Water pump in an African village


Why this course?

Throughout the globe, the issues of water scarcity, water security, water economics and health and sanitation all rely on high-quality hydrogeology knowledge. This MSc will prepare you as a functional hydrogeologist to meet the needs of:

  • industry
  • regulators
  • non-governmental organisations
  • government
  • consultants

The course provides you with the theoretical and practical skills to succeed in a career as a hydrogeologist. You’ll develop sound fieldwork skills which are sought-after by employers.

You’ll study

The MSc involves a curriculum of eight core classes and a range of optional classes. Each module is taught two to three hours per week over eight to 11 weeks.

Alternatively, the Open Access programme allows professionals to take single modules for Continuous Professional Development (CPD) purposes, or build up towards six modules to gain a Postgraduate Certificate.

MSc research project

Following successful completion of the taught component, you’ll undertake a thesis project. We encourage you to complete this overseas. Our MSc course leader has extensive contacts in arid countries such as Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, the Middle East and Asia, giving you valuable, varied learning opportunities and practical experience around the world.

Field camp

In the spring semester you go on a week-long field camp in Scotland. You’ll get the opportunity to put much of the learned theory into practice.

Site visits introduce you to the geology and hydrogeology of the study area. You’ll gain practical experience in conducting pump tests, recovery tests and chemical sampling.

Work placement

As part of the class Independent Study in Collaboration with Industry you undertake a work placement where you report to the offices of a hydrogeological organisation and actively contribute to one of their ongoing projects.

This is a very valuable experience for you as it allows you to work as hydrogeologists for a number of weeks exposing yourself to a working environment as well as allowing you to build up contacts within industry.


One year full-time study involves attendance at classes over two terms, plus a dissertation during the third term. 

Part-time (open to UK/EU students only) involves class attendance in Years 1 & 2 and a dissertation in Years 2 or 3. Depending on timetables, just two days work release per week may be needed for 24 weeks in the year. 

You can also study this course part-time through online distance learning, over 36 months, offering a flexible learning mode of study.


Our £6 million state-of-the-art laboratory facilities are well-equipped with high-technological instrumentation and available space to investigate:

  • environmental & molecular microbiology
  • environmental chemistry
  • analytical chemistry
  • geomechanics & soil quality
  • structural design & material science

Teaching staff

The Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Strathclyde has one of the strongest Geo-Engineering focus of any related department in the UK.


This degree is accredited as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for a Chartered Engineer (CEng) for candidates who have already acquired a partial CEng accredited undergraduate first degree.

For further information, visit the Joint Board of Moderators website.

Industrial placement

You've the opportunity to undertake a work placement class where you’ll work with a hydrogeological organisation and actively contribute to one of their ongoing projects.

Flexible learning

Home students can also choose to study through Flexible Learning. This is initially a non-graduating route. You register for one module at a time and have the option to build up credits eventually leading to a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or MSc. You can take up to five years to achieve the qualification.

This option is popular with students in employment, who may wish to undertake modules for Continuing Professional Development purposes.

Home students who do not meet the normal MSc entry requirements for this programme are welcome to apply through the Flexible Learning route.

Course content

Compulsory classes

Aquifer Mechanics

The class covers the areas of:

  • Hydrogeology and Subsurface Fluid Flow
  • Well Hydraulics and Pumping Tests
  • Contaminant Transport in the Subsurface
  • Real-world applications of Hydrogeology
Contaminated Land

Within the background of land redevelopment (residential, industrial/commercial and gardens/parks), this class aims to provide insights into the remediation of contaminated land, including the regulatory framework and risk assessment, sampling & analysis, and various remedial techniques for contaminated land.

Global Water Policy

 This class aims to provide you with the ability to:

  • recognise the issues relating to overall global water policy and its interactions with other global issues
  • discuss the impact of climate change and economic development on water resources and availability
  • explore the different implementation issues based on regional case studies
  • explore the role of stakeholders on the acceptance and achievement of policy objectives
Groundwater Flow Modelling

 This class provides you with an understanding of:

  • Groundwater Flow Modelling Principals
  • Well Hydraulics and Pumping Tests Analysis using Groundwater Flow Models
  • Contaminant Transport Modelling
  • Geochemical Modelling 
Qualitative & Quantitative Research Methods

Students will acquire familiarity with, and practice of, research techniques, and examine different ways of, and gain experience in, presenting research results.

