Hydrogeology MSc

Start date
1 year full-time, 2 years part-time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Taught

£10,530 FT (UK students)
£29,340 (International Students)
More detail


The Birmingham Hydrogeology MSc is the longest-running groundwater MSc course in the UK. Our alumni comprise a large proportion of the groundwater professionals in the UK and many more in another 50 or so countries, all contributing significantly to both human and environmental well-being.

The course provides students with a comprehensive education in the fundamentals of groundwater science and engineering, together with considerable industry involvement, thus equipping graduates with the skills to tackle any groundwater problem they may be faced with, anywhere in the world.

Why is hydrogeology important?

Hydrogeology is the study of groundwater. Groundwater represents by far the largest volume of freshwater on Earth at any one point in time. It plays a vital role in the environment, provides a major – often the only - water resource for a significant proportion of the world’s population, and often is the dominant factor in determining rock and soil engineering strength. Hence, groundwater is an essential component for national infrastructure globally. All major civil engineering and environmental projects require the input of hydrogeologists. It is also becoming increasingly important in the context of geoenergy. As a vital resource, groundwater requires management and protection, not least from over-abstraction, contamination, and emerging problems including climate change. Employment is available in the UK and overseas, often with consultants, governments and regulators, and research organisations. Jobs are varied and challenging. 

Why join our Course?

The Course was established in the early 1970s by Professor John Lloyd. Having now been running for over 50 years, it is the longest-running groundwater MSc course in the UK, and possibly internationally.

Professor John Tellam talks about MSc Hydrogeology course

As a result, its alumni comprise a large proportion of the groundwater professionals in the UK, and the Course has supplied professionals to more than 50 countries. It has, therefore, a very close and mutually beneficial relationship with industry, with over 40 external organisations (consultancies, regulators, research institutes, universities, and water companies) being involved each year through projects, guest lectures, seminars, mini-courses, fieldwork, prizes and scholarships, provision of software, and careers education.

Over its 50 year history, the Course has changed considerably, keeping in step with latest research and technological advancement in the subject. The Course syllabus is periodically reviewed by a panel of experts from industry to ensure that it provides the skillsets required by industry and academia.

The employment record for the Course is excellent. Demand for hydrogeologists is substantial and students from the Course are highly regarded by employers. It also provides an excellent foundation for research, and a significant proportion of graduates go on to take PhD studies.

The small class size means we get a lot of opportunities to ask questions and be well looked after regarding focused learning and extra teaching. Also, I really appreciate the variation in types of learning. It's hard to get bored when your classes are cycling from inorganic chemistry to deriving equations to hydrological processes.

Corine Oggel, MSc Hydrogeology alumna

Why study this course?

The aims of our Hydrogeology MSc course are to provide students with:

  • a comprehensive education in the fundamentals of groundwater science and engineering
  • considerable practical experience

Upon graduation, students are able to tackle any groundwater problem that they may be faced with, no matter what the context - water resources, eco-environment, contamination, engineering, waste disposal, or geoenergy (or geographical) location.

Who will you study with?

The optimal number of students is around 25.  This allows sufficient time to be spent by staff on individual students, but still gaining the important interactions arising from larger groups of diverse backgrounds, including different subjects, countries and therefore legislative systems, and professional experiences.  Overseas students comprise 20-50% of the group, and originate in all parts of the world. Though, as with any one-year MSc course, the work is intensive, the group spirit is invariably inclusive and supportive, and we encourage students to learn from each other as well as from the staff and external speakers.

Most students will have little or no experience in groundwater employment, but some will have been working for a range of different types of employer. For students without working experience, we help them transition into professional careers. For those with experience, we help them advance their technical and other professional capabilities, and in particular broaden their capabilities into areas that they may not have encountered in their previous employment.

Course Timing, Length, and Basic Structure

The Course (180 credits) runs from late September to the end of August. The taught modules are split into two terms: Autumn (September to December) and Spring (January to March). During this period (September to March), the subject is developed through 120 credits of modules comprising lectures and practical sessions interspersed with activities such as fieldwork, seminars and at least one visit to a national hydrogeological meeting. The remaining 60 credits of the Course are provided by the individual Project undertaken between mid-May and the end of August.

There is a part-time option, the ‘split registration’ option, whereby students undertake the degree over two consecutive years.  In the first year, the Autumn term taught modules are taken on a full-time basis, and in the second year the Spring term modules are taken, again on a full-time basis. The project is taken over both years, being submitted by the end of August in the second year.

Deciding on Your Next Steps

If, after looking through this website, you would like to know more, the University organises postgraduate Open Days. If you would like to visit the University at other times, or simply talk to or email someone to discuss your possible application please contact the Course Leader, Professor John Tellam. If you would like to gain some work experience, please also contact John: sometimes opportunities exist, though usually only for applicants that have accepted offers for a place on the course.


Taught Modules

The Course modules are reviewed regularly to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research, and, by means of a panel of external specialists, satisfy the requirements of industry and academia. The modules contain what the industry panel view to be necessary coverage for groundwater professionals. There are thus no optional modules, though specialisation is possible when undertaking the project. 

Almost all modules have practical classes integrated into the teaching sessions.  These are problem-solving sessions, usually often involving calculations, and are supervised by lecturers, in some cases supported by demonstrators. 

Groundwater Hydraulics (20 credits) [Autumn Term]

Aims: To develop a working understanding of

  • the physical processes controlling groundwater movement and solute transport
  • the mathematical models used to describe these processes
  • the laboratory and field hydraulic tests available to characterise the subsurface hydraulically.

Delivery: The module combines lectures, practicals, computer, fieldwork, and laboratory work. 

Assessment: By examination (50%; groundwater flow and solute transport theory) and assessed exercise (50%; hydraulic property assessment)

Surface Water and Groundwater Interactions - Theory, GIS and Programming (20 credits) [Autumn Term]

Aims: To develop

  • a quantitative understanding of the physical processes occuring at the ground surface boundary to groundwater systems
  • GIS skills for advanced mapping, data processing and in aid of numerical modelling
  • programming skills, which are then applied to solve practical problems using the theory introduced in this and other modules.

Delivery: Through lectures and practicals.

Assessment: By two assessed exercises, one on hydrological investigations and the other, working in teams, on the development of a basic groundwater code using Python.

Borehole Design, Construction and Maintenance (10 credits) [Autumn Term]

Aim: To develop a working understanding of the theory and practice of the design, construction and maintenance of boreholes, including pump choice and borehole geophysics.

Delivery: Through lectures and practical sessions, two thirds of which are taught by an external, industry-based lecturer. [Note that this module is formally combined for administrative purposes with the Inorganic Chemistry and Groundwater module into one 20 credit module.]

Assessment: By two assessed exercises, one developing a borehole design given a client requirement, and the other developing an interpretation of a suite of borehole geophysical logs.

Inorganic Chemistry and Groundwater (10credits) [Autumn Term]

Aim: To develop a working understanding of aqueous inorganic chemistry appropriate to facilitate interpretation of groundwater chemistry data sets to solve problems relating to regional groundwater flow, groundwater contamination, and well design.

Delivery: Through lectures and practical and computer modelling sessions, with some fieldwork. [Note that this module is formally combined for administrative purposes with the Borehole Design, Construction and Maintenance module into one 20 credit module.]

Assessment: By examination covering the analysis and interpretation of water sample compositions.

Groundwater Organic Contaminant Pollution and Remediation (20 credits) [Spring Term]

Aim: To develop a working understanding of

  • contaminant sources; toxicology, environmental standards, and example legislative drivers
  • organic compound behaviour (phase partitioning, reaction) in the subsurface and how it can be evaluated quantitatively
  • groundwater contaminant risk assessment and remediation scheme design, including monitoring design.

Delivery: Through lectures and practical sessions, with fieldwork. A significant contribution on practice is provided by guest lecturers from industry remediation and groundwater monitoring specialist organisations.

Assessment: By the devleopment of a report of the analysis of a particular contamination scenario, from conceptual model development through to monitoring design and remediation option evaluation.

Groundwater Flow Modelling (10 credits) [Spring Term]


  • to develop a working understanding of groundwater flow modelling
  • to refine skills in conceptualising groundwater systems from limited data
  • to gain practice in use of professional groundwater flow modelling software
  • to produce technical reports of professional standard.

Delivery: All lectures and practicals are held in a specialised teaching computer cluster. A combination of group work and individual work, small group tutorials and online support are provided to aid the development of skills. The software is supplied free to students for the year for use also on their own machines by Stantec. [Note that, formally, this module is combined with Contaminant Transport Modelling to form one 20-credit module.]

Assessment: By coursework - the development and calibration of a groundwater flow model.

Contaminant Transport Modelling (10 credits) [Spring Term]


  • to develop a working understanding of contaminant transport modelling
  • to gain practice in use of professional solute transport groundwater modelling software
  • to produce modelling reports of professional standard.

Delivery: Similar to the Groundwater Flow Modelling Module including lectures, practicals, group work, individual work, tutorials and online support. [Note that, formally, this module is combined with Groundwater Flow Modelling to form one 20-credit module.]

Assessment: By coursework - the development, calibration, and application of a solute transport model.

Further Topics (10 credits) [Spring Term]

Aim: To develop an understanding of important, more advanced aspects of groundwater science and engineering, including: further unsaturated zone flow theory and practice; further exploration of recharge estimation; variable density flow theory and practice; and fracture flow theory and practice.

Delivery: By lectures and practical exercises. [Formally, this module forms 50% of a 20-credit module including also Water Resources Studies.]

Assessment:  By coursework.

Water Resources Studies (10 credits) [Spring Term]


  • to develop an understanding of how hydrogeological assessments are structured
  • to develop ability in hydrogeological interpretation and water resources assessment for different geological settings, climates, and socio-economic requirements
  • to develop an understanding of how the various aspects of hydrogeological investigation are integrated
  • to provide an introduction to the hydrogeological research and industry community
  • to enhance technical writing and presentation skills.

Delivery: Tutorials, team working, and a visit to a national groundwater scientific conference. [Formally, this module forms 50% of a 20-credit module including also Further Topics.]

Assessment: Students work in teams to produce a report on particular hydrogeological environments, and present their findings to their colleagues in a day of talks. 

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


Fees for 2024/25

  • Code 0074: UK students £10,530 FT
  • Code 0076: UK students £5,265 PT
  • Code 0074: International students £29,340 FT only

Learn more about fees and funding.

Are you an international applicant?

All international applicants to this course will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of £2,000 on receipt of an offer, to secure their place.

Find out more about the deposit >>.

Temporary employment opportunities

Sometimes employers are able to offer temporary employment to students who have secured a place on the MSc Hydrogeology course in September.

Please contact the Course Lead, Professor John Tellam for current information.

Scholarships and bursaries

Birmingham Masters Scholarship

We are offering over 200 awards of £2,000 to support the brightest and best applicants wishing to undertake Masters study at the University during 2024-2025.

Find out more and apply now  

Postgraduate Progression Award

Our Postgraduate Progression Awards offer final year undergraduates at the University of Birmingham a fee discount of £1,500 for postgraduate taught study.

Find out more and apply now  

Course-Specific Scholarships

Water Conservation Trust Scholarships

The Water Conservators, the London livery company, have offered a scholarship against fees for many years, and this is usually split between a small number of applicants. In addition, the Water Conservators offer a project support scholarship and a project prize. Applications are welcomed for the Scholarship: please use the linked form.  If you have any questions, please contact John Tellam, the course tutor (j.h.tellam@bham.ac.uk).  

BHS, JBA Trust and the Environment Agency - Hydrology Studentship

There is usually a small number of Hydrology studentships from BHS, JBA Trust and the Environment Agency available, and applications will be advertised at some stage.  Awards are anticipated to be between £2,000 and £2,500 depending on the number and quality of applicants. Details are on the BHS-JBA Trust website

SRK Consulting Scholarship

A competitive Scholarship has often been offered by SRK Consulting (UK) Ltd, a major groundwater consultancy company. Further details are available here.

The Geospatial Scholarship Fund, ESRI UK

The Geospatial Scholarship Fund supports both undergraduate and postgraduate study of geography and geoscience. ESRI UK have previously offered a Masters Award of £20,000 (full time 1 year masters) to study within the disciplines of geography or geoscience in previous years, and funding may become available again for 2024 course entry.​ Please see ESRI UK's website for announcements and details.

Non-Course-Specific Scholarships

Our  funding database contains details of postgraduate taught and research scholarship and funding opportunities available to support your studies at the University of Birmingham.

International Students

International students can often gain funding through overseas scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Further Information

For further information contact the Course Lead, Professor John Tellam or get in touch with the Funding, Graduation & Awards via the online enquiries system.

How To Apply

International students requiring visas

26th July 2024 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2024 made after this date; a new application will need to be made for September 2025.

UK students

31 August 2024 is the application deadline for UK students. We are not able to consider applications for 2024 made after this date; a new application will need to be made for September 2025.

Making your application

伯明翰大学水文地质硕士专业中文宣传页文档下载 (For Chinese applicants, an additional leaflet in Chinese is available for download)

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements


At least an upper second class honours degree in a relevant subject is normally required, but we will consider alternative qualifications and experience.

Hydrogeology encompasses a broad range of subject matter, from geology, through hydraulics, to aqueous and non-aqueous chemistry. As a result, practicing hydrogeologists have a wide range of backgrounds, and hence we welcome applicants with a wide range of first degree subjects, including geosciences (e.g. Earth Sciences, Geology, Geophysics, Geography, Environmental Sciences, Hydrogeology, Hydrology, Water Resources, and Mining), Engineering (e.g. Civil Engineering, Hydraulic Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Groundwater Engineering, Agricultural Engineering, and Chemical Engineering), and other sciences (e.g. Physics, Mathematics, Computer Sciences, Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Biosciences).


An upper school training in mathematics (e.g., for the UK, AS, A-level, or Scottish Higher in Mathematics) or an equivalent in your degree course covering basic calculus is more than sufficient. However, if, like a significant minority of our students, you do not have such qualifications, we can send you details for undertaking appropriate pre-course mathematics tuition, and you can participate in our revision sessions on mathematics. The mathematics level we, and the profession, require is not high, but is important to meet: if you have any questions, or would like a copy of the topics that you need to have some familiarity with, please contact the Course Leader, Professor John Tellam.

Learn more about entry requirements.

International Requirements

International Students

English language requirements

Standard English language requirements apply (IELTS: 6.0 overall with no less than 5.5 in any band)

  • IELTS 6.0 with no less than 5.5 in any band
  • TOEFL: 80 overall with no less than 19 in Reading, 19 in Listening, 21 in Speaking and 19 in Writing
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) including online: Academic 64 with no less than 59 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced – minimum overall score of 169, with no less than 162 in any component


The first part of the MSc year consists of two teaching terms (Autumn and Spring) when 120 credits of modules are taught and accessed. These cover all the basics of groundwater science and engineering, the syllabus of which is reviewed periodically by our industry review panel including representatives of consultancy companies, water companies, regulators, and government institutes. There are no optional modules, as the review panel views all the subjects covered as essential. The remainder of the year is taken up with a 60 credit project.  This is chosen by you from an extensive list, different each year, a significant proportion being with external organisations.

In many countries, MSc courses are run over two years. Having a one-year MSc course, as is standard in the UK, means that the year will be intensive. However, the students almost all rise to the challenge, and benefit from working closely with staff and especially with their colleagues. The group is usually characterised by a very diverse set of skills and experience, and staff encourage students to make the most of this: hydrogeology is a wide-ranging subject, and no one can be an expert in all areas.

Contact time

On average around 20 hours per week, but you will be expected to engage in other work, including completing assigned coursework.

