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Geophysical Hazards MSc

This MSc provides a broad introduction to geohazards, together with advanced courses in seismology, volcanology, hydrogeological hazards and meteorology. A key goal is to provide an essential grounding in quantitative modelling that can be widely applied to several fields, from pure research to the commercial sector.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2017

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years

Tuition fees (2017/18)

£9,840 (FT) £4,970 (PT)
£27,540 (FT) £13,770 (PT)

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 3 October 2016
Close: 1 July 2017

Note on fees: The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Current Students website.

Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

Normally a minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Applicants whose qualifications are of a lower standard may be admitted if evidence of an adequate academic background and appropriate field experience can be shown.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Standard

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

Degree information

The programme provides an introduction to the spectrum and impact of geophysical hazards, and a focus on quantitative models for hazard forecasting and assessment. Selected case studies illustrate how these models are essential for improving decision making during emergencies, for raising the awareness of vulnerable populations, and for evaluating and implementing mitigation strategies.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of six core modules (120 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).

Core modules

  • Geological and Geotechnical Hazards
  • Meteorological Hazards
  • Research Methods
  • Earthquake Seismology and Earthquake Hazard
  • Physical Volcanology and Volcanic Hazard
  • Meteorological, Climate and Hydrogeological Hazard

Optional modules

There are no optional modules for this programme.


All students undertake an independent research project in geophysical hazards, which culminates in a dissertation of 15,000 words.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, directed reading and practical exercises. There are excellent opportunities for field investigations in the UK and abroad. Assessment is through unseen written examinations, practical problem-solving exercises and essays. The independent research report is assessed through the dissertation and an oral presentation.

Further information on modules and degree structure is available on the department website: Geophysical Hazards MSc


UCL offers a selection of scholarships for supporting postgraduate studies.

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


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 and 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.

Top career destinations for this degree

  • Catastrophy risk analyst, Aon Benfield
  • Geographic Risk Analyst, QBE
  • Senior Catastrophy Halard, Hardy Underwriting
  • Environmental Risk Advisor, HelpAge International
  • Policy Adviser, Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs


On graduation from this programme about one third of students have followed careers in global insurance and re-insurance and another third have pursued research with a PhD in hazard-related studies. The remaining third have developed careers in a wide range of sectors, from non-governmental organisations, through teaching, to the fields of emergency planning and environmental management.

Careers data is taken from the ‘Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education’ survey undertaken by HESA looking at the destinations of UK and EU students in the 2012–2014 graduating cohorts six months after graduation.

Why study this degree at UCL?

UCL Earth Sciences 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  UCL Hazard 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, and the Cádiz region in south-western Spain.

Department: Earth Sciences

Student / staff numbers › 56 staff including 28 postdocs › 60 taught students › 66 research students

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

The Research Excellence Framework, or REF, is the system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. The 2014 REF was carried out by the UK's higher education funding bodies, and the results used to allocate research funding from 2015/16.

The following REF score was awarded to the department: Earth Sciences
64% rated 4* (‘world-leading’) or 3* (‘internationally excellent’)

Learn more about the scope of UCL's research, and browse case studies, on our Research Impact website.

What our students and staff say

Student view

"I have found the staff extremely supportive and they have provided opportunities that I would not have received elsewhere. This has particularly been the case in choosing topics for the independent research project for which we were encouraged to think about our own research interests and supported to find ways to make the projects viable."

Lara Smale

Geophysical Hazards MSc
Staff view

"London is an amazing, world-leading research and knowledge hub. At UCL students have the opportunity to work in one of the world's leading centres on natural hazards and disaster risk reduction, which has a very strong focus on education, training and knowledge exchange, rather than just pure research."

Dr Stephen Edwards

Geophysical Hazards MSc
UCL Hazard Centre

Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

Who can apply?

The programme will be particularly attractive to those seeking or advancing a career in hazard or risk science - including hazard and risk management, environmental monitoring, emergency planning, and catastrophe-related finance - and to academics and professionals considering a career move into the hazard and risk science field.

Application deadlines

All applicants
1 July 2017

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Geophysical Hazards at graduate level
  • why you want to study Geophysical Hazards at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to Geophysical Hazards programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this programme
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree; for example, are you interested in pursuing a career in research, or in applying your knowledge to the commercial or humanitarian sectors?

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.

Contact information

Page last modified on 20 October 2016 at 12:07 by UCL Publications & Marketing Services. Please contact us for content updates.


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