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Risk and Disaster Science - MSc/PGDip

Course Description

The importance of science in understanding disaster risks and the need for science-based strategies at local, national and international levels are now widely recognised. The Risk and Disaster Science MSc aims to meet the growing need for experts trained in disaster science in sectors ranging from finance to humanitarian response.

Degree information

In a science-led programme, students will explore the characterisation of risk from a fundamental understanding of hazard, statistical modelling, appreciation of causes of vulnerability, and quantifying exposure to the management and reduction of disaster risks. There is an emphasis on scientific analysis and statistical methods. Students will enjoy a wide range of taught modules covering scientific, technical, socio-economic, political, environmental, ethical and cultural perspectives.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of six core modules (90 credits), optional modules (to the combined value of 30 credits) and an independent research project (60 credits). A Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits, six core modules and two optional modules), full-time nine months, part-time two years, is also offered.

Core modules
-Decision and Risk Statistics
-Earthquake Hazard Risk
-Emergency and Crisis Management
-Natural and Anthropogenic Hazards and Vulnerability
-Risk and Disaster Reduction Research Tools
-The Variable Sun: Space Weather Risks

Optional modules - choose options (to the combined value of 30 credits) from a list which may include the following:
-Climate Risks to Hydro-ecological Systems
-Emergency and Crisis Planning
-Integrating Science into Risk and Disaster Reduction
-Seismic Risk Assessment
-Statistical Computing

All students undertake an independent research project of 10,000-12,000 words which culminates in a research project and poster presentation.

Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, practicals, field visits, directed reading and problem-solving exercises and a real-time disaster scenario event, with an emphasis on hands-on learning and tutorial-style dialogue between students and lecturers. Assessment is by independent and group oral presentations, written examination, coursework essays, and the independent project. Practical applications of critical and creative problem solving will be encouraged and assessed throughout.


This programme provides excellent training towards careers in industry and commerce, research, research communication and public policy including insurance, catastrophe modelling, finance, risk management, business continuity, humanitarian assistance, engineering and many other fields. It supports the career development of professionals already working in risk and disaster reduction, as well as those who intend to go into this field.

The IRDR runs a careers and opportunities forum for students; this has been attended by insurance companies, catastrophe modelling firms, NGOs, academic institutions, and headhunters in the field of risk and disaster reduction.

This is a new programme and no information on graduate destinations is currently available. Career destinations of recent IRDR graduates include: a London-based international economic consultancy in the field of micro-finance; a consultancy role in disaster risk for an insurance company; a PhD studentship; the World Food Programme; and Rescue Global - an NGO based in London. A number of MSc students have also participated in internship programmes with Rescue Global.

Why study this degree at UCL?

The UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction (IRDR), where teaching for this programme is based, leads and co-ordinates multidisciplinary research, knowledge exchange and advanced teaching in risk and disaster reduction across UCL.

UCL is uniquely well placed to lead research and teaching in this field; in addition to at least 70 academics across twelve departments and seven faculties involved in world-class research, the IRDR has established links with non-governmental organisations, industry and government departments based in and around London.

Teaching and project supervision will be provided by active researchers, practitioners and policymakers, all of whom are leaders in their respective fields.

Visit the Risk and Disaster Science - MSc/PGDip page on the University College London website for more details!

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Student Profiles

Brown Family Bursary - No. of awards TBC

Selection criteria:
The bursary will be awarded based on financial need only as determined by the Student Funding Office.Value, Benefits and Duration:
- The value of the bursary is £15,000. The payment is to be applied to tuition fees in the first instance, with any remainder being paid to the successful applicant towards maintenance in termly instalments.
- The bursary is tenable for one year only.
- The bursary may not be held alongside other tuition fee only awards.

Value of Scholarship(s)



- prospective full-time UK Master's students who are undertaking a one-year programme of study in the Faculties of the Built Environment, Engineering Sciences or Mathematical & Physical Sciences (BEAMS) in 2015/16
- currently holding a first-class Bachelor's degree; and
- in financial need.

Application Procedure

See http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/scholarships/graduate/UK-EU-Master/uclalumniandfriends

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Normally a minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

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Recipient: University College London
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