MSc in Tropical Hydrogeology and Environmental Engineering – TropHEE

General information

In debates on the future needs of society, “sustainability” has become a major issue. Introduced in forestry as early as the 18th century, the term sustainability has been defined for our time in the UN report “Our Common Future” (1987; also known as the Brundtland Report).

In accordance with this report, the term implies that a sustainable development must meet the needs of the present generation without barring future generations from meeting their own needs; in other words a fair sharing of the resources by the present generation and generations to come must be attained.

Water is an essential resource for mankind and nature. One of the specific targets of Goal 7 “Ensuring Environmental Sustainability” of the UN's Millennium Development Goals is to “halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation”. Water supply and water management tasks will be even aggravated in the future by climate-change-induced processes.

Many of the most urgent problems in the field of water and energy supply and environmental protection are related to geoscientific issues and require a sound knowledge of the foundation of our material existence: the underground and its special features and processes. Geoscientists investigate the potentials of the subsurface in order to e.g. find fossil fuels, metals and raw materials, exploit groundwater and describe the capacities of different soils and their vulnerabilities, assess land use and planning decisions, etc. Thus geoscientists have the necessary knowledge to balance the challenge of economic growth against ecological needs and social goals.

TropHEE in Darmstadt

The Darmstadt Master of Science Course “Tropical Hydrogeology and Environmental Engineering” (TropHEE) aims at combining a comprehensive understanding of geoscientific fundamentals with a specific focus on issues of application that are essential in hydrogeology and environmental management. In particular, TropHEE concentrates on methods and modern techniques enabling the participants to find ways for a sustainable development of tropical and subtropical countries from a geoscientific point of view. Although in the broader framework of international development cooperation, TropHEE offers a comprehensive, research-oriented education in Hydrogeology and Environmental Geosciences and Engineering on Master level.

TropHEE started in 2006 under the name “Tropical Hydrogeology, Engineering Geology and Environmental Management”, after finishing the accreditation process in 2005. With its re-accreditation in 2012, the profile of the course profile is stronger than before focused on water and environmental technology issues, while strictly engineering-geology-focused issues have been omitted from the syllabus.

The students of TropHEE obtain a broad assortment of fundamental knowledge and an excellent theoretical and applied knowledge in the fields of hydrogeology, water management and land use planning with emphasis on geoscientific recommendations. Their scientific competence will be complemented by their competence of methods as well as their understanding of systems.

English has been chosen as the course language to allow participants from all over the world to attend the classes without wasting time for language familiarisation.

The international master's program Tropical Hydrogeology and Environmental Engineering (TropHEE) aims at training students with a background in geosciences or civil engineering to approach and help solving specific water issues of subtropical and tropical regions. Special focus is put on arid regions with strong water scarcity, but emphasis is also placed on water and soil quality problems within growing mega-cities with dense population and industrial areas. Engineering is taught from a geoscientific perspective, e.g. awareness of local geology and regional water fluxes, biogeochemical cycles, or long-term hydrology of fossil groundwater resources etc.

Hydrogeology deals with the presence, flow, and chemical properties of groundwater, including interactions with surface water, soils, and rocks. Beside lectures pointing out the practical relevance of e.g. exploration, exploitation, treatment, management and protection of groundwater, modern techniques in groundwater management are included, such as modelling of groundwater flow, contaminant transport, and geochemical reactions, as well as isotopes and tracer hydrology.

Environmental Management and Engineering addresses geoscientific aspects in land planning and engineering. TropHEE places emphasis on the management of urban areas. The integration of large data sets of highly different nature becomes necessary, and hence the use of Geo Information Systems (GIS) and geostatistical methods are introduced. The use of GIS supports complex analysis and decision-making in order to define scenarios for sustainable development. Other topics covered in lectures and practical exercises include remote sensing techniques, construction of safe waste deposits, and techniques for remediation of contaminated groundwater and soil decontamination.


The course comprises compulsory modules and elective modules:

Compulsory Modules (CM1 – CM3): Compulsory modules include a field trip to a semiarid region (CM1) to study geosciences and water management issues in regions with scarce water resources, a project seminar (CM2) to foster interdisciplinarity and teamwork skills, and the Scientific Training (CM3).

Basic Modules (BM1 – BM5, elective): The lectures of the Basic Modules cover essential geoscientific knowledge and methods for a water- and environment-related education in Applied Geosciences. They are held in preparation of the contents in the Special Modules. The students decide on their choice of Basic Modules in an orientation meeting with the student advisor, under consideration of their previous knowledge in geosciences.

Special Modules (SM1 – SM12, elective): Objective of the Special Modules is to deepen the scientific and methodological knowledge of the students, with focus on the specific conditions of the target region of this course. This should enable the students to develop and apply problem solving strategies and methods. Special focus is given to problem-oriented application and further development of the knowledge obtained in the course.

