MSc International Disaster Management / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course description

All countries face a wide range of hazards that have the potential to result in catastrophic societal impacts.

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

This is especially true in lower-income contexts, 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 students interested in critically analysing key concepts in disaster management theory, research, policy and application, including vulnerability, governance, disaster risk reduction, and enhancing resilience to disasters through prevention, preparedness, response and recovery efforts.

Students undertake interdisciplinary study at 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.

Students engage with a core curriculum that brings together the spheres of disaster risk reduction, sustainable development and humanitarian action.

HCRI's interdisciplinary team of researchers support critical exploration of disaster resilience, prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery, equipping students 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 business and management, systems thinking, geography, history, politics, development studies, the arts and medicine.

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


The course gave me an understanding into the driver of humanitarian crises

The course felt like the right fit and the logical next step to work in disaster relief. It gave me a good theoretical grounding in the material and gave me an understanding into the driver of humanitarian crises. It has helped lead to my current role as Senior Regional Analyst - Americas, where I monitor and geolocate security threats in the region.

Vincent Fevrier / Senior Regional Analyst - Americas
On completion of the course, students demonstrate a critical understanding of the following.
  1. Key issues and debates related to the theory and application of disaster risk reduction. Students will demonstrate 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 be familiar with the methodological underpinnings of these disciplines.
  3. The analytical and policy literature concerning the related issues of disaster risk reduction including environmental studies, emergency management, the role and perspectives of the state, multilateral and bilateral agencies, international and domestic NGOs 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 high- and low-income countries.
  5. The development of a range of intellectual and professional 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 in the form of a dissertation.

Special features

Study at HCRI 

The Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) at the University of Manchester is inspired by the need to conduct rigorous research and to support both undergraduate and postgraduate training on the impact and outcomes of contemporary and historical crises.

Established in 2008 by Dr Rony Brauman, Professor Bertrand Taithe and Professor Tony Redmond, HCRI is recognised as 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 policymakers and practitioners, 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 facilitates improvement in crisis response on a global scale while providing a centre of excellence for with the study of emergency, conflict and peace.

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

Students learn through face-to-face teaching at The University of Manchester. This will be supported by lectures, discussion boards and other eLearning elements, in line with government and university COVID guidance.

Coursework and assessment

Graduation requires completion of 180 credits. A total of 120 credits of unit coursework are required for students to progress to the dissertation project.

A passing dissertation results in the final 60 credits needed for MSc completion.

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 Politics HCRI60261 15 Mandatory
Urban Resilience HCRI60021 15 Optional
Humanitarianism and Conflict Response: Inquiries HCRI60031 15 Optional
GIS and Disasters: A Critical Introduction HCRI60071 15 Optional
Armed Groups and Humanitarian Aid HCRI60162 15 Optional
Climate Change, Resilience and Environmental Justice HCRI60412 15 Optional
Young People in Conflicts and Displacement (20-21 Centuries) HCRI60511 15 Optional
Vital Mobilities: Delivering Healthcare in a Changing Climate HCRI61302 15 Optional
Citizen Participation in Disasters HCRI63322 15 Optional
Humanitarianism and Genocide HCRI63332 15 Optional
Understanding Environmental Hazards HCRI64402 15 Optional
Conflict Analysis MGDI60451 15 Optional
Climate, Environment and Development MGDI60552 15 Optional
Migration, Mobility and Displacement in the Contemporary World MGDI60731 15 Optional
Key Issues in Environment and Development MGDI60801 15 Optional
Characteristics and Skills of Development Practice MGDI71992 15 Optional
Global Governance POLI70422 15 Optional
Democracy: Theory & Practice POLI70872 15 Optional
Peace and Social Agency, Security and Intervention: Theories and Practices POLI70991 15 Optional
Fundamentals of Epidemiology POPH60991 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 is developed in close co-operation with the Faculty's eLearning team, which will offer ongoing support.

Students 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: