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River Delta Development

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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Study Programme

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.

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 three 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.

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. 

Lecturer Team

The end result of the River Delta Development Master’s programme is a Master of Science (MSc). In order to preserve the academic level of the Master’s programme, we have set up an Academic Board, which consists of professors and other members. The various research projects are provided and assessed by professors in collaboration with lecturers. Many lecturers with PhDs will be working in the Master’s programme and the latest scientific findings will be used. Your lecturers and professors will have up-to-date knowledge on the course content and the context of the profession in which you are being educated. They are pedagogical and didactic experts who understand their students, so that you will receive the best possible guidance. Two professors are also associated with research universities (University of Groningen and Radboud University Nijmegen). Furthermore, there will be a collaboration with Erasmus University and the Delft University of Technology.

Practical information

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 (30 EC), 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? 
Villex 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 Villex know you’ve enrolled for the master’s programme River Delta Development


European (EEA) students, who have never earned a Dutch Master’s diploma pay the statutory tuition fee for participation in the River Delta Development Master’s programme. This has been set at €2,060 per year for the 2018-2019 academic year. You will also pay the statutory tuition fee for the second year of the degree programme, but you can receive half of that amount back provided you complete the programme within the specified programme duration (1.5 years).

Non-EEA students or students who have completed a Master’s programme in the Netherlands pay the institutional tuition fee. For the River Delta Development Master’s programme, this amount has been set at €12,000 for the entire Master's programme. 

Additional costs

There are no extra costs related to books/readers. We do organize 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.

Student grant and loans or Lifelong Learning credit

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. You can request that the tuition fee/course fee statement (the statement that you need if you have to pay the institutional tuition fee) be filled in and signed by the HZ student office by e-mailing

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 recognized 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 

It is also important that you have a good command of the English language

  • Academic IELTS overall band score of at least 6.0
  • TOEFL, internet based (TOEFL-iBT) of at least 90
  • Cambridge CAE-C (CPE)

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.

After graduation

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

Unique professional Master’s programme

If you choose the River Delta Development Master’s programme:

  • you will acquire in-depth knowledge of a river delta system through 1.5 years (3 x 30 EC) of working in and learning about the various constituent regions, specifically the coast, river systems, and urban water;
  • you will gain knowledge and insight into transitional processes, system changes, and research methods;
  • you will work using the latest insights and methods in delta technology, design, and governance by participating in research programmes at the three universities of applied sciences;
  • you will develop your personal and professional competencies through innovative research methods based on a didactically supported competency profile and will be tested and assessed for satisfactory completion by delta professionals, applied professors, researchers, and lecturers.

The River Delta Development Master’s programme is the only professional Master’s programme in this field at the HBO level in the Netherlands. All other water-related Master’s programmes are offered by research universities. A Master’s programme at the HBO level is distinguished by its practical approach, intensive collaboration with the work field (e.g. via Living Labs), and a broad perspective on the material (in this case, the river delta). 

    The expertise of the three universities of applied sciences

    The 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. As a river basin, the delta is the natural connection between the three universities of applied sciences. 

    HZ University of Applied Sciences - delta system Coast

    Natural processes such as rising sea levels, soil subsidence, an increase in powerful storms, and salinisation play an important role in the delta. In conjunction with the growing population, this puts pressure on the limited space, referred to as ‘coastal squeeze’. This increases the risk of flooding and other severe events. The challenge for delta professionals is to redirect global issues affecting the delta, which are also clearly visible in the south-west of the Netherlands, towards sustainable developments and take a step-by-step approach to arriving at safe, resilient, and economically vital delta coasts. As a student of the River Delta Development Master’s programme, you will conduct practical research in the research programmes of the Delta Academy Applied Research Centre. 

    Van Hall Larenstein – delta system River region

    During the period at Van Hall Larenstein, you will be exposed to course content on the river system as well as its physiogeographical and methodical side. You will conduct research projects linked to the Delta Areas and Resources Applied Research Centre. These will focus on the circular management of the river and integral regional design of river systems, during which a balance must be struck between safety, economics, ecology, and cultural history. The Applied Research Centre is currently conducting different projects with a wide range of parties, varying from the Rijkswaterstaat (government body for infrastructure and water management) to business owners and nature preservation organisations. 

    Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences – delta system Urban Water

    Rivers, seas, precipitation, groundwater, drinking water, and wastewater are all elements of the urban water in Rotterdam. These water streams are an integral part of the urban region in supporting its users and residents. The city has many technical, spatial, economic, and social projects that form complex relationships with each other. The pillars of the River Delta Development Master’s programme in Rotterdam are urban planning and construction, infrastructure, and mobility and water management. This knowledge is used to research the spatial, infrastructural, civil engineering, and governance aspects of water in delta cities and to resolve practical issues.

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