MSci Hazard and Disaster Management

From flooding, effects of climate change, terrorist incidents or complex emergencies, to volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, earthquakes and landslides, disasters are becoming more frequent all over the world. The need to manage the risks associated with these are becoming increasingly important.

This unique, four-year Disaster Management course combines Bachelors and Masters level study in one integrated package. It will prepare you for a career relating to environmental hazard management, emergency planning or disaster risk management. You’ll study a range of topics associated with hazard and disaster management, including pre-event mitigation, disaster risk reduction, emergency planning, business continuity planning, multiagency response co-ordination, resilience development, disaster relief and crisis management. The specialist nature of the Disaster Management course also means you’ll gain a greater breadth and depth of practical, technical and interpersonal skills to impress future employers – giving you the best chance of moving into a related career or further research after graduation.

UCAS Code Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
F680 Full-time 4 Years September Glyntaff A

The first year provides a broad introduction to elements of geography, earth science and emergency planning to provide a foundation for hazard analysis and management strategies from Year Two onwards.

You will study a range of hazards using examples from the UK and other countries. This will provide you with the experience to assess risks and vulnerabilities from desk-based research, laboratory and field situations, consider hazard management and disaster risk reduction strategies, develop emergency plans, and critically review the concept of resilience along with techniques for its development.

You will consider the dynamic and multi-faceted nature of disasters and examine a range of aspects pertinent to the operational, political and socio-cultural issues involved in disaster relief, including aspects of international law. The course will ensure a sound working knowledge and experience with widely used GIS platforms, extensively used by many planning authorities, GOs and NGOs, and you will develop valuable skills in the acquisition and processing of spatial datasets with a wide variety of disaster management applications, along with the ability to visualise and depict spatial information.

The Hazard and Disaster Management course provides a balanced study of environmental hazards and disaster management, pre-event mitigation, emergency planning, multi-agency disaster response, and disaster relief, along with the development of technical and interpersonal skills. It will enable you to critically assess the effectiveness of existing disaster risk management techniques, in order to evaluate good practice and apply it to new situations.

In addition, the Hazard and Disaster Management course will develop knowledge and experience in emergency planning and in the co-ordination of multi-agency response to critical incidents. Students on the Hazard and Disaster Management course will develop real project experience in emergency planning or community resilience development, by working with these emergency planning practitioners/tutors from Local Authority Emergency Planning Units. For example, experiences have included writing new Local Authority emergency plans, working as part of emergency response training teams in flooding and industrial hazard simulations, or developing community resilience plans. These real experiences will also enhance employability prospects within civil protection organisations.

The Hazard and Disaster Management programme will enhance employability by developing a wide range of core competencies necessary in civil contingency and managerial positions, and in humanitarian work. The simulation week will develop your personal management skills, and those skills will give you an edge when applying for jobs afterwards. These include the enhancement of communication and team working skills in an international and multicultural setting, and the development of necessary skills in reflective learning that will help in the development of professional competencies. These include managing yourself (resilience, integrity, time management, self awareness), working with others (teamwork, cultural sensitivity, accountability, communication, building trust, leadership), achieving results (assessing needs and priorities, managing projects, problem solving, decision making, risk management, promoting protection), and using resources (allocation, co-ordination, negotiating and managing partnerships).

Year One: Hazard and Disaster Management course

  • The Dynamic Earth: Introduction to the Earth, its physical structure, and the large scale systems that shape and affect it, including plate tectonics and the climate system.

  • Landform Systems: Introduction to surface processes and the resultant landforms and features that generate many natural hazards.

  • Rocks, Minerals and Fossils: Introduction to the practical study of rocks, minerals and fossils as a fundamental building block in understanding Earth Science.

  • Introduction to Emergency Planning: Introduction to the concepts, theories and terminology used in emergency management and in managing civil contingencies.

  • Introductory Field and Research Skills: Introduction to a wide variety of field and survey techniques to investigate, gather, process, display and present geographical/earth science data.

  • Introduction to data analysis and GIS: Introduction to variety of techniques used for analyzing data, and to the structure, use and applications of Geographic Information Systems.

Year Two: Hazard and Disaster Management course

  • Emergency and Business Continuity Planning: Development of emergency plans, procedures, training and education programmes.

