Water Management

Water is one of the most important substances on Earth. It is essential to many of the things we need and enjoy in life: food, transport and recreation, but managing it can also pose some serious challenges. Around the world water managers contend with droughts, floods, sea level rise, over fishing, pollution, plastic soup and many other risks to both our natural environment and our society. We need water managers to safeguard our future!

During the water management programme you will develop in your own field of expertise as you focus on the major water-related issues facing us today and towards solutions for UN Sustainable Development Goals like fresh water availability, clean seas, food production, healthy ecosystems, biodiversity and coastal safety.

The HZ enjoys intensive working relationships with professionals in the water sector. You will be working on practical assignments provided by companies or research institutes from the very first day of your study. This is incredibly important, as this will thoroughly prepare you for your career. You will be educated with the latest knowledge from the field and you learn how to effectively combine theory and practice.

Right from the start you will work on real-life cases discovering your interest and talents. After the first semester you can opt for one of these three study tracks: Aquatic Ecotechnology, Delta Management and Spatial Planning & Design.

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Water Management explained

Aquatic Ecotechnology

You analyze the fresh and salt water issues in depth and suggest solutions to solve them from technical and other perspectives. You focus on water quantity and quality, water recycling, biology, and restoration of biodiversity to improve ecosystem services. You work with environmental chemistry and learn how to purify water for different purposes. You come up with nature friendly solutions for traditional flood defence and look how people can adjust to changing climate patterns.

Year one

In year one you learn everything about the different layers of a delta area: the basic layer, the network layer and the occupation layer. You tackle each layer for an eight week period. You work on biology, ecology, geography, chemistry, economy and management and policy.

  • Basic layer (earth and water)
    Discover all about what’s living in and around the water and how changes in soil can impact the environment.
  • Network layer (roads, dikes, harbours and towns)
    Ecology is central during this layer. You learn how our eco system influences our society and how you can reap the benefits from this. This includes, for example, the energy generated by the sun, the sand which defends the coastline, but also depoldering. You take a look across the borders: how should you be dealing with different climates and cultures? Think about roofs which can be used to grow rice on and which can also purify water at the same time in Asia. You also learn to look ahead. You map out a specific area together with your project group and predict its development during the next fifteen years.
  • Occupation layer (human activity in the area)
    You look at the design during this layer: the (re)design of an area for the living environment of both people and animals. You focus at water safety, as well as society and marketing. Nature and water are central focus points here. And finally, you combine everything you have learnt in a project and subsequently map out all the layers of a European delta.
Year two

You work with environmental chemistry: a branch of chemistry focussed on the chemical aspects of the world around us. Important: this mainly concerns substances which have entered the environment as a result of human activities. For example, you analyse a lake within which blue-green algae is growing. Fish die as a result of blue-green algae. The water system is disrupted and can subsequently go smelly and sometimes even toxic. This is becoming increasingly more common as a result of climate and temperature changes. You are able to further develop your knowledge if you have already studied chemistry in your previous education.

You spend the second quarter looking at how people are adjusting to changes in the environment, for example as a result of increased rainfall and the water levels rising in rivers. Think of Louisiana for example: an area which is hit by a hurricane on average once every three years. The residents must protect their homes, know their evacuation routes and be able to build up their living environments again, as soon as they’re allowed back to their own living environment.

Building with nature will be the central focus point during the third quarter. Traditional solutions, such as concrete flood defences, are often less environmentally friendly. Ecological solutions are therefore now becoming increasingly more important. We are keeping our feet dry, the solution is often more beautiful and nature is central. You learn to calculate whether this solution will still be resistant enough in 100 years’ time. This is done with the use of computer models.

You become acquainted with water technology in the last quarter: purifying water for different applications for people and animals, industry and nature. Where can you obtain sufficient fresh water and how can you safeguard the water quality? You learn how to remove and purify wastewater.

Year three

You follow a six month minor during the third year of the programme. A minor will deepen or broaden your knowledge and skills. You can complete the minor with the research groups from water courses at the HZ, at another HZ programme or you can opt for another university either in the Netherlands or abroad. You will be doing a work experience placement during the second half of the year at an organisation in your specific field. You can choose where you want to do this work experience. You could, for example, opt for a placement in the Caribbean in order to restore a coral area, or work on fish farming based on energy and nutrients supplied by nature in the Netherlands.

Year four

You follow the River Basin Management course, whereby you research a river in an international delta area during a field study week. You map out the entire area, including the eco system, you identify the problems and come up with recommendations for solving the problems. You can choose to take a more in-depth look at either water technology or natural water systems. You further supplement your programme with courses like aquaculture, which sees you tackling, for example, the cultivation of sea fish, shellfish, samphire and other sea vegetables or the energy from water course.
you spend the last part of your study graduating at an organisation of your choice either in the Netherlands or abroad. You can also graduate with one of the research groups. You will need to hand in a research project at the end of the fourth year, which demonstrates that you have the Bachelor level. This research can include, for example, which requirements water needs to satisfy in the town in order to avoid it being bad for the public’s health, or the development of a method which a nature organisation can use to assess water, allowing it to implement a suitable fish policy.