Virtual learning and teaching materials

Considerable use is made of the University’s ‘virtual learning environment’, Canvas, and this is the portal for lecture recordings, lecture presentations, practicals, assessments, feedback, and useful publications and resources.

Academic tutor scheme

You will be assigned a lecturer on the Course as your academic tutor throughout the year. You will have many opportunities to meet your tutor throughout the year to discuss any issues you wish, academic and personal.


Assessment of the taught modules is by a combination of examinations and coursework. Examinations are held for those Autumn Term modules that are not entirely assessed by coursework in January. The Spring Term modules are all assessed by coursework to be completed before mid-May.

For list of Taught Modules please see the Taught modules section.

Module Support Activities

  • Seminar series

    A programme of seminars runs through the second half of the Autumn Term and the whole of the Spring Term. Speakers come from the groundwater industry, including representatives from consultancies, water companies, regulators, research organisations, and humanitarian aid organisations. Topics vary widely across Hydrogeology, including water resources, contaminants, engineering, and geoenergy. These sessions will also provide you with an insight into the work undertaken by different types of organisations and into the various possible career pathways.
  • Optional Mathematics sessions

    There are additional supporting sessions at the start of the year on mathematical concepts relevant to the Course.
  • Conference

    The group attends a national groundwater research meeting where you will be able to gain an idea of current thought and work in particular areas. Usually the conference is one held by the Geological Society of London Hydrogeology Group in association with the International Association of Hydrogeologists at the Geological Society in London.
  • Careers Day

    A careers event is held each year. At this, around 20 companies visit the University and set up stalls for the students to visit. Many companies send us job advertisements, and these are circulated to the students throughout the year. (For details of employment, please see the Employability section.


Hydrogeology MSc fieldworkA week of fieldwork is undertaken in the Autumn Term in support of several of the modules.  This involves excursions to various types of site of hydrogeological interest, and the development of field skills.  In 2021/22, for example, we visited:

  • a major river augmentation scheme run by the Environment Agency
  • aquifer outcrop to study issues of heterogeneity
  • a wetland
  • a landfill site (Severn Waste)
  • a water treatment site (Coal Authority)
  • a slope failure site
  • a karst aquifer (including a visit underground)

In addition, two days are spent working on the Campus borehole facility undertaking:

  • pumping tests
  • slug tests
  • laboratory permeability tests
  • chemical sampling


Projects are chosen from a list of around 70 topics suggested by the staff and outside organisations. We are also happy to consider projects of your own devising: sometimes, for example, if you are already in employment, you may wish to undertake a project associated with the job you will return to.

Whether the project is based with an external organisation, e.g. a consultancy or a government body, or based within the University, you will be set a problem to solve, and will tackle this with guidance from supervisors from both the University and the external organisation where relevant. Projects in industry are thus purposely not placements, though in some cases the student may work at the offices of the collaborating organisation.

Projects may involve laboratory work, fieldwork, or computer work, but often a combination is required.

Most projects are applied in nature, typical of consultancy work. Others are more research-oriented. Examples of recent projects include:

