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Water Resources and River Management




Admission Requirements

The only prerequisite is that students have completed GC Earth and/or have an appropriate background and aptitude for the natural sciences.


Are floods and droughts becoming more frequent and severe? Are such hydrologic “disasters” triggered by natural or human causes? What are the implications of climate change to flood risk, agriculture, river erosion, infrastructure, and aquatic ecology? What do these changes in water resources imply to human and biophysical sustainability? The answer to these questions is at the core of modern hydrologic sciences.

Hydrology is an interdisciplinary science that considers the processes controlling the distribution and movement of Earth’s water, as well as its physical, chemical, and ecological interactions with Earth’s surface. The goal of this course is to provide a broad and rigorous overview of the field of physical hydrology within a watershed framework. Specific topics will include climatic controls, infiltration, runoff, groundwater, channel hydraulics and streamflow, flood mechanisms, river and floodplain management, water resources, and global environmental change. Students will be exposed to modern theory and practical methods of hydrologic sciences through lectures, class discussion, and practical assignments.

Course Objectives

  • A comprehensive and rigorous understanding of Earth’s hydrologic cycle,

  • Employ basic quantitative procedures to calculate indices of streamflow and hydrologic variability,

  • Integrate specific subfields of hydrology within a “watershed framework”,

  • Understands the consequences of different human impacts to Earth’s surface from the standpoint of drainage basin hydrology,

  • Understands the appropriate methodological approaches to study different subfields of hydrology,

  • Through independent investigation and teamwork the student is able explore a specific topic within the hydrological sciences by completion of a final report,

  • Develops a strong interdisciplinary understanding of the importance of the hydrologic sciences for managing various environmental change scenarios,

  • Understands the role of hydrological sciences to the broader subject of sustainability.

Mode of Instruction

Each class topic includes and/or reviews 1. Relevant processes and/or methods, 2. Human impacts to environmental processes, and 3. Direct and indirect linkages to sustainability and management. The course is taught in a lecture and open discussion format, and students expected to contribute to class discussion. To assure optimal participation students are required to have read prior to coming to class.
Laptops, phones, and other digital media are not allowed unless requested by the instructor.


Students will be assessed in several ways, including individual and group work. Modes of assessment include exams, laboratory assignments, a final report, and class participation (see table below). The overall rationale of the assignments and exams is to assess the student’s ability to master new concepts and techniques pertaining to hydrological processes and sustainability (broadly), including analysis and reporting of data, synthesis of scientific literature, and scientific writing.

Exams (40%): two exams at 20% each. The exams will assess students conceptual and quantitative understanding of lectures and written material. The second exam is comprehensive.

Labs (35%): two labs at 17.5% each. The labs are designed to provide students with practical experience, including working with quantitative approaches, and will include a report.

Final Report (20%): 20%. The Final Report is designed so that students are able to demonstrate a depth of knowledge of a single topic, and are aware of the appropriate methods to conduct a hydrological based procedure as well as the scientific literature in their field. Additionally, the Final Report will demonstrate skills in communicating data through charts and other figures.

Class participation (5): 5%.


  • Jones, J.A.A. 1997. Global Hydrology: Processes, Resources, and Environmental Management. Prentice Hall (ISBN-10: 0582098610, ISBN-13: 9780582098619), 416 pp.

  • IPCC 4th Assessment, 2007. WG I-The Physical Science Basis; WG II-Impacts, Adaption, and Vulnerability (specific sections online via the BB course web site)

  • Reading material and assignments on Internet sites and on Blackboard.

Contact Information

Dr. Paul Hudson, p.f.hudson@luc.leidenuniv.nl

Weekly Overview

Week 1:
Hydrologic cycle, water budgets and water resources

Week 2:
Atmospheric: Earth’s general circulation, global environmental change, evapotranspiration

Week 3
Groundwater resources, runoff and land degradation
Test I

Week 4:
Streamflow, hydrologic data analysis, impact of dams
Lab I

Week 5:
River dynamics: erosion and sedimentation

Week 6:
Floodplains and flood risk
Lab 2

Week 7:
Coastal and deltaic, sea level rise, integrated drainage basin management
Test II

Week 8:
Final Report (team project)

Preparation for first session