MSc Water Technology and Desalination

General information

The aim of the Water Technology and Desalination programme is to provide a sound understanding of a range of technologies that can be developed to provide safe, accessible water supply from saline groundwater and seawater. In particular, there is a technical focus on the design parameters and processes underpinning their efficient performance and operation. The programme has been specifically designed for Independent Distance Learning (IDL), to cater for the needs of our students who are often in employment or have other commitments, providing flexible study options that fit around work or family.

As an IDL student you will not be required to be present at lectures at Heriot-Watt University’s campuses and learning will take place primarily through on-line materials.  However, at Heriot-Watt University, student experience is paramount and in order to enhance the experience of our IDL students and help build a sense of community, our team of experienced on-line tutors provide weekly seminars and tutorials to supplement on-line learning materials. The programme is designed to be completed over a two year period, however students who are unable to complete the programme within this timeframe can take more time to finish their studies. Since the Independent Distance Learning mode of study provides flexibility, the duration of the programme depends on how much time a student can devote to their studies.

The programme is jointly offered through the Institute for Infrastructure and Environment at Heriot-Watt University and the Desalination Academy and therefore is primarily designed for graduates in engineering, earth sciences or other related disciplines looking to extend their technical expertise, gain further learning to meet their desire for professional development or to advance their employment opportunities. We also welcome professionals from other backgrounds who have relevant experience in the water industry.

The programme comprises 8 courses and a research dissertation:

  • Integrated Water Resource Management
  • Thermal and Hybrid Processes
  • Membrane Processes
  • Water Conservation
  • Intake, pre-treatment, post-treatment and Environmental Issues
  • Water and Wastewater Treatment
  • Desalination Economics and Management
  • Marine Water Discharges
  • Research Projects
Learning outcome:

Students will develop a critical awareness of the wider issues of resource management within the context of global change and the challenges presented by the need for desalination to be delivered on a technically robust and sustainable basis.

Contact Person: Bhaskar Sen Gupta (


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

0715 - Machinery and operators", "0522 - Conservation and environmental management


Venue: Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh, United Kingdom

School of the Built Environment
Distance Learning



Tuition fees for 2016 entry (by residency status)

  • Scotland / Non-UK EU £1,162
  • England / Northern Ireland / Wales £1,162
  • Overseas £1,162

Additional fees information

**Students pay £1162 per course (£2260 per Premium Course where offered) and £1660 for the Dissertation. This programme consists of 8 courses (modules): 4 standard courses (£1162 per course) and 4 premium courses (£2260 per course). MSc students are also required to submit a Masters dissertation.

There are two different fees for the taught courses on the Water Technology and Desalination programme. The courses with the premium fees are jointly supported by Heriot-Watt University and the International Desalination Association (IDA) and include the provision of exam preparation seminars as part of the course delivery. The exam preparation seminars require attendance in person by the students as these courses are supported via a hybrid of distance learning and face to face delivery to enable the students to benefit from the combined industrial experience of the IDA and the academic expertise of Heriot-Watt University.

For questions about IDL fees, please contact our Distance Learning Office:

Scholarships & bursaries

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate taught scholarshipsand postgraduate research scholarships.


Entry requirements

The entry requirements for the MSc /PgDip Water Technology and Desalination are a First or Upper Second-Class Honours degree from a UK University or equivalent Overseas qualification, in engineering, environmental, earth, chemical, physical, or mathematical sciences. Students with a Lower Second-Class Honours degree will be considered with relevant experience.

Candidates who do not meet the above entry requirements will be considered individually based on their CV and interview. Admission via this route will be at the discretion of the Director of Admissions and the number of successful applicants will be restricted. For more information please contact the Programme Leader or the Postgraduate

English language requirements

If English is not the applicant’s first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above.

Applicants who have previously successfully completed programmes delivered in the medium of English language may be considered and will be required to provide documentary evidence of this. Examples would be secondary school education or undergraduate degree programme. A minimum of at least one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required.

We offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your masters programme:

  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no more than one skill at 4.5);
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum of 5.0 in all skills);
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with minimum of 5.5 in reading & writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking & listening)

Distance learning students

Please note that independent distance learning students who access their studies online will be expected to have access to a PC/laptop and internet.

Application Procedure:

Applications for IDL programmes can be made via an online application form. Please read through Heriot-Watt University’s information on postgraduate applications before beginning. Please note that you need to supply referees via a referee’s report form for your application to be considered.

Application form. You can apply for all postgraduate programmes (except Edinburgh Business School programmes) using our online application form.

You must create an account to use the online application form. You don't have to complete the application in one session; you can save what you have done so far and return to complete it at a later date.

When to apply. There is no official deadline for postgraduate applications; we accept them right up until the beginning of term. However, if you are applying for a popular programme, it is in your best interest to submit your application as soon as you can so that you have the best chance of getting a place.

How we process your application. You will receive a response by email usually within 24 hours of submitting your application with your application reference number.

All applications will be carefully considered by appropriate staff in the relevant school and you will receive a response as soon as possible.  For some programmes, where the volume of applications is very high, this may be several weeks but for most programmes, you should hear from us within 2 weeks.

The response that you receive from the School will be either:

  • an unconditional offer
  • a conditional offer (further supporting documentation will be required, such as a copy of your degree certificate if you had not completed your degree when you first submitted your application)
  • regretfully, a decision to reject your application


Academic level: Master


Students will be assessed using a variety of approaches. Students will submit coursework for which they will receive formative feedback, as well as undertake a summative assignment or assessment at the end of each course.

Qualification: Master of Science
Occupations (not validated):
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