MSc Hazard and Disaster Management

The MSc Hazard and Disaster Management course is unique in balancing the development of academic knowledge with the development of your technical/vocational skills, interpersonal skills, management expertise, field preparation, and your experiences. It will equip you for a wide range of careers related to disaster risk management for environmental and other hazards.

The Hazard and Disaster Management Masters provides a balanced study of environmental hazards and disaster management, pre-event mitigation, disaster risk reduction, 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. The course is enriched with experiences for you and includes external project work, a two-week summer school, an overseas residential field course and provides the opportunity for additional extended field or work placements.

Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Full-time 1 Year September Glyntaff A
Part-time 3 Years September Glyntaff A
Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Full-time 1 Year August Glyntaff A
Part-time 3 Years August Glyntaff A

The MSc Hazard and Disaster Management course will develop knowledge, technical skills, interpersonal and management skills, and experience. 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 one of the mostly 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.

Opportunities for study on residential field courses will include the use of field simulations either in Finland or in the UK, and the opportunity to examine environmental hazards and evaluate management strategies on an overseas residential field course. Currently, the field course takes place in Italy or Greece, to examine volcanic, seismic, landslide and tsunami hazards.


  • Principles and Concepts in Disasters - 20 credits
    Multi-faceted causes and consequences of disasters, nature of disasters, disaster relief and international law.

  • Management of Coastal and Hydrological Hazards - 20 credits
    Flooding and integrated flood risk management, coastal hazards and sea level rise, storms, heat wave, coastal pollution incidents, climate change and resilience.

  • Management of Geophysical and Technological Hazards - 20 credits
    Landslides, chemical hazards and safety, industrial and pollution hazards, volcanic hazards, volcanic ash and aviation, seismic hazards, pandemics, terrorist incidents.

  • Personal Preparedness for Disasters - 20 credits
    Personal preparedness, leadership, survival training, victim and refugee experiences, developed from the Disaster Summer School immersive simulation week.

  • Disaster Risk Management - 20 credits
    Field survey training, vulnerability and risk analysis, disaster risk management strategies, emergency planning, resilience, information and communication, community engagement, disaster education, personal development in disaster management.
  • Planning for Disasters and Civil Contingencies - 20 credits
    Emergency and civil contingency planning, multi-agency response coordination and training, crisis leadership strategies and styles.

  • Remote Sensing for Environmental Management - 20 credits
    A practical introduction to the use of Remote Sensing and G.I.S. techniques and applications in environmental resource management; appropriate practical and analytical skills in data collection and manipulation of key environmental data.

  • Masters Research Project - 40 credits
    Each student will prepare for a detailed research project, prepare a paper as if for submission for publication in a refereed academic journal and present their research to their peers.
  • Work Based Learning Project (optional)
    Work placement opportunities are recommended as part of the course.


The Disaster Management course is designed in a modular format and will be offered on a full and part time basis. Delivery will be mixed-mode, with a combination of traditional lectures, practicals and distance learning with supporting tutorials. For full time students, study will take place over 14 months, and for part time students, study may typically take two to three years.

The MSc Hazard and Disaster Management begins with a two week Summer School in August, where you will meet other students, academic tutors and visiting experts. You will:

  • Develop reflective learning skills
  • Enhance communication and team working skills in an international and multicultural setting.
  • Clarify the concepts of a disaster with experts and academic tutors.
  • Undertake a field course simulation training exercise, which focuses on survival skills
  • Reflect on experiences of victims of disaster

You will undertake a field course simulation training exercise, which will focus on survival skills. You will reflect on the experiences of victims of disasters, develop decision making through active participation and it will orientate you to the type of experiences that you may encounter in a disaster field situation.

After the summer school, lectures and self-directed learning will take place in the Autumn and Spring terms. Teaching and training will also include fieldwork within the region as well as the option for overseas residential fieldwork.

Study will utilise a range of diverse learning approaches and activities to acknowledge the rich and diverse character and content of the body of knowledge that forms this Master’s degree course. It will include:

  • Attending the Summer School
  • Lectures
  • Seminars and tutorials
  • Practical and laboratory work
  • Completing work packages by distance learning through the Virtual Learning Environment
  • Actively participating in computer workshops and laboratory work
  • Undertaking a range of field based studies and data collection
  • Participating in group based activities and simulations
  • One-to-one interactions with academic staff
  • Fieldwork including community-based learning
  • Self-directed study
  • Optional field or work-placement
  • Externally-linked activities and placements

Each week, lectures and practicals will take place. This normally involves seven to 10 hours of class contact timetabled within two days of the week. In addition, through the week you will be engaged in distance 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.

The course will also require attendance at a Summer School (two weeks), on another overseas residential field course (about ten days), and will also provide options for other extended field- or work-placements. UK and EU students complete the Summer School at the start of their course in August and International Students complete it at the end of their course. International students therefore begin their course in September and not August. This is to allow enough time for you to get your visa.


The programme is entirely assessed through coursework. 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

The fieldwork provides unforgettable educational and social experiences in a variety of different locations. The annual Disaster Summer School either takes place in Finland or in the UK. The residential field course takes place in either Italy or Greece. In addition, other opportunities for field work will also take place within the region of South Wales. Please note: the exact locations of all overseas field trips may vary each year and are based on the area’s suitability for academic study and the overall cost of the trip.

In the field you may, for example, be assessing landslide hazards, seismic and tsunami vulnerability and risk, studying the management of active volcanoes, visiting geophysical monitoring centres, examining integrated flood risk management strategies, or considering climate change resilience strategies.

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.

Please be aware of the physical demands of this course which has modules with significant fieldwork elements. If you therefore have a disability which is likely to be affected by these physical demands, please get in touch with the course leader Dr Anthony Harris, as soon as possible. We will then investigate the reasonable adjustments that we can make to ensure your health and safety. Please note that if any health and safety aspects cannot be overcome, we may not be able to offer you a place on the course.

There may be additional costs associated with this course


The School of Applied Sciences is based in a Grade II listed building with great facilities, providing a learning environment that is second to none, with new GIS laboratories and other IT teaching and research facilities, 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.


Tutors on this programme are drawn from a range of Universities, and also include experienced practitioners from Government Organisations (GOs) and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs).

Dr Anthony Harris, award leader

A minimum 2:2 BSc (Hons) degree in either Geography, Geology, Earth Science, Environmental Science, Development Studies, or a related subject, or an equivalent international qualification. Other applicants will be considered on an individual basis.

The course welcomes EU and international applicants and requires an English level of IELTS 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component or equivalent. More information:

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 2019 – July 2020 Fees: USW will be offering a package of financial support for postgraduate study and this will be announced shortly.

August 2019 - July 2020 Fees

  • Full-time UK and EU:  £9000

  • Full-time International:  £13400 

  • Part-time UK and EU:  £1000 per 20 credits

August 2020 - July 2021 Fees

  • Full-time UK and EU: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

  • Part-time UK and EU: 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.

* Obligatory

Item Cost
Kit/Equipment *
Students undertaking courses that contain elements of outdoor fieldwork must wear appropriate outdoor clothing, which includes suitable wet weather gear, rugged boots/shoes and hat/gloves. The location and weather will determine the nature of clothing/footwear worn, and therefore the cost, and students will be informed of these requirements at the start of their studies. Please note that inappropriate clothing/footwear may prevent students from participating in an activity. The School of Applied Sciences subsidises the cost of compulsory fieldwork in the UK and overseas. Although kept to a minimum, some overseas compulsory fieldwork may have additional costs applied. Optional fieldwork modules are typically at the cost to the student. Generally, students will be expected to pay for their food unless specifically included within the field course. Students will need to supply suitable field notebooks in order to take observations/notes during field courses. Please note that some fieldwork may require visas and vaccinations, which are at the cost to the student and will vary depending on individual circumstances.
Field Trip * £900
Summer School in Finland or UK. Simulation and training in the field in challenging situations within multidisciplinary and multinational teams, developing insight into humanitarian emergencies and the challenging conditions generated by disasters.
Field Trip * £650
Fieldwork presently conducted in Greece. The field course includes analysis of volcanic, tsunami, landslide and seismic hazards and management strategies, with emergency planning. It provides field survey training in hazard, vulnerability and capacity assessments and will develop leadership skills.
Placement *
Students who successfully secure a placement in industry to complete their project would be expected to pay their own travel costs to and from the venue during the period of placement. The cost of this will of course vary and some students have also paid for accommodation close to their place of work for the duration of their placement.

Apply directly to the University for this course.

Admissions statement 

The MSc Hazard and Disaster Management programme will enhance employability by developing experience: in emergency planning and in the co-ordination of multi-agency response to critical incidents by working with emergency planning practitioners/tutors from Local Authority Emergency Planning Units; in a wide range of core competencies necessary in civil contingency and managerial positions, and in humanitarian work; through real project experience in emergency planning or community resilience development; and through optional extended placements in the UK and overseas. Graduates will be able to: understand the dynamics of disasters; assess hazards, risks, vulnerability and capacity; reduce and manage risk; review, implement and evaluate appropriate disaster reduction programmes for mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery; produce emergency and resilience plans; consider the challenges and effectiveness of disaster relief work; and apply Geographical Information System (GIS) based technical skills. The course is also suitable for professionals who wish to update their skills or develop careers in these areas.

Examples of recent graduate destinations include:

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.