BSc International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response and Spanish / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Introduction to Disaster Management

Course unit fact file
Unit code HCRI11032
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This is a core unit that introduces students to key topics and concepts in disaster management.No prior knowledge is assumed. The causes of disasters are explored and different approaches to addressing them are critically analysed through clectures and seminars. Course content includes disaster vulnerability and resilience, as well as the disaster management cycle. Students will gain a clear understanding of the different types of disasters, disaster risks, and how and why vulnerability to hazards varies across space and time, in both low- and high-income contexts.


Year 1, semester 2 core on BSc International Disaster Management and Conflict Response


  • To introduce students to the key concepts that underpin disaster management and to foster critical perspective on these concepts 
  • To understand why the disaster management is increasingly important
  • To explore the meanings and interpretations of disasters 
  • To critically analyse the evolution of disaster management 
  • To identify some of the current challenges to effectiveness disaster management 
  • To develop an informed perspective on the causes of disasters and how they can be addressed



Teaching and learning methods

This course is taught by means of one 2 hour lecture and one 1 hour seminar per week. There is a direct link between workshops and seminars. Seminars will be more focused on primary evidence and workshops will tend to be more dedicated to the historiography. For workshops students should read on the broad issue and be prepared to engage in a small group discussion.

Knowledge and understanding

Through this course the students will:

  • Understand different interpretations of the meaning of the term ‘disaster’ and why this is contested 
  • Explore similarities' and differences between disaster risk management and disaster risk reduction in terms of origins, goals, and techniques 
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of the disaster management 
  • Understand the causes of disasters in terms of hazards and vulnerability, as well approaches to resilience based on decreasing exposure to risk 
  • Explore concepts of vulnerability and resilience in terms of components, assessment, and disaster management

Intellectual skills

  • Develop writing skills for academic and non-academic audience
  • Develop analytical skills 
  • Develop ability to synthesise literature from a wide range of sources 
  • Navigate complex debates dealing with current and historic events, issues and concepts; 
  • Articulate and defend one’s own informed position

Practical skills

  • Understand how scholarship relates to practice 
  • Analyze the efficiency of disaster management 
  • Demonstrate analytical skills with peers and tutors through lectures and seminars · 
  • Demonstrate effective use of library resources drawing on relevant academic and grey literature, and seeking out information through the use of virtual sources to underpin learning and gathering information for written work.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Develop communication skills for diverse audiences 
  • Develop, plan and undertake individual research project  
  • Develop analytical skills both verbally and in writing
  • Develop confidence articulating ideas during group discussions

Employability skills

Project management
Research – ability to plan and implement an effective research project Improving Learning – ability to improve one's own learning through planning, reflecting, and e adapting learning strategies Initiative – act unprompted and assume responsibility Creativity – ability to be innovative and apply lateral thinking in problem solving and decision making
Information Retrieval – ability independently to gather, synthesise and organise material from diverse sources to critically evaluate its significance. Time Management – ability to plan and complete research projects Applying Subject Knowledge – use of discipline specific knowledge in everyday situations

Assessment methods

Assessment Task

Formative or Summative 



EssaySummative 2000 words70%
BlogSummative 1000 words30%

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative 

Written feedback on all blog and essay Summative 
Informal verbal feedback during seminars and one on one meetings Formative 

Recommended reading

  • Coppola, D. A. 2011. Introduction to International Disaster Management (2nd ed.). London: Butterworth-Heinemann. (eBook) 
  • Cox Jr, L. A. 2008. Some Limitations of Risk = Threat x Vulnerability — Consequences• for Risk Analysis of Terrorist Attacks. Risk Analysis: An International Journal, 28, 1749-1761 
  • Garrick, B. J. 2008. Quantifying and Controlling Catastrophic Risk. New York: Academic Press. (eBook)
  • O'Keefe, P., Westgate, K. & Wisner, B. 1976. Taking the naturalness out of natural disasters. Nature, 260, 566-567. 
  • Quarantelli, E. L. 1998. What is a disaster?: perspectives on the question, London, Routledge. 
  • Wamsler, C. (2014). Cities, disaster risk and adaptation. London, Routledge. 
  • Wisner, B., Blaikie, P., Cannon, T. & Davis, I. 2004. At Risk: Natural Hazards, People's Vulnerability and Disasters. London, Routledge.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Stephanie Sodero Unit coordinator
Martin Parham Unit coordinator

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