MSc Disaster Management (Resilience, Response and Relief) / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course description

Our MSc Disaster Management (Resilience, Response and Relief) distance learning course will enable you to develop the skills and knowledge needed to respond to and help prevent disasters.

When disasters strike suddenly, they require a quick response, and create burdens for rescue and humanitarian workers.

There is a great demand not only for preparing and equipping workers prior to the disaster event, but also building knowledge and skills to prevent disasters from occurring.

A community that has both a team with the capacity to prevent disasters and a ready-to-respond team can reduce disaster mortality and economic losses.

Our master's course is consistent with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) 2015-2030, which emphasises disaster education, including for personnel who have difficulty in attending conventional face-to-face provisions.

This course has been jointly developed by the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute at Manchester and Hong Kong Polytechnic University .

This course has been designed to equip you with advanced knowledge, and to continue your personal development in disaster risk management and humanitarianism.

You will learn to conduct theoretical and practical analysis, as well as evaluation to support disaster management and humanitarian action in global health contexts.

You will have the opportunity to gain hands-on field placement experience to support your future career development.

This course offers flexible online study that enables part-time students to obtain a master's degree without residency and boundary restrictions.


We aim to:

  • provide you with critical insights into competing perspectives on how disaster management and humanitarian action can be understood, analysed and explained - from both an historiographic and contemporary viewpoint;
  • develop your analytical skills in critically evaluating the idea of disaster risk management and humanitarian action and the ways it has been organised, justified and implemented. This includes competency in developing a reasoned argument, critically considering data sources and defending different approaches;
  • develop your skills in gathering, organising and using evidence and information from a wide variety of sources. This will be complemented by guidance on how best to manage workloads and obtain research materials;
  • enable MSc students to apply established techniques of research and enquiry to a relevant research area to create and/or interpret knowledge.

Teaching and learning

This course is delivered online through streamed lectures, discussion boards and other e-learning elements.

You can also gain practical experience through an optional field placement.

Coursework and assessment

Each course unit will include outline readings with points for discussion. These will help focus your study, while an online chat room/discussion board will be provided as an optional tool. 

Course units will be assessed by formative and summative prose-based assessments.

Course content for year 1

Indicative Year 1 course units include:

  • Disaster Preparedness [3 credits]
  • Introduction to Disaster Risk Management [3 credits]
  • Recovery and Rehabilitation in a Disaster [3 credits]
  • Emergency Humanitarian Assistance [3 credits]
  • Risk, Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment  [3 credits]

Course content for year 2

Indicative Year 2 course units include:

  • Community Approach to Health (optional) [3 credits]
  • Disaster and Mental Health (optional) [3 credits]
  • Advanced Quantitative Research Methods [3 credits]
  • Humanitarianism and Conflict Response: Inquiries (optional) [3 credits]
  • Advanced Qualitative Research Methods [3 credits]
  • Field Trip (Sichuan/Turkey/Uganda/India) (optional) [3 credits]

Course content for year 3

MSc students will undertake a dissertation [9 credits].

Course unit details

All units are convened by existing HCRI and HKPU staff.

This course is administered by HKPU and will consist of 36 credits.

Course collaborators

The course units have been jointly developed by the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute (HCRI) and Hong Kong Polytechnic University (HKPU).


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

Disability support

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