The Disasters, Adaptation & Development MA, MSc course takes a social development perspective, exploring topics such as human vulnerability, response to natural and technological hazards and to hazards associated with climate change. You will examine disaster risk reduction and choose from a wide range of modules, enabling you to build a study pathway that can include technical specialities in GIS and remote sensing, organisational risk management, or poverty alleviation and international development.
The Disasters, Adaptation & Development MA/MSc aims to equip students with an in-depth and critical awareness of the political, geographical and technological aspects of disaster risk reduction and their contribution to sustainable adaptation and disaster responses. Taking a social development perspective, the course covers issues such as human vulnerability and responses to natural and technological hazards. This course embeds training in disaster risk reduction with technical specialities in geographic information system (GIS) and remote sensing, organisational risk management, or poverty alleviation and international development.
The study course is made up of optional and required modules. You must take the minimum of 180 credits to complete the course. In addition to a required dissertation, you will choose from a wide range of related modules. If you want to qualify with an MSc, you will be required to study Advanced Quantitative and Spatial Methods in Human Geography as an additional module.
If you are studying full-time, you will complete the course in one year, from September to September. If you are studying part-time, your course will be delivered over two years. You will take a combination of required and optional modules over this period of time, with the dissertation in your second year.
We will teach you through a combination of lectures and seminars, and you will typically have 20 hours of this per 20 credit module. We also expect you to undertake 180 hours of independent study for each module, although some modules in the Geography Department may involve lab work or e-learning which would require less self-guided learning. For your 12,000 word dissertation, we will provide four workshops and five hours of one-to-one supervision to complement your 587 hours of independent study. Typically, one credit equates to 10 hours of work.
Performance on taught modules in the Geography Department is normally assessed through essays and other written assignments, oral presentations, lab work and occasionally by examination, depending on the modules selected. All students also undertake a research-based dissertation of 12,000 words.
The Disasters, Adaptation and Development degree aims to provide technical training and professional exposure. Both are needed to secure careers in humanitarian and development organisations. Professional exposure and networking is delivered through four mechanisms:
1. Environmental Internship. This is a stand alone module based on one to two weeks full-time equivalent working in a host organisation: usually a Humanitarian or Development NGO headquaters office in London or as part of a research team working on disaster risk within the Department of Geography. The student will undertake a defined task, typically a literature or policy review to feed into policy development work. The module is assessed by a reflective essay on the experience and lessons learned. The internship is appropriate for those wishing an introduction to professional life in the sector, some internships can turn into thesis research ideas.
2. Thesis placements. These allow students to undertake their three month research project within an international humanitarian or development NGO in the field. Current partners include the Red Cross Climate Centre, Oxfam, Save the Children, YCARE and the All India Disaster Mitigation Institute. Students propose thesis ideas and these are crafted with host organisations to make sure they meet academic criteria and policy impact goals. Typically thesis research is translated into a policy brief. Host organisation commitments vary but all local costs (translation, accommodation, transport) are covered, and often international transport costs as well. An example of a thesis internship can be found here.
3. Post-degree internships. Increasingly employers look for experience and are also prepared to offer paid internships. We only partner with internship providers providing at least basic living costs. Current internships providers are the Stockholm Environment Institute - Asia and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre, both based in Bangkok. Post degree internships are three months commencing in September - think about this being a 15 month degree where you get paid for the final three months!
4. Networking events. because the Disasters, Adaptation and development programme is associated with King's Centre for Integrated Research on Risk and Resilience (CIRRR) students are encouraged to attend its seminars and social events. Monthly meetings and occasional seminars help to integrated masters students with researchers and policy actors with many opportunities to become informally involved in research and outreach.
The Global Environmental Change and Policy course focuses on 4 key questions:
By addressing those four questions the overall aim of the course is to provide students with a comprehensive and broad understanding of the scientific, legal and policy concerns informing the GEC field, and to guide students towards applying, independently, the necessary tools to address GEC questions, analytically and critically. This is done through small group seminars, lectures and case studies arranged into four main strands:
Strand I - Climate Change Science, Environmental and Health Impacts and Adaptation
This strand explores the analysis and prediction of change in the earth's physical and chemical systems and their impact based on scientific evidence. Sessions include analysis, prediction and impact of changes such as climate change and acidification in the atmosphere, oceans, the water cycle and global land cover and use. In light of the projections of scientific bodies such as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), students become acquainted with different global warming scenarios and their likely impact on water management, vegetation, soil, health and other relevant sectors, and the correlated adaptation policies required in different parts of the globe in order to manage environmental change. It also addresses specific adaptation policies necessary in areas that are most likely to be affected by climate change, such as in Africa.
Strand II – Climate Change Mitigation, Business Strategies and Innovation
This strand focuses on climate change mitigation (non-LULUCF) and related business strategies and the development of technologies in the transition towards a low-carbon economy. A number of greenhouse gas mitigation and alternative energy policies – including renewable energy deployment and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) - are selected for analysis. It examines the social and economic causes of the environmental changes with respect to population, urbanisation, energy policy, and pollution and addresses the policy options to mitigate climate change. It includes a study of international and regional schemes, carbon markets and alternative policies such as carbon or fuel taxes. In addition, this strand assesses the broader question of quantifying the costs and benefits of mitigation and adaptation in light of the developmental priorities of different regions of the globe, as well as possible business solutions towards low carbon economic growth.
Strand III – Biodiversity, Land Use Change and Forestry, and Conservation Strategies
This strand explores biodiversity loss, conservation strategies, the monitoring and prediction of change in the earth's ecosystems and their response to a range of environmental changes including climate change, and the impact of these changes on humans, ecosystems and the management of natural resources. The different mechanisms proposed or already applied to protect biodiversity broadly and in relation to climate change are covered in this part of the course. Among other things, we may critique mitigation policies applicable to the agricultural sector and look at the sustainability of biofuels as cleaner sources of energy.
Strand IV – Law and Governance
The strand draws together some of the issues outlined above. The role of international law and policy in developing innovative solutions for global environmental problems, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, is emphasised. It addresses the law and politics behind the negotiation of, inter alia, global climate change agreements, the international framework for climate change, environmental governance, examines the role of compliance and monitoring, asks bigger philosophical questions related to rights, equity and justice in an environmental context and looks at the fundamental principles and norms of the international environmental law regime and their utility in going forwards.
The course structure, individual seminars and activities are designed to enable each student to attain the following:
Understanding, skills and capabilities are developed and assessed through active participation in coursework which comprises research and presentation, negotiation and conflict management and a panel group exercise. Panel Meetings run throughout the option term. The aims of these sessions are to establish and coordinate research, discussion, presentation and negotiation in respect of selected global environmental change issues, leading ultimately to the formal conclusion or agreed policy and scientific statement on one or more aspects of GECP.