Physical Hydrology


Martin Hendriks

Inge de Graaf

Course code:    GEO2-4203
ECTS Credits:    7.5
Level:                  Bachelor
Language of instruction: English



Dr Martin R. Hendriks    (m.r.hendriks at
Inge de Graaf MSc        (i.e.m.degraaf at

Teaching period:            2 (November-January)
Time slot:                       B (TUE-morning; THU-afternoon)

Course objectives
After completion of the course, a student is familiar with the basic terms and major laws that describe steady-state water flow in the subsurface and at the surface; the student is knowledgeable of a number of aspects of atmospheric water, such as the generation of precipitation, measurement of precipitation, and the estimation of evaporation, as well as of a number of methods for estimating surface water discharges in small streams; also, the student is able to calculate volume fluxes and/or volume flux densities for a number of steady-state water-flow cases.

Course contents
This course introduces the basic concepts of Physical Hydrology and provides a solid grounding in the principles of the subject. Exploring the principal rules that govern the flow of water on the land, it considers the four major types of water: atmospheric, ground, soil, and surface. With human activity and prevailing climate conditions placing more pressure on our supply of water than ever before, there has never been a more important time to develop a sound understanding of the subject. Physical Hydrology is the perfect course for you to develop this understanding. The subject material is trained by carrying out a large number of (home) assignments and exercises.

Key terms
gross precipitation; net precipitation; interception; open-water evaporation; potential evaporation; actual evaporation; interception evaporation; reference crop evaporation; hydraulic head; elevation head; pressure head; velocity head; (effective) porosity; field capacity; transmissivity; hydraulic resistance; (un)saturated hydraulic conductivity; soil moisture characteristic; pF; hysteresis; wilting point; available soil water for plants; hydrograph separation; baseflow; quickflow; overland flow; throughflow; electrical conductivity; EC-routing.

Major equations
energy equation (Bernoulli’s law); water balance equation (continuity); flow equation: Darcy’s law or the Darcy-Buckingham equation

Course material

Modes of instruction
Lectures, practicals/tutorials, home assignments; exercises; essay writing

mid-term exam (40%); final exam (60%); essay bonus

Entry requirements
Some knowledge of mathematical differentiation and integration is assumed. (However, if needed, in the textbook maths support in the form of a Conceptual Toolkit helps you engage with and understand the maths required to master the subject.)