Field Course Hydrology


Course Objective

This course main objective is to instill “hydrological system thinking”
in the student's mind. This is done through a combination of practical
application of the earth scientific and hydrologic theory given in the
period before the field course to solve hydrological questions in the
field. The objectives include planning and making decisions about
research strategies (this includes defining testable hypotheses),
learning to make relevant measurements of all the
components of the hydrological cycle (surface water, ground water
storage, soil moisture, vegetation, and the atmosphere) and use these
measurements to make realistic qualitative and quantitative
interpretations regarding the hydrological processes and conditions in
the field and their relation to local and regional issues related to
water resources.
On top of that the students learn how to organize and store their
gathered data in a database.

The course contributes to the final attainment levels Application of
knowledge and insight; Critical judgement and Communication

Course Content

This course covers the practical side of hydrological research through
application of geological and hydrological knowledge to solve the water
balance of target areas and to study water quality issues.

In this course, the students will carry out a research project that
includes field work in Luxembourg. Focus will be on developing research
skills, including making research questions and work plans, carrying out
measurements, processing data and critically discussing the whole
The fieldwork course will consist of an introductory part at VU, then
fieldwork in Luxemburg, followed by a three-week period after arrival
back in Amsterdam to finalize the
data processing and the report and to store and describe their data on a

During the first two weeks of the course, lectures and practicals are
given at the VU. During these lectures, you will get an introduction
about the fieldwork area and you will be divided into small groups that
will be assigned a study catchment.
The other lectures and practicals focus on research skills that are
needed for the fieldwork and for developing the work plan. In-between
lectures, you will be working with your group on your work plan.

After these first two weeks, we will go to Luxembourg for almost 4
weeks, where the fieldwork will be carried out. During these 4 weeks,
the students are responsible for their own measurements. Besides doing
measurements, data have to be analyzed and interpreted. Halfway the
fieldwork period,
each group will give a short presentation about their findings and
discuss new ideas. The four weeks of fieldwork will end with
presentations at specific locations within the different catchments.
During our stay in Luxembourg a couple of mandatory excursions will be
organized in which we visit different hydrologically interesting
locations in Luxembourg.

Back at VU, you will have another three weeks to finalize your reports
and to manage your data.

Teaching Methods

The course is subdivided in three parts. Before the fieldwork
preparatory lectures will be organised. In the fieldwork region, each
group will be assigned a study catchment in which a hydrological
observation network (surface water, ground water, meteorology, etc.)
will be installed. Students are expected to work independently and make
their own decisions regarding planning and research strategy. Data
processing, analysis and modelling are an integral part of the field
course to scale up the measurements and link their findings to water
resources issues in the region. An individual report will be finalized
in Amsterdam during the final three weeks of the course. Prior to the
final version, the students are required to send in a draft report which
will be reviewed by three peers (each student has to review three draft
reports as well).
Staff members will be present during the whole course period for
supervision and for consultation by students.

Method of Assessment

- Data management (10%)
- Final presentation in the field (30%)
- Publication of report on results (60%)

Entry Requirements

Admission to this field course is granted to students who have been
admitted to the Hydrology MSc Programme. Furthermore, students must have
completed the course Measuring Techniques in Hydrology and, before
mid-April, must have passed at least two of the courses Catchment
Response Analysis, Groundwater Processes and Water Quality.


Handbook for Hydrological Field Measurements. Adapted from: Boris M.
van Breukelen, Michel M.A. Groen, Koos Groen, Ko van
Huissteden, Richard A.M. de Jeu, Vincent E.A. Post, Jaap Schellekens and
Maarten J. Waterloo (2018). VU University Amsterdam.

Target Audience

First year MSc Hydrology Programme students

Additional Information

The course coordinator will send you an e-mail asking for information
about your participation in this course in January. Besides registering
for this course via the VUnet portal please respond to
the e-mail request of the coordinator. The course
is partly subsidized by the faculty and the students are obliged to pay
the other part of the course (travel, residence costs, etc.).

Recommended background knowledge

The student should have a good general knowledge of the subjects
discussed in the basic theoretical courses M.Sc. Hydrology master, i.e.
Catchment Response Analysis, Ecohydrology, Groundwater Processes, Water
Quality, Unsaturated Zone and Near Surface Hydrological Processes.
Participants will need to work with GIS for analysing and displaying
spatial spatial data and will need to be familiar with field methods.

General Information

Course Code AM_1169
Credits 12 EC
Period P5+6
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. ir. M.C. Westhoff
Examiner dr. ir. M.C. Westhoff
Teaching Staff dr. ir. M.C. Westhoff
dr. H. de Moel

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Fieldwork, Seminar, Computer lab