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UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction

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Masters Programmes

Risk and disaster reduction, particularly within the contexts of dealing with uncertainty and increasing resilience, are high on local, national and international agendas.

Studying at UCL IRDR

At UCL IRDR, we offer masters programmes with taught and research components which aim to meet the growing need for experts trained to analyse and provide solutions to complex issues. In all our Masters 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. 

Why study at UCL IRDR?

UCL is one of the world's leading universities, regularly featuring in the top 10 in global rankings.

The Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction (IRDR), leads multidisciplinary research, knowledge exchange and advanced teaching across UCL. We have global, national and local recognition, evidenced by international attendance at our annual Academic Summit, our Annual Conference addressed by the UK Government's Chief Scientific Advisor, and our training of London Resilience's gold command. As a student, you will be encouraged to join our active seminar series, high-profile public discussion meetings and the networking events we host.

London is one of the world's great cosmopolitan cities. It is an international hub for global finance and risk management, NGOs, and engineering consultancies. The IRDR nurtures networks across London, and beyond.

Which Masters programme? - Programme Themes

Risk and Disaster Reduction

In order to increase resilience to disasters, we need specialist knowledge gained through detailed studies. Academic research can drive changes in practice and policy by enabling evidence-based theory to underpin risk management industry. Combining a multidisciplinary approach to risk and disaster reduction with a detailed research project in your topic of choice places you in a position to become a leader in this sector. You will gain expertise in research techniques and knowledge about current practices and problems in different sectors and disciplines.

Evidence-based research

  • Identifying current questions in the field of risk and disaster reduction 
  • Learning how to conduct research
  • Using detailed studies to propose solutions

Risk, Disaster and Resilience

The disaster risk management industry needs professionalising. Academic study can underpin this, enabling you to apply evidence and research based theory to this sector. Through a multidisciplinary approach to risk and disaster reduction, you will learn to become a future leader driving policy change and innovation in order to preserve lives and sustain economies which could otherwise be destroyed or damaged by disaster. You will gain expertise in analysing complex challenges and providing sustainable solutions.

Physical and Social Science of Natural and Anthropogenic Hazards

  • What is known and unknown
  • Current research and uncertainties 

Building Resilience

  • What are the barriers to risk and disaster reduction and how do we overcome them?
  • Developing a common language to communicate complex concepts in an accessible way.

Risk and Disaster Science

The global challenge of understanding risk, increasing resilience and reducing exposure to hazards has generated demand for a new type of scientist in government, business and NGOs, who can work across boundaries. In a science-led programme, you will learn how to assess and quantify risk, reduce disaster risks and manage emergencies for natural and anthropogenic hazards, humanitarian and health crises, conflict and climate change.

Science of Earth and Space Hazards

  • Analyze different hazard risks: seismic and triggered events, space weather, epidemics, conflict and climate.
  • Scenarios and case studies drawn globally providing breadth of experience.

Statistical and Modelling Tools

  • Statistical treatment of risk.
  • Catastrophe risk modelling.

Space Risk and Disaster Reduction

In an increasingly technological and globally connected world, risks to space-based communications systems and critical infrastructure are emerging threats to national security and businesses. In a programme that unites emergency response, disaster risk reduction and space technology, you will learn about satellite technology, mission design, hazards and vulnerabilities unique to outer space, disaster response, and the monitoring of hazards on Earth from outer space.

Hazards of Outer Space

  • Space weather, radiation, debris.
  • Learn about emerging risks and the future of disaster monitoring.

Satellite Design and Operations in Space

  • Learn how to design and operate a satellite from the largest university space science department in the UK.

Cross-cutting themes across all masters programmes: 

Quantifying Risk:

  • What is risk and how do we measure it?
  • Components of risk: hazard, vulnerability, exposure.

Understanding Vulnerability:

  • From fragility curves describing damage of buildings to social vulnerability of individuals and society

Multidisciplinary Holistic Approaches - from Theory to Practice:

  • Integrating scientific knowledge into disaster risk reduction
  • Communicating with stakeholders
  • Skills to conduct and appraise research and policy

Managing Disasters:

  • How to apply plans to manage real emergencies
Download our Prospectus

Funding

UCL IRDR call for 4 scholarships for overseas fee paying UCL IRDR masters students who begin their courses in September 2019 is now open. Scholarship values are £12,500 (x2) and £5,000 (x2), all paid towards overseas fees. Application deadline is 29th April 2019.

