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    Sustainable Water Resources Engineering

    Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

    Protecting and improving our water resources and protecting people from flooding and droughts are some of the most significant engineering challenges we face today. This course gives you the fundamental knowledge and experience for a career in water engineering, including skills in environmental enhancement and protection.
    Water engineering students

    Course description

    Looking after our water resources has never been more important or more challenging. The world needs engineering graduates who can tackle the problems of flooding, pollution and infrastructure design. 

    Our large multidisciplinary water research group drives our research-led teaching and module content. You’ll cover essential engineering principles like fluid mechanics, chemistry, hydrology, applied hydrogeology, hydraulic engineering and computational methods, and have the opportunity to attend lectures with leading industry experts and use commercial software and modelling tools.

    We collaborate with industry and other prestigious universities all over the world on challenging problems in water supply and environmental protection. The course will prepare you for work in areas such as the water industry, sustainable urban development, flood and environmental management.


    This degree is accredited by the Joint Board of Moderators (JBM) comprising of the Institution of Civil Engineers, Institution of Structural Engineers, Institute of Highway Engineers, the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation and the Permanent Way Institution on behalf of the Engineering Council as meeting the academic requirement for Further Learning for registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng).

    To hold accredited qualifications for CEng registration, candidates must also hold a Bachelor (Hons) degree that has been accredited as partially meeting the academic requirement for registration as a Chartered Engineer (CEng). See the JBM website for further information.

    Candidates completing the MSc who hold an underpinning accredited Bachelor degree accredited for IEng only or a non-accredited bachelor degree will need to apply for an academic assessment to determine whether they will meet the educational base for CEng registration.


    A selection of modules is available each year - some examples are below. There may be changes before you start your course. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Core modules:

    Research and Professional Skills

    This module fosters best practice in engineering-related research/professional skills and delivers a range of training activities to meet the needs of professional engineers dealing with research and technological development.

    15 credits
    Engineering Hydraulics

    This module aims to provide a solid base for the analysis of water flows in closed and open ducts. The module provides basic physical insights of the dynamics of laminar and turbulent flows in pipes and open channels. It will also give you a detailed overview of the governing equations and assumptions involved in their application at different scales of analysis. You will gain understanding and competence in the analysis of flows in different contexts and the practical application of these to solve common water engineering problems.

    15 credits
    Engineering Hydrology and Hydrogeology

    This module is intended to provide an introduction to Hydrology and Hydrogeology for MSc Water Engineering and MSc Civil Engineering students, to equip you with basic quantitative skills for conducting mass balance calculations as well as hydrological and hydrogeological investigations. The module content comprises the prediction of rainfalls, quantitative and qualitative analysis of water movement over the surface and through the subsurface, the estimation of flood flows, the study of hydrologic and hydrogeological processes along with the range of space and time scales at which they occur, an overview of hydrological and hydrogeological measurement techniques, and an overview of current issues in the field, such as climate change.

    15 credits
    Urban Stormwater Management

    This module is designed to provide you with an understanding of the fundamental concepts and processes associated with hydrology and urban drainage design, and to apply these concepts to a variety of drainage engineering problems. Through lectures, tutorials and individual literature and case study research, you will develop your knowledge of current and developing practice in urban drainage, including the increasingly important roles of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) (also know as 'Sponge Cities').

    This module aims: (i) to develop knowledge and understanding of current and developing practice in urban drainage engineering/urban stormwater management; and (ii) to develop skills in applying fundamental hydrological and hydraulic knowledge to drainage design.

    15 credits
    Water Quality Processes & Treatment

    Water bodies become contaminated with substances that pose environmental and human health risks as they move through the hydrological cycle. This module aims to address the sources, consequences and treatment of contaminants within the water cycle. The module focuses on developing understanding and technical skills on: a) mechanisms (physico-chemical and biological) involved in determining water quality and safety and b) the most common treatment technologies used by water utilities for delivering drinking and treating wastewater, whilst addressing novel and alternative treatment technologies. The module will also discuss monitoring, sampling, laboratory and analytical methods to evaluate the quality and the safety of water for different uses.

    15 credits
    Advanced Engineering Research Study

    This module represents a major element of the Masters programme, with the aim of enabling you to learn skills in scientific investigation and in running and presenting a project. You are required to submit a comprehensive (bound) report describing the individual work that you have done during the summer semester.

    60 credits

    Optional modules:

    Engineering within Planetary Capacity

    It is projected that by 2050 the human population will be 10 billion, with over 75% concentrated in urban and megacity areas. It is essential that engineering solutions are developed to create and maintain an urban built environment that can meet rapidly changing societal needs, whilst being within the carrying capacity of the planet. This module will equip you with the skills to develop and analyse built environment engineering solutions to ensure they operate within planetary boundaries.

    15 credits
    Civil Engineering Project Management

    This module will introduce you to core management topics and skills relevant to the complex environment of the modern construction industry. Key topics addressed include: construction project management, making a business case, understanding value, risk and quality, managing resources and contracts, legal responsibilities and procurement.

