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The Master of Research in River Science is an advanced postgraduate degree which can either be taken as a stand-alone qualification or as progression route into doctoral research.

This MRes aims to provide a synthesis of scientific knowledge on river geomorphology, hydrology and ecology and focuses on the application of scientifically sound and environmentally-sensitive river management. It also seeks to provide the theoretical underpinning and field and/or laboratory training necessary to undertake a River Science research project at Masters level.



The Programme aims to prepare students:

  • For doctoral level study.
  • To engage in a career in River Science within a government agency (e.g. Environment Agency), charity (e.g. a Rivers Trust or Wildlife Trust) or an environmental consultancy.
  • To meet the global need for highly trained individuals who can make informed decisions on future research directions.
  • To think for themselves in the development of a critical approach to the analysis of data and interpretation of published research.
Entry requirements

What qualifications will you need?

Entry Requirements

Applicants are expected to have a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree or equivalent award in Geography, Environmental Science, Ecology, Biology, a Science subject or another relevant degree (with a strong performance in their final year undergraduate research project / dissertation / independent study)


Appropriate research or professional experience which has resulted in appropriate evidence of achievement. For example, experience in a research environment such as private research and development, or public research laboratories.


International applicants will also be required to demonstrate that they have the appropriate level of written and spoken English (normally IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum score of 6 in written English).

Entry qualifications for international students are guided by the National Academic Recognition Information Centre’s (NARIC) advice on international qualifications.

Our MRes in River Science programme offers you:

Academic rigour: Gain a deeper understanding of your chosen subject area with a challenging combination of taught modules, research training and supervised research.

Wide variety of research interests: We have a strong mix of academics with a high degree of professional and personal experience, enabling you to get the most out of both the taught and research element of your programme.

Excellent supervision: Benefit from a professional and challenging relationship with your supervisory team, drawn from experienced academics working at the forefront of their disciplines.

Resources: Access to the University of Worcester’s virtual resources and its state of the art library facilities. The School of Science and the Environment has a number of laboratories and other specialist facilities available to your course. In addition to the large laboratory in the Darwin building, there are five other laboratories.

The River Science team at Worcester have an excellent range of resources available to support your learning and your research project, including:

  • field equipment for flow monitoring;
  • water quality assessment;
  • remote sensing & surveying;
  • laboratory equipment for water quality analysis;
  • computer software for statistical analysis of data, GIS and image analysis.
Course content

What will you study?

Module summary

Developing and Managing Your Research 
This module is aimed at providing research students with the generic skills they will need to progress with and to complete their research degree. The module focuses on providing students with the skills to plan and manage their research project, to collect and manage their research data and to structure and write their thesis.

Research Methods in River Science
This module will provide the student with the skills required to design, execute and report on a significant research project at Masters level. The module will include a review of key concepts and paradigms in River Science, development of the discipline at the interface of hydrology, geomorphology and ecology, aspects of descriptive and multivariate statistical analysis, the design and completion of a mini research project and presentation of research results as a precursor to the Thesis.

Research Thesis Preparation
This module prepares students for their specific MRes Research Thesis by producing a PDP and training needs analysis in consultation with their research supervisor. A programme of student development and outcomes will be agreed during the module.

Course content

The MRes in River Science commences with a taught programme. You will be expected to take and pass three taught modules (described below) before proceeding to the research stage of your programme. The research stage will culminate in the production of a written thesis that will be examined by an oral exam (viva).

The School of Science and Environment’s educational and research expertise within River Science encompasses a range of topics including fluvial geomorphology, hydrology and ecology and includes the application of field surveying and monitoring, GIS and remote sensing.

Our research specialisms lie at the interface of these traditional subjects and include hydromorphology, hydroecology, ecohydraulics, river restoration, physical habitat assessment and remote sensing and image analysis of riverine environments, including the use of our c-Astral Bramor rtk, DJI Phantom 4 PRO, DJI Inspire 1 PRO and DJI Matrice 600 Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Agisoft Photoscan software. Read more about the River Science Research Group at Worcester.

Teaching and assessment

How will you be taught?

The University places emphasis on enabling students to develop the independent learning capabilities that will equip you for lifelong learning and future employment, as well as academic achievement. A mixture of independent study, teaching and academic support through the personal academic tutoring system enables you to reflect on progress and build up a profile of skills, achievements and experiences that will enable you to flourish and be successful.