The UCL IRDR MSc in Risk Disaster and Resilience is one of the eligible programmes for the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme. This scholarship is available to Commonwealth citizens, refugees or British protected persons who are permanently resident in a developing Commonwealth Country. The scholarship covers full tuition fees, a maintenance allowance, and air travel to and from the UK at the beginning and end of the programme. Applications are open from 12 January until 14 March 2019.

UCL offers a range of financial awards aimed at assisting both prospective and current students with their studies. The searchable database can be found here.
UCL also attracts students who have received funding from their own government or other external sources, so prospective applicants are advised to check with the Ministry of Education in their own country or from the British Council for information about other potential funding opportunities.
Current and past students have received Chevening Scholarships to attend the course. The scheme is aimed at developing global leaders and is funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations. For further information please visit their website.
Please note that for many external funding schemes, you need to hold an offer as part of your funding application. Please ensure that you apply at least 2 months before you need to demonstrate that you have an offer.

 

Relevant Links:

 

 

MSc Risk Disaster and Resilience

MSc Risk Disaster and Resilience

Through a multidisciplinary approach to risk and disaster reduction, you will learn to become a future leader driving policy change and innovation in order to preserve lives and sustain economies which could otherwise be destroyed or damaged by disaster.

MSc Risk and Disaster Science

MSc Risk and Disaster Science

The global challenge of understanding risk, increasing resilience and reducing exposure to hazards has generated demand for a new type of scientist, in government, business and NGOs, who can work across boundaries.

MSc Space Risk and Disaster Reduction

MSc Space Risk and Disaster Reduction

In a programme that unites emergency response, disaster risk reduction and space technology, you will learn about satellite technology, mission design, hazards and vulnerabilities unique to outer space, disaster response, and the monitoring of hazards on Earth from outer space.

MSc Risk and Disaster Science: Management Pathway

Management pathway: MSc Risk and Disaster Science

This innovative pathway equips students with management skills, entrepreneurial mindset as well as scientific knowledge of disasters to reduce risks and to increase resilience.

laquila centro

MRes Risk and Disaster Reduction

The programme aims to train the next generation of innovative, creative and objectively critical researchers, thinkers, practitioners and decision-makers in risk and disaster reduction. 

zika map

Data Science Pathway: MSc Risk and Disaster Science

The Data Science Pathway of this science led programme combines knowledge of risk and disaster reduction with statistical and computational skills.

Further information

    Types of Programmes

    All of the IRDR Masters and related programmes are centered around IRDR core taught modules.

    The main differences between the programmes are the total number of credits needed, the number of taught modules taken and whether there is an independent research project.

    Masters of Science (MSc) and Research (MRes) Programmes

    MSc and MRes students undertake the equivalent of a full year of study. All of our masters programmes include an independent research project.

    The MSc programmes are suitable for students who want to have a wide range of taught courses and do an independent research project which constitutes about one third of students' time.

    For MRes students' the dissertation is the focus of the programme, with taught modules designed to support their learning and development. The MRes programme is ideal for students wanting to complete a considerable piece of research, possibly as training for a research career or for furthering their existing career.

    Post-Graduate Diploma (PGDip) and Certificate (PGCert) Programmes

    These programmes comprise of taught courses with no independent research project. These programmes are aimed at students to want to increase their knowledge and are looking for courses with less of a time commitment than a masters.

    PGCert students undertake modules to the value of 60 credits: the four IRDR core taught modules (15 credits each). The programme may be completed as a stand-alone PG-Cert, or it may be used as a stepping-stone towards subsequent completion of a PGDip, which contains twice as many modules, or Masters.

    Taught modules

    lRDR post-graduate programmes are based on core taught institute, programme and skills modules. These vary between programmes so please check the individual programme information to find out which modules comprise the different programmes.

    A full list of modules provided by the IRDR can be found here (also includes a list of some of the modules provided by other UCL departments that may be available as optional modules for IRDR students).

    Frequently Asked Questions

    (1) Are there any possibilities for help with funding?

    UCL offers a range of financial awards aimed at assisting both prospective and current students with their studies. The searchable database can be found here.

