Humans have extensively used the coastal zone for amongst others fishing, tourism, transport of goods, water treatment and housing. Agriculture has benefited from the very fertile grounds due to marine and riverine deposits. Approximately three billion people – half the world’s population – live and work within a couple of hundred kilometres of a coastline, notwithstanding the vulnerability of coastal areas to flooding. Due to the high population densities and extensive infrastructure and property development, disasters will have major consequences. Coastal engineers play an important role in both developing the coastal zone and protecting the coast and the hinterland.
In Sect. 1.2, the course contents and the position in the curriculum are explained. Sect. 1.3 lists the study goals. Section 1.4 gives some examples of the problems coastal engineers may be faced with. In doing so coastal engineers need a thorough knowledge of the natural dynamics of the coastal system. An introduction on that topic is given in Sect. 1.5. Important players in the (Dutch) coastal engineering sector are summarised in Sect. 1.6. The chapter concludes with a list of handbooks, journals, conference proceedings and internet sources for further reading (Sect. 1.7).