River Delta Development (MSc)

River Delta Development (MSc)

The English-taught Master’s programme River Delta Development is a unique joint degree offered by three universities of applied sciences with complementing expertise in the field of water: HZ University of Applied Sciences (coastal regions), Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences (river systems), and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (urban water).

Facilitators of change in delta zones
The Master’s programme River Delta Development trains students to be facilitators of change for river deltas. Everywhere in the world, urbanisation and climate change are encroaching upon these fertile, ecologically valuable regions. The challenge is to decrease the vulnerability of river deltas while simultaneously increasing the opportunities for healthy economic and ecological development. In the Master’s programme River Delta Development, these developments are viewed as transitions: progressive, complex changes and adjustments in river delta systems that demand professionals who can intervene effectively. These transitions require innovative, multidisciplinary, and holistic solutions. Versatile delta professionals are required, who not only have knowledge of river delta systems (coasts, seas, and rivers) and the latest developments, but also possess the necessary research and communication skills to make meaningful contributions to these transitions. The central theme of the Master’s programme River Delta Development is: The transition of deltas: from large-scale management to sustainable adaptation.

The Dutch delta as an example
The universities of applied sciences of HZ, Van Hall Larenstein, and Rotterdam have been collaborating at the Centre of Expertise Delta Technology for several years and are combining their complementing expertise in the fields of coastal regions, river systems, and urban water to create the River Delta Development Master’s programme. This will provide you with insight into how the different component systems operate, how they relate to each other, and how the delta functions as a cohesive system. By focusing (and working, if you choose) on the international context, you will learn how to apply this knowledge in deltas around the world.

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  • Master
  • Full time
  • 24 months
  • English
  • Middelburg/Velp/Rotterdam
  • September

This is River Delta Development

The River Delta Development Master’s programme is a joint degree offered by the universities of applied sciences of HZ, VHL, and Rotterdam. The three universities of applied sciences each strive to provide high-quality education that prepares you for an ever-changing work field and is closely interwoven with professional practice and practical research. The focus lies on helping you develop into a facilitator of change in international delta regions.

Intensive kick-off

Your Master’s programme will start with an intensive, one-month orientation. During that month, you will get to know your fellow students, lecturers, and professors and delve into the delta during a one-week field trip. Afterwards, you will use those experiences to analyse the entire delta system and examine what role you would like to play in the delta sector. You will then write a personal learning plan under the guidance of your coach. The kick-off will be held at HZ in Middelburg.

Master River Delta Development curriculum
Learning in delta systems

After the kick-off, you will be introduced to the Coast delta system, which will also be held at HZ. You will be working in Living Labs, with one day a week spent at the university of applied sciences, where you will participate in lectures, coaching, and reflection. After 15 weeks of research, you will complete this period with an evaluation week during which you will undergo assessments of your own research in relation to the delta as a whole and the issues at work in that environment. Under the guidance of lecturers, you will also collectively examine how everyone’s research fits into the entire delta system. Similar blocks on River systems (at Van Hall Larenstein in Velp) and Urban Water (at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences) will follow. The three blocks, which work on building your knowledge, research skills, and specific professional development, will last a total of 17 weeks at each university of applied sciences.

Final evaluation

After completing the three blocks, there will be a final phase of 17 weeks, during which you will create and present a final product. In conclusion, the last, integral competencies will be tested by means of a portfolio and oral final assessment. The final phase will take place at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences.

Accredited study programme

In the Netherlands, the standard of higher education is maintained through an accreditation system that ensures legal regulation and quality assurance. All programmes at HZ University of Applied Sciences are examined and approved by the accreditor, the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). This means that they meet the quality requirements for accredited higher education set by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, ensuring that you are always choosing a programme of high standard.

Do you want to be prepared for an ever-changing work field with professional practice and practical research?

Then the master River Delta Development is for you!

Learning together in living labs

The projects in delta zones are so large and the systems are so complex that simple solutions are often not an option. Fundamental interventions are required. This is why the Living Labs were created: testing grounds where professional practice and universities of applied sciences collaborate on complex tasks. In addition to solving problems and taking advantage of opportunities, the Living Labs are also about learning together. As a student in the River Delta Development Master’s programme, you will take part in Living Labs in which the professorships and research centres of the three universities of applied sciences are involved. You will be working on location, on real-world issues, in multidisciplinary teams along with professionals from the field. You will find yourself making the rounds along the delta: the Master’s programme begins at HZ in Middelburg, continues at Van Hall Larenstein in Velp, and is completed at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences.

