UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction



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.

IRDR Core Taught Modules:

These modules are compulsory for all our Masters programmes:

    IRDR0015 - Integrating Science into Risk and Disaster Reduction

    Risk, Hazard, Vulnerability, Disaster, Natural disaster, Risk modelling, Catastrophe model, Insurance, Mitigation, Risk reduction.

    Module Tutor: Dr Joanna Faure Walker (2019-2020 Dr Bayes Ahmed)

    Module code: IRDR0015, 15 credits

    Department: IRDR

    This module is intended to meet the growing and recognised need that scientific and other technical knowledge must become more integrated in a systematic way into disaster risk reduction strategies; it also recognises that this knowledge must respect and integrate with local and indigenous knowledge. The aims of the module therefore are: (i) to make students aware of the role science has to play in informing and improving disaster risk reduction strategies, and (ii) to equip students with the skills and knowledge enabling them to solve complex problems in disaster risk reduction through engagement with scientific knowledge, methods, data and expertise.

    The module will consider the following topics:

    • Overview of approaches to disaster risk reduction.
    • Behavioural Biases
    • Quantitative risk assessment
    • Dealing with uncertainty, including acceptable levels of risk and uncertainty
    • Catastrophe modelling
    • The roles of scientific evidence, scenario development and horizon scanning in responsible decision-making.
    • The role of the insurance industry in risk and disaster reduction
    • Science and accountability.
    • Science and Policy
    • The nature and distribution of risk and disasters, including the temporal and spatial scales and the acute and chronic dimensions.
    • Mitigation methods and early warning systems.
    • How disaster risk may evolve in the future and how science and technology may be able to improve preparedness.
    • The pressures in different sectors that limit the application of science in disaster risk reduction.
    • Communication of complex issues to wide and varied audiences that will have different objectives with regard to issues and solutions
    IRDR0003 - Emergency and Crisis Management

    Emergency, Crisis, Disaster, Emergency management, Business continuity management, Response, Recovery

    Module Tutor: Professor David Alexander

    Module code: IRDR0003, 15 credits

    Department: IRDR

    Emergency and disaster management is set to become a fully-fledged profession. It requires practitioners to coordinate complex operations that involve many different kinds of expert and widely diverse problems that must be solved rapidly and efficiently. This module will cover the procedures, techniques, equipment and forms of organisation used in managing disasters, crisis situations and major incidents. It will address leadership and problem-solving skills and enable students to gain familiarity with the environments, protocols and relationships involved in modern emergency management. Ample use will be made of case histories and scenario-based classroom discussions and exercises. The module will be a preparation for the distinct management processes that need to be used in real emergency situations, including the ability to anticipate unexpected developments and the skills of adaptation to rapidly changing circumstances.

    The module will cover the following topics:

    • Management and leadership
    • Teamwork and task forces
    • Emergency operations centres (EOCs) and command procedures
    • Emergency communication equipment, protocols and procedures
    • Logistics and crisis mapping
    • Warning and evacuation
    • Emergency search and rescue
    • Use of helicopters and other aerial vehicles: operations and safety procedures
    • Disabled people in disaster
    • Damage survey and the organisation of post-disaster shelter
    • Emergency exercises and drills in the EOC and field
    • Mass media liaison and the role of the spokesperson

    IRDR Taught Skills Modules:

    Taught skills modules available in all our programmes (see individual masters programme pages to find out which are compulsory / optional):

      IRDR0004 - Data Analysis and Interpretation (formerly known as "Risk and Disaster Reduction Research Tools")

      Module Tutor: Dr. Patty Kostkova

      Module code: IRDR0004, 15 credits

      Department: IRDR

      This module aims to equip students with tools for analyzing qualitative, quantitative and spatial data relating to risk and disaster reduction and public health emergencies including interviews, surveys and mapping.

      As a student on this module you will learn basic statistical methods for survey design, and statistical and qualitative techniques for data analysis. You will gain hands-on programming experience in order to equip you with the tools to conduct independent research and analysis work in risk and disaster reduction. This will include analyzing data using an example programming language. Additional computing skills will be gained through an introduction to Geographical Information Systems (GIS) which provides both scientific and practical knowledge of industry-standard software used to analyse geographical data.

