Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2010-2011 (archived)


Department: Geography


Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2010/11 Module Cap None.


  • None.



Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The module aims to provide an overview of key theories and concepts relating to risks to human populations posed by hazards in physical and in social environments. The perspective is interdisciplinary and is designed to allow students to appreciate the complementarity of physical and social science approaches and perspectives.


  • 1. Hazard and Risk: basic concepts and terms used to conceptualise and assess risk
  • 2. Understanding the determinants of risk: understanding causal pathways
  • 3. Understanding inequality of risk: Inequality of exposure, vulnerability and resilience
  • 4. Intervention to manage, prevent or mitigate risks to human populations.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students will be enabled to understand and apply advanced conceptual frameworks covered in the module to interpret specific examples of risks in the social and physical environment. (PK1)
  • Students will have an advanced understanding of and be able to interpret the interactions between human and ‘natural’ environmental processes which generate risks for human populations. (PK1)
  • Students will be able to demonstrate a good grasp of the challenges involved in designing risk mitigation and management strategies. (PK1)
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will develop skills in the interpretation and application of conceptual frameworks for understanding risks to human populations through individual work on case studies. (PS1)
  • Students will be able to apply the ideas covered in the course to formulate proposals for intervention strategies or research focused on case studies of risk to human populations. (PS1)
  • Students will understand how concepts and theories of risk have been tested empirically using different approaches to formulate a sound conceptual framework, suitable to undertake a masters level dissertation focused on a specific aspect of risk to human populations. (PS4)
Key Skills:
  • The ability to debate ideas, while recognizing and respecting the viewpoints of others (PG1)
  • Verbal presentation (PG1)
  • Team work in a workshop format (PG3)
  • Written communication (PG4)

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The module will be divided into four blocks, with two blocks per term. There will be two additional seminars to introduce and conclude the module and these will bookend the four main blocks. Each of these four main blocks will have a series of three staff-led seminars, one workshop, and a tutorial. The seminars will start with a presentation by a member of staff, followed by discussion on the basis of (a) pre-set readings, and (b) reaction to the lecture. The workshops will be student-led, working through relevant examples and case studies. The tutorials will follow the seminars and workshop in each part of the module and will consolidate learning from that part and provide guidance on reading for the next part. They provide a forum for the summative assessment. Students will be required to complete a take home examination paper on this module.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshops 4 Following some seminars 4 x 2 hours 8
Seminars 14 Daily in some weeks 14 x 2 hours 28
Tutorials 4 Following some seminars 1 hour 4
Self-directed learning 260
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Take Home Exam Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Take Home Exam 3 x 2,000 word essays over one week 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

Peer assessment in workshops and written feedback on assignment. NB: formative work is a compulsory part of this module.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University