    15 credits
    Advanced Geotechnics

    This module is designed to (i) deepen your understanding of the fundamentals of soil behaviour, (ii) develop your understanding of the use of limit analysis in geotechnical engineering and (iii) describe the concepts behind geotechnical limit state design and how safety idealisations are used to deal with the complexities of soil behaviour in a sustainable manner. Through lectures, tutorial sheets, and software exercises, you will develop your knowledge of geotechnical design with reference to Eurocode 7. You will also develop your ability to use a range of state-of-the-art engineering design concepts and tools, all aimed at promoting sustainability and efficiency in engineering practice.

    15 credits
    Climate Resilient Water Infrastructure Design

    This module aims to equip you with the necessary conceptual knowledge and engineering skills to effectively address the uncertainties associated with climate change, socio-economic factors, and technological advancements in the design of water infrastructure. The module employs computer-assisted exploration, hands-on Python programming, and various interactive interventions (guest lecture, serious game) to empower you in developing robust designs capable of maintaining their intended function throughout the infrastructure's lifetime. The module's objectives include evaluating climate and other risks to water infrastructure, comprehending how they change traditional water engineering design practice, and providing you with essential concepts and methodologies for managing these uncertainties.

    15 credits
    Computational Fluid Dynamics

    This module is designed to provide and reaffirm an understanding of computational fluid dynamics from underlying governing principles modeling the behavior of fluids to typical numerical mathods used for solving them. Through lectures, practical computer sessions, and labs the module aims to provide students with a working understanding of transport equations, turbulence, pressure-velocity coupling in steady flows, and implementation of various boundary conditions in a built-environment context. The module will additionally develop students skills in effectively and professionally communicating implemetation of CFD models.

    15 credits
    Design and Management of Sewer Systems

    This module will provide students with a high level of knowledge and understanding as to how sewer and stormwater drainage systems operate in the UK. Teaching will focus on acquiring knowledge about current and emerging regulatory, management and design practices. Students will be required to understand the environmental and sustainbility issues associated with this type of infrastructure system. Students will apply industry standard design approaches in a case study, considering hydraulic and pollution concepts to evaluate and modify the performance of the case study network to meet current regulatory requirements, anticipated future pressures whilst considering the long term sustainability of the system. Students will be expected to demonstrate their level of knowledge and understanding via application in the case study sewer network.

    15 credits
    Managing Design and Construction

    This module will apply core skills taught in previous modules to real life scenarios related to the management of construction. The scenarios will include aspects of: construction project management, making a business case, understanding value, risk and quality, managing resources and contracts, legal responsibilities and procurement.

    15 credits
    Geotechnical Infrastructure

    The module will focus on the analysis and sustainable design of large scale geotechnical infrastructure and systems, such as embankment dams, levees and tunnels. Aspects of uncertainty and risk, particularly in the context of a changing climate, will be developed related to ultimate and serviceability limit states, using a range of historical case histories within the published literature. A forensic investigative analysis will be conducted on a case study of geotechnical failure, benefiting from data from the literature and numerical modelling. This will be complemented by a consideration of soil acting as both a continuum and as a particulate system, and by an examination of the role of physical modelling, analytical models, constitutive models, and the geological model.

    15 credits

    The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

    Open days

    An open day gives you the best opportunity to hear first-hand from our current students and staff about our courses.

    You may also be able to pre-book a department visit as part of a campus tour.Open days and campus tours


    1 year full-time


    We use a variety of teaching methods to support your learning, including tutorials, lectures, group project work, virtual learning environments and individual research. Some modules may feature input from our industrial partners, laboratory work or site visits.


    Your assessments will include formal examinations, coursework and research projects. Regular feedback is also provided, so that you can understand your own development throughout the course.


    Department of Civil and Structural Engineering

    Civil engineering is at the forefront of improving the way we live. Whether it's designing the infrastructure that keeps our day-to-day lives running smoothly - from buildings and bridges to clean water supplies - or working to meet the ever-changing needs of our society in the areas of sustainability, renewable energy and climate change, you'll be helping to create and protect the world we live in.

    Our courses will make you the kind of engineer the world needs right now; forward-thinking, interdisciplinary, environmentally conscious, and capable of the kind of complex thinking our rapidly changing society needs. Wherever you choose to start your career, you'll be in demand.

    We're eighth in the UK for civil engineering, according to the Times Good University Guide 2022, and the Complete University Guide 2022. Our research is internationally recognised, and we work closely with industry and government to ensure that our research has real world impact.

    Entry requirements

    Minimum 2:1 undergraduate honours degree (BEng, MEng, or BSc) in civil or structural engineering or another appropriate engineering or science subject.

    You will need a strong background and high previous performance (equivalent to 2:1) in at least one maths module (e.g. mathematics, statistics, linear algebra, calculus) and at least one water engineering-related module.

    We'll consider your application if you have appropriate professional qualifications and work experience, but you'll need a strong background in the areas covered on the course.

    We also consider a wide range of international qualifications:

    Entry requirements for international students

    Overall IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or equivalent.

    Pathway programme for international students

    If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for a pre-masters programme in Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

    Fees and funding

    Water bursary

    Full-time home students on our MSc may be eligible for financial support.


    You can apply now using our Postgraduate Online Application Form. It's a quick and easy process.

    Apply now


    +44 114 222 5711

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.