Taught course

Climate, Risk and Society

Durham University · Department of Geography

Entry requirements

A second-class degree (2:1).

Band E English language requirements.

Application to the MA/MSc in Climate Risk and Society requires:

  • Transcripts of your qualifications
  • English language test certificates if taken
  • Personal statement (if not written directly into the portal)
  • Two satisfactory references (unless you wish to supply referee details so we can contact them for you)
  • Scholarship documentation (if applying)

Months of entry


Course content

Our MA in Climate, Risk and Society provides an in-depth understanding of how changes in the global climate resulting from human activity are set to pose new risks and challenges to society whether in the form of natural physical events or more indirectly through political activity.

The course explores how climate risk is perceived, managed and mitigated by individuals, organisations and governments around the world, taking a social science approach to climate change and resilience in addition to risk. This makes it as relevant to a learning background in natural sciences or engineering as it is to the social sciences.

You will study taught modules over a year full-time or two years part-time in subjects including understanding risk, the social dimensions of risk and resilience and using geographical skills and techniques. You will also complete a major project; this can take the form of a research-based dissertation where you carry out original independent study or a vocational dissertation that combines external placements with independent research.

To further embed practice into the course, we work closely with the University’s Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR) and through this, you will gain a vital insight into practitioner and academic perspectives at the forefront of risk thinking and practice. The IHRR also hosts an annual seminar series tailored specifically to students on climate, hazards and risk postgraduate programmes.

The postgraduate community is a vibrant and supportive network, and when you join us at Durham you will be part of an active group that is both social and academic. You will be able to participate in research events and start to build an industry network, as well as attend talks given inside and outside the Department of Geography throughout the year.

Course structure

Core modules:

Climate Risk and Society provides an advanced understanding of human influence-based climate change as an issue that poses new risks to society, challenges and vulnerabilities and will help you to develop tools for responding to these emerging natural and socio-political threats. You will be required to think critically about how evolving understandings of risk, resilience and vulnerability shape efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Understanding Risk provides an overview of the key theories and concepts that reflect the interdisciplinary nature of risk involving human action and environmental events. You will learn the basic concepts and terms used to describe and communicate risk, as well as studying interventions involved in managing, preventing or mitigating against risk to populations, and building an understanding of the determinants of risk and its social inequalities.

Using Geographical Skills and Techniques provides training in the use of geographic skills and techniques with the aim of developing a range of transferable skills relevant to professional and personal development. The emphasis is on boosting your existing quantitative and qualitative research skills, exploring issues involved in the design and conduct of working with geographic information, and providing hands-on experience working with spatial data in a human-geography context.

Risk Frontiers is delivered by the Institute of Hazard and Risk Research. This module looks at current risk research and provides training in the generic skills of interpreting, criticising and collating the emerging research. What you learn will help meet the demands of the risk industry and associated areas such as disaster reduction, security, development and humanitarian relief.

Social Dimensions of Risk and Resilience offers advanced training in topics relevant to understanding the social dimensions of risk and resilience with a particular emphasis on environmental hazard, climate change, security, migration and insurance. This module takes an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing on research in human geography, security studies, sociology of risk, political science, science and technology studies, as well as legal and commercial risk studies.

The Dissertation (Research or Vocational) builds on your learning in taught modules. It offers the option to develop independent research skills through a research dissertation in which you carry out original independent research supported by our staff. Alternatively, you can choose the vocational dissertation route which combines research with collaborations or placements with external organisations. We offer vocational dissertation partnerships and project options through our large and growing partner and alumni network, or we can support you in developing your own vocational research collaborations.

Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
  • MSc
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Recruitment and Admissions