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Unit information: Disaster Risk Reduction in 2018/19

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Unit name Disaster Risk Reduction
Unit code CENGM0044
Credit points 10
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Liz Holcombe
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Civil Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering


This unit will introduce students to the complex global challenge of disaster risk and equip them to develop holistic disaster risk reduction strategies involving a variety of stakeholders. Students will learn about the role of engineers within such multi-disciplinary projects. The unit content will be based around the following interconnected themes:

i) Concepts: The internationally recognised definitions and concepts relating to hazards (such as earthquakes, landslides, floods, volcanic eruptions etc.) and their consequences, risk reduction and the disaster risk management cycle.

ii) People and perspectives: How approaches to disaster risk have changed over time; the perspectives and actions of disaster risk reduction policy-makers, practitioners, researchers and at-risk communities; and current risk reduction practices and policies.

iii) Science-into-practice: Selection of appropriate hazard and risk assessment models using criteria such as the scope and spatial scale of the project, the quality and quantity of data available, model complexity and outputs, and end-user requirements. Selection of risk reduction approaches for different hazards and different parts of the disaster risk management cycle (i.e. before, during, or after the disaster event).

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course, the students will be able to:

1. Explain the concepts of disaster risk in terms of: hazard events; exposure and vulnerability of infrastructure, society, economy and the environment; and the disaster management risk cycle.

2. Discuss the suitability of different hazard and risk assessment methods for different situations.

3. Critically evaluate the perspectives, actions and interactions of disaster risk reduction stakeholders.

4. Propose appropriate strategies for different scenarios of disaster risk response, recovery, reconstruction, mitigation or preparedness.

Teaching details

22 hrs of lectures/seminar sessions (12 x 2hr)

78 hrs private study

Assessment Details

2 hr examination (June) ULO 1-4

Please note that regular formative feedback will be provided through teaching activity such as simple exercises and optional activities.

Reading and References

da Silva, J., 2017. Shifting agendas: From Response to Resilience. The role of engineering in disaster risk reduction. The Institution of Civil Engineers 9th Brunel International Lecture Series pp44. Available online:

Twigg, J., 2015. Disaster Risk Reduction. Good Practice Review 9, Humanitarian Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute pp382. Available online: