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Disasters, Adaptation & Development MA/MSc

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The Disasters, Adaptation & Development MA/MSc programme takes a social development perspective, exploring topics such as human vulnerability, response to natural and technological hazards and to hazards associated with climate change. You will examine disaster risk reduction and choose from a wide range of modules, enabling you to build a study pathway that can include technical specialities in GIS and remote sensing, organisational risk management, or poverty alleviation and international development. 

Key benefits

  • You will be studying innovative modules in a range of disciplines taught by staff who are recognised leaders in their fields.

  • Our recently refurbished accommodation offers high-quality teaching and social facilities.

  • You will have access to research and practitioners in international development and disaster risk reduction.

  • Dissertation research opportunities with international organisations.


Key information

Application status Open

Duration One year FT, two years PT, September to September.

Study mode Full-time, Part-time

Credit value UK 180/ECTS 90

Course intake 20 FT/PT approximately.

Course leaders Professor Mark Pelling

Further details

Course contact for further information

Postgraduate Admissions Team, Admissions Office
tel: +44 (0)20 7848 7171
fax: +44 (0)20 7848 7200

Course contact form Postgraduate admissions

Awarding institution King's College London

Faculty Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy

DepartmentDepartment of Geography



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Course detail


The Disasters, Adaptation & Development programme takes a social development perspective and includes human vulnerability and response to natural and technological hazards and to climate change. Access to a broad range of modules. Leads to careers in research and policy development on disaster risk management and development programming for adaptation.

Course purpose

The Disasters, Adaptation & Development MA/ MSc aims to equip students with an in-depth and critical awareness of the political, geographical and technological aspects of disaster risk reduction and their contribution to sustainable adaptation and disaster responses. This course embeds training in disaster risk reduction with technical specialities in geographic information system (GIS) and remote sensing, organisational risk management, or poverty alleviation and international development. 

The study programme is made up of optional and required modules. You must take modules with a value of between 180 and 190 credits to complete the programme. In addition to a compulsory dissertation, you will choose from a wide range of related modules.

If you want to qualify with an MSc, you will be required to study Advanced Quantitative and Spatial Methods in Human Geography as an additional module. 

If you are studying full-time, you will complete the course in one year, from September to September. If you are studying part-time, your programme will be delivered over two years. You will take the required modules in the first year, and the dissertation in your second year.

Course format and assessment

Assessment methods will depend on the modules selected. The primary method of assessment for this course is a combination of essays/reports, oral presentations, lab work and occasionally by examination. 


Year 1

You must take a minimum of 180 credits and a maximum of 190 credits as outlined below.


Required Modules
  • Dissertation in Disasters, Adaptation and Development (60 credits)
  • Practising Social Research (20 credits)
  • Disasters and Development (20 credits)

Additional required modules for the MSc Pathway:

  • Advanced Quantitative and Spatial Methods in Human Geography (20 credits)
Optional Modules

You will take 20 credits from a range of modules that may typically include:

  • Environmental Internship (20 credits)
  • Water Resources and Water Policy (20 credits)
  • Environment, Livelihoods and Development in
  • the ‘South’ (20 credits)
  • Environmental GIS (20 credits)
  • Risk Communication (20 credits)
  • Critical Geographies of Terrorism (20 credits)
  • Community, Vulnerability and Disaster Risk (20 credits) (Pre-requisite: Disasters and Development, either through taking the module fully or through auditing)
  • Water, Security and the Environment (20 credits)
  • Climate Change and Culture (20 credits)
  • Climate: Science and History (20 credits)
  • A Practical and Theoretical Evaluation of
  • Sustainable Development (20 credits)
  • Human Mobility (20 credits)
  • Science in Disasters (20 credits)


In addition, students take sufficient credits to bring their total credits to 180 from:

  • Any of the modules listed above
  • Any Level 7 (master’s) modules offered in the Department of Geography
  • Up to 20 credits in Level 7 (master’s) modules offered across the university, subject to approvals.

Entry requirements & how to apply

Visit our admissions webpages to view our English language entry requirements.

2:1 undergraduate degree (or international equivalent, e.g. GPA of 3.3 from a US University).

Candidates who do not achieve a 2:1 but have professional or voluntary experience will also be considered. Mature candidates will be considered favourably.

Application procedure

Applications must be made online using King’s online application portal and a non-refundable application fee of £50 applies.

We run a rolling admissions system. We aim to process all complete applications within four weeks; during February and March and over holiday periods, applications may take longer to process.

Personal statement and supporting information

Please provide a personal statement that shows how your own interests are linked to the programme. In this statement please describe your academic background, your reasons for applying for this programme and what you hope to gain from it, including any relevant experience, strengths, ambitions or research interests.