Read more about the living labs during the first semester below:

Fresh water availability

As a result of sea level rise, longer periods of drought and population growth, the pressure on the availability of freshwater will only increase further. In the Living Lab ‘Fresh water availability’ you investigate the challenges surrounding the distribution and storage of fresh water in an overall salty environment. The research focuses on the Zeeuws-Vlaamse Kanaalzone, the area between Terneuzen and Ghent.

This research has four goals:
• Establishing criteria for water systems that are resilient enough to meet the challenges of the future.
• Formulating a definition for the ideal ‘Robust Water System’ according to the established criteria, in line with Visie Water Beheer 2050 (Vision Water Management 2050), SAZ +, Vitale Kanaalzone and Nieuwe Sluis.
• Developing a vision for the future for the 2030-2040 period.
• The preparation of measures that have to be taken now to anticipate that vision for the future.

Stakeholders in this research project include DOW Benelux, Province of Zeeland, Waterschap Scheldestromen (Water Board), Terneuzen Municipality, Evides Water Company and North Sea Ports.

Dealing with competing spatial claims

In many deltas immense conflicting interests play a role. In the Living Lab ‘Dealing with competing spatial claims in deltas’ you therefore conduct research into possibilities to offer nature, the economy, recreation and food production space, which is sometimes very limited. Innovative solutions are needed to prevent conflicts between -among other things - ecological and economic processes. For this Living Lab, the Oosterschelde, national park and important centre for shellfish farming, is your research area.

This research has four goals:
• Investigating the bearing capacity of the Oosterschelde.
• Mapping out the impact of the various functions in the area and what these will be in the future.
• The development and analysis of concepts for multifunctional use concepts of the Oosterschelde.
• Analyze which changes (also in policy and governance) are needed to realize potential concepts.

Stakeholders in this research project include aquaculture and fishing companies, the Province of Zeeland, Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, the Municipality of Schouwen-Duiveland and the Zeeuwse Milieu Federatie.

Climate adaption in coastal areas

In many areas, the risks of flooding, drought and other extreme weather conditions such as heat waves are increasing all the time, according to studies by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Already societies are having to adapt to the effects thereof. But how? In the Living Lab ‘Climate adaptation in coastal areas’ you will tackle the challenges of climate change in deltas. The research focuses on three areas on the northern Westerschelde bank.

This research has three goals:
• Drawing up a risk analysis for floods, other types of flooding, drought and heat within one of the case areas (Sloehaven, Baarland or Hansweert).
• Assessing the impact of the hazards, in particular on sea defences, infrastructure and society.
• Formulating a vision based on the research results, in line with governmental strategies and agreements; sea defences must meet the latest safety standards in 2050.

Stakeholders in this research project include municipalities, Province of Zeeland, local communities, Waterschap Scheldestromen (Water Board), netwerkbeheerder Enduris, Evides water company, healthcare institutions and landowners.

Nature-based solutions

In recent decades the worldwide population growth combined with the increase in prosperity and consumption has led to the impoverishment of the ‘natural capital’, the sum of all the natural resources on earth: soil, air, water and living organisms. In the Living Lab ‘Nature-based solutions’ you investigate the possibilities of repairing damaged ecosystems and increasing their resilience. You do this in three areas on the northern Westerschelde bank.

Stakeholders in this research project include municipalities, agricultural and fishery companies, the Province of Zeeland, local communities, Rijkswaterstaat, Waterschap Scheldestromen (water board) and nature conservation organizations such as Vogelbescherming (bird protection) and Staatsbosbeheer (forest management).

Lecturer Team

Hans Cappon Professor of Water Technology
Gabriëlle Rossing Lecturer and Coach on Interactive and Interdisciplinary Collaboration
Hans de Bruin Lector
Jean-Marie Buijs Senior Researcher and Lecturer
Student stories

What our students say

Students share their experiences of studying River Delta Development at HZ Univeristy of Applied Sciences

Education format and location

The River Delta Development Master’s programme is a full-time English-taught Master’s programme. The education location of the programme varies. During the first half year, you will study at HZ in Middelburg, the second half year will be spent at Van Hall Larenstein in Velp, and the third half year will be completed at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. A week of instruction consists of a lecture day at the relevant education location and four project days at one of the Living Labs. Depending on your preference, the location of the Living Labs may vary. You can spend up to one semester conducting research in a Living Lab abroad.