Delta Management

As a Delta Manager you integrate multiple disciplines to develop a vision on climate challenges in an area. You develop strategies by taking into account economic, ecological, spatial and social aspects of a river delta area. Together with stakeholders you develop effective measures to deal with climate change. You will learn project- and process management and cross-cultural communication skills to manage complex water- and climate change related projects worldwide.

Year one

First semester you have courses with all Water management students on generic topics as water challenges related to Climate Change and Sustainable Development. Furthermore you will get introducted to track-specific courses to prepare you on choosing a track after the first semester. You will work on professional development, your Dutch/English skills and research. In the second semester you will start to develop your vision making skills and project management skills. You will learn about water safety and how to involve stakeholders.

Year two

You get to work on a design for a European area which is prone to flooding. You will be commissioned by a European municipality to prepare a vision for their area, in order to make it more resistant to the effects of climate change. You thereby look at the social, economic, political, legal and cultural aspects. You learn how to digitally map out an area and how to graphically design your project.

America is the central focus point during the second half of the year, especially the Mississippi Delta in Louisiana. This delta area is one of America’s biggest nature areas and is under threat by natural disasters such as hurricanes. Climate change has resulted in a rise in the river water, which inevitably means more and more parts of the area are disappearing into the river. You draft a strategic plan for part of this area, where you opt for either a town or a nature area. Your design serves to improve the safety of the area, whilst keeping a firm focus on nature. You take the local and national political, cultural and social situation into account.

Year three

You follow a six month minor during the third year. A minor will deepen or broaden your knowledge and skills. You can complete the minor with the research groups from water courses at the HZ, at another HZ course or you can opt for another university either in the Netherlands or abroad. You do a work experience placement either at home or abroad during the second half of the year at an organisation in your specific field. You can choose where you want to do this work experience. You could, for example, opt for a work experience placement in Vietnam, where you could look at how different districts within a large town could deal with climate changes, for example the removal of water after heavy rainfall. Or you could decide to work for a harbour company, in order to work on making the harbour area future resistant.

Year four

Asia is central during your final year: Vietnam and the Mekong Delta. Climate change has resulted in the Mekong Delta now being one of the most threatened delta areas in the world. If the sea level rises by 1 meter, 38% of this area will be under water. This has consequences for food production. You and your project team will be working on a spatial design for part of this delta. The design contributes to ensuring there is sufficient fresh water, food, coastal protection and sufficient space for tourism and recreation. This allows you to give the local economy an effective boost.

As a manager of a Belgian coastal area, you also start tackling the prevention of flooding in year 4, using natural solutions like green dikes, flood resistant constructions and generating energy from water. You do this together with students from other water specialisations. And finally, you conclude your studies in this academic year with a research project. You could, for example, look at how large European harbours can respond to the consequences of climate change, or you could issue advice regarding the way in which an executor can prevent the formation of blue-green algae.

Spatial Planning & Design

You focus on adaptive planning and design of economically and socially dynamic areas under pressure of climate change. You monitor the effects of climate change and design spatial solutions on how cities and rural areas can deal with water challenges. You have to be creative to plan and design for improving the local context. You will learn how to 2D and 3D visualise and communicate your strategies.

Year one

First semester you have courses with all Water management students on generic topics as water challenges related to Climate Change and Sustainable Development. Furthermore you will get introducted to track-specific courses to prepare you on choosing a track after the first semester. You will work on professional development, your Dutch/English skills and research. In the second semester you will start to develop your drawing and designing skills. You will learn about planning policies and -regulations.

Year two

Apply your planning and design skills in international cases. You will learn about connection between spatial planning and topics as circular economy, sustainable tourism, mobility and energy. Plan and design for different local contexts. There will also be a project on landscape design and rural planning. You will go on excursions and a project week abroad.

Year three

In the third year you can go to other countries for your minor and/or internship! You can choose a minor at HZ or a minor at another university in the Netherlands or in another country. And you can do your internship in the Netherlands or in another country.

Year four

You will apply your skills and make a design for a complex project where topics as adaptation, mitigation, sustainability, climate change, infrastructure, tourism, food, energy, urbanization come together. You will also work together on a challenge with students from other study programmes on a project from a real client. And you will do your graduation research. This can be done in the Netherlands or in another country.

What our students say

Students share their experiences of studying Water Management at HZ University of Applied Sciences.

Mathurin Water Management "It is of outermost importance for me to protect this highly valuable resource that is water." Read his story
Jessica Student Water Management "I find it fascinating how dirty water can become clean again." Read Jessica's story
Beatriz Water Management "Studying abroad has been a once in a lifetime experience." Read Beatriz's story
Yoni Student Water Management "Since I want to start my one business, I really wanted to work on a project in which I was fully interested in." Read Yoni's story

Three-year track Water Management

With your pre-university diploma you can qualify for the English-language three-year track of the Water Management programme if you meet the admission requirements. If you opt for this track, you will be in a class with international students. Note: the three-year track is not available for Spatial Planning & Design.

During the first semester you follow lectures together with the students who are doing the four-year programme. You get to know your fellow students and the water management programme, and you decide which specialisation you want to follow. Subsequently, you spend two six-month periods studying the specialisation of your choice. Halfway through the second year, you choose a minor, or you do an internship at home or abroad. In your final study year, you further deepen your knowledge and skills in your chosen field through projects and lectures, and you carry out a graduation research in the professional field.

Have you become passionate about your study and would you like to further develop yourself in your professional field? Would a Master programme be something for you? You could choose for the 18-months Master programme in River Delta Development, which is a collaboration of HZ University of Applied Sciences, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and Van Hall Larenstein. This way, you can obtain both your Bachelor and your master’s degree in four-and-a-half years. Employers will be lining up for you upon graduation, because you are both practically and analytically trained.

The three-year study programme Water Management is taught in English. To be able to start in the second semester of the three-year track, you must have an average of 7.5 or higher on your grade list. If this is the case, you may decide, together with your Study Career Coach, whether the three-year track matches your wishes and requirements.

After applying for the Water Management programme, you will be invited for a study choice interview. In that interview you can indicate that you want to be considered for the three-year track.

Applied research

The domain Technology, Water & Environment includes an applied research centre. Research is carried out in four fields: Resilient Deltas, Building with Nature, Aquaculture and Water Technology. Students, researchers and lecturers work together to conduct research on these themes in cooperation with companies, governmental organisations and other research institutes.

Applied research is closely combined with education. Our lecturers participate in research and researchers give lectures. Often the assignments you face during your classes are part of challenging projects the research groups deal with. Furthermore, you can choose to carry out your internship, minor or graduation project with a research group.


Before you apply to the Water Management programme, you have to meet a few admission requirements.

Admission requirements

To qualify for admission to the Water Management programme you need:

  • A qualification equivalent to a Dutch secondary education diploma, which gives you access to higher education.
  • A good knowledge of one or more of the following subjects is preferable: biology, chemistry, mathematics or economics.

Read more about the admission requirements.

Alternative entrance exam

If you don’t have the appropriate secondary school diploma, and if you are at least 21 years old, you may be exempted from this requirement. The HZ provides the possibility of taking an alternative entrance exam.

Language requirements

Read all about the language requirements here.

Course description

Read more detailed course information in the Academic and Examination Regulation.

Practical information

Read everything about the fees and finances, what it's like to study in the Netherlands, what you need to arrange when studying abroad and how to apply for a study programme.

Fees and finances

Next to the tuition fees and cost of living there are extra costs for your study programme (study materials and books). These costs are approximately €300,- for the full study programme. You will have excursions on regular basis.

Read more about the fees and finances here.


Have you made your choice? Read all about our application procedure.

Pre-arrival information

Visa, health insurance, accomodation and a Dutch bank account..You need to arrange quite some things when you decide to study abroad. Read all about it here.

Studying in the Netherlands

What it's like to study in the Netherlands? And what is Vlissingen like? Read all about Zeeland, the Netherlands and HZ.


Do you have any questions or do you need more information about the study programme? Please contact our admission office: study@hz.nl.

After graduation

Congratulations, you're graduated! From now on you may use the title ‘Bachelor of Science’.

Did you participate in the Honours Programme? You will get an extra certificate with your bachelor's degree.

As a water manager, your skills are valuable equally in the public and private sector. You can work at all levels of the government or water authorities or Research institutes, consultancies, engineering companies and industries.

With Aquatic Ecotechnology, you can work as a water consultant, assistant researcher, policy officer, expert or project coordinator. If you further specialized in Water Technology, you can work as a water engineer, analyst or waste water treatment engineer.

With a specialisation in Delta Management, you can work as an assistant researcher, consultant, assistant area manager, designer or project coordinator.

With a specialisation in Spatial Planning & Design you can work as an assistant urban planner, a strategic advisor and advisor spatial planning. You can work for organisations like GIZ, Unesco, government, NGO's and consultancy firms.

With a bachelor degree from the HZ you can continue studying towards your Master’s degree (Msc.) at HZ by choosing for our Master programme River Delta Development. When you choose for this programme, you are able to get you Bachelor and Master's degree in 5,5 years.

If you decide to continue your education abroad, you can do so immediately after graduating from the HZ. If you choose to further your studies at a research university in the Netherlands, a pre-master might be required.


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