UCL Graduate degrees


Geophysical Hazards MSc

Our MSc programme provides a broad introduction to geophysical hazards, together with advanced courses in volcanic, earthquake, meteorological and hydrogeological hazards. A key goal is to provide an essential grounding in critical analysis that can be widely applied to several fields, from pure research to the commercial sector.

Key information

Programme starts

September 2021

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year
Part time: 2 years

Part-time students will usually attend two half-days a week.

Application dates

Visa nationals
Open: 9 November 2020
Close: 31 May 2021
Non-visa nationals
Open: 9 November 2020
Close: 30 July 2021
Applications may close earlier if all places on the programme are filled.

Tuition fees (2021/22)

£12,500 (FT)
£6,250 (PT)
£36,900 (FT)
£18,450 (PT)

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 Students website: ucl.ac.uk/students/fees.

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

Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level. International Preparation Courses

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:

About this degree

Our programme offers a unique focus on quantitative and qualitative models for hazard forecasting and assessment, and demonstrates how knowledge of the controlling processes is vital for improving decision making during emergencies, for raising awareness among vulnerable communities and for evaluating and implementing mitigation strategies.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of eight core modules (120 credits) and an independent research project with dissertation (60 credits). Four of the core modules introduce the broad spectrum of geophysical hazards and provide key skills training; the remaining four modules investigate individual hazards in detail. 

Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MSc in Geophysical Hazards.

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change.

Compulsory modules

  • Geological and Geotechnical Hazards (Foundation)
  • Meteorological Hazards (Foundation)
  • Research Methods
  • Research Proposal
  • Physical Volcanology and Volcanic Hazard
  • Meteorological and Hydrogeological Hazard
  • Earthquake Seismology and Earthquake Hazard
  • Science Policy in an Era of Risk and Uncertainty

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 12,000 words.


The programme includes a mandatory field trip. Field sites are commonly in Italy. The department pays for accommodation and transport in the field. Students pay to get to the field and subsistence. The field trip is normally held just before or after Easter; the exact time depends on how the dates of Easter and UCL's terms fall each year.

A mandatory day-visit to a flood location near London is also included for the module on meteorological and hydrological hazards.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, directed reading and practical exercises. Assessment is primarily through coursework (problem-solving exercises and essays), which may be supported by some written examinations. The independent research report is assessed through the dissertation.

One third of a student's time is spent in lectures and the remainder in independent study.

Additional costs

The cost of the European field trip depends on location and exchange rate. Based on the previous three years, it is estimated that students would need to contribute £300-£400 for travel between home and field, essential subsistence, and incidental equipment (e.g., notebooks). Specialist clothing is not required.

The UK day-trip is estimated to cost £20-£30 for travel and subsistence.

The independent research project may involve additional costs. These will vary on a case-by-case basis (e.g., students will have to cover travel costs to fieldwork sites should these be required). Limited funding is available; this will be discussed before any project is agreed.

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble accessable.co.uk. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.


Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS)

Applications for this scholarship are now closed for 2021/22
Full fees, flights, stipend, and other allowances (1 year)
Based on both academic merit and financial need

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


About one third of our graduates have followed careers in global insurance and reinsurance; one third have pursued research with a PhD in hazard-related studies; and one third have developed careers in sectors ranging from non-governmental organisations, through teaching, to the fields of emergency planning and environmental management.


Our programme provides specialist training in investigating the processes that drive natural hazards, in evaluating models of their behaviour and in understanding how these models can be used to protect vulnerable communities. You will develop your transferable skills in critical analysis of quantitative and qualitative information, and in presenting your results to non-specialists. 

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.

You will benefit from our lively and welcoming atmosphere. The department hosts the UCL Hazard Centre, which delivers the latest research and knowledge on natural hazards to industry, humanitarian and development organisations, government and civil protection agencies. Our lecturers have practical experience in monitoring hazards and responding when they occur, and our skills training includes a bespoke programme from RADA, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. 

This MSc includes 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

What our students and staff say

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

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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.

This programme requires two references. Further information regarding references can be found in our How to apply section.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.

Who can apply?

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

Application deadlines

Visa nationals
31 May 2021
Non-visa nationals
30 July 2021

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.

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Page last modified on 28 August 2021