Learning outcome:

Holding a MSc from the TropHEE course, the graduate

  • developed awareness of the geoscientific problems of his/her home country,
  • comprehends the complexity of problems and tasks in the field of activity,
  • is able to familiarize himself/herself with new methods in the same field or a new field of activity independently,
  • earned to act in a creative and constructive manner to understand and develop new knowledge, methods and solutions,
  • obtained competence of designing and grading open questions as well as the competence of recognizing structures and patterns,
  • bears in mind the consequences of actions and decisions in the light of globalization and internationalization and the potential impact on technical, socio-economic and ecologic developments,
  • works interdisciplinarily and internationally and goes beyond professional, administrative and political limits if necessary,
  • balances various solutions and discusses decisions using facts and comprehensible arguments.

With these competences and skills the following professional areas and fields of research are opened to the graduate:

  • Research in the field of transport and fate of contaminants, with specific knowledge concerning humid tropic and semiarid areas.
  • Research and development in the field of sustainable groundwater protection with emphasis on tropic areas.
  • Planning, design and implementation of groundwater protection areas and catchment areas as well as catchment management.
  • Site investigation and remediation of brown fields and contaminated water and soil.
  • Research in the field of soil erosion and protection.
  • Planning, design and implementation of soil protection measures and measures to avert soil erosion.
  • Investigation, assessment and sustainable exploitation of geo-resources, such as raw materials or water.
  • Consulting in the fields of water management.
Contact Person: Kirsten Herrmann (Programme Secretariat) (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0511 - Biology", "0522 - Conservation and environmental management", "0532 - Marine Geology", "0532 - Physical and chemical oceanography", "0588 - Scientific modelling", "0712 - Environmental protection technology", "0713 - Offshore and renewable energy", "0724 - Oil, gas and mineral resources", "0731 - Marine spatial planning", "0732 - Near- and offshore constructions


Venue: Darmstadt University of Technology
Darmstadt, Germany

Institute of Applied Geosciences
Schnittspahnstrasse 9
D-64287 Darmstadt


Open from 31 Mar 2017


Participants must pay for all their personal expenses. From experience, the costs of living amount to approximately 800 Euros per month. In addition, the following costs directly related to the studies have to be covered by the participants:

  • Student services, social services fees (around 230 Euros per semester)
  • Field trip to a semiarid region (travel costs, accommodation)
  • Industrial excursion in Germany (travel costs)
  • Field exercises (travel costs, accommodation)
  • Laboratory materials consumed (if applicable)

These study costs add up to around 200 Euros per month. There are no tuition fees!


Carefully check, if the content of the TropHEE master's course fits into your academic background and your professional career wishes. You should be interested in geosciences and should have already been in touch with geological subjects and information. The major focus of the TropHEE program is on water and related environmental and technical issues, viewed from a strong geoscientific perspective. Engineering geology and civil engineering is only marginally taught in this context.

For detailed information on the content of the course please check the “Study Information” text and the “Module Handbook” on our Download page.

Although there are little additional costs (enrolment fee of around 240 € / per semester), you have to pay for all expenses of your travel to Germany, your residence and arrangements in Germany, and for the obligatory field courses. See Costs.

There are also some formal requirements: Applicants are required to prove geoscientific or civil engineering competences, or competences in a related subject on at least Bachelor level, as documented through a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Engineering degree or a comparable examination. The TropHEE Examination Board decides on the equivalency of the degrees. In individual cases the TropHEE Examination Board may request interviews or tests to assess the eligibility of candidates, or impose other additional requirements.

Candidates must also provide proof of English language proficiency in form of a certificate (UNICERT III, TOEFL (PBT 570, CBT 230, iBT 88), IELTS 6.5 or CAE (Grade C1)). English language proficiency is regarded as proven if your previous degree (e.g. Bachelor) was taught entirely in English. The students do not need to provide proof of fluency in German, although they are encouraged to participate in language courses offered by the language centre of TU Darmstadt.

Application Procedure:

Joining TropHEE without scholarship

If you do not need a scholarship, please directly apply online at TU Darmstadt for the TropHEE master course.

Foreign students. If you are holding a higher education entrance qualification from a foreign country, please submit your application via the International Office of the TU Darmstadt (Akademisches Auslandsamt – AAA):

German Students. If you are holding a German higher education entrance qualification (e.g., Abitur), please submit your application via the following online application portal:


Joining TropHEE on a scholarship

If you need a scholarship for attending the TropHEE MSc course, please apply for a scholarship first. The TropHEE MSc course is part of the DAAD scholarship program with emphasis on problems of developing and transforming countries.

Grant Opportunities:

The number of scholarships from DAAD is limited, however, and competition is high. Please check carefully if you fulfill the DAAD requirements. These include:

  • you have a BSc certificate above average
  • you do not hold a master title so far
  • you have some practical experience outside the university in the field of water
  • you intend to go back to your home country where you preferably already have a guaranteed job position.

The deadline to apply for a DAAD scholarship is October 15th at TU Darmstadt. Deadlines refer to the year before students intend to start the program. Please note that your application should be addressed to the TropHEE office:

The final decision on the allocation of scholarships is made by the DAAD. Please note that the selection process at all postgraduate courses supported by the DAAD will last from the end of October until February.

After positive response from the DAAD you must still apply online with TU Darmstadt as described here. This may take another 3 months.


Academic level: Master

Qualification: Master of Science

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