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Advanced Issues In Natural And Environmental Hazards


Key information

  • Module code:


  • Level:


  • Semester:


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Module description



This module is aimed at understanding current methods for assessing risk and reducing disaster for hazards that are natural (e.g. earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, mass wasting, floods, climate, and wildfire) and environmental (e.g. heavy-metal contamination), and the complex relationship that exists between these hazards and society. This module is aimed at both physical and human geography students.


Must be a major in a Geography related area

Assessment details


Essay (75%)Group poster (25%)

Educational aims & objectives

The educational aims of this module are twofold (1) to broadly review and understand some of the quantitative and qualitative methods that scientists currently use to assess natural and environmental risk and (2) to facilitate a critical understanding of the socioeconomic, political and physical sciences issues surrounding the reduction or increase of the effects of natural and environmental disasters, both in the context of 'natural' and anthropogenic causes.

Learning outcomes

At the completion of the module, students should be able to:

  • demonstrate a critical understanding of some of the quantitative and qualitative methods that scientists currently use to assess natural and environmental risk, and the ability to challenge and understand some of the limitations and strengths of these approaches;
  • have a broad critical evaluation and synthesis of evidence for methods and concepts used to reduce the effects of natural & environmental disasters, both in the context of 'natural' and anthropogenic hazards and the ability to utilize both reference material assigned in class and a broad range of material the student has found independently (e.g. peer-review papers, books, internet),
  • to explore in depth over the course of the semester, a specific aspect or aspects of natural hazards, for their final essay
  • have the ability to effectively interact, prepare and present a group poster based on a given topic to student peers

Teaching pattern

10hrs lectures; 10hrs seminars/tutorials

Suggested reading list

Basic references:
Main module textbooks to be used.
‡Example of source readings to be used, available through online journals, internet, or via an ftp site.
†Background material, books available in library.

‡Bohannon, J and Enserink, M (2005) Hurricane Katrina: Scientists weight options for rebuilding New Orleans, Science, Vol. 309, No. 5742 (16 September 2005), 1808-1809.
†Bryant, E.A. (1991) Natural Hazards, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 294 p.
†McCall, G.J.H., Laming, D.J.C., and Scott, S.C. (eds.) (1992) Geohazards: Natural and Man-Made London: Chapman & Hall, 227 p.
‡Malamud B.D. (2004) Tails of Natural Hazards. Physics World, 17(8), 31-35.
†Murck, B.W., Skinner, B.J, and Porter, S.C. (1997) Dangerous Earth: An Introduction to Geologic Hazards, New York, John Wiley & Sons, 300 p.
‡Plattner, T. (2006) Evaluation of risks due to natural hazards: A conceptual approach [Online] Available at: http:// [Accessed 8 August 2008].
Robinson, A. (2002) Earthshock: Hurricanes, Volcanoes, Earthquakes, Tornadoes and Other Forces of Nature London, Thames and Hudson Ltd, 304 p.
Smith, K. (2004) Environmental Hazards: Assessing Risk and Reducing Disaster, 4th edition London: Routledge, 392 p.
Zebrowski Jr., E. (1999) Perils of a Restless Planet: Scientific Perspectives on Natural Disasters Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 320 p.