If desired, the universities of applied sciences will assist you in arranging on-site housing. This may be done by providing the housing itself or by helping you get in touch with parties that can provide housing.

How can I find a room in Middelburg?
will be able to help you. Accommodation varies from rooms in student houses to studio apartments and apartments ranging in size from small to large, furnished or unfurnished, single units (where you live by yourself) or apartments that you share with others. Room prices range from €220 to €600 (for a house). Most rooms are located in the city centre or near the city centre. Please let APV know you’ve enrolled for the master’s programme River Delta Development.

How can I find a room in Rotterdam?
Try to arrange your search as soon as your application has been accepted. Prices vary, starting at around €300 per calendar month. Depending on size, location, housing preferences, etc. this may vary significantly. Rotterdam is surrounded by several smaller towns and cities which can offer an excellent alternative, all of which are well connected by public transport to the university. Check the housing website of Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences for all possibilities for (international) students, such as short stay accommodation (SSH) and alternate options for housing.

How can I find a room in Velp?
Van Hall Larenstein has made agreements with a number of local lessors about furnished rooms in student houses in Velp and Arnhem. With this arrangement, you will have your own room and share the bathroom, kitchen and washing machine with other (international) students. These furnished rooms cost €380 - €450 a month. Do you wish to use this facility? Then send an e-mail to and indicate that you have registered for the River Delta Development master.
Would you prefer to search a room yourself? Then take a look at the Study in Arnhem website.


Tuition fee

  • Dutch and European (EEA) students pay the statutory tuition fee for participation in the River Delta Development Master’s programme.
  • Non-EEA students or students who have completed a Master’s programme in the Netherlands pay the institutional tuition fee.
  • The fee is for one academic year. The Master programme takes 2 years.

Read more about the fees and finances here.

Additional costs
There are no extra costs related to books/readers. We do organise excursions, and you may wish to purchase additional class materials or participate in extra-curricular events. These costs usually amount to roughly €200,- in total.

Your own laptop
The Universities of Applied Sciences have study spaces available, but not all of them are equipped with computers. We recommend and encourage you to bring your own laptop/mobile device. The River Delta Development department recommends you to purchase a laptop if you do not yet have one. Please contact your lecturer for advice if you are considering purchasing a laptop.

Study grants, loans & finances

If you qualify for standard student funding (loans, supplementary grants, and/or student travel passes), you can request these from DUO.

If you are no longer eligible for student funding, then you can still utilise the Lifelong Learning Credit to borrow money to pay the tuition fee, under the following conditions. You can request the Lifelong Learning Credit for the duration of the degree programme in which you are participating.

Are you paying the statutory tuition fee for your degree programme? If so, that is the amount that you can borrow each year. Are you paying the institutional tuition fee? If so, then you can borrow the amount of the statutory tuition fee up to five times per year. In the latter case, you have to provide a statement from the educational institution along with your request for the Lifelong Learning Credit, which indicates the amount of the institutional tuition fee.

The Lifelong Learning Credit can be requested from DUO. More information can be found on this government site. Once you study at HZ and you need a tuition fee/course fee statement, you can download or print this statement yourself in Osiris.

Admission and registration

Admission requirements
In order to qualify for participation in the Master’s programme River Delta Development, applicants should have a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent qualification from a recognised university (of applied sciences) or accredited academic institution in a discipline related to that of the master’s programme (certified copy of a diploma together with the official transcript of academic records).

Students with the following (Dutch) Bachelor’s degrees are welcome anyway:

  • Water Management CROHO 34074
  • Water Management CROHO 34332
  • Delta Management CROHO 39278
  • Civil Engineering CROHO 34279
  • Urban and Regional Planning CROHO 34282
  • Spatial Development CROHO 30038
  • International Development Management CROHO 34203
  • Coastal and Marine Management CROHO 39204
  • Land and Water Management CROHO 34226
  • Management of the Living Environment CROHO 34859
  • Built Environment CROHO 39280

It is also important that you have a good command of the English language. Read more about the admission requirements.

