Master of Philosophy in Integrated Water Management for 2024

Why study the Master of Philosophy in Integrated Water Management?

The Master of Philosophy in Integrated Water Management aims to build the capacity of future leaders in water resource management. 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 resource issues.

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

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

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

A graduate will be able to:

  • appraise freshwater ecosystems as complex social-ecological systems.
  • design an integrated water resource management plan.
  • develop a research project proposal.
  • execute an integrated water management research project.
  • prepare a manuscript (academic paper) ready for submission for publication.

Who is the Master of Philosophy in Integrated Water Management aimed at?

The programme is aimed at students from South and Southern Africa (developing countries context) with a strong interest in integrated water management, research aptitude and leadership aspirations. It is targeted at prospective students already working within the water field that want to advance their career in a significant way.

The programme is intentionally designed to cater for a small group of talented postgraduate students to ensure quality supervision and mentorship, as well as regular group interaction with local and guest lecturers.

Upon completion of the Master of Philosophy in Integrated Water Management (MPhil IWM) it is expected that graduates will be prepared to take on leadership positions in international agencies, government departments, non-governmental organisations, and private sector entities engaged in water management. These graduates will bring critical analytical skills and an interdisciplinary framework to bear on the water issues they tackle.

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

Discuss your study options with a Student Advisor
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.

How is this Master’s Degree structured at IIE MSA?

The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Integrated Water Management (IWM) offered at IIE MSA is normally offered over two years. The degree comprises of four interdisciplinary coursework modules and a research project.

While the research component in the form of a Master’s 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 enabling research well informed by theory and other research.

The coursework is designed to properly equip and prepare students to plan and execute a high-quality and practically relevant research project. Through the four intensive coursework subjects (project management, science of water, water, sustainability and development and water governance and policy) students develop a strong foundation of high-level skills which 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

Please note that in line with academic practice, The IIE’s curriculum is reviewed annually thus changes may occur in module structure and sequence in order to ensure that the qualification remains relevant. The exit level outcomes of the programme do not change. Registered students receive an updated programme curriculum on an annual basis.

Coursework Modules

Science of Water 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 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 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 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 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.

How long does the degree take?

Students have a maximum of 4 years to complete this qualification.

Where can I get more information?

Please contact 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.

Entry requirements

Minimum Admission Requirements

An appropriate HEQSF Level 8 Honours degree; OR                                                                                                                                 
A relevant Postgraduate Diploma or appropriate equivalent; OR                                              
An appropriate Level 8 Bachelor’s Degree (480 credits) may also be recognised as meeting the minimum entry requirements to a cognate Master’s Degree programme.

An overall qualification average of at least 65% is required, normally 

Additional Notes:
All applicants who are eligible for admission to the Master of Philosophy in Integrated Water Management degree are required to successfully complete and present a research proposal and obtain ethics clearance for the research for their mini-dissertation.

Please note, requirements for entry to this qualification are correct at the time of publication. However, these may change.


For application visit the How to apply page

Entry requirements

International Students

A SAQA NQF L8 Evaluation Certificate in an appropriate field.

Please note, requirements for entry to this qualification are correct at the time of publication. However, these may change.


For application visit the How to apply page