A comprehensive training in the theory and practice of groundwater science and engineering, providing an excellent basis for careers in scientific, engineering and environmental consultancies, water companies, major industries, research, and government scientific and regulatory services in the UK and abroad.
The course is open to graduates who hold a good honours degree or an equivalent qualification from the full range of science, engineering and environmental disciplines. The course is quantitative and teaches the principles underpinning Hydrogeology to a high level. It introduces participants to many quantitative skills and methods and applicants are required, therefore, to demonstrate an adequate level of ability in mathematics that will allow them to gain the most from the Course and to work effectively in their future career. An AS or A-level in Mathematics or an equivalent through their degree course or through appropriate tuition is sufficient.
We accept a range of qualifications
English language requirements
You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:
by holding an English language qualification to the right level
by taking and successfully completing one of our English courses for international students
The course runs over 12 months from September to September. In the Autumn and Spring terms the subject is developed in lectures and practical sessions interspersed with fieldwork, a seminar series and at least one visit to a national hydrogeological meeting.
There is also a ‘split registration’ option in which it is possible to study the taught elements of the course over two consecutive years, the independent project being completed before the end of September in the second year.
The Course has 10 taught modules, each representing either 10 or 20 credits. The individual project is worth 60 credits.
Groundwater Hydraulics (20 credits)
Aim: to develop a sound understanding of the physical processes controlling groundwater hydraulics and solute transport, the mathematical models used to describe them, and the full range of laboratory and field hydraulic tests to characterise the subsurface hydrogeologically.
Content: Principles of flow and storage in porous media; groundwater flow and storage in aquifers; solute transport; finite difference models; laboratory hydraulic property measurements; small scale field tests; large scale field tests; computer, field, and laboratory work.
Surface Water Interactions (10 credits)
Aim: to explore the interactions between surface and subsurface water systems including streams, rivers and lakes, and how to measure and quantify the fluxes at the interface.
Content: The hydrological cycle. Meteorology, precipitation and evapotranspiration. Unsaturated flows and groundwater recharge. Stream flows and stream/aquifer interactions. Lumped catchment water balance modelling (requiring an introduction to Visual Basic for Applications programming).
Borehole Design, Construction, and Maintenance (10 credits)
Aim: to develop a working understanding of the theory and practice of the design, construction and maintenance of boreholes for water supply.
Content: Methods of groundwater abstraction; drilling, logging, and sampling; borehole geophysics; pump technology and design; tube well design and construction; and well maintenance and rehabilitation.
Environmental Geophysics (10 credits)
Aim: to explain and demonstrate the theory and practical application of surface geophysical methods in groundwater assessment, together with developing skills in the use of geographical information systems and remote sensing.
Content: Principles of geophysical techniques for shallow subsurface imaging with emphasis on electrical and electromagnetic surveys. Principles and applications of spatial data analysis with Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing.
Groundwater Management and Exploitation (10 credits)
Aim: to extend the principles introduced in Groundwater Hydraulics to cover a range of more complex and challenging flow systems and methods of analysis in the context of the management of groundwater. The emphasis is on issues of current interest to groundwater professionals worldwide.
Content: Flow through fractures and fracture networks; saline groundwater movement; heat transport; further development of recharge and surface water / groundwater interaction theories and their applications; groundwater aspects of clean carbon technologies.
Inorganic Chemistry and Groundwater (10 credits)
Aim: to understand aqueous inorganic chemistry and to interpret groundwater chemistry data sets in the context of water-rock interactions to solve problems of regional flow, pollution and well design.
Content: Theory of dissolution/precipitation, acid-base, redox, and sorption reactions. Isotopes. Application to water resources and contaminant hydrogeology.
Groundwater organic contaminant pollution and remediation (20 credits)
Aim: to provide the organic contaminant hydrogeological knowledge base that will underpin a student’s potential future professional activity in the field of groundwater contamination by synthetic organic chemicals.
Content: Contaminant source terms; toxicology, environmental standards, and legislation; organic contaminant phase partitioning to air, water, solids; conceptual models of contaminant migration; processes of sorption, chemical reaction, biodegradation; non-aqueous phase flow; contaminated land / groundwater legislative frameworks; groundwater risk assessment; site investigation and groundwater monitoring practice; and groundwater remediation.
Regional Groundwater Flow Modelling (10 credits)
Aim: to provide an introduction to regional groundwater flow modelling; to refine skills in conceptualising groundwater systems from limited data; and to introduce professional groundwater modelling software.
Content: Conceptual modelling. Mathematical models. Numerical modelling methods and approximations. Modelling practice. Case studies. Flow modelling project using a proprietary modelling system - G/W Vistas (+MODFLOW).
Contaminant Transport Modelling (10 credits)
Aim: to extend the basic theory introduced in Groundwater Flow and Transport Theory, and to introduce and apply the methods commonly used in modelling solute transport in different types of aquifer.
Content: Review of conservative and reactive transport principles. Models for dual porosity and multi-phase systems. Application of contaminant transport software - MODPATH and MT3D.
Water Resources Studies (10 credits)
Aim: to understand how hydrogeological assessments are structured and to develop ability in hydrogeological interpretation and water resources assessment for different geological settings, physical domains and exploitation proposals. To understand how the various aspects of hydrogeological investigation are integrated. To gain an introduction to the UK hydrogeological research and industry community.
Content: uided research on various hydrogeological environments in the context of different applied problems: includes sandstones and chalk in temperate climates; hard rock aquifers in developing semi-arid environments; wetlands; karst; and nuclear waste disposal. Seminars from external speakers. Attenda
Graduates take up careers in consultancy, in the UK or abroad, or join regulators such as the Environment Agency or government scientific services like the British Geological Survey, and others move into research or work in water supply companies.
Drilling boreholes in the forest
Although some consultancies specialise, many undertake a very wide range of groundwater-related work providing consultants with interestingly varied careers. Work may involve:
siting wells for water supply in the UK
siting village wells in hard rock terrains in a developing country
contaminated land assessment
developing Environment Agency procedures and techniques
researching radioactive waste disposal facilities
assessing wetland water balances
determining water level changes for subsidence estimation