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Master of Philosophy in Integrated Water Management

Why study the Master of Philosophy in Integrated Water Management?

With our internationally acclaimed water research node, you can:

  • Become a water leader for the future
  • Develop skills for integrated solutions in real-world contexts
  • Learn from and with some of the leading experts in the field
  • Network with local and international water professionals
  • Work with classmates from diverse backgrounds

There are very few local and international programme that have such an integrated approach to research, teaching and learning about water management.

Degree information

Fresh water is arguably the most fundamental of all natural resources. It affects every form of life on earth. One of the most pressing issues of our time is the fragile relationship between societal existence, human well-being and ecological systems.

How should scientists respond? Scientists have an obligation to produce new knowledge and communicate new understanding to the public and policy makers. They must help society move towards a more sustainable biosphere.
While fundamental research remains eminently important, new approaches are necessary for solving interdisciplinary problems at multiple spatial and temporal scales.

The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Integrated Water Management (IWM) offered at IIE MSA is a certified Qualification. The degree comprises of four interdisciplinary coursework modules and a research project. A combination of coursework and research sets this course apart from the normal research-based structure of a masters degree. While the research component in the form of a masters thesis will form the bulk of the degree weighting, the coursework component introduces and exposes students to some of the complex underlying concepts (biological, social and economic) affecting effective water management. The coursework is designed to properly equip and prepare students to plan and execute a high-quality and practically relevant research project. you’ll complete four intensive coursework subjects (project management, science of water, water, sustainability and development and water governance and policy). These will give you a strong foundation of high-level skills, and act as a springboard for your research thesis. This unique mix of research and coursework will involve laboratory and fieldwork to get you out of the classroom and working in groups. You will collaborate with specialists from the International Water Security Network and engage with colleagues from other South and Southern African Institutions, such as the University of Namibia, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Copperbelt University.

Successful completion of this programme leads to an IIE qualification.

Degree snapshot

Degree type: Master of Philosophy in Integrated Water Management


Accredited by the CHE. Registration: NQF Level 9, SAQA ID 73709

Programme code:



Students can choose to complete the programme in 2 years full time or 4 years part-time. International students can only study on a full time basis.

Location: The Master of Philosophy in Integrated Water Management is offered at the IIE MSA campus in Ruimsig, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Fees for 2019
  • Domestic

    Fees are subject to change annually.

    R 58,500.00 (3,975.94 USD) per annum

  • International

    Fees are subject to change annually.

    R 58,500.00 (3,975.94 USD) per annum

    Domestic/South African students are advised to pay 30% of their semester fee before enrolment and the balance by the published payment due date. Alternative payment arrangement can be applied for to pay each module in full before the commencement date of the module.

    Payment dates are earlier if you are a commencing international student. This is to allow 6-8 weeks for your study visa applications to be processed prior to enrolment. To avoid delays obtaining a study visa, commencing international students must pay a 30% deposit before enrolling to allow 6-8 weeks for study visa applications and 50% balance on or before enrolment.

    For more information regarding fees please visit the Fee structure

    Payment Methods

    For more information on our payment methods visit https://www.iiemsa.co.za/pay-fees/

    Entry requirements:

    An applicant must have,

    • an honours qualification (NQF level 8) with a mark of 65% or above ; or
    • an equivalent 4 year qualification with a significant individual research project in the 4th year with a mark of 65% or above and
    • proficiency in written and spoken English.

Degree Details

The programme aims to build the capacity of future leaders in water management, with an emphasis on developing water professionals working in developing countries. The programme takes a multi-disciplinary `whole-of-water-cycle’ approach that equips students with practical tools and skills for adopting innovative solutions to local, regional, national and international water management issues.

Students will develop the strategic, managerial and technical skills they need to advance in the water sector. They will:

  • become familiar with fundamentals of integrated water management;
  • be capable of providing water management expertise to help improve water security and reduce poverty through equitable use of water;
  • be skilled to provide technical and managerial input into planning, design and operation of water projects and facilities;
  • understand the principles of managing water resources, water supply and sanitation, wastewater treatment and urban water infrastructure projects;
  • recognise the socio-economic factors impacting on effective and resilient water solutions;
  • and understand the governance and institutional frameworks underpinning water management.

The programme focuses on building skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, statistics and data management, knowledge transfer and effective leadership.

Learning objectives

At the end of the degree students will be able to:

  • appraise freshwater ecosystems as complex social-ecological systems
  • evaluate the imperative of sustainable development in relation to the planning and management of water resources
  • design an integrated water resource management plan
  • develop a research project proposal
  • execute an integrated water management research project
  • present their research findings
  • prepare an academic paper ready for submission to a scientific

Practical and Applied components

The degree builds on students’ professional experience to approach water-related problems holistically:

Lecture modules teach knowledge and skills across a wide range of disciplines

Team projects allow students to apply their knowledge to real case studies in Africa and overseas

Network building encourages students to establish links through the Water Research Node’s network of national and international specialists

Practical skills development supports integration and synthesis of technical concepts and writing

Research Skills prepare students to formulate and execute research questions and projects

Degree structure

Four coursework modules introduce students to key concepts of integrated water management. The programme is taught in a South African context through local case studies. However, to provide our students with an international perspective, expertise and case studies from developed and developing countries are used.

The degree is offered to both International and local working professional students. International students must complete the degree within 2 years (24 months) while local South African students have a maximum of 4 years (48 months) to complete the degree.  

