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Disasters, Adaptation & Development MSc

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The Disasters, Adaptation & Development MSc course 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.


We have a scholarship available for students in their final year of certain relevant undergraduate courses within the School of Global Affairs.  

View more details.

 Key benefits

  • You will be studying innovative modules in a range of disciplines taught by staff who are recognised leaders in their fields.
  • You will have access to research and practitioners in international development and disaster risk reduction.
  • Dissertation research opportunities with international organisations.
  • You will develop a knowledge base and skill set to prepare you for careers in the humanitarian, development and disaster management sectors.
  • You will benefit from developing contacts with King's alumni who are active in disaster management and development sectors

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 Dr Helen Adams (

Further details

Course contact for further information

Postgraduate Admissions Team, Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)20 7848 7000

Course contact form Postgraduate admissions

Awarding institution King's College London

Faculty Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy

Department Department of Geography



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Course detail


The Disasters, Adaptation & Development 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. Taking a social development perspective, the course covers issues such as human vulnerability and responses to natural and technological hazards. 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 course is made up of optional and required modules. You must take the minimum of 180 credits to complete the course. In addition to a required dissertation, you will choose from a wide range of related modules.

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 course will be delivered over two years. You will take a combination of required and optional modules over this period of time, with the dissertation in your second year.


This course is primarily taught at the King’s College London Strand and Waterloo Campuses. Our superb location in the heart of London allows you access to important social, cultural, and textual resources, such as our own Maughan Library and the British Library.

Course format and assessment

We will teach you through a combination of lectures and seminars, and you will typically have 20 hours of this per module. We also expect you to undertake 180 hours of independent study for each module.

Module  Lectures, seminars and feedback Self-study
 Per 20-credit taught module  Typically 20 hours.  180 hours (some modules in the Geography Department may involve lab work or e-learning which would require less self-guided learning).
 Dissertation module  Usually 6 dissertation workshops/ tutorials plus 5 contact hours of one-to-one or group consulation with supervisors.  589 hours of self-study and project work.

 Typically, one credit equates to 10 hours of work.



Your performance will be assessed through a combination of coursework and written/practical examinations. Forms of assessment may typically include essays and other written assignments, oral presentations, lab work and occasionally by examination, depending on the modules selected. All students also undertake a research-based dissertation of 12,000 words.

Regulating Body 

King's College London is regulated by the Office for Students. 


Year 1

Required Modules

Courses are divided into modules. You will normally take modules totalling 180 credits.

You are required to take the following modules:

  • Disasters & Development (20 credits)
  • Practising Social Research (20 credits)
  • Dissertation in Disasters, Adaptation & Development (60 credits

Part-time students should plan to take 80 credits in their first year of study made up of the required taught module Disasters and Development and optional modules. Part-time students should plan to take the remaining 100 credits made up of required taught modules/optional modules (40 credits) and the 60-credit dissertation module in their second year. You are normally advised to take the compulsory research methods module Practising Social Research in your second year, but that can be taken in your first year, should you have strong reasons to do so and have the agreement of your Programme Director.

Optional Modules

In addition, you are required to take 40 credits from a range of optional modules, which may typically include:

• Advanced Quantitative and Spatial Methods in Human Geography (20 credits)
• Community, Vulnerability & Disaster Risk (20 credits)
• Development and Environmentalism in the 'South' (20 credits)
• Environmental GIS (20 credits)
• Environmental Internship (20 credits)
• Environment, Livelihoods & Development in the ‘South’ (20 credits)
• Environmental Remote Sensing (20 credits)
• Environmental Science and Policymaking (20 credits)
• Fundamentals of Climate Change (20 credits)
• Modelling Environmental Change (20 credits)
• Risk Communication (20 credits)
• Water Sustainability, Society and Governance (20 credits)

You are also required to take sufficient credits to bring your total for the year to a minimum of 180, from a range of optional modules, which may typically include:

• Any Level 7 (Master’s) modules offered in the Department of Geography, including from those listed above.
• Up to 20 credits in Level 7 (Master’s) modules from other King’s Departments or Institutes outside of Geography, subject to approvals.

King’s College London reviews the modules offered on a regular basis to provide up-to-date, innovative and relevant programmes of study. Therefore, modules offered may change. We suggest you keep an eye on the course finder on our website for updates.

