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Water in International Development
Water in International Development.jpg
SOIL 518
Section: 001
Instructor: Hans Schreier
Office: MCML 156
Office Hours: By appointment
Class Schedule: Online course
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Water in International Development

Course Overview

There are serious concerns that water demands are outstripping supplies in many parts of the world. In other regions, there may be ample volumes of water but contamination has made it unsafe for many human uses. It is vital to consider the unique watershed management considerations in regions that are distinct and diverse in landscape features, including topography and land use, but also in socioeconomic systems, which are integral to management and decision-making. Prioritizing different water users and environmental needs is a persistent challenge, and is further complicated by the uncertain effects of climate change on water resources around the world.

This course offers a comprehensive review of water in international development. It is intended for community leaders, professionals and graduate students interested in integrated water resource management and international/rural development. It is offered as an online course supported by an e-textbook, which contains the primary course material, and the UBC Canvas Learning Management System for class discussions, updates and assignments.

The course is equivalent to a 3-credit graduate level course and students can register for UBC academic credit in SOIL 518.

The course has the following components:

  • A multimedia e-textbook that can be accessed online from your desktop and most mobile platforms (iOS, Android) - see "E-Textbook" section below.
  • All course information is posted on UBC Canvas, which contains course announcements, discussion boards, links to resources, review questions, etc.
  • Assignments will be posted on UBC Canvas.

Course instructor: Hans Schreier (

SOIL 518 is offered in Winter Term 2.


As this is a graduate level course, a Bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as environmental sciences, engineering, planning, geography or biology is recommended. Academic or professional experience related to land and water resource management in an international context is desirable.

There are no course prerequisites.

Relation to the Watershed Science Course

UBC also offers a course in Watershed Science (LWS/SOIL 515), which covers the principles of watershed management in a more general manner. The Water in International Development course is different in that it focuses on case studies in developing and developed countries, and their specific socioeconomic and cultural contexts for watershed management. The Watershed Science course is not a prerequisite to taking this course; however, those with limited knowledge about watershed issues are encouraged to take LWS/SOIL 515 first, since it is an introduction to the topic. Those who have already taken LWS/SOIL 515 and are interested in international development will find this course a great follow-up. There is limited overlap in content between the two courses.

For further interest, the Watershed Management course series also offers SOIL 516 - Urban Watershed Management and SOIL 520 - Agricultural Watershed Management.


The main readings for the SOIL 518 course are based upon the Water in International Development online e-textbook, developed by Dr. Hans Schreier's online learning team. The e-textbook can be accessed through your web browser on your desktop and most mobile devices (iOS, Android). Access to the e-textbook is restricted to students in the SOIL 518 course, and is password protected.

The access link and password will be sent to students during the first week of class.

Assessment and Grading

This is a distributed learning course and students are expected to read all the material in the online textbook, as it corresponds to the weekly course schedule. Grading will be based on two written assignments, participation in the online discussions, and a final examination.

Component Grading
Assignment #1: Term paper 25% of final mark
Assignment #2: Term paper 25% of final mark
Final Examination 40% of final mark
Course Participation (Discussions) 10% of final mark

Criteria for evaluation of assignments:

  • Clearly stated objectives
  • Variety of methods employed to document issues and problems
  • Comprehensive nature of subject matter coverage
  • Literature documentation and relevance
  • Strengths and weaknesses of the appropriate findings
  • Clear statement of conclusions as defined in the objectives

Questions will be posted on the online discussion board every month and we expect students to take an active role and respond to each question on a regular basis (within 2-3 weeks). All responses will be posted on UBC Canvas and all participants can read and respond to the contributions.

The final examination will be based on the materials presented in the online textbook, assignments and discussions throughout the term. A document will be emailed to you during the final week of classes. The exam contains 8 questions, of which you must answer 7, and you are allowed one page, single-spaced, 12-pt font, to answer each question. You must email your completed exam to the instructor before the deadline.

All assignments and exams will be marked using the UBC grading scale. Final mark for UBC graduate credit = 3 credits.

Academic Integrity

The academic enterprise is founded on honesty, civility, and integrity. As members of this enterprise, all students are expected to know, understand, and follow the codes of conduct regarding academic integrity. At the most basic level, this means submitting only original work done by you and acknowledging all sources of information or ideas and attributing them to others as required. This also means you should not cheat, copy, or mislead others about what is your work. Violations of academic integrity (i.e., misconduct) lead to the breakdown of the academic enterprise, and therefore serious consequences arise and harsh sanctions are imposed. For example, incidences of plagiarism or cheating may result in a mark of zero on the assignment or exam and more serious consequences may apply if the matter is referred to the President’s Advisory Committee on Student Discipline. Careful records are kept in order to monitor and prevent recurrences.