Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module GEOG41430: Social Dimensions of Risk and Resilience

Department: Geography

GEOG41430: Social Dimensions of Risk and Resilience

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.


  • NONE


  • NONE

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • NONE


  • This module provides 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. Through this module, students will develop a strong foundation in concepts, theories, and techniques essential to carry out research in these aspects of the social dimensions of risk and resilience. The perspective is broadly interdisciplinary, drawing on research in human geography, security studies, sociology of risk, political science, science and technology studies, as well as legal and commercial risk imaginaries. The module focuses on a variety of historical and conceptual ways of understanding risk from a critical angle.


  • Indicative module content includes:
  • Risk and security
  • Insurance and catastrophic events
  • The ethics and politics of uncertainty
  • Human dimensions of environmental change, including hazards and climate change
  • Theories of risk and resilience
  • Social, political and cultural understandings of resilience
  • Ways of knowing risk/epistemologies of risk and resilience
  • Risk, resilience and public policy
  • Methodological strategies and techniques

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Advanced understanding and critical analysis of risk and resilience.
  • Advanced interpretation and evaluation of different approaches to the problem of risk and resilience in relation to specific cases.
  • Advanced understanding of conceptual and methodological strategies and techniques required to understand risk and resilience.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Demonstrable understanding of the historical and context specificity of the problem of risk and resilience.
  • Application of module concepts with a view to analyzing problems, for example security, health and hazard, that are approached via risk techniques.
  • Presentation in both oral and written formats present of the findings of specific analyses.
Key Skills:
  • The ability to debate ideas, while recognizing and respecting the viewpoints of others
  • Verbal presentation
  • Written communication
  • Advanced individual learning and study.
  • Team work in a workshop format.

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

  • The module is divided into two parts. Part I addresses issues relating to risk, security and society. Part II addresses issues relating to risk, resilience and vulnerability.
  • Part I – Risk, Security and Society. Through a combination of seminars, workshops and tutorials, Part I provides students with an opportunity to develop an in-depth appreciation of the emergence and deployment of risk techniques as a means of securing the uncertain future. The seminars are organised to allow students to reflect on, debate, and diagnose various dimension of risk and security with specific emphasis on security and society in the early 21st century. Part I offers advanced understanding of the geographies of security, particularly the ways in which security challenges are governed increasingly through the prism of risk. It responds to the growing realisation that many risks are being created through social processes bound to questions of security, including the ways that risk techniques are emerging and being employed as a means of securing uncertain futures. The workshops are designed to allow students to present their own independent research and thinking on a relevant topic of their own choice. Tutorials offer an opportunity for students to consolidate their thinking in smaller group session. On completion of the module, students will have substantive theoretical and empirical knowledge of the specific societal emergence of the problem of security and different responses to the problem of security.
  • Part II – Resilience. The second half of the module builds on Term 1 and provides students with a series of learning activities aimed at developing their skills in analysing and interpreting theories of risk and resilience. Seminars focus on close reading of assigned texts, student presentation of core ideas, discussion of differences and questions raised by the readings. Seminars will also ask students to engage with practical applications of different concepts of risk and resilience, to analyse how theoretical concepts are translated into policies and practices, and to think critically about their own interests in risk and resilience. The seminars will incorporate student presentations, lectures, and small group discussions. The tutorials provide an opportunity to discuss student’s questions and ideas in more depth.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 17 2 hours 34
Workshops 2 4 hours 8
Tutorials 2 1 hour 2
Self-directed learning 256
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Research Essay 1 Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Essay 2500 words 100% Yes
Component: Research Essay 2 Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Essay 2500 words 100% Yes
Component: Oral Presentation Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Oral Presentation 15 minutes 100% Yes

Formative Assessment:

NB: formative work is a compulsory part of this module. Part I: The formative assessment operates as an important step towards the Summative Research Essay I. It provides students with an opportunity to develop initial ideas, and discuss with other students and with the lecturer the selected topic for their essay. Students will present their research questions and essay outline at a workshop. They will receive formative feedback from their colleagues and from the instructors (spoken comments following presentation). They may incorporate this feedback into the final version of the essay. Part II: The formative assessment of Part II also operates as a step towards the Summative Oral Presentation and Research Essay 2. In Term 2, tutorials are dedicated to developing students’ essay topics. In the first tutorial, students will bring a tentative title and five indicative references, with annotations describing their relevance to the paper. They will receive verbal feedback from their colleagues and the instructor. For the second tutorial, students will bring an abstract and ten annotated references. The instructor and colleagues will provide feedback on focusing the essay topic, suggestions for further reading, refining the essay question, and structuring the overarching argument.

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