Oxford University provides leadership in interdisciplinary water science to respond to society’s most pressing knowledge gaps and policy challenges.

Research activities connect water risk and global environmental change to technological and institutional innovations to promote water security for people, ecosystems and economic growth. Research themes span multiple disciplines from engineering and earth science to policy, politics, economics and geography. In partnership with UK and international research agencies, governments and business, Oxford delivers research excellence and impact in several areas, including:

  • Water Risk and Global Change
  • Technology and Innovation
  • Policy and Politics
  • Economics and Development
  • Knowledge Exchange

Water Risk and Global Change

Examines the impact of global environmental change on the hydrological cycle using a range of interdisciplinary models. System-scale analysis is used to model social, biophysical and infrastructure dynamics related to climate, demographic and economic change at multiple scales. Researchers investigate interacting risks and uncertainties to identify strategies to enhance resilience and adaptation.

Technology and Innovation

Develops innovative technologies for preventing pollution, stimulating microbial remediation of contaminated sites, and microbial transformation of green waste to high value products and energy. Interdisciplinary research connects technological innovation and society by examining the governance of emerging technologies and the management of environmental and technological risks.

Policy and Politics

Perspectives span social theory, socio-legal studies, politics, Science and Technology Studies (STS) and international relations. Key research areas include water regulation, flood risk, transboundary waters, the water-food-energy nexus, and public knowledge and controversies about water.

Economics and Development

Examines the role of institutional regulation, mobile technologies and behavioural change in water access and allocation. Research projects investigate economic instruments to manage water scarcity, water supply and public health. Researchers analyse how governance regimes operate at different spatial and temporal scales to promote or inhibit improved human development outcomes.