The class discusses the key principles, and practical exercises, on both quantitative and qualitative research methods, including survey methods, interviewing techniques, use of census data and statistical methods. The class also includes discussion of ethical issues. Finally, there is dissertation-related teaching on choosing a research question and a research method, and writing a research proposal. This is a semester 1 and 2 class but meetings do not happen every week.

Environmental Chemistry
The class will provide you with the basic concepts of chemical analysis relevant to the environment, establish outline knowledge of a range of common analytical techniques and issues surrounding sample collection and handling.
Site Investigation & Risk Assessment

This class explores the complete sequence of a site investigation:

  1. Desk study
  2. Site sampling organisation and techniques
  3. Data collection
  4. Chemical analysis

The class also covers data modelling and interpretation using risk assessment models. 


This class, run by the Department of Civil Engineering, will help you to:

  • gain an understanding of Hydrogeology as a discipline
  • discuss and explore the physical mechanisms of water movement in the subsurface
  • undertake experiments in the lab that demonstrate key principals of groundwater movement
  • explore hydrogeological issues based on case studies

Elective classes

Note: all classes may not be offered each year

Environmental Impact Assessment

This class provides an introduction to the methods used to predict environmental impacts, and evaluates how these may be used to integrate environmental factors into decisions.

The class draws principally on the UK planning context of environmental impact assessment of individual projects (project EIA), but also takes account of EIA experience in other countries and international organisations.

Fundamentals of Environmental Forensics

This class provides you with an understanding of:

  • environmental forensics as a subject
  • a range of contaminants found in the environment, and their fate and transport
  • approach and analytical techniques to determine the responsible parties for contamination found in the environment
  • real-world applications of environmental forensics
Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
This practical-based classe provides a thorough introduction to the rapidly growing field of Geographical Information Science.

The class covers the key theoretical principles but also provides many computer-based exercises using current state-of-the-art Geographical Information Systems (GIS) – namely IDRISI and ArcGIS. The class evaluates how GIS can be used for spatial query and analysis, while at the same time assessing the quality and the effectiveness of the resultant products in terms of their use.
Independent Study in Collaboration with Industry

This class will allow students carrying out placements and projects with industry to develop and refine professional skills while gaining credits in the process.

One project will be the small or medium sized enterprise (SME) Carbon Audit that students carry out with training from Carbon Trust. A placement type project activity is another possibility, by individual agreement.

Approval of students being able to take this module would be done on case-by-case basis by MSc course leaders. You’ll be selected by competitive application and CV. 

Waste Management & Landfill Design
This class covers organisational and regulatory aspects of waste management practice in the UK: legislation, composition of domestic and industrial wastes, storage, collection, reception, and disposal of solid wastes, clinical wastes, sewage sludge disposal, recycling and recovery.
Water & Environmental Management
To develop an understanding of the physical, chemical and biological parameters within surface water and how these relate to water quality, water quality objectives and pollution control strategy. To provide knowledge on the design and process involved with the control of water and wastewater treatment.
Principles of Environmental Microbiology

This class, run by the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, introduces microbiology in a manner that is of practical importance in environmental engineering and science. Topics covered include:

  • the microbial ecology and microbiology of dilute nutrient solutions such as lakes, subsurface environmental and biological treatment processes
  • microbial physiology
  • biochemistry
  • biodegradation
  • public health aspects of microbiology
Engineering Hydrology

This class, run by the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, aims to explore the hydrological cycle and the influence of weather, climate and the key processes of the environment.