Entry requirements & how to apply

Disasters, Adaption & Develp Entry Requirements
Minimum requirements 2:1

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

In order to meet the academic entry requirements for this programme you should have a minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree with a final mark of at least 60% or above in the UK marking scheme. If you are still studying you should be achieving an average of at least 60% or above in the UK marking scheme. 

International requirements   Visit our admissions webpages to view our International entry requirements.
English Language requirements Band B Visit our admissions webpages to view our English language entry requirements.


Application procedure

Applications must be made online using King’s online application portal and a non-refundable application fee of £70 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.

Please note that as part of the evaluation process of your application you may be required to undertake a Skype interview.

Personal statement and supporting information

You will be asked to submit the following documents in order for your application to be considered:

Supporting Document Yes

Please provide a writing sample of around 500 words, answering the following questions. Please note this an essential requirement and supporting statements which do not answer the questions below will not be assessed as part of your application. 

Why you are applying for this specific programme, and how does it fit in with your future plans? (max 250 words)

How does your experience and education make you a suitable candidate for this programme? (max 250 words)

Please write these questions as separate answers, with a clear title for your answer to each question. Documents where your answers are not clearly titled and separated will not be accepted

Previous Academic Study Yes A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing the subjects studied and marks obtained. If you have already completed your degree, copies of your official degree certificate will also be required. Applicants with academic documents issued in a language other than English, will need to submit both the original and official translation of their documents.
References Yes One academic reference is required. A professional reference will be accepted if you have completed your qualifications over five years ago. In some cases, we may request an additional reference from you.
Other Optional Applicants may wish to include a CV (Resume) or evidence of professional registration as part of their application


Application closing date

We recommend that you submit your application as soon as possible. Our first application deadline is the 31 March 2020. After this date, applications will remain open if places are available, but 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 31July 2020 or from UK/EU nationals after 28 August 2020.

Please note you will not be eligible for an application fee refund if you apply after the first application deadline and places are filled before the final deadlines above and we are unable to process more offers.

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 Home/EU fees: £9,990 per year (2020/21)
  • Full time overseas fees: £22,350 per year (2020/21)
  • Part time Home/EU fees: £4,995 per year (2020/21)
  • Part time overseas fees: £11,175 per year (2020/21)

Students starting their programme in 2020/21 who are eligible to pay EU fees will pay the same rate of tuition fees as UK students. This will apply for the duration of their programme, but may be subject to change by the UK Government for subsequent cohorts from 2021/22.

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 before 1 June 2020, payment is due by 30 June 2020.

  • If you receive an offer between 1 June 2020 and 30 June 2020, payment is due within one month of receiving the offer.

  • If you receive an offer between 1 July 2020 and 31 July 2020, payment is due within two weeks of receiving the offer.

  • If you receive an offer on or after 1 August 2020, payment is due within one week of receiving the offer.

  • If you receive an offer in late August, payment is due within 2 days 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
  • graduation costs
  • travel costs for travel around London and between campuses
  • 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 provides a grounding in technical training and professional exposure to experts in the field. Both are needed to embark careers in humanitarian and development organisations. Professional exposure and networking is delivered in four ways:

1. Environmental Internship. This module provides an opportunity to work with an organisation for the equivalent of three weeks on a specified project related to the environment. The aim is to develop a deeper understanding of how such organisations function and the policy contexts in which they operate. Most internships take place in London and are allocated on a competitive basis.

2. Thesis placements. Through the professional networks of the teaching staff and alumni , we can pursue opportunities for dissertation research to be carried out 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. 

3. Post-degree internships. We actively use our networks to help students obtain post-degree internships. We circulate opportunities that we receive and often send students to partner organisations such as the Stockholm Environment Institute (Asia) and the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre, both based in Bangkok.

4. Networking events. The Disasters, Adaptation and Development programme is associated with King's Centre for Integrated Research on Risk and Resilience (CIRRR) and students are encouraged to attend its seminars and social events. Seminars help to integrate masters students with researchers and policy actors with many opportunities to become informally involved in research and outreach. We also hold an annual alumni event.

Career destinations

Many of our graduates have gone on to undertake further research as well as secure careers in policy development, disaster risk management and development programming for adaptation. There are good career opportunities with government agencies, international and national nongovernmental organisations and academic research institutes.


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