MSc in Water – Policy track

MSc in Water - Policy track

Why to study MSc in Water – Policy track

Semester 1:

Water and Society in Africa

Water is necessary for all life. As the cradle of humankind, Africa and the distribution of its water resources have influenced society since the dawn of time. Water scarcity or the lack of access to clean water has been a core social and political problem for centuries and will continue to be on the agenda of African politics for the foreseeable future – particularly against the backdrop of rapid population growth and climate change. This course introduces students to the history and regional context of water in Africa and teaches them to understand the social, cultural and religious role of water, as well as economic, socio-economic, ecological and political aspects associated with water in Africa.

Number of Credits 4

Water Governance and Politics

The following topics will be covered using case studies from Africa:

  1. Conceptual framework of water politics: Process, power and purpose
    1. The interplay of different entities and stakeholders (i.e., nations and interest groups), their respective capacity to influence decision outcomes and their individual interests
  2. Laws on water, their analysis and the state of accountability
    1. Analysis of the core messages of different kinds of water laws, namely, South African water law, evolution of the water regime in Kenya and Islamic laws on water
    2. Legal implications of water as a human right
    3. Analysis of the level of accountability in various countries and the consequences to understand the disparity between laws and their enforcement
  3. Role of institutions (formal and informal) in governing water
    1. Insight into water allocation mechanisms at the domestic level
  4. Role of international institutions and cooperation
    1. Focus on common African water policies and the respective policy frameworks of the African Union.
  5. Opportunities provided by business and their consequences
    1. Understanding the extent of privatisation of water in Africa and its impacts
  6. Transboundary cooperation and water conflicts
    1. Conflicts between countries that share water sources, mechanisms in place to facilitate collaboration and mitigate these conflicts, and evaluation of the effectiveness of these mechanisms
  7. Learning from past crises
    1. Droughts happened in the past and will most likely happen in future as well, thus learning and adaptation at policy level is necessary
  8. Innovation: What works? What will not?
    1. From rain water harvesting to tapping on toilets, anything is possible as long it is feasible in the African context – scope for creative inputs from student on reforms

Number of Credits 6

Policy Analysis

Policy Analysis is a core module for both the Water and Energy Policy Tracks. Students learn policy analysis from the perspective of policy process, policy desirability, policy tools, and policy evaluation. The course enables learners to understand and discuss the logic of public policies, constraints in implementation and impact of policies in developing countries. The course uses both normative and empirical analysis. Examples and exercises are provided from water and energy areas including various case studies. The study of each policy area (water and energy) will emphasise the differences in policy responses and the effects of policies.

Number of Credits 4

Research Design and Methodology

This course equips students with the tools necessary to conduct their own studies. It is structured in four main sections: After identifying different approaches and traditions within the philosophy of science as the foundation for further research design construction, the course will discuss the pivotal role of asking a good research question to describe and explain empirical puzzles. The third and most extensive section is devoted to the process of arriving at good answers. In this section, sub-topics include the choice of an appropriate research design including an introduction to different types of research designs – both quantitative and qualitative – in social research, the process of case selection as well as collecting empirical evidence. Moreover, the different stages of the research process will be discussed. In the final section, students will apply acquired knowledge and skills by constructing a coherent research design on a topic of energy or water policy individually or within small groups. A draft of this research design will be evaluated and discussed within the seminar group, while the final proposal serves as the written assignment for the course.

Number of Credits 4

African History

This course aims to provide students with a solid foundation on Africa’s historical experiences and realities. It surveys how African social and political institutions have developed over Africa’s greatly varied geography in the light of economic and environmental change over the last few millennia. Furthermore, it covers issues related to colonialism, nationalism, African states and the African identity. Finally, it equips students with a generic base of skills for the general study of history.

Number of Credits 4

Practical Laboratories


Number of Credits 5

Public Communication and Political Advocacy

This course covers two key elements of political advocacy: narrative and strategy. A primary focus is on certain types of advocacy, including advocacy for sustainable and innovative water and energy solutions, and advocacy for climate change mitigation and adaptation policies.