  • Hydrogeology-focused aid workAid work, including the investigation of the aquifer supplying the Cox’s Bazar Rohingya refugee camp, Bangladesh (with Groundwater Relief & Groundwater Science, and travel supported by the International Association of Hydrogeologists), and groundwater resources at refugee camps in Uganda and Sudan (both with Groundwater Relief)
  • Investigation of manufactured nanoparticle movement through porous media using magnetic susceptibility and modelling (staff research)
  • Developing numerical models for assessment and development of pump-and-treat remediation of a major contaminant plume (with Geosyntec)
  • Developing a quantitative understanding of the groundwater flow system supplying the ecologically important Lough Gur, Ireland (with Trinity College, Dublin)
  • Arsenic in groundwaters in Devon (with Groundwater Relief)
  • Developing understanding of karst flow systems using tracer tests in Carboniferous Limestone, northern England (staff research)
  • Assessing water qualityDeveloping understanding and models for mine impacts on groundwater systems (derogation, slope stability) in various locations including the UK, Finland, Zambia, Dominican Republic, and Ireland (with Hafren Water, Imerys, Piteau, SRK, Wardell-Armstrong)
  • Evaluating the groundwater systems supplying a major bottled water supplier (with Wood)
  • Water resource and water quality assessments in English Chalk systems (with Affinity Water and Thames Water)
  • Assessment of mathematical tools for mine groundwater investigation (with SRK)
  • Developing models of shallow and deep groundwater systems above an environmentally monitored potential fracking site (with the British Geological Survey)
  • Assessing the impact of climate change on groundwater recharge in the UK and in northern Nigeria (student links)
  • Designing a field nitrate removal porous medium reactor (with Stephen Buss Environmental Consulting Ltd) and investigating ferric oxide precipitation rates (Holymoor Consultancy)
  • Assessing sandstone aquifers of Northwest EnglandPalaeohydrogeological studies, including investigation of the potential for fresh groundwater resource development below the English Channel and the impact of sub-ice flow on saline groundwater distributions in the sandstone aquifers of Northwest England (staff research)
  • Evaluating sustainability of urban groundwater systems, particularly identifying contaminant sources geochemically; developing generic models to investigate urban aquifer sustainability; and evaluating specific cities (e.g. with the National University of Malaysia)
  • Quantifying the biodegradation of organic contaminants at specific sites (with Geosyntec and GroundH2Oplus).


An important facility is the MSc room, the 'home' of the MSc course. Many of your lectures will be held in this room, and it is available to the MSc group only at all other times for single and group study. It is equipped with six PCs set up with both specialised and general purpose software. 

In addition, extensive departmental and University facilities are available for use during the year, and especially during project work.  These include:

  • Fieldwork facilities

    We are very fortunate in having two borehole arrays on campus for use by MSc students. The arrays of boreholes are drilled into the underlying sandstone aquifer to depths of up to 60m. They are used extensively in the MSc fieldweek, and also for developing techniques during project work. We have the extensive mains, hoses, pumps, packer systems, and well-head chemistry analysis equipment required for borehole experimentation. Geophysical equipment is also available for project work (EM, GPR, seismic refraction, and resistivity imaging).
  • Computer facilities

    The University computer clusters all have an extensive range of software installed that covers the common needs of students of all disciplines.  However, the School-based PCs, both in the Earth Sciences teaching computer cluster and in the MSc room, are also equipped with specialist software packages used routinely by professional hydrogeologists. Students can install a range of software for free on their own computers during their time at the University, including the specialist groundwater professional software used in the Course (generously supplied by Stantec) as well as general purpose software including Microsoft Office, ArcGIS, and MATLAB. The University high speed BlueBEAR computing facility is available if your individual project requires high power computing. Research software developed within the School is also available.
  • Chemical analysis facilities

    The School is well-equipped for inorganic and organic chemical analysis of field and laboratory experiment samples. Facilities include: total organic carbon analysis, gas chromatography, ICP-MS, ICP-OES, ion chromatography, stable isotope mass spectrometry, and UV/visible spectroscopy. All these, and well-head field analysis equipment, are available for use in projects.
  • Petrographic facilities

    Facilities are also available within the School and elsewhere for geological material analysis, including thin section preparation and microscopy, a wide range of electron microscopy techniques, XRD, pore-size distribution determination, and surface area measurement.
  • Laboratories

    Both chemical and general purpose laboratories are available for MSc projects.  In addition to standard facilities, these include specialist equipment for sample saturation, permeability measurement, nanoparticle analysis, and anaerobic experimentation.


Throughout the world, the issues of water scarcity, water security, water economics, water health and sanitation, engineering, and geoenergy all rely on high-quality hydrogeology knowledge. Hence graduates with an MSc in Hydrogeology are in significant demand. In the UK, for example, Hydrogeologists are on the Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List and currently (September 2022) there are far more groundwater job opportunities than can be filled in the UK. Many companies send their job opportunities to be circulated to our students (past as well as present) and each year we run a careers day when around 20 companies visit the University to meet students.