You are taught through a combination of lectures, seminars, practicals and tutorials. Seminars enable the discussion and development of understanding of topics covered in lectures, and laboratory practicals are focused on developing subject specific skills and applied individual and group project work. Tutorials, both individual and in small groups, are held with your MRes supervisor and enable you to discuss issues specific to your own research.

You will have access to a range of industry-standard software and equipment and laboratory facilities throughout the course. 

Contact time

The precise contact hours will depend on how long you take to complete the MRes and whether you study full or part-time.

During the thesis module, contact time is reduced and is based on approximately one supervision session per month.  

Independent self-study

In addition to the contact time, you are expected to undertake around 15-18 hours of personal self-study per week, depending on the module and mode of study. Typically, this will involve reading articles, books and reports in the substantive area of study, as well as literature relating to the chosen theoretical/conceptual and methodological approaches.

Independent learning is supported by a range of excellent learning facilities, including the Hive and library resources, the virtual learning environment, and extensive electronic learning resources. 

Teaching staff

You will be taught by a teaching team whose expertise and knowledge are closely matched to the content of the modules on the course. The team includes members of staff from the Research School and the Department of Geography and Archaeology. You can learn more about the staff by visiting our staff profiles.


Each module has one or more formal or ‘summative’ assessments which are graded and count towards the overall module grade. Assessment methods include posters, reports, literature reviews and presentations.

The precise assessment requirements for an individual student in an academic year will vary according to the modules taken, but a typical assessment pattern for the course is:

Module 1 (RTP401 Developing and Managing Your Research)

  • Researcher Development Plan based on their own personal training needs analysis (using Vitae’s ‘Getting Started in Research Lens’ as a starting point)
  • Literature Review for their chosen subject area that critically evaluates current research, synthesising clearly and coherently contemporary thinking to identify key issues
  • Project Plan for the duration of their study that identifies activities and their critical path, milestones and any other important events that will impact on their research

Module 2 (MRSC4001 Research Methods in River Science)

  • Essay: Select a key conceptual paper in River Science and evaluate its contribution to the development of the discipline
  • Poster Presentation: Design and implement a pilot study relevant to your main research project, including appropriate data analysis, and present the findings in the form of a poster suitable for an international conference in River Science

Module 3 (MRSC4002 Research Thesis Preparation)

  • Essay: A critical review of the broader subject, conceptual and legislative drivers that underpin your chosen research project
  • Essay: A detailed critique of data collection techniques relevant to your chosen research project

Module 4 (MRSC4005 MRes Thesis)  

  • Research Thesis (not to exceed 30,000 words)


You will receive feedback on draft assessments and on formal assessments undertaken by coursework. Feedback is intended to support learning and you are encouraged to discuss it with personal academic tutors and module tutors as appropriate.

We aim to provide you with feedback on formal course work assessments within 20 working days of hand-in.   


Professor Ian Maddock

Professor Ian Maddock joined Worcester in 1993 and has teaching and research interests in River Science, Hydromorphology, Hydroecology / Ecohydrology, Ecohydraulics, River Restoration and Aquatic Habitat Measurement, Mapping and Modelling. Ian developed and is the leader of the University’s River Science Research Group.

Ian has international experience conducting research in Australia, Ireland and the USA. He has flown the University's drones for research in the UK, Chile and Slovenia.


Dr Fleur Visser

Fleur studied Physical Geography at the University of Amsterdam and since then has studied and worked in Belgium, Australia and the UK.

In a current research project she is investigating the possibilities of applying remote sensing techniques for detecting and mapping submerged aquatic vegetation and algae in shallow river systems, mostly UK chalk streams.


Where could it take you?

Generally, MRes graduates will pursue a career either in academia or in industry. The knowledge, training and skills students receive will provide a springboard for vocational careers in the sport and exercise industry and education as well as by going on to PhD study in academia. Emphasis on high level academic attainment and the development of transferable skills will generate job opportunities in aspects of social sciences and other areas of employment.


How much will it cost?


The current fees can be found within the tuition fees document on our figure out finances page.

Postgraduate loans

The Government will provide a loan of up to £10,609 per student for postgraduate Masters study. It will be at your own discretion whether the loan is used towards fees, maintenance or other costs.

For full details visit our postgraduate loans page.

How to apply

How do you apply?

Please make your application via our online application form. If you have any questions, please contact the Research School on 01905 542182 or

Before you submit a full application

Before submitting please contact Dr Ian Maddock ( to discuss your research project and the availability of appropriate supervision.

Get in touch

If you have any questions, please get in touch. We're here to help you every step of the way.