UCC Postgraduate courses

Freshwater Quality Monitoring & Assessment (Online)

Course Fact File
Duration3 Years
Teaching ModePart-Time
NFQ LevelLevel 9
FeesSee Fees and Costs for full details.
Closing DateTo Be Confirmed
Non-EU Closing DateTo Be Confirmed
Course Delivery MethodOnline
Start DateTo Be Confirmed

Course Outline

Our MSc Freshwater Quality Monitoring & Assessment online programme will provide existing or future water professionals with the necessary knowledge to design and implement freshwater quality monitoring programmes and to assess water quality.

The programme is offered in a part-time, online format that facilitates study in your own time. It is useful to those already working in the water sector, including government agencies, and to staff in higher-level education institutes who wish to gain a specialised postgraduate qualification in surface and groundwater monitoring, quality assurance and control, and data analysis and presentation.

Rivers, lakes and groundwaters are covered in detail and there is an option to study biological and ecological methods, the use of particulate material in monitoring and to take part in a field module during the second year of the programme. The final year of the programme comprises an individual research project and written dissertation.

Programme Content

On successful completion of this course, students should be able to: outline the steps involved in designing a monitoring programme and the different factors that must be considered in each step of the design; identify appropriate monitoring approaches in relation to monitoring objectives; select suitable methods for use in the field and laboratory and perform sampling and analytical procedures; produce a quality assurance plan for a monitoring programme; analyse monitoring data using a range of graphical, statistical and GIS-based approaches and write a water quality assessment report suitable for technical and non-technical audiences.

Year 1: Core Modules (30 credits)

  • EV6001: Monitoring Programme Design for Freshwater Bodies
  • EV6002: Quality Assurance in Water Quality Monitoring Programmes
  • EV6003: Data Handling and Presentation for Water Quality Monitoring Programmes

Year 2: Specialised Modules (30 credits)

  • EV6005: Monitoring and Assessment of surface waters
  • EV6007: Monitoring and Assessment of groundwater

Plus any two of the following:

  • EV6004: Water Quality Monitoring in the Field (field course abroad or in Ireland)
  • EV6008: Water Quality Monitoring using Biological and Ecological Methods
  • EV6009: Water Quality Monitoring with Particulate Material

Year 3: Dissertation (30 credits)

  • EV6010: Dissertation in Freshwater Quality Monitoring and Assessment

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue where you can search for the complete and up-to-date content for this course. Note that the modules for all courses are subject to change from year to year. For complete descriptions of individual modules, see the Book of Modules.

Course Practicalities

Teaching is online with each module running for 16 weeks (10 credits) or 8 weeks (5 credits), with the exception of the one-week, full-time optional field module EV6004  in Year 2. This module enables students to gain experience in practical freshwater quality monitoring methods. Students are expected to spend approximately 15-20 hours per week on study effort per module, of which approximately 6 hours would be online engagement.

Students are provided with a student email account and access online to the UCC library but will need the use of a computer with an internet connection, modern browser, word processing and spreadsheet software. Programme tutors will be in regular contact with students to provide support and advice throughout the programme.

Students also undertake an independent research project on a topic within the field of freshwater quality monitoring and assessment. This project will be carried out either in their workplace (if appropriate), in an environmental agency or similar setting, or in collaboration with an academic research institution in the student’s country of residence.

There is one major written assessment at the end of each module in addition to minor assignments in the form of reports, reviews, exercises associated with data analysis and presentation, discussion boards, and Multiple Choice Question tests.

Who Teaches This Course: Our teaching staff are based at the UNEP GEMS/Water Capacity Development Centre.

Career Opportunities

This MSc is designed to give students a strong foundation in all aspects of water quality monitoring and assessment, equipping them to work in the area of water quality management in public or private sectors, including water and environment ministries, regulatory agencies, agriculture and industry. The programme will be of particular benefit for the career advancement of employees already working in the water quality monitoring sector.

Why Choose This Course

This unique online programme is designed to meet the needs for more sustainable management of freshwater resources in less developed countries. The new Sustainable Development Goal for water (SDG 6) includes an indicator for surface and groundwater quality that requires the collection of water quality data at the national level. This programme will support countries that aim to meet the targets of SDG 6 by facilitating the advancement of expertise that will contribute to a more sustainable management of water resources.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) GEMS/Water Capacity Development Centre (CDC) was founded in 2015 to provide global capacity development in water quality monitoring and assessment to UNEP’s global water quality monitoring system (GEMS/Water), through the provision of education, training and expert advice. The UN Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goal for water (SDG 6) is leading to an increased demand for knowledge, understanding and capacity in water quality monitoring and assessment worldwide, and through this postgraduate programme, the Centre is supporting this demand.


  • Candidates must have a BSc in Environmental Science or cognate discipline with a minimum grade of a Second Class Honours Grade II  (NFQ, Level 8);
  • All candidates are required to have a sufficient level of English. Candidates, for whom English is not their primary language, should possess an IELTS of 6.5 (or TOEFL equivalent) with no less than 6.0 in each individual category. For detailed Postgraduate English Language requirements see here.

For Applicants with Qualifications Completed Outside of Ireland

Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements. For more information see our Qualification Comparison page.

International/Non-EU Applicants

For full details of the non-EU application procedure visit our how to apply pages for international students.

  • In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.
  • Note that not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above. For more information contact the International Office.
English Language Requirements

Applicants who are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university-approved English language requirements. Visit our PG English Language Requirements page for more information.

Fees and Costs

Postgraduate EU and International Fees 2024/2025

See our Postgraduate EU and Non-EU (International) Fee Schedule for the latest information.


If your course requires a deposit, that figure will be deducted from your second-semester fee payment in January.

Fee payment 

Fees are payable in two equal instalments. First payment is at registration and the balance usually by the end of January.

How can I pay? 

See different options on our How Do I Pay My Fees? page.

Any questions? See the 'Contact Us' section on the Fees Office page.

Non-GEMS/Water sponsored students will have the option of attending a Field Workshop on a self-funded basis.

How To Apply

1. Check dates

Check the opening and closing dates for the application process in the fact file boxes at the top of the page.

2. Gather documents

Scanned copies of supporting documents have to be uploaded to the UCC online application portal and include:

  • Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC.
  • Any supplementary items requested for your course if required.

3. Apply online

Apply online via the UCC online application portal. Note the majority of our courses have a non-refundable €50 application fee.

Any questions? Use our web enquiry form to contact us.

Deferrals: Deferrals are not permitted on this course.

Additional Requirements (All Applicants)

Please note you will be required to provide additional information as part of the online application process for this programme. This will include the following questions:

  • You may enter the details of professional or voluntary positions held. We strongly encourage you to complete this section with all relevant work experiences that will support your application.

  • Please describe your motivation and readiness for this programme.

  • Please upload your CV.

The closing date for non-EU applications is To Be Confirmed

Apply Now

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact