The importance of science in understanding disaster risks and the need for science-based strategies at local, national and international levels in the private, public, and third sectors are now widely recognised. The Risk and Disaster Science MSc aims to meet the growing need for experts trained in disaster science in sectors ranging from finance to humanitarian response.
Covid-19 programme updates
Due to COVID-19, there may have been updates to this programme for the 2020 academic year. Where there has been an update, these are indicated with a red alert and a link which will provide further information.
Modes and duration
Tuition fees (2020/21)
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.
Normally a minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Relevant discipline is any science, mathematical or engineering subject.
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.
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
In a science-led programme, students will explore the characterisation of risk from a fundamental understanding of hazard, statistical modelling, appreciation of causes of vulnerability, and quantifying exposure to the management and reduction of disaster risks. There is an emphasis on scientific analysis and statistical methods. Students will enjoy a wide range of taught modules covering scientific, technical, socio-economic, political, environmental, ethical and cultural perspectives.
Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.
The programme consists of five compulsory modules (75 credits), three optional modules (to the combined value of 45 credits) and an independent research project (60 credits).
Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MSc in Risk and Disaster Science.
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.
- Emergency and Crisis Planning and Management
- Integrating Science into Risk and Disaster Reduction
- Risk Analysis for Disaster Science
- Data Analysis and Interpretation
- Practice and Appraisal of Research
Choose three optional taught modules (to the combined value of 45 credits) from a list which may include the following:
Students in the Space Risks pathway will be able to select between 2 and 3 optional modules (modules marked with **) from the UCL Department of Space and Climate Physics.
- Natural and Anthropogenic Hazards and Vulnerability
- Space Weather and Technological Failures
- Catastrophe Risk Modelling
- Digital Health: Epidemics and Emergencies
- Advanced Emergency and Crisis Planning and Management
- Conflict, Humanitarianism, and Disaster Risk Reduction
- Business Continuity Management and Organisational Resilience
- Gender, Disaster and Conflict
- Decision and Risk*
- Spacecraft Design – Electronic Subsystems**
- Mechanical Design of Spacecraft**
- Space Science, Environment and Satellite Missions**
- Space Systems Engineering**
- Space Data Systems and Processing**
- Space Instrumentation and Applications**
Modules marked with * are for the Data Science Pathway and are run by the Department of Statistical Science and are subject to availability and timetabling.
Decision and Risk may require some prerequisites. Please contact the module tutor for details.
Modules marked with ** are for the Space Risks Pathway and are run by the Department of Space and Climate Physics and are subject to availability and timetabling and are subject to availability and timetabling.
All students undertake an independent research project of 10,000-12,000 words which culminates in a research project and poster presentation.
Optional, UK-based field trips are available. Travel and accommodation costs will be covered by IRDR, students will need to pay for their meals.
Previous field visits have included: the Thames Barrier and disaster management; Cambridge flood hazard; a disaster scenario exercise with a partner organisation; the Blacknest Seismological Observatory; the Met Office; Southwest England for integrated group projects covering hazard mapping, hazard modelling, vulnerability assessment, and critical infrastructure assessment, with Hinkley Point nuclear power station as an example.
Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, practicals, field visits, directed reading and problem-solving exercises and a real-time disaster scenario event, with an emphasis on hands-on learning and tutorial-style dialogue between students and lecturers. Assessment is by independent and group oral presentations, written examination, coursework essays, and the independent project. Practical applications of critical and creative problem-solving will be encouraged and assessed throughout.
Students are responsible for their subsistence on all fieldwork and for travel costs within London. For the one-day trips, students can bring a packed lunch or expect to pay £5 to £10. For longer trips, we expect subsistence costs to be £30 to £40 per day. Travel within London is likely to be covered in travel cards students obtain for travelling to UCL. A single day travel card is £12.70. All other travel and fees will be paid for or reimbursed by the Institute.
For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.
This programme provides excellent training towards careers in industry and commerce, research, research communication and public policy including insurance, catastrophe modelling, finance, risk management, business continuity, humanitarian assistance, engineering, electricity distribution and many other fields. It supports the career development of professionals already working in risk and disaster reduction, as well as those who intend to go into this field.
This programme will equip students with scientific and analytical skills to better understand and assess disaster risks and to identify solutions to reduce those risks. These skills are highly sought after in the private, public and NGO sector, and in specific fields such as catastrophe modelling, risk management, and public policy.
Why study this degree at UCL?
The UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction (IRDR), where teaching for this programme is based, leads and co-ordinates multidisciplinary research, knowledge exchange and advanced teaching in risk and disaster reduction across UCL.
UCL is uniquely well placed to lead research and teaching in this field; in addition to academics across seven faculties involved in world-class research, UCL IRDR has established links with scientific leaders in NGOs, industry and government departments based in and around London, who contribute to teaching and project supervision.
As a student, you will be encouraged to join our active seminar series, high-profile public discussion meetings and networking events.
The IRDR runs a careers and opportunities forum for students; this has been attended by insurance companies, catastrophe modelling firms, NGOs, academic institutions, and headhunters in the field of risk and disaster reduction.
Department: Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction
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.
There is an application processing fee for this programme of £80 for online applications and £105 for paper applications. Further information can be found at: www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/graduate/taught/application.
Who can apply?
The programme aims to train the next generation of innovative, creative and objectively critical researchers, thinkers, practitioners and decision-makers in risk and disaster science.
- All applicants
- 11 August 2020
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 Risk and Disaster Science at graduate level
- why you want to study Risk and Disaster Science at UCL
- what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
- how your academic and professional background and skills meet the demands of this challenging programme
- where you would like to go professionally with your degree
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.
UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.