Degree: Master of Science (MSc)
Duration: 2 years
Language: English
Tuition fee: EU € 2,314 / non-EU € 8,500 a year

River Delta Development (MSc)

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The English-taught Master’s programme River Delta Development is a unique joint degree offered by three universities of applied sciences with complementing expertise in the field of water: HZ University of Applied Sciences (coastal regions), VHL University of Applied Sciences (VHL) (river systems), and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (urban water).

Facilitators of change in delta zones

The Master’s programme River Delta Development (MSc) trains students to be facilitators of change for river deltas. Everywhere in the world, urbanisation and climate change are encroaching upon these fertile, ecologically valuable regions. The challenge is to decrease the vulnerability of river deltas while simultaneously increasing the opportunities for healthy economic and ecological development.

In the Master’s programme River Delta Development, these developments are viewed as transitions: progressive, complex changes and adjustments in river delta systems that demand professionals who can intervene effectively. These transitions require innovative, multidisciplinary, and holistic solutions. Versatile delta professionals are required, who not only have knowledge of river delta systems (coasts, seas, and rivers) and the latest developments, but also possess the necessary research and communication skills to make meaningful contributions to these transitions.

The central theme of the Master’s programme River Delta Development is: 
The transition of deltas: from large-scale management to sustainable adaptation.

The Dutch delta as an example

The universities of applied sciences of HZ, VHL, and Rotterdam have been collaborating for several years and are combining their complementing expertise in the fields of coastal regions, river systems, and urban water to create the River Delta Development Master’s programme. This will provide you with insight into how the different component systems operate, how they relate to each other, and how the delta functions as a cohesive system. By focusing (and working, if you choose) on the international context, you will learn how to apply this knowledge in deltas around the world.

Learning together in Living Labs

The projects in delta zones are so large and the systems are so complex that simple solutions are often not an option. Fundamental interventions are required. This is why the Living Labs were created: testing grounds where professional practice and universities of applied sciences collaborate on complex tasks.

In addition to solving problems and taking advantage of opportunities, the Living Labs are also about learning together. As a student in the River Delta Development Master’s programme, you will take part in Living Labs in which the professorships and research centres of the three universities of applied sciences are involved. You will be working on location, on real-world issues, in multidisciplinary teams along with professionals from the field. You will find yourself making the rounds along the delta: the Master’s programme begins at HZ in Middelburg, continues at VHL in Velp, and is completed at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences.

Meet Living Lab Delta East Download(pdf - 251kB)

Close involvement with the work field

A significant driving force behind the development of the River Delta Development Master’s programme is the demand in the field for facilitators of change: professionals who think and work in constructive, integrated ways, have the knowledge of transitional processes, and can create connections within the water sector and beyond. The field makes it clear that this degree programme is meeting this societal need:

  • by providing educated professionals who can implement their knowledge in an international setting for the function of delta systems and the Dutch delta approach;
  • by the connection between professorships and research centres at the three universities of applied sciences and the option for multidisciplinary collaboration in Living Labs;
  • by the link with initiatives from the government, the business community, education, and science (including the Delta Programme, Human Capital Agenda Water, the Dutch National Research Agenda, the Delta Technology Knowledge and Innovation Agenda of the Dutch water sector).

The work field itself is closely involved in the design and content of the Master’s programme, including via participation in the Living Labs. The format of the Master’s programme (1 lecture day and 4 project days each week) provides prospective employees with optimum preparation for positions such as consultants, project leaders, environmental managers, directors, regional managers, and policy staff members.

Unique professional Master’s programme

If you choose the River Delta Development Master’s programme:

  • you will acquire in-depth knowledge of a river delta system through 2.0 years (120 EC) of working in and learning about the various constituent regions, specifically the coast, river systems, and urban water;
  • you will gain knowledge and insight into transitional processes, system changes, and research methods;
  • you will work using the latest insights and methods in delta technology, design, and governance by participating in research programmes at the three universities of applied sciences;
  • you will develop your personal and professional competencies through innovative research methods based on a didactically supported competency profile and will be tested and assessed for satisfactory completion by delta professionals, applied professors, researchers, and lecturers.

The River Delta Development Master’s programme is the only professional Master’s programme in this field at the HBO level in the Netherlands. All other water-related Master’s programmes are offered by research universities.

A Master’s programme at the HBO level is distinguished by its practical approach, intensive collaboration with the work field (e.g. via Living Labs), and a broad perspective on the material (in this case, the river delta).

​​​​​​​Want to find out more?

Like to stay informed of the latest developments? Please provide your contact information at If you have any questions at this time, please e-mail one of the members of the RDD-managementteam: Marco Lengton - HZ University of Applied Sciences, Jan Fliervoet - VHL or Rutger van Hogezand – HR University of Applied Sciences. Want to talk to an advisor? Please fill in the contact form at and one of the members of the RDD-managementteam will get in touch with you.

Brochure River Delta Development Download