WRM-32306 Research Approaches to Land and Water Management


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper1
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. JA Bolding
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. HP Ritzema
D Stoltenborg, MSc
dr. J Maroulis
dr. ir. MJPM Riksen
dr. ir. PR van Oel
dr. ir. JA Bolding
dr. ir. EJJ van Slobbe
dr. E Shah
dr. ir. JM van Loon-Steensma
dr. JEM Baartman
M del Pozo Garcia
D Moore
A Pachuau MSc
Examiner(s)dr. ir. JA Bolding

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

WRM-34806 Irrigation and Development.

Continuation courses:

WRM-80436 MSc Thesis Water Resources Management; ESS-80836 MSc Thesis Integrated Water Management; SLM-80336 MSc Thesis Soil Physics and Land Management.


The course Research Approaches in International Land and Water Management prepares students to do their own thesis research by helping them appreciate that all knowledge is 'theory-laden' and that 'a problem' can be approached from different perspectives. In particular, the course explores the role and importance of theory in international land and water management research, and helps students develop their own thesis research proposal. A central premise of the course is that all land and water management knowledge is sociotechnical (or socionatural), which is why the question of how to integrate natural science with social science approaches and the different ways of doing this (multi/inter/trans-disciplinarity) receives much attention.
The course is complementary to courses that focus on research methodologies and designing a research project. It is based on the important insight that one's choice of data collection plans and research methodologies is intrinsically interwoven with (1) the objectives and goals of the research and (2) the way in which one makes sense of, and indeed conceptualizes, land and water management realities.
The course is broadly divided in three blocks: 1) Science, knowledge and (inter)disciplinarity in ILWM research; 2) Overview of different conceptual approaches used by chair groups in the MIL programme as requested interactively by your own topic circle and tutor; and 3) Performing a research: the link between conceptual framework and research methodology, again taught in an interactive fashion in topic circles moderated by a tutor. During the course, students are expected to develop the outline of their own thesis research. It is therefore highly recommended that students have already defined (even if only in general terms) their research topic at the start of the course. In weeks 2, 4 and 6 each student will submit an individual assignment covering his/her science perception, conceptual framework, and methodological approach, respectively. In the final week of the course students will give each other feed-back on the thesis proposal outline developed.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand the relationship between theory and research in international land and water management, and apply this principle to his/her thesis research topic;
- appreciate the differences between positivist and constructivist research paradigms and the difficulties of designing and implementing multi/inter/trans-disciplinary research in international land and water management;
- critically analyse and assess a draft thesis research proposal of peer students;
- translate land and water development, design and management issues into research topics that are conceptually and methodologically grounded.


The course consists of lectures, self-study, plenary and group discussions. During the lectures academic staff and guest speakers clarify the various topics and literature is discussed. Each block is concluded with an individual essay (i.e. in weeks 2, 4 & 6 of the course) for which you will receive individual feed-back in ' track changes' . The three essays result in a fully elaborated draft thesis research proposal, for which you receive a mark at the end. From block 2 onwards you will work in so-called topic circles, comprising 4 students that work on a similar thesis research topic. The course then becomes student-driven, i.e. you yourself determine the content and input you need to complete a stepped process of developing your own thesis proposal. The last week is devoted to individual presentations and peer reviews of draft research proposals. There are two skills training elements included in week 2 of the course: (1) critical reading & analysing of scientific texts; (2) making a scientific abstract. The last element forms the exam in week 8.


- final pitch-to-peer movie on thesis proposal in week 6 (10%; based on peer review);
- draft thesis proposal submitted in week 7 (65%);
- examination (making an abstract) (25%).


All course materials and hand-outs will be made available on BlackBoard.

Compulsory for: MILInternational Land and Water ManagementMSc5AF