Admission and registration
The River Delta Development Master’s programme is a joint degree offered by three universities of applied sciences.

A letter of motivation and an intake interview with the admission committee are also part of the selection procedure. The HZ student office will inform you about this. If your letter of motivation and intake interview are both positively assessed, you will be sent confirmation of your admission. You can use this to request any grants you will need.

Read all about our application procedure and apply.

Letter of motivation and intake interview
We select students based on several criteria. These should be addressed in your (English) letter of motivation of ± 750 words:

  • your interest in and knowledge of river deltas and your goals for the master’s programme;
  • your capacity for self-reflection on your current knowledge and skills;
  • your capacity for becoming a facilitator of change - demonstrate your willingness to apply change, innovation and creativity in complex processes.

The intake interview will be about the goals you have set yourself based on your background, and your interest in and knowledge of river deltas. Also we expect you to give an elevator pitch about a river delta case. The intake interview will be in English, so we can assess your proficiency in English.


Like to stay informed of the latest developments? Please provide your contact information at If you have any questions at this time, please e-mail one of the members of the management team: Margriet Langenberg-van der Klauw - HZ University of Applied Sciences, Jan Fliervoet - Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences or Rugter van Hogezand – HR University of Applied Sciences. Want to talk to an advisor? Please fill in the contact form at and we will get in touch with you.

Your future

After graduation


After successfully completing the degree programme, you will receive a Master of Science (MSc) diploma.

Future perspectives

River Delta Development has been developed in close cooperation with professionals. Governmental institutions as well as consultancies are clear about what they need: professionals who think and work in constructive, integrated ways, who have knowledge of transitional processes and are capable of moving people and organizations to make things happen. The world is in transition (climate, energy, circular economy etc.) and needs people that can facilitate this change. In delta areas many important issues come together, and they are aggravated by high population density and their vulnerable locations. This situation creates a demand for educated, enthusiastic, passionate young people who will take on the role of developing resilient, safe and sustainable delta life.

Job positions you could occupy upon graduating from the master River Delta Development are:

  • process manager
  • initiator of new projects
  • facilitator of civil changes
  • researcher
  • administrator
  • consultant

Potential job prospects

Freshwater Project Officer in Morocco
De Freshwater Project Officer is responsible for executing a project concerning the water environment in the Sebou delta in Morocco. The project focuses on lessening the impact of water extraction and non-sustainable water infrastructure on the local biodiversity and riverbed, as laid out in relevant documentation. The FPO will create and maintain cooperative networks with project partners, develops working plans, and regulates the implementation thereof, and is responsible for the technical and financial progress reports.

Urban Water, Wastewater and Climate Resilience Senior Associate in the USA
The Senior Associate directs efforts to enhance business opportunities for multilateral development banks, focusing specifically on urban water, wastewater treatment and related issues concerning urban resilience and extreme weather. The SA is responsible for the development and direction of marketing strategies of these multilateral development banks and delivers technical assistance to project employees and other relevant stakeholders to ensure quality and keep projects on schedule.

Monitoring and Evaluation Officer in Bangladesh
Climate change, in the form of intensifying cyclones, surge floods and an increase in sea levels, speeds up the salination process of sweet water in Bangladesh’ coastal areas. This in turn has an impact on the agricultural communities there, who rely on this sweet water supply. Especially women and girls are vulnerable target groups in this. The main aim of the project is to assist the Banglahdeshi government in strengthening local resilience of coastal communities – especially women – in order to meet this growing challenge. The MEO will be responsible for monitoring cost effectiveness and results, as well as delivering quality and timely input, and is to ensure the strategic vision of the project remains intact.

Urban Water and Climate Adaptation Senior Specialist in the Netherlands
The Senior Specialist Urban Water and Climate Adaptation shapes water in urban areas, specifically regarding security, climate resilience, sustainability and quality of life. Possible projects could be securing the climate safety of Utrecht city or Eindhoven airport, developing a climate stress test for municipal governments or developing a masterplan for water management for the Moerdijk port. The Senior Specialist focuses on climate adaptability strategies, sustainability, water structure, measurement and security geohydrology and urban water management by means of modeling, conducting stress tests, analysing measurements, etc.

Joint degree

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