IWE-32306 Research Approaches to Land and Water Management


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper46
Problem-based learning18
Course coordinator(s)dr. ir. JA Bolding
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. JA Bolding
dr. SD Keesstra
prof. dr. ir. MZ Zwarteveen
dr. ir. EJJ van Slobbe
dr. ir. GE van Halsema
dr. ir. CA Kessler
dr. D Roth
dr. ir. E Rap
Examiner(s)prof. dr. LF Vincent
prof. dr. ir. L Stroosnijder

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:


Continuation courses:

IWE-80436, LDD-80436, ESS-80836


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; and 3) Performing a research: the link between conceptual framework and research methodology. 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:

On completion of te course the student is expected to:
- have gained an understanding of the relationship between theory and research in international land and water management;
- 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;
- have further developed the academic skill to translate land and water development, design and management issues into research topics that are conceptually grounded
- understand the linkages between research object, purpose and method.


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). The last week is devoted to individual presentations of draft research proposals.


Students will be assessed on the basis of:
- 3 assignments to be handed-in in weeks 2, 4 and 6 (20% each);
- 1 presentation, in week 6 (10%);
- open book exam (30%).


The course reader will be made available at the beginning of the course.

Compulsory for: MHWHydrology and Water QualityMScD: Integrated Water Management5AF
MILInternational Land and Water ManagementMSc5AF
Restricted Optional for: MESEnvironmental SciencesMSc5AF
MCLClimate StudiesMSc5AF