All students are required to complete the four coursework modules within the first twelve months of study. These modules are offered twice a year each year to accommodate working professional students. Throughout the degree students need to meet a number of milestones such as confirmation of candidature and undertake a mid-term review of their research to graduate with a Master of Philosophy specialising in Integrated Water Management.

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011 950 4009 enquiries@iiemsa.co.za
From outside South Africa
+27 11 950 4009

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Coursework Modules

Science of Water (ZPG4824) introduces the properties of water (physical and chemical), as well as concepts relating to the natural hydrological cycle and the ecology of inland aquatic systems. The unit also addresses the human uses of water and highlights the dynamic relationship between human and natural aquatic systems. Students will be introduced to the ideas of resilience and systematic freshwater conservation and planning.

Water, sustainability and development (ZPG4825) examines the elements and background to the so-called world water crisis and analyses current international development thinking about sustainable development and its application to water and water resources. It explores dimensions such as livelihoods and poverty, water supply and sanitation in cities, gender, community participation and water as a human right.

Water governance and policy (ZPG4826) refers to the diverse range of political, social, economic and administrative arrangements within which water resources are managed and water needs are met by different sectors of society. In this unit students will engage with key concepts of water governance in Southern Africa and Africa generally are specifically analysed with a special focus on the successes, failures and lessons to be learnt from other contexts. Issues of gender and social exclusion are also specifically addressed.

Project Management and Research Design (ZPG4823) aims to equip students with the knowledge to successfully plan and execute their research projects and provide them with an understanding of, and the basic skills required for careers as water professionals.

Research Project (ZPG4827) Research is a key component of the Master of Philosophy in Integrated Water Management and therefore carries the bulk of the degree weighting. Students select a research project in which the ideas and principles of integrated water management feature prominently. Students are expected to complete a full research thesis of maximum 35 000 words.

Research projects should ideally allow a significant degree of cross-disciplinary integration and address an issue related to a real sustainability challenge. The individual research phase is characterised by quality supervision and personalised mentoring. Supervisors are carefully chosen to match disciplinary needs of students. By the end of the degree, students will have mastered the art of research and will be ready to publish their research findings in an accredited journal.

IIE MSA tuition scholarships

These scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and are available to South African and International students. Applicants who achieve over 70% in their academic qualifications will be considered.

The scholarships are valued at a maximum of 50 – 100 percent of the annual course fee and are available for full time and part time study. Scholarships do not cover other costs such as accommodation, travel and textbooks.

Scholarships are renewable each year, providing that students maintain a high academic achievement. At the end of each year, the Bursary and Scholarships Committee will assess students' performance and determine whether they are eligible to continue to receive the scholarship.

To be eligible for a scholarship you must first be accepted into the IIE Master of Philosophy at IIE MSA.

Admissions criteria for IIE MSA Scholarship

  • A degree of bachelors with honours I or honours II division A, or have qualifications which in the opinion of the committee are equivalent or a satisfactory substitute.
  • Proficiency in written and spoken English
  • Acceptance into the Master of Philosophy in Integrated Water Management

Please indicate in your application form that you would like to apply for a scholarship and send to Ms Hester Stols (HStols@iiemsa.co.za )

Application requirements

Am I eligible for this degree?

An applicant must have,

  • An honours qualification (NQF level 8) with a mark of 65% or above; or
  • An equivalent 4-year qualification with a significant individual research project in the 4th year with a mark of 65% or above and
  • Proficiency in written and spoken English.

Why should I choose to do this degree?

  • The combination of coursework and research thesis sets this degree apart from other offerings.
  • Students develop skills for integrated solutions in real-world contexts.
  • The course equips students to play leadership roles in the critical interface between science and management of water resources.
  • Students benefit from working with classmates and lecturers from a range of professional and cultural backgrounds.
  • The small intake of students allows for personal coaching and mentoring.
  • Focus on interfaces between science, policy and management

How long does the degree take?

The degree is offered to both international and local students. International students must complete the degree within 2 years while local students have a maximum of 4 years to complete the degree.

South African students who are full-time employed  need a written letter from their employer granting the candidate two days a week to dedicate to their studies, one of which must be a working day and time off to attend all the coursework units in full. All students must attend the coursework in full.

Application process

How do I apply?

Candidates should download the postgraduate application for admission form (pdf, 2.3Mb). The application form should be printed out, completed and faxed, scanned and e-mailed or posted to IIE MSA.

Fax to: +27 11 950 4133
Email to: HStols@iiemsa.co.za
Post to: Ms Hester Stols, IIE MSA, 144 Peter Road, Ruimsig, South Africa.

What do I need to apply?

The following documents need to accompany your application form:

  • Certified colour copies of ID document and or passport
  • Certified copies of your degrees/qualifications (originals may be requested as evidence)
  • Certified official university academic transcript showing subjects taken and grades achieved. There should also be an explanation of the grading system.
  • Working South African applicants need a letter from their employer indicating their commitment to allow candidates one working day a week to commit to their studies and their attendance in full at the coursework sessions.

Where can I get more information?

Please contact Ms Hester Stols for application processes and procedures:
Tel: +27 11 950 4143

And Ms Linda Downsborough for all other queries related to the degree and research proposal.
Tel: +27 11 950 4130

Drop in sessions are welcome to chat to the Water Node staff and our current students.

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