L7K409 Risk MSc Postgraduate Taught 2017
Despite the phenomenal technological progress of the 20th century, most people still live with the acute and chronic consequences of age-old hazards such as floods and earthquakes. This MSc is aimed at students interested in engaging with the natural and social dimensions of environmental hazards, including disasters and climate related risk. Students receive specialised scientific training in the physical hazards that pose large risks to communities living throughout the world, from climate change and meteorological risks to flooding, earthquakes and landslides. Students on this programme will receive theoretical and practical training for understanding and quantifying risks and hazards. They will learn about how hazards persist over long periods of time instead of merely as single events, but are composed of many smaller sub-events or how their effects are widespread.
Students take the following core modules, and a selection of elective modules, which, when combined, add up to 180 credits:
- Understanding Risk (30 credits)
- Risk Frontiers (15 credits)
- Risk, Science and Communication (15 credits)
- Dissertation by Research (or) Vocational Dissertation (60 credits)
Elective Modules available in previous years include:
- Hydrological Hazards (30 credits)
- Spatial and Temporal Dimensions of Hazard (30 credits)
- Social Dimensions of Risk and Resilience (30 credits)
- International Relations and Security in the Middle East (15 credits)
- Strategic Asia: Policy and Analysis (15 credits)
- European Security (15 credits)
- Social Policy and Society (30 credits)
To find out more about the modules available to students studying at Durham University please click here.
Please note: Current modules are indicative. Information for future academic years may change, for example, due to developments in the relevant academic field, or in light of student feedback.
Course Learning and Teaching
Understanding and managing risk is ultimately about choice. All elements of society, from individuals to governments, must make decisions – conscious or not – about the ways in which they perceive, interpret, balance, and mitigate risk. Risk permeates our day-to-day lives in ways that are now recognised to be much more complex than the hazard-vulnerability paradigm, which dominated risk research until the 1990s, recognised. A deeper understanding of the nature of risk, its emergence, and its interface and position within societies, has emphasised the need to take a much more complex view in which a general understanding of the ways in which risk is generated, experienced and managed needs to be combined with a specific understanding of particular science or policy areas.
The primary aim of this Masters programme is to equip students with a general understanding of risk, whilst simultaneously providing specific training in elements of risk-related research. The MSc supports students in developing a strong social science perspective on risk. This will be achieved through an interdisciplinary framework for understanding risk from a variety of perspectives. Students will learn theoretical and practical approaches to identifying and framing risk, as well as the underlying physical and social mechanisms that generate it. They will also examine the relationship of risk to knowledge and policy, and will be made aware of the array of advanced tools and techniques to assess the physical and social dimensions of risk under conditions of uncertainty. They will also be trained in the substance and methods associated with a range of science and policy areas, and be expected to demonstrate that they can combine their general training in risk with their specific understanding of the substance and method associated with the chosen area, through either a research-based or a vocational dissertation.
All students will undertake a suite of core modules (120 credits) which provide students with a range of skills and knowledge which result in a unique focus in risk combined with training in interdisciplinary research methods. These modules are Understanding Risk, Risk, Science and Communication, Risk Frontiers and the Dissertation.
Students then also select a suite of elective modules (another 60 credits). Students can choose to receive specialised scientific training in:
- the social dimensions of risk and resilience, and/or
- a combination of approaches to risk.
Electives can be selected from: Hydrological Hazards, Spatial Temporal Dimensions of Hazards, Social Dimensions of Risk and Resilience.
The Risk Masters (both in its MA and MSc forms) is taught jointly between Durham University’s Geography Department, the School of Government & International Affairs, and the School of Applied Social Sciences. The programme’s interdisciplinary approach encourages students to combine science and social science perspectives. Students have a broad range of modules to choose from, and in this way develop an individualized set of professional skills that, depending on the student’s preferences, speak more to either the natural sciences (e.g. via scientific modelling, GIS or science and communication) or the social sciences (e.g. via social science research methodologies and engagements with social policy and international relations). The programme is delivered in close collaboration with Durham University’s Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR), and through IHRR’s activities students get permanent exposure to both practitioner and academic perspectives at the forefront of risk thinking and practice.
Subject requirements, level and grade
Normally at least an upper second class degree (2:1).
English Language requirements
Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.
How to apply
Fees and Funding
Full Time Fees
|EU Student||£9,250.00 per year|
|Home Student||£9,250.00 per year|
|Island Student||£9,250.00 per year|
|International non-EU Student||£18,250.00 per year|
Note: Fees are subject to review and change in-line with inflation.
Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.
Scholarships and funding
Open days and visits
Pre-application open day
Overseas Visit Schedule
Postgraduate VisitsPGVI or
Department of Geography
Founded in 1928, the Department of Geography at Durham is one of the leading centres of geographical research and education in the world.
Our ambition is to provide an outstanding education experience for each and every one of our undergraduate and postgraduate students, and for the Department to be a key research node in global networks, known for its agenda-setting research across the range of our specialisms. Our specialisms span from Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic to Bangladesh, China and the emergent economies, whilst continuing to attend to the closer to home, the North east region in which we are located. Affiliated with the Department are six research centres and units, including the Centre for Social Justice and Community Action, the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR), the International Boundaries Research Unit (IBRU), International Landslide Centre, Nomis, and the Sea Level Research Unit.
With 58 academics, 34 researchers, 54 professional support, administrative and technical staff and 579 undergraduates, we teach and research across the discipline. The Department has over 120 research and taught postgraduates working across the full spectrum of human and physical geography, and every postgraduate is assisted in developing a tailored portfolio of training and support. Our staff also play a major role in a number of interdisciplinary research projects.
We are fortunate to enjoy a superb research and teaching environment in a wonderful City, with top class laboratory and IT facilities in a supportive and collegial atmosphere. At our core, our strength is drawn from all the people - staff and students - who together create and sustain the vibrant scholarly community that makes Durham Geography.