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River systems are under ever increasing pressure through the growing demands of water abstraction and hydroelectric power generation, and suffer recurrent disturbance through diffuse and point source pollutants, drought, flooding and channel modification.
The environmental management of rivers is required to mitigate the effects of these pressures. This requires a holistic understanding of how river systems are structured and function, and of how these systems have been altered by anthropogenic activities. To this end, the course will examine the interactions between climate, hydrology, geomorphology, ecology, biogeochemical cycling, water and habitat quality and biodiversity.
An important aspect of the training will be an understanding of how these interactions act at different spatial and temporal scales to influence the structure and function of ecosystems in running waters. This scientific and technical corpus will allow you to understand and quantify the consequences of natural and anthropogenic disturbance on river systems.
Using a combination of lectures, fieldwork, tutorials, laboratory classes, group projects and an individual research-based thesis, you will be provided with the necessary training and skills for a career in the successful environmental management of rivers, including techniques on assessing their status and approaches to rehabilitate and restore the condition of these globally threatened environments.
You will also gain training in legislation that is driving the environmental management of rivers worldwide. In particular, the EU Water Framework Directive provides an exceptionally strong driver, requiring all European member states to draw up river basin management plans to achieve 'good ecological status' by 2015. This is certain to create many career opportunities in the future.
This degree will provide direct postgraduate training for students interested in this career direction, as well as providing advanced-level training suitable for further PhD studies in water science.
We are fortunate at Birmingham in having a wide variety of staff within the Water Sciences Research Group with interests in rivers, particularly in the arena of hydroecology, and it is this expertise that will inform the teaching of the modules in River Environments and their Management.
Why study this course
The School is well supported and you will have the use of equipment and facilities appropriate to your work:
You will have access to the multiple clusters of PCs in the University Learning Centre and Library, and within the School. The MSc course in River Environments and their Management has its own dedicated room for teaching and study with 8 PCs for convenient access to email, web and on-line learning resources. The University based computers have an extensive range of software installed that covers the needs of students of all disciplines, including a variety of statistical packages for data analysis.
The School has specialized laboratories equipped for analysis of organic and inorganic environmental samples, as well as supporting experimental research. Within the Water Sciences and Freshwater Research Laboratories our analytical suite covers aqueous chemistry, from the major nutrients to organic pollutants and toxic heavy metals. Facilities include:
Total Organic Carbon analysis
Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry
Luminescence and UV-visible spectroscopy
These facilities are complemented by Sediment Preparation Laboratories for material analysis including thin section prep, sediment extractions, pore size and surface area measurement and electron microscopy techniques.
The School’s Stable Isotope Laboratories are equipped for d18O, dD, d34S, d15N, d13C extracted from solid, aqueous and biological samples. For ecological work there are dedicated wet and dry microscope laboratories for sorting and identifying samples with a dedicated paleoecological laboratory for sample treatment and analysis. The Microbiological Laboratory is equipped for handling, incubation and sampling of bacterial cultures and sophisticated micro-analysis.
These facilities are available for your regular use, where you will benefit from working alongside Doctoral and Postdoctoral Research Fellows, and often contribute to major research projects within the School.
The School has a field sites on campus for use by MSc students and the research staff. This is the Bournbrook which flows through campus but is instrumented for continual measurement of discharge, turbidity, water temperature and conductivity. A number of student projects and teaching are related to this facility.
The Water Sciences Research Group is well stocked with field equipment, which is used extensively in research projects, for teaching, and particularly on individual MSc projects. This equipment includes digital pressure transducers, data loggers, divers, dip meters, chemical sampling and tracer transport equipment (depth samplers, sampling pumps, tracer test equipment and field fluorimeter, hand held EC, pH and Eh meters, portable chemical lab kit) and ecological sampling (nets, trays, electro-fishing).
Fieldwork is supported by a well-equipped technical workshop.
We have a dedicated technician for support of projects related to the Masters in River Environments and their Management.
Modules are taught over the entire semester allowing for development of ideas and additional reading. Modules are also open to occasional students:
Groundwater and Surface Water Interactions (10 credits)
Surface Water Hydrology (10 credits)
River Ecology (10 credits)
Fluvial Geomorphology (10 credits)
Biogeochemical Cycling (10 credits)
Advances in Water Sciences (10 credits)
River Restoration (10 credits)
Water Quality Management (10 credits)
Research and Management in Rivers (20 credits)
Environmental Analysis and Modelling (20 credits)
Research Thesis (60 credits)
Fees and funding
Standard fees apply - This programme is in fee band B for international students
Home/EU students £6,480 FT (£3,240 PT)
International students £17,960 FT only
Learn more about fees and funding
The British Hydrological Society and JBA Trust are delighted to announce that the MSc Studentship Award Scheme will be open for applications again in 2015. Now in its fifth year, the award scheme supports talented students wishing to pursue development of their academic experience and qualifications in hydrology and catchment management. Graduates of MSc courses play a vital part in the future management of the water environment.
The studentships (up to approximately £1,500) will be awarded to a small number of British students to help towards Master’s degree tuition costs at UK Higher Education Institutions.
Applications should be made using the dedicated online application website which will open on 1 June 2015.
The closing date for application is 16 August 2015.
Candidates will need to upload the following information:
Details of tertiary education
Details of the proposed MSc course
Any prizes or awards already received
A personal statement of up to 250 words stating why the applicant wishes to undertake the course and the significance of receiving funding from the BHS and JBA Trust
Two references, preferably at least one from an academic
International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.
For further information contact the School directly or get in touch with the Student Funding Office via the online enquiries system.
Normally a good Honours degree or equivalent in Geography or a related discipline.
Learn more about entry requirements
We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.
English language requirements
You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:
How to apply
When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages