102-0468-10L  Watershed Modelling

SemesterAutumn Semester 2023
LecturersP. Molnar, A. Costa, S. Sinclair
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish


102-0468-10 GWatershed Modelling4 hrs
Mon15:45-17:30HIL E 8 »
Wed11:45-13:30HIL E 8 »
P. Molnar, A. Costa, S. Sinclair

Catalogue data

AbstractWatershed Modelling is a practical course on numerical water balance models for a range of catchment-scale water resource applications. The course covers GIS use in watershed analysis, models types from conceptual to physically-based, parameter calibration and model validation, and analysis of uncertainty. The course combines theory (lectures) with a series of practical tasks (exercises).
ObjectiveThe main aim of the course is to provide practical training with watershed models for environmental engineers. The course is built on thematic lectures (2 hrs a week) and practical exercises (2 hrs a week). Theory and concepts in the lectures are underpinned by many examples from scientific studies. A comprehensive exercise block builds on the lectures with a series of 4 practical tasks to be conducted during the semester in group work. Exercise hours during the week focus on explanation of the tasks. The course is evaluated 50% by performance in the graded exercises and 50% by a semester-end oral examination (30 mins) on watershed modelling concepts.
ContentThe first part (A) of the course is on watershed properties analysed from DEMs, and on global sources of hydrological data for modelling applications. Here students learn about GIS applications (ArcGIS, Q-GIS) in hydrology - flow direction routines, catchment morphometry, extracting river networks, and defining hydrological response units. In the second part (B) of the course on conceptual watershed models students build their own simple bucket model (Matlab, Python), they learn about performance measures in modelling, how to calibrate the parameters and how to validate models, about methods to simulate stochastic climate to drive models, uncertainty analysis. The third part (C) of the course is focussed on physically-based model components. Here students learn about components for soil water fluxes and evapotranspiration, they practice with a fully-distributed physically-based model Topkapi-ETH, and learn about other similar models at larger scales. They apply Topkapi-ETH to an alpine catchment and study simulated discharge, snow, soil moisture and evapotranspiration spatial patterns.
Lecture notesThere is no textbook. Learning materials consist of (a) video-recording of lectures; (b) lecture presentations; and (c) exercise task documents that allow independent work.
LiteratureLiterature consist of collections from standard hydrological textbooks and research papers, collected by the instructors on the course moodle page.
Prerequisites / NoticeBasic Hydrology in Bachelor Studies (engineering, environmental sciences, earth sciences). Basic knowledge of Matlab (Python), ArcGIS (Q-GIS).
Subject-specific CompetenciesConcepts and Theoriesassessed
Method-specific CompetenciesAnalytical Competenciesassessed
Media and Digital Technologiesassessed
Social CompetenciesCommunicationfostered
Cooperation and Teamworkassessed
Personal CompetenciesCritical Thinkingassessed
Integrity and Work Ethicsassessed
Self-awareness and Self-reflection fostered
Self-direction and Self-management fostered

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits6 credits
ExaminersP. Molnar, A. Costa, S. Sinclair
Typeend-of-semester examination
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionA repetition date will be offered in the first two weeks of the semester immediately consecutive.
Mode of examinationoral 30 minutes
Additional information on mode of examinationThe course is evaluated 50% by performance in the graded exercises and 50% by an oral examination (30 mins) on watershed modelling concepts in January (week 2 or 3). The compulsory continuous performance assessment task (graded exercises) need not be passed on its own; it is awarded a grade which counts proportionally towards the total course unit grade.

Learning materials

Main linkWatershed Modelling
Only public learning materials are listed.


No information on groups available.


There are no additional restrictions for the registration.

Offered in

Civil Engineering MasterMajor in Hydraulic Engineering and Water Resources ManagementWInformation
Civil Engineering MasterDigitalisation Specific CoursesWInformation
MAS in Sustainable Water ResourcesFoundation CoursesWInformation
Environmental Engineering MasterWater Resources ManagementOInformation
Environmental Engineering MasterWater Resources ManagementOInformation
Environmental Engineering MasterWater Resources ManagementOInformation
Environmental Engineering MasterEM: Water Resources ManagementWInformation
Environmental Sciences MasterHydrology and Water CycleWInformation