    UCL also attracts students who have received funding from their own government or other external sources, so prospective applicants are advised to check with the Ministry of Education in their own country or from the British Council for information about other potential funding opportunities.

    Current and past students have received Chevening Scholarships to attend the course. The scheme is aimed at developing global leaders and is funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and partner organisations. For further information please visit their website.

    (2) Is there an English language requirement?

    Yes – there is a minimum requirement. Further details can be found here:

    English requirements

     

    CLIE also offers a number of part-time academic English courses to support your time at UCL.

    These courses are aimed at enhancing English language skills and overall confidence and are offered during the three academic terms. Courses include: Academic Reading, Pronunciation & Public Speaking, Advanced Grammar and Academic Writing.

    Note that we require the UCL 'good' level for our Risk, Disaster and Resilience programmes and our Risk and Disaster Reduction programmes, and the UCL 'standard' level for our Risk and Disaster Science programmes and our Space Risk and Disaster Reduction Programmes. 

    (3) Is my academic / employment background suitable for this course?

    For our Risk, Disaster and Resilience programmes and our Risk and Disaster Reduction programmes, we will accept students with a 2.1 Bachelors degree (or international equivalent) in any physical, social, or environmental science subject, or a humanities subject.

    For our Risk and Disaster Science and Space Risk and Disaster Reduction Programmes, we would additionally require that your undergraduate degree has a mathematical component or that you have an A-level (or equivalent) in maths.

    If you think your academic background doesn’t quite fit these areas or you don’t quite meet the required grades, we will also consider applicants with significant (several years) relevant work experience. If you are still uncertain, please consult rosanna.smith@ucl.ac.uk for advice.

    (4) I don’t know much about Earth Sciences. Should I still apply?

    Yes!

    Because IRDR is a relatively small department, our courses have to be labelled as a subset of another subject. For now, this is earth sciences due to administrative links with the department and no obvious other suitable parent department. However, the courses are managed and delivered by the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction and are within this subject area. As such, earth science is not the main subject area of our courses, it is just one of many disciplines included in our multidisciplinary courses.

    (5) Who is the typical IRDR student? Will I fit in?

    There isn’t a typical IRDR student. We embrace the diversity of our student body and believe that our students benefit from the variety of backgrounds of their classmates.

    Some students come straight from their undergraduate degrees, some decide to study with us to improve their CV after a few years in the workplace, and some come to us once they already have a substantial career behind them. Some students come to the IRDR to enhance their capabilities in their current position or area of expertise, whilst others use it as a means to change their career direction.

    About half of our students come from the UK, about a quarter from other EU countries, and the remaining quarter from outside of the EU.

     

    (6) Can I apply for more than one of the IRDR postgraduate courses?

    We recommend that you only apply for one of our programmes. Once you have been accepted, it is usually possible to switch to a different course, unless there is a different entry requirement that you do not meet.

    (7) Can I study part time?

    Yes. All our Masters programmes can be studied as a 1 year full time programme or 2 year part time programme. 

    In addition, the Risk, Disaster and Resilience programme can be studied in a "flexible learning" style  This means that you can take a small number of modules per year such that you can complete your programme in up to 5 years. 

    We generally recommend taking the full time or part time approach so you can focus on your studies, but flexible learning may suit those who are keen to learn more about the subject, but are unable to give enough time commitment each year for the full time or part time programmes.

    If you need a Tier 4 student visa to study in the UK, note that this is only available for full time students.

    (8) What is the timetable for full time and part time study?

    All of our MSc programmes are comprised of 8 taught modules (2/3 of the course credit) and a project (1/3 of the course credit). For the MRes, there are only 5 taught modules, with a larger project component.

    Each taught module runs for 10 weeks with 4 hours of classes per week. The teaching semesters are October to December and January to March. We try to keep teaching within 3 days of the week, but this can vary according to the optional modules that you choose.

    Teaching hours are between 9am and 6pm.

    For part time study, students select half of the taught courses in each year for MSc programmes, but are recommended to take more than half in the first year for the MRes so that they can focus on their research project in the second year.

    Please contact rosanna.smith@ucl.ac.uk if you wish to see a provisional timetable for next year.

