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BSc International Disaster Management & Humanitarian Response / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course description

Catriona Spence

Disasters are so prominent in the media at the moment. I can study issues that are happening presently - one of my assignments was on the Grenfell fire.

I feel as if my work and the research done by the department is very important. If you're interested in making the world a better place, then take this great opportunity.

Catriona Spence / BSc International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response

As demand grows around a strategic global response to the ever-changing and increasing risks, shocks and conflicts arising from natural and anthropogenic hazards, it is increasingly important that we build an understanding of the root causes of vulnerability to disasters and conflicts as a pathway to addressing such contemporary international problems.  

BSc International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response is a multidisciplinary course designed to enhance collaboration amongst natural and social sciences, medicine and the arts.  

This course seeks to bridge the divide between development, disaster risk management, and peace and conflict studies.  

As a student you will explore these contemporary issues and challenges through a theoretical lens - both globally and locally in the UK.  

Through the course you can expect to build research expertise, knowledge and theoretical management skills in disaster preparedness, response and recovery in order to reduce negative impacts on health, social, economic and environmental spheres.  

You will also focus learning on the causes and consequences of conflict as well as conflict resolution and peacebuilding - again from an international and local perspective. 

You will find this multidisciplinary course unique as you will be taught by an interdisciplinary team of lecturers, including anthropologists, geographers, political scientists, historians and development scholars.  

As such, your learning will be truly interdisciplinary and allow you to understand disaster management, humanitarianism and peace building from a multi-disciplinary perspective and an integrated approach to the field. 

You will also have the opportunity to take optional course units in disciplines such as Geography, Politics, Theology, Languages and Anthropology. 

This will provide you with wide options to choose from whilst having a grounding in peace and conflict studies, humanitarianism and disaster management.  

Flexible Honours may allow you to study an additional arts, languages or cultures subject. 

We also recognise there is great demand from employers in the humanitarian sector for languages. 

Therefore, up to a third of your degree can be made up of studying languages, such as French, Arabic, German or Russian.  

Alternatively, you can study for a joint honours degree combining Arabic, Chinese, French or Spanish.  

Please note this course covers distressing and upsetting topics such as genocide, sexual violence and the impact of conflict on women and children.


  • Provide a critical insight into destabilising events and develop an understanding and appreciation of disaster risk reduction and humanitarian response.
  • Develop knowledge and understanding of key issues which inform the debates on disaster risk reduction and humanitarian response.
  • Develop practical expertise in risk and vulnerability analyses, disaster preparedness and response and the integration of development and humanitarian action.
  • Foster an informed attitude on ethical issues related to humanitarianism, including international actions taken by governments, inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations in response to disasters of both natural and human origins.
  • Develop strategic research methodologies and techniques, including data gathering, collation, analysis and dissemination of results in disaster risk management and humanitarian action contexts.

Special features

Insight from the field 

Due to current travel restrictions we're unable to go on field trips overseas. 

However, our adapted fieldwork unit for third years brings insight from humanitarian practitioners into the classroom. 

The unit explores concepts such as preparedness and response, recovery, migration, and conflict in relation to a specific hazard, vulnerabilities and disasters.

Work placements 

Work placements with humanitarian organisations will allow you to gain valuable professional experience.  

Research dissertation 

Your third-year dissertation allows you to make the focus of your final year at University truly your own and relevant to your personal interests and prospective career.

Teaching and learning

Teaching takes place in a variety of formats, including lectures, seminars, small group tutorials and virtual web-based seminars. We'll encourage you to undertake independent research at every level of the course.

Seminars provide opportunities to develop research and presentation skills including researching sources, planning, public speaking and the use of audio-visual media. You'll explore lecture themes in more detail via individual and group readings and presentations.

Coursework and assessment

Assessment varies from course unit to course unit, but we aim to offer a good balance of formal examinations, essays and project work.

The culmination of your studies will be a dissertation, allowing you to focus on a specific area of interest and to apply the knowledge you've gained throughout your university study. By tailoring your research topic to meet your career objectives and personal interests, you can make your final semester here truly your own.

Course content for year 1

Course units for year 1

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
Introduction to Humanitarianism HCRI10202 20 Mandatory
Key Concepts in International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response HCRI11021 20 Mandatory
Introduction to Disaster Management HCRI11032 20 Mandatory
Disaster Management and humanitarian response in Scholarship and Practice HCRI11071 20 Mandatory
Introduction to Conflict Analysis HCRI10002 20 Optional
Institutions and Governance HCRI11081 20 Optional

Course content for year 2

Course units for year 2

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
Everyday Peace Building and Security HCRI20001 20 Mandatory
Disasters and Development HCRI20012 20 Mandatory
Rethinking Crisis HCRI20021 20 Mandatory
Emergency Humanitarian Assistance HCRI20212 20 Mandatory
Professional Experience Project HCRI20220 20 Optional
Introduction to Global Health HCRI20321 20 Optional
From Cholera to COVID-19: A Global History of Epidemics UCIL20081 20 Optional
Understanding Mental Health UCIL20112 10 Optional
Creating a Sustainable World: 21st Century Challenges and the Sustainable Development Goals UCIL20412 20 Optional
Crisis of Nature: Critical Issues in Environmental History UCIL20592 20 Optional

Course content for year 3

Course units for year 3

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 and Research Methods HCRI30000 40 Mandatory
Spatial Thinking with GIS: Constructing and exploring virtual worlds GEOG20502 20 Optional
Introduction to Global Health HCRI30021 20 Optional
War, Migration and Health HCRI30032 20 Optional
Practical Approaches to Researching Disasters and Conflict HCRI30111 20 Optional
Systemic Approaches to Disaster Management HCRI30221 20 Optional
Living Interventions HCRI30411 20 Optional
Building Nations: nations, nationalism and post-conflict reconstruction HCRI30622 20 Optional
Disaster Mobilities of Climate Change HCRI30632 20 Optional
Young people in conflicts and displacement (20th-21st centuries) HCRI30641 20 Optional
Climate Change and Society UCIL33501 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 11 course units for year 3

What our students say

On the International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response course we learn about such a variety of topics; one week can include lectures on climate change, inequality and responses to disaster.

If that's not enough, they also offer the opportunity to explore other subject areas to ensure you leave the course with an understanding of the wide variety of challenges the world is facing.

Although the realities that we face on this course are hard-hitting, the staff are so approachable and the small course size means there are plenty of amazing people around you to support you through this mentally challenging but incredibly fascinating degree.  

Juliette Flach, BSc International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response

Disability support

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