UCL Graduate degrees


Space Risk and Disaster Reduction MSc

Uniting emergency response, disaster risk reduction and space technology this programme is designed to prepare students to work in the fields of satellite technology and disaster response. Students will explore the management of risk and disaster losses from a range of perspectives, focusing on emerging risks posed to modern technology by space weather and the monitoring of hazards on Earth from outer space.

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.

Key information

Please note: We are sorry but this programme is not accepting applications for 2020/21 entry.

Please see the full list of Graduate Taught programmes for information on other programmes available.

Modes and duration

Full time: 1 year

Application dates

We are sorry but this programme is not accepting applications for 2020/21 entry.

Tuition fees (2020/21)

£10,860 (FT)
£25,900 (FT)

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.

Optional qualifications: This degree is also available as a PG Certificate with fees set accordingly.
Location: London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

Normally a minimum of an upper second-class UK Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard.

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: Good

Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English

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

Students will learn about a wide variety of natural hazards, how to prepare and plan for emergencies and disasters and how to respond.  Students will also learn practical aspects of designing, building and operating satellites and spacecraft including the challenges and risks posed by the environment of outer space.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of six core modules (90 credits), two optional modules (30 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits).

A Postgraduate Certificate is any four taught modules (60 credits) from the MSc Space Risks and Disaster Reduction programme.

Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded a MSc in Space Risk and Disaster Reduction. Upon successful completion of 60 credits, you will be awarded a PG Cert in Space Risk and Disaster Reduction.

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

Students take four core compulsory modules and then choose two modules from core optional modules

  • The Variable Sun: Space Weather Risks
  • Space Science, Environment and Satellite Missions
  • Space Systems Engineering
  • Research Appraisal and Proposal
  • Pick one of:
  • Emergency and Crisis Planning
  • Emergency and Crisis Management
  • Pick one of:
  • Integrating Science into Risk and Disaster Reduction
  • Natural and Anthropogenic Hazards and Vulnerability

Optional modules

Students choose two 15-credit optional modules from the following:

  • Natural and Anthropogenic Hazards and Vulnerability
  • Emergency and Crisis Planning
  • Emergency and Crisis Management
  • Mechanical Design of Spacecraft
  • Data Analysis and Interpretation
  • Catastrophe Risk Modelling
  • Digital Public Health: Epidemics and Emergencies in the Era of Big Data
  • Risk Analysis for Disaster Science
  • Spacecraft Design - Electronic Sub-systems
  • Integrating Science into Risk and Disaster Reduction
  • Space Data Systems and Processing
  • Space Instrumentation and Applications
  • Space-Based Communication Systems
  • Spacecraft Design - Electronic Subsystems
  • Mechanical Design of Spacecraft
  • Global Monitoring and Security
  • Principles and Practice of Remote Sensing
  • Decision and Risk Statistics

Optional modules are subject to availability of places.

Covid-19 module updates
Due to COVID-19, there may be updates to the modules for your chosen programme of study this year. Some modules may not be available or may need to be moved to a later term or year of study. These updates are relevant for 2020-21 academic year only.  The full list of modules will be available in the module catalogue from late August.  From the first week of September, you will be invited to complete module selection from Portico, our student record system. There may need to be additional updates or changes to modules during the academic year to allow for new guidance from the UK Government and Public Health England. Your department shall keep you updated of these changes as they become available.


All students undertake an independent project culminating in a report of between 10,000 and 12,000 words.


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 NGO Rescue Global; 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

Teaching is delivered by lectures, seminars and interactive problem sessions. Assessment is by examination, poster, presentation and written essay coursework.

Additional costs

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.

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. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support & Wellbeing team.


The UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction has scholarships available for this programme. See IRDR Masters Programmes - and look for the "Funding" section of that page.

Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed below.

Brown Family Bursary

This scheme is now closed for 2020/21
£15,000 (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.


This programme aims to prepare students for careers in space research, space and defence industries as well as most industries with risk management requirements.

Why study this degree at UCL?

Our students benefit from direct access to key government and business drivers in the field of space weather, with invited seminars and research projects supported by the UK Met Office, EDF, Atkins and other institutions interested in the hazards of space. 

The natural hazard of space weather is a "new" hazard which has only recently been identified as a significant risk to human society. As the first generation of researchers, practitioners and engineers in this field, students will be at the forefront of major new issues in an expanding sector of the economy. As disaster response comes to rely on more advanced technology aid, relief and disaster response agencies require experts trained in the technological infrastructure to innovate, explain, operate and understand the limitations of these novel systems and the help they can provide before, during and after disasters.

The programme will also provide students with advanced training in many transferable skills, such as computor programming, technical writing, oral and written presentation, the use of engineering design tools and graphic visualisation software.

Department: Space & Climate Physics

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?

Candidates should have an undergraduate degree in a science or engineering subject (BSc, MSci, BEng, MEng) with a  2:1 or higher (or foreign equivalent).  Applicants with a different degree, or with no degree but with professional experience, will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  An appropriate level of English is required.

Application deadlines

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 for a Master's degree in Space Risk and Disaster Reduction
  • why you want to enter a programme of study at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme, how have you heard of it and what do you want to get from it
  • how your academic and professional background meets the entry requirements and the demands of this programme, considering the topics that are taught in it
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree, i.e. which kind of career you intend to pursue

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, and how prepared you are to face the challenges it poses (e.g. large project component, individual and in a team, and taught advanced topics).

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Page last modified on 13 August 2020