    UCL Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE) also offer a number of English language courses including:

    Pre-Master’s course

     

    IRDR Masters Pre-Arrival Reading List

    The following is some reading that you may wish to visit in preparation for your UCL-IRDR Masters Programme.

    It is not obligatory to do this reading before term starts, but it is recommended to dip into some of it. Open access (free) readings are marked by **

    · Eiser J.R. et al., 2012 **

    Risk interpretation and action: A conceptual framework for responses to natural hazards

    International Journal for Disaster Risk Reduction, 1, 5-16, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212420912000040

    · Alexander D.E., 2015 **

    Disaster and Emergency Planning for Preparedness, Response and Recovery

    Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Natural Hazard Science, DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199389407.013.12 http://naturalhazardscience.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/97801 99389407.001.0001/acrefore-9780199389407-e-12?print=pdf

    · Alexander D.E., 2016 **

    The game changes: Disaster Prevention and Management after a quarter of a century

    Disaster Prevention and Management 25 (1), 2-10 https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/DPM-11-2015-0262

    · Alexander D.E., 2002

    Principles of Emergency Planning and Management

    Terra Publishing, Harpenden, UK and Oxford University Press, New York, 340pp

    · Faure Walker J.P., 2017

    Natural Hazards (Chapter 7), The Palgrave Handbook of Unconventional Risk Transfer

    Palgrave ISBN: 978-3-319-59296-1 
    https://www.springerprofessional.de/en/natural-hazards/13350528

    · Woo G., 2017

    Anthropic Perils and Man-made Risks (Chapter 8), The Palgrave Handbook of Unconventional Risk Transfer

    Palgrave ISBN: 978-3-319-59296-1 https://www.springerprofessional.de/en/anthropic-perils-and-man- made-risks/13350530

    · Lloyd’s 360° Risk Insight **
    Space weather: it’s impact on Earth and implications for business
    https://www.lloyds.com/~/media/lloyds/reports/360/360-space- weather/7311_lloyds_360_space-weather_03.pdf

    · Schrijver C.J. et al., 2015 **
    Understanding space weather to shield society: A global road map for 2015–2025 commissioned by COSPAR and ILWS

    Advances in Space Research 55, 2745–2807, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0273117715002252 ?via%3Dihub

    · Smith D., 2017
    Pandemic Risk Modelling (Chapter 15), The Palgrave Handbook of Unconventional Risk Transfer Palgrave ISBN: 978-3-319-59296-1 https://www.springerprofessional.de/en/pandemic-risk- modelling/13350508

    · USGS **

    Earthquakes Hazard Programme 
    https://earthquake.usgs.gov/

    · Savage S.L., 2009
 **
    The Flaw of Averages: Why we underestimate risk in the face of uncertainty
    Wiley Parts 1-4

    
http://flawofaverages.com/

    · Disaster diplomacy **
    http://www.disasterdiplomacy.org/

    · Gender and Disaster Network **
    http://www.gdnonline.org/

    · Faure Walker J.P. and Crawford C.A., 2017 **

    Cash in a housing context: Transitional shelter and recovery in Japan
    International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 24 2212-4209 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212420916306628

    · Faure Walker J.P. et al., 2014 **

    The Post-Disaster Phase of Transitional Settlement: A Perspective from Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in Eastern Philippines

    IRDR Special Report 2014-01 
    https://www.ucl.ac.uk/rdr/documents/resources-irdr-reports/irdr-special- report-2014-01

    · Alexander D.E., 2013 **
    Paradoxes and Perceptions - Four Essays on Disaster
    IRDR Occasional Paper 2013-01
    https://www.ucl.ac.uk/rdr/publications/irdr-occasional-paper-2013-01

      Apply now

      Applications for September 2019 are open until 26 July 2019.

      Apply through the UCL application portal

      On the application portal, UCL IRDR programmes can be found by selecting keyword "risk".

      Apply now through the UCL application portal

      What are we looking for?

      When we assess your application we would like to learn:

      • why you want to study your chosen programme at graduate level 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.

      Time to decision

      Once UCL has received and verified all of your application documents and references, we aim to make a decision within 1 month.

      Please ensure that your referees submit your references (they will receive requests directly from UCL admissions and cannot provide the reference via any intermediary), and you provide all documents requested as soon as possible, because your application will not be passed to the admissions tutor for consideration until UCL admissions receives and verifies all of these items.