You'll develop application of hyrdological cycle for engineering analysis and design, including:

  • estimating precipitation, including spatial distribution analysis techniques
  • estimating evaporation and evapotranspiration
  • estimating other hydrological losses, including infiltration

You'll also develop skills examining catchments using Engineering Hydrology approaches, including:

  • analysing relationships between precipitation, runoff and storage
  • analysing hydrographs
  • examining the influence of urbanisation and land management practices
  • introducing drainage design techniques and analysis
  • sustainable urban drainage systems

Entry requirements

Normally, a first or upper second-class Honours degree from a UK university (or equivalent overseas qualification) in earth sciences, environmental sciences, civil engineering, environmental engineering, water engineering or other related disciplines.

Lower degree classifications might be considered if there is strength elsewhere (for example, relevant work experience, excellent final project/dissertation, very strong academic letter of reference, very strong application statement linking with career goals).

English language requirements

For candidates whose first language is not English, minimum standards of written and spoken English are an IELTS minimum overall band score of 6.5 (no individual test score below 5.5). Applicants with slightly lower scores have the opportunity to attend the University's Pre-Sessional English classes to bring them up to the required level.

Flexible learning

Alternative qualifications or professional experience may be considered by the course leader (home students only), depending on the module chosen. Find out more about Flexible Learning.

Pre-Masters preparation course

The Pre-Masters Programme is a preparation course for international students (non EU/UK) who do not meet the entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde. The Pre-Masters programme provides progression to a number of degree options.

To find out more about the courses and opportunities on offer visit isc.strath.ac.uk or call today on +44 (0) 1273 339333 and discuss your education future. You can also complete the online application form. To ask a question please fill in the enquiry form and talk to one of our multi-lingual Student Enrolment Advisers today.

Fees & funding

How much will my course cost?

All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise.


  • £5,500
  • £3,600 (Distance Learning)
  • £1,240 (per 10-credit module)

Rest of UK

  • £9,000*
  • £3,600 (Distance Learning)
  • £1,240 (per 10-credit module)

*Postgraduate taught engineering students domiciled in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channels Islands will receive a £3,000 scholarship towards the cost of their fees (applies only to students not already in receipt of any other fees scholarship).


  • £18,000
  • £3,600 (Distance Learning)
  • £1,240 (per 10-credit module)

How can I fund my course?

Scholarship search

Faculty of Engineering scholarships

The Faculty of Engineering is offering a substantial number of scholarships for international students with outstanding academic qualifications who are commencing their studies from September 2016. Students may be eligible for a scholarship towards their tuition fees of up £3,340 for the first year of their programme of study.

Take a look at a full list of scholarships available in the Faculty of Engineering.

Scottish students

Students living in Scotland can find out more about funding from the Student Awards Agency Scotland.

English students

Students ordinarily resident in England may be eligible to apply for a loan of up to £10,000 to cover their tuition fees and living costs.

Please note

The fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.


Graduates with an MSc in Hydrogeology are in very high demand as there is an expected shortage of hydrogeologists that will continue for the next decade.

Additionally, throughout the world, the issue of water scarcity, water security, water economics and health and sanitation all rely on high quality hydrogeology knowledge.

How much will I earn?

Starting salaries for a hydrogeologist typically range from £20,000 to £25,000 per year. Salaries for senior hydrogeologists range from £30,000 to £45,000 per year, while experienced professionals and managers can expect to earn £50,000 to £60,000 per year. Salaries tend to be higher in private companies/ consultancies than in the public sector.*

*Information is intended only as a guide.

Contact us


International students

Please upload copies of supporting documentation when submitting your online application (including full degree transcripts, CV and supporting statement). See 'Frequently asked Questions' for further details on documents and tuition fees. We advise applications are submitted in time to fulfil all academic and financial conditions by end July.

Home/EU students

When submitting your application, please upload copies of degree transcripts, CV, supporting statement and academic reference letters if available. Due to the limited number of home/EU places, a waiting list may operate for applications closer to the start of term.

Hydrogeology - Distance Learning

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2015, Mode of delivery: distance learning, part-time


Qualification: PG Diploma, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time


Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, part-time


Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, part-time

Hydrogeology - Distance Learning

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: distance learning, part-time


Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2017, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time

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