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Water Resources Msc Course Content


The MSc/Diploma in Water Resources was open to those with a degree, or equivalent experience, in agriculture, earth or environmental science, engineering, forestry or appropriate related subjects. The course offered postgraduate training in all aspects of hydrology and water resources to professionals from arid and tropical countries who wished to move into water resource management, and to graduates from European and other temperate countries who wished to work in the challenging field of sustainable water resources, both at home and abroad. The interdisciplinary approach emphasised the proper evaluation, management, utilisation and conservation of water resources based on water balance, environmental impact and appropriate technology.

In 1997 the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales awarded the Course the highest category of teaching quality


Global climate change during the 1980s led to severe drought in the Sahel . During the 1990s increased greenhouse gas emissions appear to have caused further warming and more extreme drought and flood conditions even in temperate climates like the UK . These effects and the continuing pollution of both surface and ground water, focused the need for interdisciplinary education and training in the science and management of water resources. This need became more apparent in the new millennium with some of the worst storms and floods on record being experienced in places as far apart as Mozambique , Asia and the UK.

The postgraduate course at Bangor, started in 1993, addressed these issues intially in a 18month, then reducing to a 15 month and finally a 12 month MSc course from 1996. The taught course ran from September to April and consisted of lectures, practicals, field visits and coursework.


The course ran over 24 weeks and consisted of 8 modules (4 compulsory and 4 optional as listed overleaf). Subject to timetable constraints, up to 2 optional modules could also be chosen from other SAFS MSc courses (e.g. 512 Natural Resource Economics & Policy). Each module was a mixture of formal lectures, laboratory, field and coursework representing 40-50 contact hours. Assessment was based on performance in coursework and examination.


Laboratory exercises were undertaken for modules 563 & 564. Field work was undertaken in the Bangor area, with practical exercises (561, 562, 563 & 564) and visits to water supply and power projects in North and Central Wales from the University Field Centre, Gregynog in Mid Wales (567).



The taught course was assessed continually on coursework and by final examination. An overall average mark of between 40% and 49% resulted in the Diploma option. An overall mark of 50% or more was required in order to proceed to MSc project and dissertation. A minimum mark of 50% is also required for the dissertation in order to pass the MSc Degree. MSc with distinction was awarded to those who achieved 70% for both parts. Viva voce examinations were held for selected students or by request at the end of the taught course.


The topic for individual study was initially agreed between student and supervisor. The project may have consisted of a data review and interpretation, or may also have contained the results of original work by the student. Overseas students were encouraged to provide data from their own country or to carry out field work and data collection there, prior to completion and submission of the dissertation in Bangor . Collaboration was ongoing with organisations such as Environment Agency, Countryside Council for Wales , Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, British Geological Survey for UK student projects and with Government Depts. and Companies overseas.


(C-compulsory, O-optional)

Each module represents 100 hours of student time of which about 40 hours is formal contact time with staff.



Water Usage & the Hydrologic Cycle - Introduction to water, properties, usage, economics. Water budgets. Summary statistics. Climatic variations.

Precipitation & Runoff - Measurement of precipitation and streamflow, variations, interpretation. Catchment morphology & models. Hydrographs. Runoff.



Evaporation & Transpiration - Controlling factors. Basic plant anatomy. The role of vegetation & soil moisture. Theoretical relationships. Measurement of parameters & practical estimation of Et.

Groundwater - Geological controls. Origin, occurrence & distribution. Aquifer types & characteristics. Saturated &unsaturated zones. Introduction to investigation methods.

Sediment Transport - Aeolian and alluvial processes. Sediment yield & transport, suspended & bedload. Channel forms. Coastal sedimentation.



Aquifer properties -including laboratory measurements.

Groundwater Movement - Infiltration. Groundwater flow. Flownets. Groundwater models. Recharge. Pollutants.

Aquifer Test Analysis - Well hydraulics. Pump test procedures & analysis, confined, unconfined & leaky aquifers. Partial penetration. Boundary conditions.



Water Quality & Pollution - Biology & chemistry of natural waters. Sources of pollution & effects. Water analysis. Acid rain. Bio-indicators. Measures of Water quality.

Sanitation, Health & Disease - Water borne diseases. Environmental health, large and small scale sanitation methods. Sanitary surveying.

Water Treatment - Large and small scale drinking water treatment processes. Waste water treatment and re-use. Corrosion & corrosion indicators.


Plants and Water - Plant physiology, energy, photosynthesis and transpiration. Water stress.

Soils and Water - Soil structure, water relations and dynamics. Evapotranspiration and solute flow.

Crop Water Requirements & simulation - Water use efficiency, risk assessment, systems for dry areas. Use of models in agronomy and management. Plant breeding.

Salinity - Causes and extent, effects on plants, alleviation. Integrated salinity management.


Surface Water Resources - . Resource evaluation, catchment and reservoir yields. River water. Catchment modelling

Groundwater Resources - Resource evaluation and development. Investigation methods. Recharge.

Probability & Planning in Hydrology - Extreme event analysis for reservoir and dam design, water supply planning & flood control.

Catchment Management Planning - Evaluation for conflicting uses.

Dams and Reservoirs - Types of dam. Geological investigation for stability, leakage, etc.


Water Policy and Management - Water Resources policy & legislation. Conflicting national and international issues. Demand management. Effects of climate change.

Water Resources Management - Surface vs. groundwater resources, sustainability, conjunctive use. Protection.

Environmental Impact - Effects of high dams, over abstraction of groundwater. Water table changes, saline intrusion and subsidence. Socioeconomics.

Watershed Management - Natural & manmade catchment problems. Effects of deforestation, over- grazing & cultivation. Good & bad practice.


While every effort is made to run courses as presented, the school reserves the right to modify the programme, assessment and examination procedures.


Applicants would normally have a second class honours degree in a relevant subject as indicated above in the "OVERVIEW", or appropriate experience in the field of water resources.


Copyright © Martin Hollingham