Taught course

Environmental Hazards and Risk

Durham University · Department of Geography

Entry requirements

An upper second-class degree (2:1).

Band E English language requirements

Application to the MA/MSc in Environmental Hazards and Risk 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 MSc in Environmental Hazards and Risks explores the causes and devastating impacts of natural events including earthquakes, floods, drought, heatwaves, landslides and climate change and the threat they pose to environments and populations around the world.

Taking a natural sciences approach, you will develop an in-depth knowledge of these global environmental hazards, and consider the extent of their physical and social impact on society, the consequences for social vulnerability and for resilience. The course is likely to appeal to those with a background in natural sciences or engineering.

Offered over a year full-time and two years part-time, you will study modules that cover the understanding, managing and preventing of risk, understanding the spatial and temporal dimensions of hazards, hydro-meteorological hazards as well as learning about the theories and concepts related to risk, science and communication. There is also a module dedicated to current research in the fast-growing field of risk.

You will also complete either a research-based dissertation by carrying out original independent study on a subject of particular interest or a vocational dissertation that combines external work placements with independent research.

Our partnership with the renowned Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience at the University, will enable you to learn about the current thinking around risk from academics and professionals in the sector as well as participate in the Institute’s annual climate risk seminar series.

The course is one of five masters programmes in the Department of Geography that form a vibrant and active postgraduate community which consistently proves to be supportive and encouraging, both academically and socially.

Course structure

Core modules:

Spatial and Temporal Dimensions of Hazards is a science-based module that considers issues relating to locations and timings, along with the key physical characteristics, of a variety of hazards. It offers both theoretical and practical training in how to understand and quantify such dimensions of hazards.

Hydro-meteorological Hazards provides fundamental knowledge of hydro-meteorological hazards, with a focus on flood and drought risk, their causes and the changing environmental conditions that influence them, including projected climate change. This module will also look at the ways that such hazards might be investigated and dealt with as part of an overall management strategy.

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.

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 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.

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

  • 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