Number of Credits 1

Entre- and Intrapreneurship

Entrepreneurship is often regarded purely as business management, resulting in entrepreneurship education content that primarily focuses on developing business management skills. This approach limits the development of entrepreneurial potential in other sectors such as government and civil society and effectively excludes other disciplines from acquiring much needed 21st century skills. This course regards entrepreneurship as a transversal process and covers content that encourages students to be entrepreneurial – a combination of skills and mindset that unlock particular attitudes and behaviours. These include having a growth mindset (versus a fixed mindset), having a hunger for lifelong learning and applying critical thinking skills to problem solving. The course equips students with the knowledge of how to spot opportunities and generate ideas, learning in part from African cases.

The unprecedented rate of change and complexity in society requires entrepreneurial thinkers that are constantly learning, therefore, instilling a habit of lifelong learning is crucial. Critical thinking, one of the essential 21st century skills according to the World Economic Forum, promotes understanding and more effective discussions; it provides students with the ability to identify problems and equips them with the concepts and vocabulary to explain errors or poor logic. Critical thinking is therefore key to problem solving and one of the sources for effective idea generation. Business management generally relies heavily on information to make informed decisions, but in the quest to be intra- or entrepreneurial, information alone is not sufficient. The ability to spot opportunities and generate ideas from information to fulfil a need, is what makes entrepreneurial students more valuable. This course therefore aims to prepare students with problem solving skills (finding solutions to urgent challenges), critical thinking skills (thinking clearly, rationally and systematically), opportunity spotting skills (seeing the unseen and generating value from that) and idea generation skills.

All of the above requires practice and time to develop and so this course aims to ignite interest and perhaps unlock a hunger for becoming entrepreneurial. It also aims to start equipping students to be habitual critical thinkers, problem solvers, opportunity spotters and idea generators by teaching basic tools and techniques to achieve these objectives.

Number of Credits 2

Semester 2:

The Policy and Engineering Nexus in Water

The course focuses on the nexus of water policy and engineering. It begins by highlighting the challenges that humanity faces in the near future, particularly relative to water resources. The complexity, interactivity and

interaction of this resource requires a more holistic approach, since rational learning only solves rather simple problems. In addition, the interaction of water resource systems with other systems (e.g., sciences, engineering, policies, energy, food) requires particular attention when it comes to managing these interfaces. The notion of the nexus (the link) makes it possible to define the problem of interface.

Number of Credits 6

Water Economics

The Africa Water Vision 2025 and the Fourth Dublin-Rio Principles are interpreted to mean that water should be treated as an economic good in its competing uses for development. However, due to its use for sustaining life and the environment, water should be treated not only as an economic good, but also as a social good. Moreover, countries in Africa have launched in-depth policy reforms in the water sector over the past two decades. New institutional and governance systems have been introduced including lifeline pricing and economic valuation of water. Several economic instruments including the ‘polluter pays principle’ are being deployed to ensure the efficient management of African water resources.


It is against this background that it becomes vital for students to have the knowledge and understanding of the basic concepts of water economics to enable them to design and implement policies aimed at alleviating poverty, preserving the environment and using water resources rationally and effectively.


Hence, the course introduces students to the basic economic principles, concepts and models applicable to the water sector. Based on this foundation, the course will further synthesize economic approaches to managing water, including quantity and price-based policy instruments and cost-benefit analysis. The course explores issues of water demand and supply, water allocation and water quality, together with policies such as water pricing and water trading for managing water resources.


The course aims to familiarize students with the specific characteristics of water resources and how economic methods and models can be applied to address these characteristics to inform water policy and assist decision making. Special attention will be paid to water resources valuation and water markets, including payments for watershed services. Through a water game, students will learn how to use different surface and groundwater resources under normal and drought conditions.

Number of Credits 4

Climate Policy

Climate change has been called a ‘wicked problem’ as it is an issue that presents great scientific and economic complexity, deep uncertainties and profound ethical questions. Efforts to craft a public policy response are being made at multiple levels of governance, cutting across and affecting a wide range of traditional policy fields. How can we solve the ‘greatest market failure that the world has seen’?

