MSc International Disaster Management / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Disaster Management - Theory and Application

Course unit fact file
Unit code HCRI60141
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course will enable students to understand current multi-disciplinary theory concerning disaster management. This will include analysis of various theoretical frameworks used to understand disaster phenomena. A wide range of case studies and cross-disaster analyses will be used to discuss management of these events. Practical risk-based management tools common in disaster planning will then be taught along with their application to risk assessments and policy analysis.


  • Develop understanding of core issues concerning disaster management both in high- and low-income contexts
  • Opportunity to conduct substantive disaster analysis
  • Analyse assumptions that underpin the legal, policy and institutional frameworks for disaster management
  • Evaluate possibilities and limitations of approaches to disaster risk reduction at different scales
  • Suggest strategies for dealing with disasters


This is indicative of the syllabus, all topics are indicative examples:

  • Disasters & disaster management
  • Disaster management cycle
  • (Un)natural hazards and disaster impacts
  • Disaster risk
  • Vulnerability
  • Resilience
  • Disaster Risk Reduction / Eco-DRR

Teaching and learning methods

  • The course is predominantly delivered through face-to-face interactive lectures. These lectures are spaces for instructor-led teaching, but students are also expected to participate in discussion and activities as directed
  • Independent reading
  • Engagement with professional sector – e.g. visit to emergency services; simulation exercise (these activities subject to change and will be confirmed on an annual basis)

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand the various interpretations of disasters
  • Understand the legal, policy and institutional frameworks which set the context for disaster prevention, preparedness, response and recovery
  • Identify key theories and research that underpin disaster management cycle
  • Understand the value and importance of risk assessments in disaster risk reduction

Intellectual skills

  • Analyse current trends and debates in disaster theory
  • Assess disaster prevention, preparedness, response and recovery within the context of vulnerability and resilience
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of global and local disaster policy frameworks and mechanisms in disaster risk reduction and suggest possible solutions
  • Articulate and defend their own positions on the value and importance of prevention, preparedness, response and recovery in disaster risk reduction

Practical skills

  • Demonstrate analytic skills through in-class discussion
  • Present material in a clear coherent manner, with appropriate level of literacy, in various forms
  • Use sufficient and relevant research 4. Acknowledge sources using an appropriate referencing system
  • Demonstrate continued development of academic skills, such as the ability to summarise and evaluate arguments and apply the theory to challenges and dilemmas posed by disaster management
  • Interpret data and discuss implications for action

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Lead effective communication to promote the achievement of the best possible outcomes for disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery
  • Demonstrate, or give an account of the value and importance of risk-based approaches to disaster prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery
  • Take responsibility for enabling their own learning and professional development and show leadership in developing others.

Employability skills

- Professional knowledge and skills: disaster management and risk reduction - Problem solving and critical thinking skills - Communication skills - Ability to work independently - Time management

Assessment methods

Assessment Task

Formative or Summative





Contingency Plan



Simulation Reflection – Key Learning



Written Reflections




Feedback methods

Feedback Method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on contingency plan


Written feedback on essay


Informal oral feedback during lectures


Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)


Weekly written reflections

Recommended reading

Coppola, D.P. (2011). Introduction to international disaster management. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Cretney, R. 2014. Resilience for whom? Emerging critical geographies of socio-ecological resilience. Geography Compass 8 (9): 627–40.

Eshghi, H. and R. Larson. 2008. "Disasters: Lessons from the past 105 years." Disaster Prevention and Management. 17(1):62-82.

Frandsen, M., Paton, D., and Sakariassen, K. (2011). Fostering community bushfire preparedness through engagement and empowerment. The Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 26(2), 23–30.

Harris, M., Shaw, D., Scully, J., Smith, C. M., and Hieke, G. (2017). The Involvement/Exclusion Paradox of Spontaneous Volunteering: New Lessons and Theory From Winter Flood Episodes in England. Non-profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 46(2), 352-371.

Haworth, B. (2018). Implications of volunteered geographic information for disaster management and GIScience: A more complex world of volunteered geography. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 108(1): 226-240.

Laska, S., and Morrow, B. H. (2006). Social vulnerabilities and Hurricane Katrina: an unnatural disaster in New Orleans. Marine technology society journal, 40(4), 16-26.

Perry, R. W. (2006). “What Is a Disaster?” Pp. 1-15 in Handbook of Disaster Research, Havidán Rodríquez, Enrico L. Quarantelli, and Russell R. Dynes (eds.). New York: Springer. Available at

Twigg, J. (2015) Disaster Risk Reduction: Good Practice Review 9, ODI: London. Available at

UNISDR. (2015). Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. Geneva: UNISDR. [online]. Available at

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Billy Haworth Unit coordinator
Ayham Fattoum Unit coordinator

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