Our Hydrogeology Msc offers comprehensive training in the theory and practice of groundwater science and engineering, with a split registration option that allows the course to be taken over two years. The autumn term includes a week of fieldwork, and students will also attend a national research conference.

Modules encompass the full range of groundwater studies and are supported by practical field sessions and computing and hydrogeological modelling based on industry standard software.


Scholarships and bursaries

Our database contains details of postgraduate taught and research scholarship and funding opportunities available to support your studies at the University of Newcastle. Find out more. 

This is a vocational programme relevant to graduates with good Honours degrees in appropriate subjects (for example, Geosciences, Engineering, Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Biosciences, and Environmental Sciences). It is important to have a good knowledge of mathematics.

The lecture component of the programme encompasses the full range of hydrogeology. Modules cover drilling, well design, aquifer test analysis, laboratory test analysis, groundwater flow, hydrogeophysics, inorganic chemistry of groundwaters, organic contamination of groundwater, contaminated land and remediation, groundwater modelling, contaminant transport, hydrology, and groundwater resources assessment.

These lecture modules are supported by practical field sessions, and by computing and hydrogeological modelling based on industry standard software. Integration of concepts developed in the taught programmes is facilitated through student-centred investigations of current issues linked to a diverse range of hydrogeological environments.

Examinations are held in January and April. From May onwards, you undertake a project, a report on which is submitted in September.

Projects may be field-, laboratory-, or modelling- based, and are usually of an applied nature, although a few are research-orientated. Our chemical (inorganic and organic), rock testing, computing, geophysical and borehole-logging equipment is available for you to use during this period.

Career openings include those with consulting engineering and environmental firms, government scientific services and regional water companies, both in this country and abroad. Demand for hydrogeologists is substantial and students from the course are highly regarded by employers.


Why Study this Course?

The course covers all major areas of groundwater resources, groundwater pollution and remediation, and groundwater engineering. Groundwater conditions are treated on an international basis and there are usually opportunities each year for students to undertake project work abroad.

The course is the longest established hydrogeology course in the UK, having been set up in the early 1970s, and as such its alumni are spread throughout the industry. Around 24 students in total take the course each year, coming from a wide range of backgrounds, from the UK, other parts of Europe, and further afield.

Over its 40 year history, the MSc Course in Hydrogeology has changed considerably, keeping in step with major changes in the subject, the concerns of the industry, and vastly increased computer power. The Course is taught by three core members of staff, specialists covering chemical, mathematical, and geological aspects of the subject, together with a range of specialist guest lecturers.

Institutional Accreditation 

University of Newcastle is accredited by the DETC Higher Learning Commission (DETC), www.detc.org.uk Since , University of Newcastle has been continually accredited by the DETC Higher Learning Commission and its predecessor.

Hydrogeology MSc

Course Level:

Postgraduate, Taught




CODE P1129

How long it takes:

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Study Mode:

Distance learning/ Campus

Course cost

Price: US$22,500

Entry requirements

Find out more about


Newcastle Law School

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.

Taught modules:


Groundwater Flow and Contaminant Transport Modelling

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).


Surface Water and Groundwater Interactions: Theory, GIS and Programming

Aim: To introduce surface and unsaturated zone hydrology and interactive processes between groundwater and surface water

Content: The module explores the interactions between subsurface and surface water systems including soils, streams, rivers and lakes and how to measure and quantify the fluxes at the land surface/groundwater interface.


Borehole Design, Construction, and Maintenance

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. 


Inorganic Chemistry and Groundwater

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.


Water Resources Studies

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: guided 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. Attendance at a national meeting.

For those requiring it, there are additional supporting sessions at the start of the year on those mathematical concepts relevant to the course.


Groundwater Hydraulics

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.


Groundwater Organic Contaminant Pollution and Remediation

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.

Considering postgraduate study, but unsure whether you meet the entry requirements for a Masters-level degree? Postgraduate admissions guidelines vary by course and university, but can be quite flexible.

Your existing qualifications will be important, but you don’t necessarily need a great Bachelors degree to apply for a Masters. Your personal circumstances and experience may also be considered during the admissions process.

This guide explains the typical entry requirements for a Masters, which include:

      • An undergraduate degree in a relevant subject – Depending on the programme and institution, you may need a 2.1 in your Bachelors, but this isn’t always the case
      • Language proficiency – If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to display a certain ability level, usually through a language test
      • Professional experience – Some postgraduate programmes may require you to have some professional experience (this is usually the case for PGCEs and Masters in Social Work)
      • Entrance exams – These are only required in certain subject areas and qualifications, including some MBAs

Tuition fees for UK/EU students 2020/21

MSc:  Full-time £9,900. Part-time £4,950
Postgraduate Diploma:  Full-time £6,660. Part-time £3,300


Tuition fees for International students 2020/21

MSc: Full time £23,310
Postgraduate Diploma: Full-time £15,540


You’ll show your progress through a combination of written essays, problem-solving assignments and presentations.

All students take our core modules, but please note that the availability of optional modules is subject to demand.

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.

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
  • designing landfills
  • developing Environment Agency procedures and techniques
  • researching radioactive waste disposal facilities
  • assessing wetland water balances
  • determining water level changes for subsidence estimation

The vast majority of jobs are far from routine, each presenting its own challenges. In the Environment Agency you may find yourself becoming an expert on the hydrogeology of your region, making sure that the groundwater systems are protected for future generations or, often partly through commissioning work from consultants, developing new procedures and policies, and techniques for implementing them. This will often require detailed knowledge of legislation fundamental to the future of the UK water industry, including that from the European Union such as the Water Framework and Groundwater Directives. The British Geological Survey is a major employer of hydrogeologists, and undertakes a wide variety of work in the UK and overseas. Many water companies also employ hydrogeologists, who undertake work ranging from source maintenance and protection to researching new ways of developing existing resources. 

Over our 40 year history, there has never been a problem in gaining employment in groundwater, though times have been a little more challenging since the start of the recession. In fact, up until the start of the recession, in the UK especially, there was a well-recognized, major shortage of hydrogeologists – the UK was simply not producing enough. Each year, around 20 companies come to our careers fair, including in recent years from overseas, and many send in job advertisements for us to circulate to students. Even with the downturn in the economy, jobs are still available in the UK and overseas (Australia currently has a major shortage of hydrogeologists) with effectively 100% employment of our graduates. We believe that over the next few years the employment market will continue expanding and that the long term prospects are excellent.