PhD in Water Resource Management

Wageningen University & Research

Wageningen, , NL

PhD position related to water management and hydrological modeling is available at Wageningen University and Research (WUR), Netherlands.

Wageningen University and Research (WUR), Netherlands is one of the top universities in Europe, ranked #125 in the world (Top QS world university ranking 2020). Established in 1876 as an agricultural college WUR became recognized as a public university in 1918. WUR consists of 5 major chair groups that are involved with the research activities in the university, including; Agrotechnology and Food Sciences, Animal Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Social Sciences, and Plant Sciences.

The water resource management group (WRM group) works under the Environmental Sciences chair group at WUR. WRM group is involved with research work that intersects with hydrology, technology and social sciences. The group is involved with integrated water resource management and questions of governance in both the global South and North. The main objective of the group is to research on patterns of access, allocation and use of water, in terms of a combined outcome of technological choices, socio-ecological dynamics and cultural, social and political negotiations and contestations.

PhD in water resource management

Water resource management group is offering a PhD position for 2020-21 session to candidates interested in the interaction of science, politics and practice in the water sector. Applications are invited from prospective applicants to conduct a study on “opening the black box” of modelling processes, performances, and politics on any aspect of the water sector.

Simulation models are commonly used as tools in decision making related to the water resource management. It often involves several actors and stakeholders, at on end, and performance indicators and scenarios for possible futures, on the other.

These models are usually described as ‘objective’ knowledge, based on which important water management decisions are made. As simulation models are described as objective, “truth-making” tools, these models are thereby “black boxed”, meaning, the expert knowledge in building them are not adequately examined for the underlying assumptions, suppositions and even politics.

Inputs to these models are usually restricted to specific indicators privileging certain viewpoints better than others. Also outcomes from the models are strategically used to legitimize political decisions, while models and scenarios themselves are already the result of political processes involving conscious and unconscious choices. In these respects simulation models are inherently political in nature.

The PhD project in water resource management will deal with some basic research questions:

  • How different types of simulation modeling for supporting water management are created?
  • What kind of information or knowledge do these models provide and to whom?
  • How and why these simulation models are based on certain assumptions, theoretical and empirical decisions?
  • How these simulation models are deployed to assist certain political decisions?
  • How do their results influence water governance, and its effect on equitable distribution of benefits and impacts (e.g. in terms of water and food securities)?

Examples of possible cases could include;

(1) Water productivity assessment in Africa on basis of remote sensing
(2) Climate change impact prediction on water stress
(3) Modernization of Irrigation in Spain
(4) Large water transfers in Asia and Latin America,
(5) Drought management in Northeastern Brazil


  • A master’s degree (graduated or about to be completed) in a related discipline, preferably with a thesis or internship on a similar topic.
  • Passion for research encompassing science and politics.
  • Excellent communication skills, proficiency in English (written and oral).


A temporary contract for 12 months is offered to the selected candidate. Basic salary is € 2325 per month which would increase up to € 2972. The employment is on full time basis (38 hours per week), with additional benefits like; 8% holiday allowance, end of the year bonus of 8.3%, excellent pension plan, 232 vacation hours. The position offers flexible working hours to create a balance between work and personal life, along with several opportunities for training and education.

How to Apply

To apply for this position, visit the link below. Documents required to be uploaded include; CV, motivation letter, (max 3 pages) note on the proposed research on the topic. The brief note should include; case study description, conceptual/theoretical approach to be used in research, research questions, methodology, and expected outcomes.

Deadline to apply: May 8, 2020

Contact information

To know more about careers at WUR, Netherlands as a PhD researcher visit the official career website.

For more information regarding this PhD – water resource management position, contact:

Prof. Dr. Petra Hellegers, Water Resources Management Group (Head),
Tel. (+31) (0)6-51679951; Email: [email protected]

Further information related to the employement procedure can be acquired from:
Edgar Tijhuis (corporate recruiter), E-mail: [email protected]