  • Applied Geomorphology: Study of aspects of landform systems including hydrology, hydraulics, and defences for managing flood and erosion hazards.

  • Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis: Use of GIS and remote sensing techniques for spatial analysis including hazard, vulnerability and risk assessments. Flood modelling.

  • Developing Field and Research Skills: Field survey training including in hazard, vulnerability and capacity assessments. Examples of hazard management strategies and resilience development.

  • The Risk Society: Vulnerability and risk analysis, disaster risk management strategies, community resilience and engagement, information and communication, disaster education.

  • Environmental Analysis and Protection: Introduction to the sources, transport, fate and effect of pollutants. Environmental pollution and analysis.

Year Three: Hazard and Disaster Management course

  • Principles and Concepts in Disasters: Multi-faceted causes and consequences of major disasters, nature of disasters, disaster relief and international law.

  • Management of Coastal and Hydrological Hazards: Flooding and integrated flood risk management, coastal hazards and sea level rise, storms, heat wave, coastal pollution incidents, climate change and resilience.

  • Volcanology: Field-based module to understand the processes behind eruptions and the emplacement of volcanic products, and to consider volcanic hazard monitoring and mitigation.

  • Land Remediation: The management of contaminated land, the investigation of former industrial sites, and techniques to remediate ground and groundwater contamination.

  • Engineering Geology: Ground engineering and slope stability, slope hazard management, engineering principles for surface and underground extraction.

  • Earth Observation: The use of remote sensing, satellite and UAV imagery in environmental management applications including flooding and coastal management.

Year Four: Hazard and Disaster Management course

The fourth year of study will provide opportunity for extended work placements and applied and externally-linked research projects that will develop additional experience and focus, while providing and developing experience so that you can demonstrate competence and leadership abilities.

  • Management of Geological and Technological Hazards: Landslides, chemical hazards and safety, industrial and pollution hazards, volcanic hazards, volcanic ash and aviation, seismic hazards, pandemics, terrorist incidents.

  • Personal Preparedness for Disasters: Personal preparedness, leadership, survival training, victim and refugee experiences, developed from the Disaster Summer School immersive simulation week.

  • Planning for Disasters and Civil Contingencies: Emergency and civil contingency planning, multi-agency response coordination and training, crisis leadership strategies and styles. Development of emergency training programmes.

  • Work-based Learning Project: Industry-standard project management training. Work placement in the UK or overseas.

  • Masters Dissertation Project: All students will also complete an in-depth research project on a topic which is normally of the student’s choice, but which is agreed with the course tutors.


Each week, lectures and practicals will take place. This normally involves about 12 hours of class contact. In addition, through the week you will be engaged in on-line learning tutorials and activities, background reading, and working on a wide range of assessments. Some weeks will also have additional field or simulation time. For a full-time course, a minimum of 37 hours of study time per week is expected.

We use a wide range of learning strategies including, for example, lectures, seminars, practical and laboratory work, fieldwork, community-based learning, participation in group-based activities and simulations, use of the Hydra Minerva simulation suite, self-directed study, and distance learning with supporting tutorials. In addition, learning experiences will be developed through externally-linked activities and placements.

You will have the opportunity to develop real project experience in emergency planning or community resilience development by working with emergency planning practitioners/tutors from local authority Emergency Planning Units.





The Hazard and Disaster Management programme is assessed through a mixture of coursework and examinations. The coursework elements will include a wide range of different assessment methods, not all of which are traditional. These may include the production of emergency or resilience plans; written field, laboratory and technical reports; numerical and modelling examples; geographical information systems analyses; other computer literacy elements; oral and/or poster presentations for a variety of audiences, including seminars; investigative library exercises, mini-reviews, and essays; employment-related reflective reports; and a final thesis.

Field Trips

You will be required to undertake residential fieldwork each year, including overseas locations, along with a two week Disaster Management Summer School, ensuring a degree rich in experience.

Field work provides useful training in a range of different survey techniques, including multi-hazard risk assessments and practice in a range of vulnerability and capacity assessments used by governmental or non-governmental organisations. You will also consider disaster risk management strategies and solutions including evacuation and emergency planning.