What are key policy instruments for mitigating climate change? Who are the actors, actor constellations and institutional settings for climate policy at different levels of governance? What is the state and trend of climate policy in world regions with the largest share of global greenhouse gas emissions? This course is designed to encourage students to begin to answer these questions.

Number of Credits 4

Modelling, Simulation and Impact Analysis

Energy policy design and assessment is a complex, dynamic task. This course introduces students to the use of system dynamics modelling and simulation for energy policy analysis and scenario-based impact analysis.

The course emphasises modelling causality in energy systems, and formulating and building system dynamics stock-and-flow and simulation models. Utilising the validated simulation models, this course enables learners to perform integrated socio-economic and environmental impact analyses of energy policies.

Number of Credits 4

Applied Data Analysis

The first part of the course focuses on revisiting basic concepts of descriptive and inferential statistics. The second part introduces the basics of R, importing different data formats and storing them in a consistent format. It then moves on to teach students ways to effectively visualise and transform data using databases in energy and water. Students learn to perform statistical analysis in R and communicate the results to others.

Number of Credits 4

Practical Laboratories


Number of Credits 5

Project Design and Management

This course cultivates skills and expertise in designing, planning and controlling projects. It examines the project management life cycle, defining project parameters, management challenges, project management tools and techniques, and emphasizes the project manager’s role.

The course will guide students through the fundamental tools of project management and skills necessary to devise, launch, lead, and implement successful projects in profit and non-profit organizations. Successful project managers possess the skills necessary to manage their teams, schedules, risks, and resources to produce desired outcomes. Students explore project management with a practical and pragmatic approach through project implementation, case studies and class exercises.

Number of Credits 2

Writing Skills for Policy and Policy Analysis

This course provides students with the skills and techniques necessary to shape the policy process through written communication. Thereby, it explores different styles and formats of policy writing with a hands-on approach. After an introduction to the role of writing in the policy process, students study different formats of policy writing and their respective argumentative, structural and stylistic characteristics. Subsequently, students work in groups to structure and formulate comprehensive policy papers based on real-world policy problems from the field of energy and water policy. In doing so, students practice the task of collaborative writing. The last topic of the course, writing a short policy brief, serves as a final written assignment.

Number of Credits 1

Semester 3:

Access to Water

Poor access to water remains critical in many African countries and contributes to “water stress,” meaning that demand for water exceeds availability or that low water quality makes the water available unsafe for use. Government-owned water sources are needed across the continent, especially when taking financial versus social objectives into account which can be an issue once water access becomes privatised. Water in African countries is often too hard to access, too expensive to pay for or too unsafe to drink or use for other purposes. Access to water is also a major challenge for agriculture and industry, which in turn often contaminate the water sources in their areas of operation. Without water, it is almost impossible to eradicate poverty, making safe water access a major challenge for policy-makers.

Number of Credits 4

Food Security: Water and Energy Nexus

Water, energy and food are essential for human well-being, poverty reduction and sustainable development. Yet, population growth, increasing mobility, economic development, urbanisation, diversifying diets, climate change and technological advancements increase the pressure upon eco-systems and increase the demands for freshwater, energy and food. The water-energy-food nexus is a topic of growing interest in research and describes the complex and interrelated nature of our global resources systems. WEF policy decisions are often founded in highly technical terms, yet also often encounter matters of hegemony, equity and natural rights, making it necessary for students to address policy considerations beyond the realm of quantitative analysis. This course will therefore survey WEF concepts and principles, introduce tools of analysis, and engage students in case studies of critical WEF issues within and between nations.

