MSc International Disaster Management / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course description

All countries face a wide range of hazards, both natural and man-made, that have the potential to result in catastrophic damage and negative impacts on societies.

Despite actions taken by local emergency management professionals, international trends show that the economic and social impact of disaster has increased around the world.

This is especially true in the developing world, where large-scale disasters can result in enormous loss of life as well as considerable economic damage.

The MSc in International Disaster Management is aimed at those who are interested in critically analysing key concepts in disaster management theory, research, policy and practice, including vulnerability, governance, disaster risk reduction, and enhancing resilience to disasters through prevention, preparedness, response and recovery efforts.

You will undertake multidisciplinary study at the HCRI, focusing on the critical analysis of current trends in academic research and policies, particularly those related to international disaster risk reduction, sustainable development, and humanitarian action tools commonly used by disaster risk reduction professionals.

You will study a core curriculum that brings together the realms of disaster risk reduction, sustainable development, and humanitarian action.

Our interdisciplinary team of researchers will also support the critical exploration of disaster resilience, prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery, helping to equip you to work professionally in disaster risk reduction and sustainable development.

The MSc in International Disaster Management is unique as it incorporates units and lecturers from a wide variety of disciplines, including geography, history, politics, development studies, the arts and medicine.

Our course is suitable for developing initial skills in disaster risk reduction and/or supporting continuing education for disaster risk reduction professionals.


On completion of the course, you should be able to show a critical understanding of the following.

  1. Key issues and debates related to the theory and practices of disaster risk reduction. Students will show familiarity with different theoretical approaches, practical problems and an appreciation of the diversity of polices at international and national levels, including the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  2. The range of environmental, health and social science topics which influence disaster risk reduction and management (including geographical, political, historical, anthropological understandings). Students will become familiar with the methodological and normative underpinnings of these disciplines.
  3. The analytical and policy literature concerning the related issues of disaster risk reduction including environmental/geological studies, emergency management structures and institutions, the role and perspectives of the state, multilateral and bilateral agencies, international and domestic NGO's and other civil institutions.
  4. An understanding of common approaches to disaster risk reduction, including an awareness of the problems and critiques associated with disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery in both industrialized and developing countries.
  5. The development of a range of academic and professional/transferable skills through both independent and group-based work.
  6. A detailed understanding of a specific conceptual and/or policy-related area of disaster risk reduction along with implications and limitations of research findings on this subject, and of how to produce an original piece of academic research. Delivered via a dissertation.

Special features

Study at HCRI

HCRI at The University of Manchester is inspired by the need to conduct rigorous research and to support postgraduate training on the impact and outcomes of contemporary and historical crises.

Directed by Dr Rony Brauman (former President of MSF France, Associate Professor at L'Institut d'Études Politiques (Paris), and Director of Research at the MSF Foundation, Paris), HCRI is widely recognised as being a leading international research institute focusing on the study of humanitarianism, conflict response and peacebuilding.

Our work is driven by a desire to inform and support policy and decision makers, to optimise joint working between partner organisations, and to foster increased understanding and debate within the field.

Bringing together the disciplines of medicine and the humanities (including international relations and political science) to achieve these goals, HCRI aims to facilitate improvements in crisis response on a global scale whilst providing a centre of excellence for all concerned with emergencies, conflicts and peace.

In offering a range of postgraduate courses, we embrace this opportunity to develop a scholarly and professional agenda for humanitarians and peacebuilders around the world.

Find out more about HCRI on our website .

Teaching and learning

You will learn through face-to-face teaching at The University of Manchester. This will be supported by lectures, discussion boards and other e-learning elements.

Coursework and assessment

Graduation requirements will be the completion of 180 credits. A total of 120 credits of unit coursework will be required for students to move on to dissertation writing.

A passing dissertation will lead to the final 60 credits needed for MSc completion.

Course unit details

Mandatory units:

  • Disaster Management: Theory and Application
  • Research and Evaluation Methods
  • Cultures and Disasters
  • Disaster Governance
  • Dissertation

Sample optional units:

  • Introduction to Critical Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Reconstruction and Development
  • Climate Change, Disaster and Responses
  • Designing Relief Projects in Conflict and Disaster Settings
  • Global Health and Food Insecurity
  • Armed Groups and Humanitarian Aid
  • Anthropology of Violence and Reconstruction
  • Economics, Peace and Conflict
  • Humanitarianism and Conflict Response: Inquiries
  • The History of Humanitarian Aid
  • Humanitarian Protection
  • Mental Health and Psychosocial support in Humanitarian Crises
  • Work Placement

Course units may vary from year to year.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Dissertation HCRI60000 60 Mandatory
Disaster Management - Theory and Application HCRI60141 15 Mandatory
Research and Evaluation Methods HCRI60170 15 Mandatory
Disaster Governance HCRI60261 15 Mandatory
Border-Crossings: Comparative Cultures of Diaspora ELAN60362 15 Optional
Humanitarianism and Conflict Response: Inquiries HCRI60031 15 Optional
A Critical Introduction to GIS and Disasters HCRI60072 15 Optional
Anthropology of Violence and Reconstruction HCRI60132 15 Optional
Global Health and Food Insecurity HCRI60151 15 Optional
Humanitarian Diplomacy and Negotiation in Practice HCRI60221 15 Optional
Rethinking Recovery HCRI60252 15 Optional
Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Humanitarian Crises HCRI60291 15 Optional
Security, Emergencies and Technologies of Control HCRI60412 15 Optional
The History of Humanitarian Aid HCRI61202 15 Optional
Emergency Humanitarian Assistance HCRI62212 15 Optional
Cash and Market Based Programming in Crisis Settings HCRI70080 15 Optional
Reconstruction and Development MGDI60402 15 Optional
Climate Change, Disasters and Responses MGDI60552 15 Optional
Environment, Climate Change and Development MGDI60801 15 Optional
Characteristics and Skills of Development Practice MGDI71992 15 Optional
Peace and Social Agency, Security and Intervention: Theories and Practices POLI70991 15 Optional
Fundamentals of Epidemiology POPH60991 15 Optional
Placement SALC70150 15 Optional
Displaying 10 of 23 course units

What our students say

You can read blog posts by and profiles of HCRI students on the Manchester Calling blog.


This course has been developed in close co-operation with the Faculty's e-learning team, which will offer ongoing support.

You will benefit from a range of cultural assets and study facilities on campus and beyond, including one of the largest university libraries in the country.

Find out more on the Facilities page.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: