students will gain valuable insights and experience through becoming directly involved in these projects.

Research-led teaching

Our experienced team of staff all engage in contemporary research and have considerable expertise in the science and regulatory frameworks affecting water management. Many of the academic staff on the programme are involved in the UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy & Science - the UK's only UNESCO Centre, based at the University of Dundee. The Centre is an exciting interdisciplinary centre providing many opportunities for water-related research in projects worldwide.

Field trips

We also provide you with many opportunities to put theory into practice with field trips to local catchments.

Aims of the Programme

This postgraduate degree programme will provide you with understanding and hands-on training in applied hydrology and catchment management. You will develop skills appropriate to a career within the water and environmental sectors, including technical skills in the use of hydrological and environmental modelling software, field skills in acquiring and subsequent analysis of hydrological data. You will also gain an awareness of the linkages between hydrology, ecology, legal and planning practice.

The programme will encourage you to think critically about the ways in which river catchments are managed. You will be trained in legal and regulatory aspects and management approaches balancing multiple stakeholders using case studies from around the world, part of a global network of basins built up by the IHP-UNESCO Centre for Water law, Policy and Science HELP programme. This management knowledge will be underpinned by an understanding of catchment hydrology, monitoring and modelling.

The course starts in September each year. The MSc lasts for 12 months on a full time basis and the PGDip for 9 months on a full time basis.

How you will be taught

Teaching on the course is delivered through a combination of lecture material and informal seminar-style discussion, which will encourage you to explore taught materials and interpret ideas individually.

Field classes are held in order to study monitoring and management strategies in realistic situations, with opportunities to meet the people involved in these activities.

What you will study

There are core modules (all 20 credits) in:

Research Training (Semesters 1 and 2)
Hydrological Monitoring and Modelling (Semester 1)
Catchment Management principlies (Semester 1)
Hydrological applications (Semester 2)

Plus you can choose two of the following option modules (20 credits):

Research in Practice (work placement) (Semester 2)
Applied GIS and Geospatial Data Analysis (Semester 2)
Fieldcourse (Semester 2)

Students enrolled on the MSc programme also complete a Dissertation (worth 60 credits) over the summer period. The research project may be completed in partnership with external environmental agencies.

All modules aim to provide you with as much application and hands-on practice as possible, both within the field and laboratory environments, as well as encouraging you to develop a wider range of research methods and skills.

How you will be assessed

Learning is assessed through a mixture of oral and written presentations, problem-solving assignments, feedback and a major research based project or dissertation.


Career prospects are good, due to a current shortage reported by environmental recruiters. A rising workload has been noted within Europe stemming from increased regulation in the water sector.

Globally, catchment hydrological management for meeting food security and water quality needs in the face of climate change is a major and growing issue. These drivers will increase substantially increase employment opportunities both nationally and internationally.

This course builds upon a previous course (MSc in Sustainable Catchment Management), which had an excellent record of students entering work in environmental agencies, consultancies and policy related areas upon graduation. The course also provides an excellent platform for further postgraduate study.

Contacts with employers

Dissertations may be organised using contacts within organisations employing graduate water specialists, and participants will have other opportunities during the year to make direct contact with employers. Staff are able to provide advice on many organisations within which graduates of other Dundee programmes are already employed, in conjunction with the University's Careers Service.

Visit the MSc Catchment Hydrology and Management page on the University of Dundee website for more details!




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