Number of Credits 4

Sanitation and Health

The purpose of this course is to give students in-depth knowledge of water and sanitation infrastructures, water access problems and risks associated with water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Number of Credits 4

Environmental Problems and Disaster Risk Reduction Related to Water

Water-related disasters account for about 90% of all natural disasters globally and their number is expected to rise further in the coming years due to climate change. Water disasters not only concern the people directly affected by them – they are a national challenge with certain countries losing 15% of their GDP to water-related emergencies. Global climate change and increasing stress from fast-growing urban areas has aggravated the drought situation across the African continent, resulting in wide-spread consequences for human health,

agriculture and other heavily water-dependent industries. Mudslides and flash floods have affected some African countries such as Sierra Leone and Mozambique. Water pollution and access to clean water remain challenges for infrastructure development and policy-makers. National boundaries as drawn up by colonial powers cutting off water access have deeply affected water distribution across the continent, making it an imperative to not only follow national but also regional disaster risk management strategies.

Number of Credits 4

Water Policy

This course integrates concepts learnt in various preparatory courses on the topic in the first two semesters. It draws in particular on Water and Society in Africa, Water Governance and Politics, Policy Analysis, and Public.

Communication and Political Advocacy from semester 1, as well as on Water Economics, Modelling, Simulation and Impact Analysis and Applied Data Analysis from semester 2.

Students analyse problems associated with water from different perspectives, develop and present a policy solution and a legitimate strategy to promote this solution in a given political context. At the beginning of the course, student groups choose their topic from a range of water problems (e.g., fresh water access, drought management, sanitation access, international water disputes) and link it to a concrete region, country or province. Next, they take on the role of a prominent actor in their topic’s field. Subsequent work is carried out on behalf of the chosen actor. Then, as the course unfolds, students apply course content to their respective cases step-by-step to develop a water policy for their case. The course concludes with comprehensive presentations of the result of this group work.

Number of Credits 4

Integrated Water Resource Management

The following topics will be covered:

  1. Introduction to integrated water resources management (IWRM)
    1. Definition of IWRM, the Dublin Principles as a historical background to IWRM, integration in the broader development context, integrated water development in relation to sustainable development, key issues in water management, the Dublin Principles, water management and ecosystems, recent developments in the concept of IWRM, implementing IWRM
  2. IWRM functions, water allocation and pollution management
    1. Basic functions of water resources management, water management objectives to address these functions, institutional arrangements to perform these functions, step-by-step approach to carry out these functions, water management objectives in water allocation, introduction to water resource systems analysis, water permits, legal and regulatory framework for water pollution management, planning for and implementation of pollution control, lessons and exercises
  3. Water resources monitoring, information management and use of indicators in IWRM
    1. The need to monitor, monitoring water resources and water use, monitoring pollution and water quality, water resource information management processes, tools and outputs, water management progress and performance indicators and their uses, criteria for developing indicators, minimum indicators required for water management at basin scale, lesson and exercises
  4. Stakeholder participation and gender issues in IWRM
    1. Types of stakeholders in IWRM, stakeholder involvement (where and how?), inventory, mobilisation and organisational structures, maintaining active stakeholder participation, exploring linkages between gender and IWRM in environmental sustainability, economic efficiency and social equity, lessons and exercises
  5. Economic and financial instruments in IWRM
    1. Definition of economic and financial instruments, water as an economic and social good, application of the instruments in IWRM to achieve management goals, lessons and exercises
  6. Basin planning for IWRM
    1. Preparing for basin planning, basin planning process, implementation of the basin plan, case studies, lessons and exercises

Number of Credits 6

Sector Analysis

Once exclusively associated with business and investment studies, sector analysis is a key tool to understand the particular characteristics of ‘water’ or ‘energy’ as a particular field of human activity in any given country or region as a whole. The course covers five fundamental elements of these sectors – natural resources, production facilities, distribution systems, demand and consumption patterns, and governance regime – and views water and energy through these filters in a variety of case studies from Africa.

As a key assignment for the class, students work in groups to conduct a sector analysis in water or energy for a country or region of their choice and to present the results in the plenary.

Number of Credits 5

Financial Management

Infrastructure development in the energy and water sectors is dependent on public sector funding. Recent years have witnessed a trend of curtailing public budgets, affecting the availability of funding for infrastructure projects and leading to the current infrastructure gap. Overcoming this gap is possible through different financing methods. The aim of this course is to present the students with the costs and benefits of these financing methods, enabling them to understand which one is appropriate for different contexts.