Application closing date

We recommend that you submit your application as soon as possible.  Our first application deadline was the 31st March 2017.  Applications will remain open if places are available and programmes will be closed as soon as they are full.  For programmes with spaces remaining, no further applications will be accepted from non-EU (Overseas) nationals after 30th July 2017 or from UK/ EU nationals after 3rd September 2017.

Help and support

If you don't have a suitable qualification for direct entry to a UK university, or if English isn't your first language, our academic preparation courses can help you get ready for study in the UK.

Preparation courses

Fees and funding

  • Full time UK fees: £9,450 p.a. (2017/18)*
  • Full time overseas fees: £18,420 p.a. (2017/18)*
  • Part time UK fees: £4,725 p.a. (2017/18)*
  • Part time overseas fees: £9,210 p.a. (2017/18)*

Please note: Current regulations allow some students to pay UK tuition fees on the basis of their EU citizenship or residency. Until these eligibility criteria are changed, the EU tuition fee will remain the same as the UK tuition fee.

*These tuition fees may be subject to additional increases in subsequent years of study, in line with King’s terms and conditions.


When you receive an offer for this course you will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit to secure your place. The deposit will be credited towards your total fee payment.

The UK/EU deposit is £500.

The INTERNATIONAL deposit is £2,000. 

  • If you receive an offer on or before 31st March 2017, payment is due by 30th April 2017.
  • If you receive an offer between 1st April 2017 and 30th June 2017, payment is due within one month of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer between 1st July 2017 and 31st July 2017, payment is due within two weeks of receiving the offer.
  • If you receive an offer on or after 1st August 2017, payment is due within one week of receiving the offer.

If you are a current King’s student in receipt of the King's Living Bursary you are not required to pay a deposit to secure your place on the programme. Please note, this will not change the total fees payable for your chosen programme.

Additional costs/expenses

In addition to your tuition fees, you can also expect to pay for: 

  • Books if you choose to buy your own copies 
  • Clothing for optional course related events and competitions 
  • Library fees and fines 
  • Personal photocopies 
  • Printing course handouts 
  • Society membership fees 
  • Stationery 
  • Travel costs for travel around London and between campuses
  • Graduation costs
  • Some modules include the option to undertake other short day-trip fieldwork. These fieldwork options will enhance the modules, but they are not assessed as part of the module. The additional costs for short day-trip fieldwork would typically not exceed £50 per year. 
  • Costs may be incurred for dissertation work if fieldwork and/or laboratory materials are needed for the chosen study topic, but such work is not mandatory and would not impact academic success if an alternative approach to dissertation research is taken.

Please visit our web pages on fees and funding for more information.

Financial help and support

Visit the fees and funding webpages to find out more about bursaries, scholarships, grants, tuition fees, living expenses, student loans and other financial help available at King's.

Career prospects

The Disasters, Adaptation and Development degree aims to provide technical training and professional exposure. Both are needed to secure careers in humanitarian and development organisations. Professional exposure and networking is delivered through four mechanisms:

1. Environmental Internship. This is a stand alone module based on one to two weeks full-time equivalent working in a host organisation: usually a Humanitarian or Development NGO headquaters office in London or as part of a research team working on disaster risk within the Department of Geography. The student will undertake a defined task, typically a literature or policy review to feed into policy development work. The module is assessed by a reflective essay on the experience and lessons learned. The internship is appropriate for those wishing an introduction to professional life in the sector, some internships can turn into thesis research ideas.

2. Thesis placements. These allow students to undertake their three month research project within an international humanitarian or development NGO in the field. Current partners include the Red Cross Climate Centre, Oxfam, Save the Children, YCARE and the All India Disaster Mitigation Institute. Students propose thesis ideas and these are crafted with host organisations to make sure they meet academic criteria and policy impact goals. Typically thesis research is translated into a policy brief. Host organisation commitments vary but all local costs (translation, accommodation, transport) are covered, and often international transport costs as well. One recent example of a thesis internship can be found at

3. Post-degree internships. Increasingly employers look for experience and are also prepared to offer paid internships. We only partner with internship providers providing at least basic living costs. Current internships providers are the Stockholm Environment Institute - Asia and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre, both based in Bangkok. Post degree internships are three months commencing in September - think about this being a 15 month degree where you get paid for the final three months!

4. Networking events. because the Disasters, Adaptation and development programme is associated with King's Centre for Integrated Research on Risk and Resilience (CIRRR) students are encouraged to attend its seminars and social events. Monthly meetings and occasional seminars help to integrated masters students with researchers and policy actors with many opportunities to become informally involved in research and outreach.


Career destinations

Many of our Graduates have gone on in to further research and policy development, disaster risk management and development programming for adaptation. Career opportunities with government agencies, international and national nongovernmental organisations and academic research institutes.


Next steps

View our postgraduate guide

Learn more about postgraduate degree programmes at King's. Download or view our guide in PDF format.

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Page last modified on 16 May 2017.