River Delta Development

1.5-year master in English, starts in September, Middelburg | Velp | Rotterdam

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.

The three universities of applied sciences are: 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.

This programme is in the process of being approved by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). 

Programme structure

A view of the study programme

Unique 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).

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.

Working method

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.

Close involvement workfield

A significant driving force behind the development of the River Delta Development Master’s programme is the demand in the field for facilitators of change: professionals who think and work in constructive, integrated ways, have the knowledge of transitional processes, and can create connections within the water sector and beyond. The field makes it clear that this degree programme is meeting this societal need:

  • by providing educated professionals who can implement their knowledge in an international setting for the function of delta systems and the Dutch delta approach;
  • by the connection between professorships and research centres at the three universities of applied sciences and the option for multidisciplinary collaboration in Living Labs;
  • by the link with initiatives from the government, the business community, education, and science (including the Delta Programme, Human Capital Agenda Water, the Dutch National Research Agenda, the Centre of Expertise Delta Technology, and the Delta Technology Knowledge and Innovation Agenda of the Dutch water sector).

The work field itself is closely involved in the design and content of the Master’s programme, including via participation in the Living Labs. The format of the Master’s programme (1 lecture day and 4 project days each week) provides prospective employees with optimum preparation for positions such as consultants, project leaders, environmental managers, directors, regional managers, and policy staff members.

Expertise of the 3 institutions

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.

Learn more about the expertises

Lecturer Team

The best possible guidance

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.


An indication of the subjects you can expect
5 days classes per week
12 self-study hours per week

After your study programme

Different possibilities

After your graduation

The River Delta Development Master’s programme is currently in the process of being approved by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO). After successfully completing the degree programme, you will receive a Master of Science (MSc) diploma.

With your degree, you will receive a supplement, a DS-label. With this English document, you can show the value of your degree abroad when applying for other study programmes or when applying for a job.


Where will you study?

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.

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