Employment Record of the Course and Destinations of Graduates

The employment record for the Course is excellent. We would normally expect all students to obtain employment in the groundwater industry. Graduates take up careers mainly in groundwater or engineering consultancy companies, in the UK and abroad. Some join regulators (e.g. in England, the Environment Agency), or government scientific services (e.g. in the UK the British Geological Survey). Many take up PhD opportunities and move into research. Others obtain employment within humanitarian aid organisations or energy companies. Currently, demand is even greater than usual, and all our studnts have obtained jobs months before the end of the course.

Graduates provide a vital role in the development, protection, and remediation of groundwater, and in the management of groundwater in engineering and energy contexts. They include many in senior industrial, academic, and governmental positions, in the UK and overseas. A number have won national and international awards for their contributions to the understanding of groundwater. Many volunteer - from around 40 organisations - to contribute their expertise and get involved with the Course each year.

Recent destinations of students include:  AECOM; Affinity Water; Arcadis; Arup; Atkins Global; B.A.Hydro Solutions; BCL; British Geological Survey; Envireau Water; Environment Agency; Geosyntec; Golder; Groundwater Relief; Groundwater Science; GWP; Hafren Water; Hydrock; IE Consulting; Jacobs; MJCA; Mott-MacDonald; Piteau; RSK; SRK; Stantec; universities in UK and overseas; Wardell-Armstrong; Wood; WSP; and overseas governmental organisations in the Middle East and Asia especially. 


Some consultancies are UK-based, but many are international and/or undertake work internationally. Some are small concerns, others very large businesses with offices throughout the world. Although some consultancy companies specialise, many undertake a very wide range of groundwater-related work providing consultants with interestingly varied careers. Thus companies may be purely groundwater consultants, general environmental consultants, or engineering consultants with environmental and geotechnical divisions; companies may tackle all groundwater problems, or be specialists, for example in water resources, contaminants and waste disposal, geotechnics, mining, or energy. Work may thus be concerned with a wide range of client problems, anywhere in the world. Examples include:

  • siting large public or irrigation or industrial supply wells for water supply anywhere in the world
  • siting village wells in hard rock terrains in a developing country, or developing major groundwater supplies for large refugee camps
  • developing catchment protection measures for vulnerable groundwater supplies like public water supplies or bottled water plants
  • assessing the effects of future stresses on public or private water supplies, including the impacts of climate change
  • contaminated land assessment
  • designing and implementing schemes for remediation of contaminated groundwater
  • designing landfill sites and associated monitoring networks
  • developing regulator procedures and assessment techniques, from source protection protocols to unconventional hydrocarbon development evaluations
  • designing radioactive waste disposal facilities
  • assessing wetland or archaeological site vulnerability to abstraction or mining
  • determining groundwater pressures and flows for engineering projects, including for tunnels, slopes, and foundations
  • designing and developing mine dewatering and water supply systems
  • developing mine restoration plans
  • designing geothermal systems, from individual building space heating to regional electrical supplies.

The vast majority of jobs undertaken by consultants, by their nature, are far from routine, each presenting its own challenges. Many companies are multi-disciplinary, and there is often opportunity to widen further your environmental experience and skills whilst maintaining your specialist expertise.

Research Organisations

In research organisations, e.g. universities or governmental services, you may get involved in a very wide range of projects including ones in water resources in developing countries, assessing emerging contaminants, engineering, hydrocarbons, geoenergy, carbon sequestration, climate change and various types of waste disposal. In addition, groundwater skills are important for research in many geological fields, from diagenesis, mineralisation, and taphonomy, through structural geology and ice sheet movement, to climate change.


In a regulator, e.g. a governmental environmental protection agency, you may find yourself becoming an expert on the hydrogeology of your region, making sure that the groundwater systems are protected for future generations by issuing licences for abstractions or waste facilities or, often partly through commissioning work from consultants, developing new national procedures and policies, and techniques for implementing them. This will often require detailed knowledge of national legislation.

Water Providers

Water providers, either private water companies or governmental organisations, also employ hydrogeologists who may undertake work ranging from source maintenance and protection to researching new ways of developing existing resources to designing regional or national water resource provision.