WRM-32306 Research Approaches to Land and Water Management


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper1
Course coordinator(s)dr. E Shah
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. HP Ritzema
dr. E Shah
dr. ir. EJJ van Slobbe
S van der Kooij
M del Pozo Garcia
dr. ir. MJPM Riksen
dr. ir. PR van Oel
dr. ir. CA Kessler
dr. JEM Baartman
dr. ir. JA Bolding
B van der Bolt
A Pachuau MSc
MSc L Pol
Examiner(s)dr. ir. JA Bolding

Language of instruction:


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 7 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 present their proposal in the shape of a so-called pitch to peer movie

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 a research topic that is conceptually and methodologically grounded, and present the key ideas in a movie.


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 & 7 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 presentation and translation of one's proposal into a pitch-to-peer movie. There are two skills training sessions included in week 2 of the course: (1) critical reading & writing of scientific texts; (2)  how to convert an idea into a researchable thesis topic. 


- final pitch-to-peer movie on thesis proposal in week 6 (25%);
- draft thesis proposal submitted in week 7 (75%);


All course materials and hand-outs will be made available in Brightspace.

Compulsory for: MILInternational Land and Water ManagementMSc5AF