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  • Program Syllabus 

2018 Program Syllabus PDF


List of modules

Foundation and integration modules

Specialisation modules

Each specialisation stream comprises two compulsory modules. Students choose one stream out of the three available specialisation streams. > Read more about available specialisation streams

Stream no.1 - 'WASH and development'

Stream no.2 - 'Urban water'

Stream no.3 - 'Water, land and people'

Final project

Foundation and integration modules

New perspectives on project management

This module provides participants with an overview of issues relating to integrated water management. This foundation module‚Äôs aim is for participants to understand, critique and engage creative thinking in relation to project management and to learn the skills necessary to professionally design and manage water projects in international development and Australian contexts. Key topics include: critical, creative and ethical approaches to project design and management; stakeholder and rights-holder identification and analysis; project management skills and tools; impact assessment; and the design of relevant monitoring and evaluation techniques. 


Science of water

This module introduces participants to some of the fundamental science which underpins the understanding of the whole of catchment water cycle, including water quality and water treatment for human consumption. The module introduces the physical, chemical and biological properties of water (physical and chemical), microbial and biogeochemical processes as well as concepts relating to the natural hydrological cycle and groundwater systems. The module also addresses the human uses of water including water quality and water treatment and highlights the dynamic relationship between human and natural aquatic systems. Key issues include: concepts and practice of integrated water resource management; principles of water science; and, whole-of-water-cycle approaches.


Water, sustainability and development

This module introduces participants to some of the key perspectives on water and sustainable development in developing countries. It analyses current international development thinking about sustainable development and its application to water and water resources. The module aims to foster an analytical and critical perspective on water and development, through critical dimensions such as livelihoods and poverty, gender, community participation, governance, political economy and collaborative stakeholder management.


Water governance and policy

In this Foundation module, participants are introduced to governance frameworks at the global/international, national, regional/basin, transboundary and local levels. Across five components of the module, participants consider current themes influencing water governance and policy including that of sustainable development, collaborative management, water rights and access, and equity for marginal groups. Water planning as a key governance mechanism at regional and basin levels form one of the components, with comparisons drawn between Australia and other countries.


Catchment and aquatic ecosystem health

This module provides participants with an in-depth understanding of the issues and challenges relating to the sustainable management of aquatic ecosystems. The study of aquatic ecosystem health is a relatively new field that brings together biophysical understandings of how natural systems function with societal goals and human values. A major challenge for society is to satisfy the growing demands for water without degrading aquatic ecosystems and the ecological goods and services they provide.


Economics for water resource management

This module explores a range of institutions involved in water management and both the theoretical and practical approaches to water planning and economics. Students will explore the roles and responsibilities of various water management stakeholder groups, be introduced to practical tools for effective water planning and learn the principles and frameworks governing water economics and finance. Topics include: planning and resource management instruments; water allocation; internal and external organisational governance arrangements; coordinating water and land use planning; water resources assessment; cost-benefit analysis; multi-criteria decision making; frameworks for stakeholders participation; pro-poor water governance and human rights to water; dispute resolution frameworks; multi-stakeholder privatisation contracts; trade in water services; bulk water exports. 


'WASH and development' modules

Community, livelihoods, development and water (summer semester in Thailand)

This module explores water, energy and development issues from the perspective of rural villagers living along the Mun River in Northeast Thailand, as well as from multiple stakeholders including government, academics and state enterprises. The module introduces participants to some of the current issues in water and development through a 10-day field trip to a rural community and community-based organisation (CBO) in the Mekong region. Participants travel to rural village communities in Khong Jiam in Northeast Thailand, where the Mun River meets the Meekong.

Read news article - 2015 field trip


Water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)

This specialist module is part of the 'WASH and development' stream and provides participants with an understanding of social, environmental, financial and technical principles and approaches to meeting the water supply, sanitation and hygiene needs of people in impoverished communities. These principles and approaches apply to impoverished people and communities in developing and emerging economic country contexts. Key topics: understanding the environmental health and wellbeing basis for work in this sector; understanding WASH inequalities and principles for WASH development; key principles, approaches and technologies for sanitation in different settings (urban, rural, informal settlements, schools), including the social dimensions of participation, shifting behaviours and management; principles and approaches to water supply including access, water quality, quantity, affordability, local management and sustainability; and hygiene promotion and behaviour change in different settings. 


Urban water' modules

Urban futures - delivering water sensitive cities

This module envisions and explores a new paradigm for how the hydrological cycle interacts with the urban landscape to support liveable, sustainable, productive and resilient cities. This module aims to provide participants with an interdisciplinary understanding of the interplay between society, technology and urban design to ensure water security, water resource efficiency, waterway health, flood mitigation, public health and amenity. Participants will critically engage with the underlying principles of a Water Sensitive City and examine socio-technical pathways for facilitating its delivery.


Urban metabolism - resource and energy recovery systems

This module equips participants with the skills, tools and technologies for studying urban areas as systems with inputs and outputs (wastes); to critically assess the relationships between metabolic information and urban sustainability, and; to understand the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities of urban metabolism and more broadly resource efficiency as a framework for informing policy and management.


'Water, land and people' modules

Water, agricultural landscapes and food security

Participants will be introduced to both dryland and irrigated agriculture, and will develop an understanding of how land use relates to the water cycle with examples of agricultural systems in both developed and developing country contexts. Principles of sustainable management at a range of scales, from soil profiles to global systems, will be discussed. Efficient water use in irrigation and conservation of water in dryland systems and saline agriculture will be emphasised. Most of the module is run as a seven-day teaching block in Perth.

Read news article - 2015 field trip


Collaborative planning

This specialist module introduces participants to participatory methods and evaluation frameworks and extends their knowledge of social science concepts and the application of social theories to real life scenarios, especially at a regional scale. Planners agree that community input should be included the development of water resource plan or strategy and find that they need principles, methods and skills about collaboration with local communities as well as between organisations.


Final project 

Professional placement or research project

Full-time and part-time students design and undertake self-directed project work aimed at consolidating and applying the concepts, principles and methodologies they have learned throughout the program. Students select an area of specialisation that is of personal and professional interest to them and is of value for their professional development. Students will have one or two supervisors and may undertake their project in Australia or overseas (visa and scholarships conditions permitting). Where possible, students are linked with IWC and its partner universities.

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