Prof John Twigg

Prof John Twigg

Honorary Professor

Dept of Civil, Environ &Geomatic Eng

Faculty of Engineering Science

Joined UCL
1st Oct 2016

Research summary

My research interest is disaster risk reduction (DRR), which can be understood as the development and application of policies, strategies and practices to minimize vulnerabilities and disaster risks throughout society.

My work crosses the disciplinary boundaries between engineering, planning, geography, sociology and psychology. I have studied and written on a range of topics: community resilience and community-based DRR; vulnerability and risk assessment methodologies; socio-economic vulnerability to natural disasters; policy and institutional aspects of disaster management; early warning systems; and project planning and evaluation.  My most recent research has focused on disability and disasters and I am becoming increasingly interested in the theory and practice of urban resilience.

The application of academic research to improve operational practice is of particular concern to me. I have undertaken consultancy work for a number of international agencies working on DRR, especially in the NGO sector, and maintain close links with many of these.

Teaching summary

I designed and teach the following modules on disasters and resilience for MSc and MRes students at UCL: Disaster Risk Management (CIVL G023; MSc in Earthquake Engineering with Disaster Management); Natural Hazards, Social Vulnerability and Disaster Management (GEOG G030; MSc in Environment, Science and Society); Urban Resilience (CIVL G073; MRes/EngD in Urban Sustainability and Resilience). Students attending these courses have backgrounds in engineering, earth sciences, geography and other disciplines.

I also give lectures to other graduate courses in the Department for Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, Development Planning Unit and Centre for Crime Science (all at UCL), Oxford Brookes University and Northumbria University.

I have supervised PhD and EngD students working on a wide range of disaster-related topics, including: volcano early warning systems, local governance of disaster management; resilience of health infrastructure; urban resilience planning; local-level management of urban flood risk.


University of Cambridge
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1983
University of Cambridge
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts | 1979
University of Cambridge
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) | 1979


I have been a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at UCL since 2009. I am also a Co-Director of the department’s Centre for Urban Sustainability and Resilience.

From 1998-2009 I was an independent consultant and an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Earth Sciences (Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Centre). I have undertaken consultancies for a number of international agencies including the United Nations Strategy for Disaster Reduction, United Nations Development Programme, UK Department for International Development, British Red Cross, Oxfam, CARE, ActionAid, Practical Action and ProVention Consortium.

From1990-97 I worked for the international development NGO Practical Action (formerly Intermediate Technology).  That was preceded by work in the UK government civil service and post-doctoral research at Cambridge University (where I also took my bachelor’s and PhD degrees).

I have been external examiner for disaster studies/management MA/MSc courses at Oxford Brookes University, Northumbria University and Coventry University and have examined PhD theses from several universities in the UK and overseas.

I am a member of the editorial boards of two journals (Disasters, and Journal of Applied Volcanology) and sat on the Committee of the European Sociological Association’s Research Network on Disasters, Conflict and Social Crisis.