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
Offered by Humanitarian Conflict Response Institute
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 lecture and seminars. Course content includes disaster vulnerability and resilience, as well as the disasterment 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. 


  • 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



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 common 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 as 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 audiences
  • 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 effeciency of disaster management
  • Demonstrate analytical skills with peers and tutors through lectures and seminars
  • Demonstrat 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 an individual research project
  • Develop analytical skills both verbally and in writing
  • Develop confidence articulating ideas during group discussions

Employability skills

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, and to critically evaluate its significance. Research - ability to plan and implement an effective research project.
Presentation - capacity to make oral presentations, using appropriate media for a target audience. Negotiation - understand group dynamics and intercultural backgrounds in the use of negotiating skills to reach objectives. Time Management - ability to schedule tasks in order of importance. Applying Subject Knowledge - use of discipline specific knowledge in everyday situations. Improving own Learning - ability to improve one's own learning through planning, reflecting, and adapting learning strategies.

Assessment methods

Essay  70%
Blog  30%


Feedback methods

Written feedback on blog and essay


Informal verbal feedback during seminars and one on one meetings



Recommended reading

Coppola, D. A. 2011. Introduction to International Disaster Management (2nd ed.). London: Butterworth-Heinemann. 

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. 

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 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Stephanie Sodero Unit coordinator
Gemma Sou Unit coordinator

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