L7K409 Risk MSc Postgraduate Taught 2019
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 those interested in engaging with the natural and social dimensions of environmental hazards, including disasters and climate related risk. You will 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. On this course you will receive theoretical and practical training for understanding and quantifying risks and hazards. You will also 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.
You will 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 degree is to equip you with a general understanding of risk, whilst simultaneously providing specific training in elements of risk-related research. The MSc supports you 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. You will learn theoretical and practical approaches to identifying and framing risk, as well as the underlying physical and social mechanisms that generate it. You will also examine the relationship of risk to knowledge and policy, and be made aware of the array of advanced tools and techniques to assess the physical and social dimensions of risk under conditions of uncertainty. You will also be trained in the substance and methods associated with a range of science and policy areas, and be expected to demonstrate that you can combine your general training in risk with your specific understanding of the substance and method associated with the chosen area, through either a research-based or a vocational dissertation.
You will undertake a suite of core modules (120 credits) which provide 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
You will then also select a suite of elective modules (another 60 credits). You 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 course’s interdisciplinary approach encourages you to combine science and social science perspectives. You 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 course 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||£9,530.00 per year|
|Home Student||£9,530.00 per year|
|Island Student||£9,530.00 per year|
|International non-EU Student||£19,000.00 per year|
Part Time Fees
|EU Student||£5,300.00 per year|
|Home Student||£5,300.00 per year|
|International non-EU Student||£10,100.00 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
Department of Geography
For further information please visit:
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. The 2014 Research Excellence Framework found that we produced the most world-leading research publications and were top for overall research power in the discipline nationally. Staff are international leaders in their field, and in recent years have received awards from the Royal Geographical Society, the Institute of British Geographers, the American Association of Geographers, the Academy of Social Sciences, the British Society for Geomorphology, the Geological Society of London, the American Geophysical Union, the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society and Her Majesty the Queen. The Department is notable for its balance of coverage across
both human and physical geography, and for its emphasis on interdisciplinary working. Research activity is organised by seven clusters: Politics-State-Space; Culture-Economy-Life; Urban Worlds; Geographies of Life; Ice Sheets and Sea-level; Catchments and Rivers; and Hazards and Surface Change. Cross-cutting research over a number of these themes feeds into our Masters programmes in Risk.