Course Title: Urban Hydrology

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Urban Hydrology

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


172H School of Engineering


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2023

Course Coordinator: Professor Veeriah Jegatheesan (Jega)

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 0810

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 12.12.03

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Some background in basic hydrology and engineering mathematics is preferred but not required

Course Description

This course will introduce you to the fundamentals of surface and ground water hydrology, with a focus on urban environments. Continuing growth of urban centres globally necessitates understanding of the function and dynamics of associated water catchments from a whole of water-cycle perspective. In this way complex issues around flood protection, ecosystem preservation, sustainable water supply and aesthetic utility can be managed. Major themes addressed include techniques to characterise urban catchment hydrology and stream functioning; storm water management from quality and quantity perspectives; the prediction and modeling of groundwater flow and contaminant transport; groundwater -surface water interaction; and eco-hydrological dependencies in urban catchments. A range of practical applications will be examined related to modeling and managing surface and groundwater flows in the urban environment.  Strategies for conjunctive management of surface and groundwater in urban areas to meet water supply, environmental and economic objectives will be investigated.  

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

This course contributes to development of the following program learning outcomes for MC254 Master of Engineering (Environmental Engineering):

1. Needs, Context, Systems

  • Describe, investigate and analyse complex engineering systems and associated issues.
  • Exposit legal, social, economic, ethical and environmental interests, values, requirements and expectations of key stakeholders.
  • Identify and assess risks as well as the economic social and environmental impacts of engineering activities.

2. Problem Solving and Design

  • Develop creative and innovative solutions to engineering problems.
  • Anticipate the consequences of intended action or inaction and understand how the consequences are managed collectively by your organisation, project or team.
  • Develop and operate within a hazard and risk framework appropriate to engineering activities.

On completion of this course you should be able to:

1. Describe hydrologic processes in urban areas due to natural and human factors and evaluate watershed land use changes and associated hydrologic impacts

2. Critically evaluate and defend the use of particular quantitative methods to predict the flows and quality of water moving through urban catchments

3. Apply a range of contemporary and emerging  technical and policy-related tools to assist in planning sustainable urban water strategies in growing urban areas and mitigate effects of urbanization on aquatic systems

4. Propose water engineering and or policy strategies to balance multiple stakeholder objectives and potential risks using defendable criteria, based on an integrated quantitative understanding of urban catchments

5. Conceptually map how groundwater fits into the urban water cycle from a technical and policy viewpoint and how groundwater interacts with surface water, infrastructure and the aquatic environment.

Overview of Learning Activities

A blended learning model comprising intensive lecture/workshop sessions, practical exercises, a field trip and online content.

You will be provided with real case study materials looking at problems relating to the management and integration of surface and groundwater hydrology in the urban environment. You will be introduced to software that can be used for quantification, estimation and prediction of urban hydrology in a range of scenarios, as well as policy, economic and legal strategies for addressing urban catchment planning.

You will then complete an assignment to develop an integrated solution to an urban water cycle issue, making use of both quantitative methods and a multi-criteria approach to balancing stakeholder objectives and risks.

You will also participate in a field trip of sites relevant to understanding the challenges associated with catchment and groundwater hydrology in Melbourne’s rapidly growing outer suburbs and complete a related assessment exercise.

An online environment will be established for all students to share information and discuss assignments and course content.

Total study hours: You will undertake 4 hours per week of engagement on average in lectures, guest lectures, tutorials and field trips. In addition you can expect to spend a minimum of four hours per week in independent study.

Overview of Learning Resources

Learning resources required will include lecture notes, online materials and tutorials. Access to up-to-date international research journals, conference proceedings and e-books will be facilitated through RMIT’s library.

Support can also be found at RMIT Library Guides:

Overview of Assessment

☒This course has no hurdle requirements.

Assessment Task 1:  Major assignment (individual)

Weighting 40%

Tackling an urban hydrology problem using quantitative methods and balancing of stakeholder objectives & risks (CLO 1,2,3,4)

Assessment Task 2: Field trip report (Group)

Weighting 30%

Summarising key insights into the challenges faced by water planners in rapidly growing suburban areas (CLO 1, 5)

Assessment Task 3: Class Presentation(Individual)

Weighting 30% 

A selected case study from the literature will be studied in detail and presented to the class with a reflection on strengths/weaknesses of the given approach to urban water cycle planning (CLO 3,4).