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Disaster Risk Reduction

  • Module code: GG5140
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 5
  • Credits: 30
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None


This module is a Level 5 module for Geography students and Environmental Science, Hazards and Disasters students. The module introduces the key theories and concepts in disasters studies which underpin changing approaches to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). The relationship between evolving theories and practice are explored. The policies which shape disaster response are examined at a variety of scales from international to local. Employability skills and the transferability of acquired knowledge to the workplace environment are introduced and developed. These include the roles of key stakeholders and stakeholder engagement and the concepts and challenges involved in communicating effectively. The impacts of these influences are explored through a number of case studies which explore both developed and developing world examples of DRR in action across a variety of hazard types.



  • To introduce the concept of Disaster Risk Reduction and investigate the main policy influences shaping DRR.
  • To gain an understanding of underpinning concepts such as vulnerability and resilience.
  • To explore the relationships between research, policy and practice and to highlight employability skills.
  • To examine DRR in action through case studies.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • Outline the development of DRR and the ideas underpinning this approach.
  • Explain the key terms.
  • Evaluate the changing concepts of vulnerability and resilience.
  • Understand the roles and perspectives of key stakeholders.
  • Evaluate different methods of risk communication.
  • Assess a variety of hazards in varying contexts and suggest appropriate DRR strategies.

Curriculum content

  • Introduction to key concepts and terms.
  • The policy context for DRR.
  • Stakeholder perspectives.
  • Risk communication.
  • DRR strategies.
  • Case Studies.

Teaching and learning strategy

This module is delivered through a variety of lectures, workshops and directed study sessions.  A series of interactive lectures will identify and introduce key concepts and topics.  The workshop sessions provide students with the opportunity to apply the theory introduced during lectures to different disaster scenarios and provide solutions to disaster-related problems.

The development of range of employability skills are integral to the teaching and learning strategy of this module. Specific skills that will be developed include understanding the role if stakeholders and effective communication in the evaluation and management of environmental hazards and disasters, and the importance of teamwork (e.g. developed through group-based teaching experiences).

Canvas VLE will be used to support all aspects of learning and teaching, providing a platform for articulating the module syllabus, assessment and feedback, archiving module-related resources (e.g. specific reading materials) and a digital discussion platform.


Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Lecture Practical 40 38
Guided independent study 222
Study abroad / placement
Total (number of credits x 10) 300
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Summative assessment consists of:

(A) Essay (50%, 4000 word maximum) to test students' knowledge of key concepts and topics covered in the module.

(B) Report (50%, 4000 word maximum) which requires students to demonstrate that they can operationalise concepts to produce practical strategies which are sensitive to the context.

Formative assessment includes:

(C)  Formative assessment will take place during problem-based learning classes and through exercises designed to prepare students for summative assessment.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
1) Outline the development of DRR and the ideas underpinning this approach. (A) Essay and (C) formative exercises
2) Explain the key terms. (A) Essay and (C) formative exercises
3) Evaluate the changing concepts of vulnerability and resilience (A) Essay and (B) Report and (C) formative exercises
4) Understand the roles and perspectives of key stakeholders (A) Essay and (B) Report and (C) formative exercises
5) Evaluate different methods of risk communication (B) Report and (C) formative exercises
6) Assess a variety of hazards in varying contexts and suggest appropriate DRR strategies (B) Report and (C) formative exercises

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
Essay Coursework 50%
Report Coursework 50%
Total 100%
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major element assessment is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Smith K (2013) Environmental Hazards: Assessing Risk and Reducing Disaster. Routledge, London.

Bibliography recommended reading

Enarson E and Hearn-Morrow B (1998) The Gendered Terrain of Disaster: Through Women's Eyes. Praeger, Westport (USA).

Gaillard J C and Mercer J (2012) From Knowledge to Action: Bridging Gaps in Disaster Risk Reduction. Progress in Human Geography, 37(1) 93-114.

Pelling M (2003) The Vulnerability of Cities: Natural Disasters and Social Resilience. Routledge, London.

Wisner B, Blaikie P, Cannon T, Davis I (2003) At Risk: Natural Hazards, People's Vulnerability and Disasters (2nd edition). Routledge, London.

Wisner B, Gaillard JC, Kelman I (2012) The Routledge Handbook of Hazards and Disaster Risk Reduction. Routledge, London.

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) (2015) The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. Available from

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