Taught course

Environmental Hazards and Risk

Durham University · Department of Geography

Entry requirements

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

Months of entry


Course content

Our MA in Environmental Hazards and Risk takes a detailed look at a range of environmental hazards bringing devastation to many parts of the world, analysing the impact on society and studying how risks linked to events such as flooding, landslides, heatwaves and earthquakes, are managed.

Teaching physical and social science approaches, the course examines how society, as individuals, organisations and governments, makes decisions about defining and mitigating against environmental risk in order to address vulnerability and build resilience.

You will study for a year full-time or two years part-time, taking modules on areas that cover the concepts and techniques for researching risk and environmental hazards, the social dimensions of risk, and the latest skills and techniques involved in working with environmental data. There is also a module dedicated to current research in the fast-growing field of risk.

The course culminates in a dissertation which can be either an original independent study on a relevant subject of interest, or you can elect to complete a vocational dissertation that combines external work partnerships with independent research.

Thanks to our close links with the renowned Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR) whose home is at the University, you will learn about current thinking and practice in environmental hazards from world-renowned experts in the field. The IHRR organises annual seminars bringing cutting-edge research and practice directly to our students.

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

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.

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

Course contact details

Recruitment and Admissions