UCL Earth Sciences

MSc Geophysical Hazards







site menu Study MSc Geophysical Hazards

Every year, natural disasters affect one in thirty people on Earth. Whether developing or industrialised, all nations are at risk, and the field of natural hazards is today one of the fastest growing areas of research in the Earth and Climate Sciences. The MSc programme in Geophysical Hazards will provide essential training for careers in hazard assessment and risk evaluation, including: Industry, from engineering to insurance Academic research Civil protection agencies Government organisations and NGOs related to aid and development.

About one-third of previous graduates have continued with further research (PhDs), one-third have entered the insurance industry, and one-third have pursued careers in other fields.

Programme Topics

The MSc Programme introduces the spectrum of geophysical hazards and their impact, before focusing on quantitative models for hazard forecasting and assessment. Selected case studies will illustrate how the models are essential for improving decision making during emergencies, for raising the awareness of vulnerable populations, and for evaluating and implementing mitigation strategies, from evacuation to engineering solutions. Among the Programme's topics are:

  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanic Eruptions
  • Floods
  • Storms and Hurricanes
  • Landslides
  • Tsunami
  • Hazard Monitoring, Forecasting and Mitigation

The Programme consists of six months of taught courses and up to six months of independent research leading to a Master's dissertation. There will be excellent opportunities for optional field investigations in the UK and abroad. Subject to fieldwork constraints, the programme is suitable for students with disabilities. The Programme may be completed full-time in one calendar year, or part-time in two years. Lectures will be given by UCL staff from the Departments of Earth Sciences and of Space and Climate Physics. Guest lectures will also be delivered by practitioners from Industry.

What will I learn?

The programme introduces the spectrum and impact of geophysical hazards, before focusing on quantitative models for hazard forecasting and assessment. Selected case studies illustrate how the models are essential for improving decision making during emergencies, for raising the awareness of vulnerable populations, and for evaluating and implementing mitigation strategies.

Why should I study this degree at UCL?

The Department of Earth Sciences at UCL is engaged in world-class research into the processes at work on and within the Earth and planets.

Graduate students benefit from our lively and welcoming environment and world-class facilities. The department hosts the Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre, Europe's leading multidisciplinary hazard research centre, and engages in extensive collaborative work with the Royal Institution and the Natural History Museum.

This MSc aims to include a short field-trip to locations that illustrate the impact of natural hazards. Previous trips have included the Neapolitan Volcanic District, the Italian Alps and the Po Delta.

The taught course consists of three Foundation Modules and three Advanced Modules. The Foundation Modules describe the nature of the hazards, their impact on life and the economy, as well as potential mitigating solutions. They provide essential information for the Advanced Modules, which evaluate quantitative models for forecasting and evaluating hazards. Through selected case studies, the Advanced Modules will show how geophysical models can be applied to improve (1) decision making (e.g., for medium-term land planning and short-term emergencies), (2) raising the awareness of vulnerable populations, and (3) evaluating mitigation strategies, from evacuation to engineering solutions. Topics in the taught modules include:

Foundation


GEOLGH01 Geological and Geotechnical Hazards
Earth and atmospheric processes; Geological hazards; Earthquakes; Volcanic eruptions; Landslides; Tsunami.

GEOLGH02 Meteorological Hazards
Hurricanes and tempests; Storms; Tornadoes; Floods; Space weather; Climate change

GEOLGH04 Research Methods

This module introduces key concepts in quantitative data evaluation and presentation.

Advanced


GEOLGH07 Earthquake Seismology and Earthquake Hazard
Earthquake mechanics and energy; Earthquake statistics and prediction; Fracture mechanics; Seismic waves and rays; Case studies.

GEOLGH05 Physical Volcanology and Volcanic Hazard
Dynamics of explosive eruptions; Dynamics of effusive eruptions; Monitoring techniques; Forecasting eruptions; Case studies.

GEOLGH06 Meteorological, Climate and Hydrogeological Hazard
Forecasting storms and hurricanes; Floods and groundwater dynamics; Forecasting floods; Landslide dynamics; Forecasting slope failure; Case studies.

Fieldwork


Each year, we aim to hold a short field-trip to locations that illustrate the impact of natural hazards. Previous trips have included:

  • Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Landslides, based in the Neapolitan Volcanic District.
  • Landslides and Floods, based in the Italian Alps and the Po Delta.

Research


GEOLGH99 MSc Independent Research Project
This module develops research skills in designing, implementing and presenting the results from an independent research project. Previous topics have included:

  • Validating Risk Evaluation Methods for Tropical Storms.
  • Long-Period Seismicity as a Precursor to Volcanic Eruptions.
  • The Control of Earth's Orbital Dynamics on Caldera-forming Eruptions.
  • Forecasting the Runout of Giant Landslides.
  • Evaluating Flood Risk Procedures in the United Kingdom.
  • The Perception of Natural Hazards among Communities in the Caribbean.
  • Modelling Changes in Crustal Stress before Tectonic Earthquakes.

Further Enquiries

For more information on the MSc in Geophysical Hazards, contact:

 

Dr Christopher Kilburn

Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre
UCL Earth Sciences 
Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT UK 
email: c.kilburn@ucl.ac.uk

About the Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Centre

The Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Centre is the largest academic centre in Europe that specialises in a broad range of natural hazard research, consultancy and field operations. The Centre was established in 1997 as part of UCL's Department of Earth Sciences.