To achieve these objectives, the course will first introduce basic financial tools and concepts to understand the decision-making process that characterises the choice between different investments. Building on these instruments, the course will then focus on the main funding mechanisms available to infrastructure investments, namely corporate and project finance. Regarding the latter, particular attention will be paid to public private partnership agreements and the various forms they can take.

Number of Credits 4

Human Rights and Gender

The course aims to provide students with knowledge of the relationship between gender and human rights both within the African and international systems. It explores origins, development and challenges of integrating gender into human rights law discourse and practice. Focusing on international protection of women’s human rights as an example, the course introduces students to relevant international bodies and instruments.

Number of Credits 2

Ethics, Leadership and Accountability

The course considers ethics, leadership, leadership dilemmas and accountability issues that can arise when an individual’s values conflict with those of an organisation, or when a situation requires decisions with competing or conflicting values. The focus is on ethical issues that leaders have to deal with including ethical dilemmas in decision making. Effective leadership in Africa, and the subsequent emergence of Africa, depends on ethical leadership and accountability. Many African countries face challenges arising from accountability problems that have led to bad governance. The course examines leadership principles, theories and styles. Within this course, students use case studies, their own experiences and current events to examine actions leaders have taken and consequences they have faced. Students work on real-life issues of transparency and accountability, examine underlying reasoning of the problems, identify and analyse ethical dilemmas, and develop action plans for solving and preventing similar problems at the organisational and societal levels.

Number of Credits 1

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Internships are an integral part of the degree, students will obtain at PAUWES.

PAUWES internship program is an important vehicle to advance students skills and professionalism towards achieving their desired future career.

It consists of two internships :

Summer (also called career) Internship

Students do it during their summer break (at the end of the first-year master), during the Summer Internship students can test and apply the skills they acquired during their studies in a real-life situation and tailor these to the specific field they have chosen. This experience will help them to narrow down their job preferences and define their professional profile. We strongly encourage students to reach companies and do their summer internship

Research Internship (also called data collection Internship)

Students do it at the beginning of their Master Thesis (MT) in the fourth semester. The Research Internship will allow students to collect data on-site for their MT (find case studies, conduct interviews, take measurements or perform experiments, etc.). It provides students with the opportunity to get to know their research subject personally or allows them to work directly with their supervisor at his/her workplace. PAUWES internship program provides various channels for support.

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Career Prospects of PAUWES Graduates


PAUWES curricula aims to equip future graduates with knowledge, skills and attitudes that allow them to be competitive in both the employment market and in academia if they choose to pursue doctoral studies. Owing to their methodical approach and their governments’ clear vision and policy, developed countries have a strong demand for graduates with profiles similar to the ones produced by PAUWES. The job market for such profiles has long been limited in Africa. However, there is an increasing number of employment opportunities as a consequence of the boom in start-up companies and foreign direct investments witnessed in the past decade across Africa.

Some examples of positions that can be filled by PAUWES graduates in energy, water and policy.


Energy Engineering:

  • Energy Systems Engineer
  • Project Manager
  • Green Building Designer
  • Green Building Project Manager
  • Account Executive / Manager
  • Energy Analyst
  • Energy Efficiency Analyst
  • Power Engineer
  • Research Engineer

Water Engineering:

  • Hydraulics Engineer
  • Water / Wastewater Engineer
  • Water Resources Engineer
  • Project Manager
  • Water Treatment Engineer
  • Research Engineer

Energy Policy & Water Policy:

  • Energy/Water Policy Analyst
  • Energy/Water Consultant
  • Project Coordinator
  • Technical Writer
  • Research Analyst

Contact Info

Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences - PAUWES

c/o Tlemcen University, B.P. 119 | Pôle Chetouane, Tlemcen 13000



M: +213 43 41 04 35

F: +213 43 41 04 99

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African Union Agenda 2063

A strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. It builds on, and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development. These include STISA 2024, the Lagos Plan of Action