UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction


Education and training

Education and training are part of the core mission of the IRDR: we develop leaders and experts in disaster risk reduction and humanitarianism research, education, and practice.

We have established teaching in hazards, risk, resilience, and disaster risk reduction as an integrated discipline as well as global humanitarian studies at UCL. Our current student body comprises 40 PhD students, 90 Master’s students and 200 undergraduate students.

We are committed to teaching excellence; fundamental to our Master's teaching and learning environment are multidisciplinary and holistic viewpoints, research and evidence-based approaches, and interactive and inclusive teaching and learning. As in previous years, our teaching methods and diverse student body brought a richness to in-class discussion and debate, challenging us all to think, analyse, question and progress.

We have new undergraduate and Master’s modules for the 2023–2024 academic year. New BSc modules include: Humanitarian Aid Economics; Violence, Intersectionality and Marginalisation; Programme Management for Humanitarians; BSc Independent Project; Water Security, Crises and Sustainability; International Migration Law; International Relations; and, in collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology Studies, Warnings for All. Our Master's students can also benefit from the introduction of new modules: Statistical Modelling of Hazards and Risks; Resilience, Adaptation and Development; and Geospatial Data Science.

To keep our programmes adapting to the subject and students needs, we update our programmes when needed – see the UCL prospectuses for new programme structures for applicants wishing to start in the 2024–2025 academic year.

Awards and qualifications

This year, the high quality of teaching and student experience in the department has been recognised in a number of awards.

In the UCL Education Awards and MAPS Faculty Education Awards, which recognise staff making outstanding contributions to the learning experience and success of UCL students, IRDR staff were both finalists and winners in different categories.

In the UCL Education Awards, Assessment and Feedback category, Dr Mohammad Shamsudduha won an individual excellence award and Jose Delgado, Dr Saman Ghaffarian, Dr Yasmine Sabri, Prof Joanna Faure Walker, Dr Shamsudduha, Dr Bayes Ahmed, Dr Gianluca Pescaroli, Dr Rozana Himaz, Dr Punam Yadav were nominated for the team excellence award. They went on to win the MAPS Faculty Education Award for the same Assessment UCL project. Dr Lisa Danquah and Dr Yulia Ioffe were both highly commended in their award categories and PhD student Mhari Gordon won an individual excellence award. Furthermore, Dr Shamsudduha and Dr Simon Day both received a Student Choice Award nomination for “Outstanding Research Supervision”. Part of the wider UCL Education Awards, these awards are voted for only by students and are a way for them to recognise outstanding staff.

Elsewhere, Dr Estella Carpi and Dr Ting Sun were both successful in becoming Fellows of the Higher Education Authority (FHEA). HEA fellowships recognise excellence in teaching, supporting students’ learning or leading an aspect of education at UCL. Mhari Gordon achieved the status of Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA) in recognition of her work in teaching and learning support. Prof Joanna Faure Walker successfully became a UKCGE (Council for Graduate Education) Recognised Research Supervisor.

Our programmes

The IRDR has a portfolio of multidisciplinary programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, attracting high-calibre students from across the globe.

Global Humanitarian Studies BSc

We believe the Global Humanitarian Studies BSc is unlike any other undergraduate degree in the UK. This multidisciplinary programme aims to educate and train future generations of humanitarian leaders and researchers in the theory and practice of humanitarian principles and action. A core part of this training is to connect students' learning with professional practice.

This summer, many of our BSc cohort undertook work placements at companies such as PwC, the British Red Cross, Holcim and Standard Chartered. Four students also visited Tohoku University in Japan for a month-long summer research placement offering students a unique opportunity to engage in fieldwork. As well as honing their data collection skills, the students engaged with community leaders and local residents living along the Sanriku coastline to understand more about their approach to disaster preparedness and resilience. Read more about the placement in the students' report and find out more about our work placements for students here.

We encourage all students to participate in extra-curricular activities that will enhance their studies. Second year Evie Lunn published an article in the Crisis Response Journal (vol 18.1). In her feature on killer heatwaves and how they contribute to civil disruptions, which became the cover story, Evie looked at how extreme weather conditions and food insecurity in Europe have influenced riots and what the future may hold. The journal have also asked student Lilly Mainie to represent them at Milipol Paris in November 2023.

BSc students also had the opportunity to draft policy briefs as part of the Humanitarian Policy module. Projects like these help students refine their group work, research and communication skills and the proposals they put forward could have real-world impact. One of the briefs, 'Putting child welfare at the centre of Hague policy’ by Tiffany Mihardja, Haleemah-Sadiah Afolabi, Elizabeth Kay, Evie Lunn, Olivia Rix and Erin Smith, and an accompanying blog were published by FiLiA's Hague Mothers.

Find out more about our Global Humanitarian Studies BSc.

Master’s programmes

Risk and disaster reduction, particularly within the contexts of dealing with uncertainty and increasing resilience, are high on local, national and international agendas. The IRDR offers Master’s programmes with taught and research components that aim to meet the growing need for experts trained to analyse and provide solutions to complex issues.

In all our Master’s programmes, students explore the characterisation, quantification, management and reduction of risk and disasters, along with their associated impacts, from a diverse range of scientific, technical, socio-economic, political, environmental, ethical and cultural perspectives. 

Reflecting the department's multidisciplinary approach to disaster risk reduction, this year's Master's dissertations covered a diverse range of topics – including climate change and coastal erosion in China, flooding and real estate prices in the East Midlands, subway passenger fire evacuation behaviour, the impact of different early warning systems on preparedness in Alaska, disaster prevention education, the militarisation of aid, and of course the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown, amongst many others. 

Find out more about our Master’s programmes.


The IRDR awarded one full-fee and ten fee-reduction scholarship awards to MSc and MRes students studying in the 2022/23 academic year.


The IRDR has a well-established and respected Doctoral Research Centre, with over 30 PhD research students who conduct interdisciplinary, wide-ranging, and international research.

From migration to healthcare, and emergency management to seismic and flood hazards, our PhD programme in Risk and Disaster Reduction generates extensive UK and international interest. All of our doctoral candidates contribute to the vibrancy of IRDR life and support the IRDR's mission. Many of our PhD students have supervisors from different disciplines and from different universities, extending their knowledge, networks, and contributions. Some work part-time for governments, nongovernmental organisations, and businesses. Our PhD training programme – including participation in the IRDR PhD Student Forum, Spring Academy, and Annual Conference – fosters a new type of graduate student who is comfortable working across sectors.

A group of people standing in front of an old buidimg
2023 Spring Academy


This year we welcomed the following new students to the IRDR:

Find out more about the research interests of these, and our other PhD students in the PhD Students section.

We also congratulated Melodie Vanderpuye who successfully completed her PhD study. Her thesis ‘Investigating spatio-temporal randomness of large earthquakes’, in which she investigated using a novel machine-learning approach, will help improve short-term seismic risk assessment. Melodie was supervised by Prof Peter Sammonds and Dr Simon Day, and funded by Aon Benfield and Qatar Re.