Extended placements are a crucially important way to further develop real skills and experiences. Following discussion with the course tutors and depending on type and location, these are arranged by either tutors or the students. Placements and research projects have included the development of community-based disaster risk reduction projects in Uganda; earthquake preparedness in Jamaica; flood risk assessments with environmental consultancies; on civil protection projects with Local Authorities in the UK; and on internships with placements, for example in Afghanistan and Yemen. Some of the overseas placements have allowed students to lead and develop their own projects, providing experiences which have been invaluable in gaining related employment afterwards. Dissertation research projects are also developed in the UK or overseas.

If you have a disability that is likely to be affected by physical demands, please get in touch with the course leader Dr Anthony Harris as soon as possible. work placement module also include extended overseas placements, for example in Uganda.




There may be additional costs associated with this course


As well as making use of the great outdoors you will work in modern laboratories and classrooms. Our new George Knox laboratories are part of a £15m investment in science for the University, meaning you will be taught in new and well-equipped spaces. These join the Grade II listed Alfred Russel Wallace building, which is also used for teaching. Our students use a variety of fully equipped geographical information systems (GIS), media editing and IT laboratories, each carrying industry-standard research and specialist software including earth science teaching laboratories and smaller analytical and research laboratories for student project use. In addition to these excellent teaching and learning resources, the new facilities include welcoming social learning spaces and spacious seminar rooms, providing a friendly and sociable atmosphere for study with a warm and relaxed community feel.

You will be trained to use the latest technologies including specialist hardware and software. The computing facilities include new high-specification research machines with industry standard and specialist software.


The teaching team includes emergency planning practitioners and tutors that form part of the Wales Resilience Forum. Expertise is also drawn from experienced practitioners from government and nongovernment organisations (NGOs).

Typical A-Level Offer

BBC to include a Science such as Geography or Mathematics but to exclude General Studies

Typical Welsh BACC Offer

Grade C and BB at A Level to include a Science such as Geography or Mathematics but to exclude General Studies

Typical BTEC Offer

BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction Merit Merit in a relevant Science subject

Typical IB Offer

30 points to include 16 points at Higher Level to include Higher Level Geography grade 6 or Mathematics grade 6.

Typical Access to HE Offer

Maths, Science or Engineering Diploma with 60 credits overall to include 45 level 3 credits equating to 18 Distinctions, 24 Merits and 3 Passes

Additional Requirements

GCSEs: The University normally requires a minimum 5 GCSEs including Mathematics and English at Grade C or above, or their equivalent but consideration is given to individual circumstances

International Entry Requirements

We also welcome international applications with equivalent qualifications. Please visit the country specific pages on our international website for exact details.

English Requirements

In general, international applicants will need to have achieved an overall IELTS grade of 6.0 with a minimum score of 5.5 in each component.

However, if you have previously studied through the medium of English IELTS might not be required, but please visit the country specific page on our international website for exact details. If your country is not featured please contact us.

Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.

August 2018 - July 2019 Fees

  • Full-time UK and EU: TBC
  • Full-time International: TBC

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.

UK and EU students

Apply via UCAS if you are a UK/EU residing applicant, applying for year one of a full-time undergraduate degree, Foundation Year, Foundation Degree or HND and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to study part-time, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly

International students

Apply directly to the University if you live outside the UK/EU. 

Apply now 

Admissions statement

The number and frequency of disasters are increasing and disaster risk reduction strategies are becoming increasingly important in the UK and overseas. The Hazard and Disaster Management course will enhance employment within governmental organisations, civil protection agencies, non-governmental organisations, industry, insurance companies, and specialist consultancies. It could include disaster and emergency planning, flood planning, disaster management and intervention, humanitarian aid and relief work, logistics, community development and capacity building, hazard and risk assessment, environmental monitoring, teaching or further academic research.

Our Careers and Employability Service

As a USW student, you will have access to advice from the Careers and Employability Service throughout your studies and after you graduate.

This includes: one-to-one appointments from faculty based Career Advisers, in person, over the phone or even on Skype and through email via the "Ask a Question" service. We also have extensive online resources for help with considering your career options and presenting yourself well to employers. Resources include psychometric tests, career assessments, a CV builder, interview simulator and application help. Our employer database has over 2,000 registered employers targeting USW students, you can receive weekly email alerts for jobs.

Our Careers service has dedicated teams: A central work experience team to help you find relevant placements; an employability development team which includes an employability programme called Grad Edge; and an Enterprise team focused on new business ideas and entrepreneurship.