MSc International Disaster Management / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Climate Change, Resilience and Environmental Justice

Course unit fact file
Unit code HCRI60412
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Through this module, students will develop crucial knowledge concerning the relationship between disasters and the various infrastructures that support and sustain life. From the supply chains that arrange the distribution of aid and the undersea cable networks that engender digital forms of surveillance to energy systems prone to cyber-attack and government itself, one cannot claim to comprehend emergencies and their governance without a sophisticated and rigorous understanding of infrastructure. Infrastructure is pivotal to contemporary conceptualisations of both the causes and consequences of emergencies. Through a focus on infrastructure, for instance, we can probe how the effects of emergencies ripple through networks that span the globe whilst also offering adequate analysis of the way that the impacts emergencies bear are unevenly distributed according to differential access to infrastructure. At the same time, though, infrastructure determines and guides the very institutional practices that make up security in the first place. Access to different technologies shape what steps governments can take. At the same time, the importance of particular infrastructure means certain technical knowledges become crucial to security. Further still, the expansion of infrastructures dictates how far state power stretches into the daily life of global populations. All these matters and many more are probed in this module through an array of cases that characterise the security landscape of the 21st century, from energy blackouts and the development of global vaccination networks to terrorism and the development of new infrastructure in dealing with the ravages of climate change. And lastly, through this range of case, the module will develop the analytical and critical capabilities of students by engaging with various accounts of the ethical, cultural and political ramifications that rise to prominence where issues around infrastructure intersect with emergencies. This includes probing the effects of mass surveillance, evaluating authorities’ ability to follow prescribed protocols in emergencies and examining the influence of private companies in security practices.


The module aims to:

  • Outline scholarly knowledge and debates that have evaluated the multiple connections between security, emergency governance and infrastructure.
  • Present a critically informed practical skill-set and understanding of the application of a range of infrastructures for the purposes of security and emergency governance.
  • Engage in-depth with a variety of key events from the history of security and emergency governance to understand the role of infrastructure within them.
  • Establish key ethical, political and cultural issues that arise where security and emergency governance are considered through its facilitation via different forms of infrastructure.

Teaching and learning methods

The module is organised around various forms of engagement with the world of security and emergency. The module includes ten lectures. Each lecture focuses on a crucial aspect of the relationship between emergency governance and digital technologies. Centring each week on a specific case study, the lectures bring the issues discussed to life through the use of virtual tours of previous sites of emergency and ten-minute discussion groups using the survey technology Kahoot!

The lectures are followed by a seminar. Whilst seven seminars, start with a 10-15 minute presentation by groups of students on the themes of the overall lecture, the remainder are organised in the form of a reading group, discussion and assessment guidance.

10x1 hour lectures

10x1 hour seminars

10x2 hours office hour

Knowledge and understanding

At the end of the module, students will be able to display in-depth subject-specific knowledge and understanding of:

  • The forms of knowledge and infrastructures used to analyse, monitor and to govern emergencies

  • The practices through which such knowledges and technologies are applied, including processes such as surveillance, warning and decision making          

  • The range of organisations both public and private involved in the delivery of security and emergency governance through infrastructures


  • Key case studies that exemplify components of the relationship between security and infrastructures

  • The transdisciplinary debates that have developed to critically understand the political, social, ethical and cultural ramifications of the connections between security and infrastructures.

Intellectual skills

At the end of the module, students will be able to display a number key broader intellectual skills including but not limited to:

  • Deploying conceptual frameworks to critically analyse evidence from a number of different disciplinary perspectives
  • Presenting evidence through coherent narration of case studies
  • Using a range of research techniques to explore and identify evidence and knowledge relevant for constructing arguments

Practical skills

Students completing the module will be able to display a number of key practical skills, including but not limited to:

  • Developing coherent and critical arguments
  • Critically assessing a range of evidence
  • Translating knowledge from academia into policy
  • Conducting independent research and writing
  • Presenting in public and engaging in public debate and discussion

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Students completing the module will be able to evidence a number of transferable and practical skills. These skills include:

  • Organising individual workloads and meeting strict deadlines
  • Working with others
  • Communicating orally and in writing
  • Using capacity for creativity and innovation through applying acquired knowledge
  • Confidence with a range of assessment methods

Employability skills

The range of skills that students will develop during the course will benefit their future employability. Those wishing to pursue careers specifically within disaster management agencies, charities, private security contractors and government will acquire a vast, detailed and critical knowledge base concerning a range of the latest developments in the application of technology for security purposes, from transdisciplinary academic debates and the computational processes that underpin security technologies and the ethical, political and cultural complications that have emerged in the domain.

Assessment methods

Assessment Task

Formative or Summative


Essay Plan



Student Presentations



Emergency Inquest/Simulation



Self-designed Essay




Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on written assignments


Verbal feedback on presentations



Recommended reading

Amoore L (2013) The Politics of Possibility: Risk and Security Beyond Probability, Duke University Press, Durham

Anderson B (2017) Encountering affect: Capacities, apparatuses, conditions. Routledge, London

Aradau, C. (2010) ‘Security That Matters: Critical Infrastructure and Objects of Protection’, Security Dialogue, 41(5), pp. 491–514

Escobar, A., 2018. Designs for the pluriverse: Radical interdependence, autonomy, and the making of worlds. Duke University Press.

Foucault M (2007) Security, Territory, Population, Palgrave-Macmillan, London

Graham, S. ed., 2010. Disrupted cities: When infrastructure fails. Routledge, London

Kitchin, R (2014) The Data Revolution¿: Big Data, Open Data, Data Infrastructures and Their Consequences . Los Angeles: SAGE

Lyon, D (2015) Surveillance after Snowden. John Wiley & Sons, London

Parisi, L. (2019) ‘Critical Computation: Digital Automata and General Artificial Thinking’, Theory, Culture & Society, 36(2), pp. 89–121

Peoples C and Vaughn-Williams N (2015) Critical Security Studies: An Introduction, Routledge, New York

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 10
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nathaniel O'Grady Unit coordinator

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