Taught course

Climate, Risk and Society

Durham University · Department of Geography

Entry requirements

A second-class degree (2:1).

Months of entry


Course content

The MSc in Climate, Risk and Society takes a natural science approach to climate risk. Designed to equip you with an in-depth understanding of how human influence on climate is creating new risks, challenges and greater social vulnerability, it also teaches the necessary skills to develop effective responses to such natural and socio-political threats.

The course is likely to appeal to those with a background in social science, natural science or engineering. It explores how climate risk is defined and managed by individuals, governments and organisations, and considers the decisions they make when addressing uncertainty and the threats it poses to environments and communities across the globe.

During your studies, which will be taken over one year full-time or two years part-time, you will be taught about understanding risk as well as risk, science and communication, risk frontiers, and climate risk and society. 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). 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 the climate risk postgraduate programmes.

The Department’s postgraduate community is a vibrant body which offers a supportive network. When you join us you will become part of an active group that is both social and academic, participating in research events and attending talks throughout the year.

Course structure

Core modules:

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.

Risk, Science and Communication gives you an overview of the natural, engineering and social science methods used in risk research. It provides training in the generic science, media and communication-based skills that risk research requires – in particular, written and spoken communication and the tools of public engagement.

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.

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

The Dissertation (Research or Vocational) builds on your learning in core and optional modules. It offers the option to develop your 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

  • 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