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Course content

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 for students who want to receive specialised scientific training in physical hazards that pose large risks to communities living throughout the world. Students on this programme will receive theoretical and practical training for understanding and quantifying 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.

Course Structure

Students take the following core modules, and a selection of elective modules, which, when combined, add up to 180 credits:
Core Modules:
-Understanding Risk (30 credits)
-Risk Frontiers (15 credits)
-Fundamentals of Risk Research (15 credits)
-Dissertation by Research (or) Vocational Dissertation (60 credits)

Elective Modules available in previous years include:
-Hydro-Meteorological 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)

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. 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
-Fundamentals of Risk Research
-Risk Frontiers
-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

Visit the Geography (Risk) MSc page on the Durham University website for more details!

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