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Master's Degree Programme
Specialisation Track in Integrated Watershed Sciences


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IWS MASTER 2: Pre-apply now!

Some cluster master thesis topics for 2023-2024:
  • Management of a peri-urban river with endangered species : surface runoff management, restauration of aquatic environment and reduction of pollution, in collaboration with SAGYRC
  • Evolution of calcareous deposits (tufs) in the Cuisance basin : what are the causes, interactions and discrepancies between tufs, aquatic habitats and human activities? In collaboration with SMDL
  • River connectivity, biodiversity conservation and socio-economic values in collaboration with EDF


Freshwater has become a highly limited, critical resource and increasing anthropogenic demands (e.g., drinking water, sanitation, hydropower, irrigation, transportation) often create conflicts with water quality- and availability-requirements of natural hydrosystems. Addressing the complexities of freshwater challenges and developing innovative, integrated approaches across disciplines is central to develop sustainable solutions.

This specialisation track is ideal for students with a broad interest in water sciences who want to integrate social, environmental and engineering dimensions. Students will not only expand their knowledge within their own discipline, but also acquire a trans-disciplinary perspective of watershed sciences. This will enable students to fully understand the threats to both natural and anthropogenic hydrosystems and develop their skills to create and implement innovative, holistic solutions.

The teaching is developed and conducted by expert researchers of the H2O’Lyon research units and our national and international partners. The Master thesis will be carried out in collaboration with external academic organisations and water stakeholders and managers.  

The IWS specialisation is open to students at the University of Lyon enrolled in:

To foster cross-disciplinary thinking, two or three students from each Master programme will be selected that will form an IWS-track cohort.

Students from the Engineering schools INSA and ENTPE can enrol for the second year of this specialisation track (i.e. Master 2).

Extent of the study programme
Year 1: 60 ECTS
Year 2: 60 ECTS


Master's Degree

Studies begin
September 2023

Lyon (France)

French/English for Year 1
English for Year 2

Mode of teaching
On campus

University Lyon 1
University Lyon 2

Programme Coordinators
Christophe Douady
Norbert Landon
Björn Wissel
Marina Cholton

Programme in brief

Programme Structure

The Specialisation track in Integrated Watershed Sciences is a two-year programme amounting to 120 ECTS (60 credits per year). All second-year courses are taught in English. Students can enter the programme in either the first or second year.

During the first year, students complete the course work of the Master programme in which they are enrolled to increase their disciplinary knowledge, in addition to:
  • 3-day supervised field work / workshop during the fall to develop a case study within an interdisciplinary context.  Students will discover the value of integrating different disciplines and collaborate to solve complex water sciences problems.
  • Participation in a year-long research-mentoring programme. Students will be partnered with researchers from the H2O’Lyon community. Students will gain first-hand perspectives on research in their discipline and acquire new knowledge and skills.

The second year focuses on the specialisation track in Integrated Watershed Sciences and offers courses and training on the Theory of inter-disciplinary, Application to complex issues in water sciences, Fundamentals and technics for solving water-related problems, and Professional tools, such as scientific communication and project management.

Courses will combine teaching methods, such as lectures, practicals, group exercises, field-based work, student presentations as well as completion of an independent research project (Master thesis).

Students are encouraged to participate in an international mobility (1 to 6 months). This mobility can be carried out during semester 1 or 2 and is supported by H2O’Lyon scholarships. This mobility will give students the opportunity to experience different cultural visions, approaches to learning and knowledge, and improve their language proficiencies, all skills needed to solve current and future water issues at the global scale.


Year-2 Teaching Units (UE)

Teaching Unit (UE) European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)
Challenges in water sciences 3
Inter and transdisciplinarity 3
Disciplinary basis 6
Cross-disciplinary issues 3
Supervised project 3
Technics and methods 6
Communication and application 6
Master thesis 30
Total Year 2 60

Master thesis and topics

Students will carry out a supervised final research project as their Master thesis. The purpose of the thesis is to demonstrate the student’s capacity to design, conduct and analyse a scientific study based on the skills obtained during the first three semesters. Students from different disciplines will form clusters around trans-disciplinary research questions to address complex real-world issues that go well beyond their individual expertise. Each student will work on facets of the question that are related to its specific discipline, while collaborating with other students in its cluster.

Students will present their individual projects, results and relevant background literature in an independent Master thesis and a Master seminar that follows the procedures of scientific meetings. In addition, students from each cluster will generate a short report describing the collective effort to solve the real-world issue of their project.

Master theses will be carried out in one of the research units of the H2O'Lyon network, in collaboration with external organisations involved in watershed management and water sciences.

Examples of suitable Master thesis topics:
  • Climate change and water resource
  • Environmental risks and freshwater pollution
  • Restoration and freshwater biodiversity
  • Sustainable urban water management
  • River health assessment and integrated diagnosis
  • ...


After the Master

Career Options

Students are being prepared for a career in fundamental or applied research, water conservation, management and policy at different regional, national, international levels that are associated with their own areas of expertise (e.g., ecology, geomatics, water, environment and risk management, engineering sciences). Possible employment will include positions such as Project Manager, Research Scientist, Policy Analyst …

In contrast to traditional water-sciences programs, the H2O’Lyon IWS programme has a strong emphasis on inter-, cross- and trans-disciplinarity and the development of communication tools. Freshwater issues are no longer subject-specific. Therefore, knowledge and understanding of related disciplines will not only be crucial for finding innovative, holistic solutions to current and future threats, but will also increase professional skills, employability and job satisfaction.

Ph.D. Studies

In addition to pursuing a career as a water professional (see above), this Master degree specialisation track makes you eligible for scientific postgraduate degree studies.
As Ph.D. student, you are part of a research group and will conduct your own independent scientific project.
Degrees can be completed at the University of Lyon in one of the H2O’Lyon research units (or anywhere else in the World).
Students can do either a regular Ph.D. or pursue a programme within the CIFRE programme (French partnership programme to conduct doctoral studies while being employed by a company).
The H2O’Lyon team will assist IWS students to identify a suitable Ph.D. project and research partners as well as potential funding sources.

Entry Requirements

International Students

International students can enroll for the second year of this specialization track (i.e. Master 2).

The admission process for the IWS Programme differs depending on your situation:
  • You are a student from a country eligible for the Etudes en France procedure (list of the countries here).
 You need to apply through the Etudes en France platform from December to March. Please find more information about this procedure here.
  • You are a European or a foreign student not in the first case:
 You need to apply through the e-candidat platform.
Please find the procedure and the deadlines to apply in the section "How to apply" of this webpage.
The application platform is in general open from April to early June. If you enroll in the IWS master's program you will receive then a link to register at the Lyon University.

We encourage foreign students to pre-apply in April to help them prepare their candidature. All applications to join the iWS program are considered on a case-by-case basis.

If you enroll in the IWS master's program you will receive then a link to register at the Lyon University.

How to Apply

Annually, a maximum of 18 students will be admitted to the specialisation track in Integrated Watershed Sciences.

Check the prerequisites to ensure that you are eligible to participate in the programme.
Applicants must apply to one of the seven Master degree programmes that offer this specialisation and specify that they want to enrol in the Integrative Watershed Sciences track.

Be aware of the deadlines!

Biodiversity Ecology Evolution Year 1 BEE@Lyon 26.02.24 - 24.03.24   monmaster
Year 2 BEE@Lyon / IWS 12.04.24 - 02.06.24
  eCandidat Lyon 1
Microbiology Year 1 Microbiology 26.02.24 - 24.03.24   monmaster 
Year 2 Microbiology / IWS 12.04.24 - 02.06.24
  eCandidat Lyon 1
Process & Bioprocess Engineering Year 1 Process & Bioprocess Engineering 26.02.24 - 24.03.24   monmaster 
Year 2 Process & Bioprocess Engineering / IWS 02.04.24 - 26.05.24
  eCandidat Lyon 1
Environmental Management Year 1 Environmental Management 26.02.24 - 24.03.24   monmaster
Year 2 Environmental Management (Lyon 2) / IWS 07.05.24 - 10.06.24
Pre-apply now! eCandidat Lyon 2
Year 2 Environmental Management (St Etienne) / IWS 01.04.24 - 17.05.24
  eCandidat St Etienne
Risk & Environment Year 1 Risk & Environment 26.02.24 - 24.03.24   monmaster 
Year 2 Risk & Environment / IWS 07.05.24 - 10.06.24
Pre-apply now! eCandidat Lyon 2
Water Science Year 1 Water Science 26.02.24 - 24.03.24   monmaster
Year 2 Water Science / IWS 07.05.24 - 10.06.24
Pre-apply now! eCandidat Lyon 2
Geomatics Year 1 Geomatics 26.02.24 - 24.03.24   monmaster
Year 2 Geomatics (Lyon 2) / IWS 07.05.24 - 10.06.24 Pre-apply now! eCandidat Lyon 2

• Do not hesitate to contact us for any assistance to your application : h2olyon@univ-lyon1.fr / +33 (0)6 49 21 69 72
• Students from the engineering school INSA Lyon, please contact : Gislain Lipeme-Kouyi - gislain.lipeme-kouyi@insa-lyon.fr
• Students from the engineering school ENTPE, please contact : Anne-Laure Badin - annelaure.badin@entpe.fr

Application Evaluation

Admission to the track will be based on:
  • The relevance of the applicant’s awarded degree(s)
  • The amount, relevance, and grades of the courses in the degree(s)
  • The language test result
  • The motivation letter
  • Possible answers to the optional questions included in the application
  • Possible relevant work experience
  • Possible interview


H2O’Lyon offers scholarships to support the international mobility during your IWS studies. Students enrolled in the track can apply for a grant of 1000€ / month of mobility.
This scholarship is open to foreign students coming to Lyon (Year 1 and/or Year 2) and to French students to support their international mobility during Year 1.
Note that enrolled students will have to do their Master thesis in the form of a 6-months internship in a research unit. In France, internships are by law remunerated with a minimum amount of about 550€ per month.
The H2O’Lyon scholarship and the internship remuneration can be combined.