      Through lectures, seminars, class discussions and computer exercises featuring examples relating to disaster risk reduction, you will learn:

      • Planning and designing data collection

      Introduction to statistics
      Statistical distributions
      Samples and Populations 

      • Qualitative data analysis

      Deconstructing responses to surveys, interviews and questionnaires
      Software for analysing social science data 

      • Quantitative data analysis

      Hypothesis testing (parametric and non-parametric)
      Linear regression (single and multi variable)

      • Introduction to Programming

      Pseudo code
      Programming for practical data analysis 
      Introduction to machine-learning and data science 

      • Spatial data analysis through GIS (Geographical Information Systems)

      Scientific and practical knowledge of industry-standard software to analyse geographical data

      IRDR0005 - Practice and Appraisal of Research (formerly known as "Research Appraisal and Proposal")

      Module Tutor: Professor David Alexander (2019-2020 Prof Peter Sammonds)

      Module code: IRDR0005, 15 credits

      Department: IRDR

      This module aims to equip students with the tools required to plan, implement, present and evaluate primary research relating to risk and disaster reduction.

      As a student on this module you will learn about the research project chain including the process for proposing research ideas, acquiring funding and approval for such work, logistical planning of fieldwork for both research and emergency response, designing your data collection strategy, practical techniques for fieldwork, presenting your own findings and placing them in context by being able to critique the work of others.

      Through lectures, seminars, class discussions and exercises featuring examples relating to disaster risk reduction, and practical fieldwork experience  you will learn:

      • How to evaluate research from presentations and papers

      How to write effective research, consultancy and funding proposals
      How to formulate the research question
      How to structure a literature review in a proposal
      How to assess resource needs
      Apportioning time and resources in a project
      What makes proposals attractive - and pitfalls to avoid

      • Research Presentation

      Audience-appropriate research communication through talks, papers, reports and posters

      • Effective data collection

      How quantitative and qualitative data research differs
      How to conduct interviews
      How to write surveys 
      How to plan questionnaires

      • Fieldwork requirements

      Risk Assessment
      Fieldwork Ethics

      • Responsive fieldwork planning

      Participate in a simulated real-time event scenario run by practioners:
      Real-time experience of logistical decision making in response to a disaster, led by current practitioners.
      What kind of decisions need to be made, how the decision process works, constraints imposed by lack of detailed information and the need for urgency, the need to balance planning and adaptability in response to the developing situation, and the importance of team work in a high-pressure environment.

      • Conducting Fieldwork

      Participate in a residential fieldtrip in Southwest England:
      Hands-on experience in collecting and recording quantitative and qualitative data in the field
      An appreciation of different perspectives from professionals in both the private and public sector assessing risks posed to the UK
      Practice delivering evidence-based arguments within a structured debate about risk using various types of data

      Further IRDR Taught Modules:

      These module are compulsory or optional for different masters programmes:

      IRDR0001 - Natural and Anthropogenic Hazards and Vulnerability

      Hazard, Vulnerability, Resilience, Natural hazard, Anthropogenic Hazard, Extra-terrestrial Hazard, Geological hazard, Geophysical hazard, Meteorological hazard, Risk, Disaster, Natural disaster, multi-hazard, Earthquake, Tsunami, Landslide, Volcano, Severe storm, Hurricane, Cyclone, Tornado, Flood, Drought, Terrorism, Building vulnerability

      Module Tutor: Dr Joanna Faure Walker (2019-2020 Dr Punam Yadav)

      Module code: IRDR0001, 15 credits

      Department: IRDR

      This module is intended to meet the growing and recognized need for those in the field of risk and disaster reduction to follow a multi-hazard approach. Therefore, those in this field need to have an understanding of the hazards and vulnerability from a wide range of both natural and anthropogenic hazards. This module also intends to meet the need to understand a hazard in context with its vulnerability in order to help bridge the gap between studying the causes of a hazard and its implications for individuals and society, policy makers, and industry.

      This module will provide a basic scientific knowledge for a number of individual natural and anthropogenic hazards and their vulnerability, likely to include the following: Extra terrestrial hazards such as Extra-Terrestrial Impactors and Solar Flares, Geophysical Hazards such as Earthquakes, Tsunami, Landslides, and Volcanoes, Meteorological events such as Windstorms, Tornadoes, Flood, and Drought, and Anthropogenic Hazards such as Water (availability and contamination), Pandemics, Terrorism, Cyber-crime, Crowding, Health.

      The student will learn to compare and contrast the different severity imposed by such natural and anthropogenic hazards, with specific reference to their frequency, geographical extent, economic vulnerability, human vulnerability, our ability to forecast or predict them and the scientific limits on these.

      IRDR0002 - Emergency and Crisis Planning

      Emergency, Crisis, Disaster, Emergency plan, Business continuity planning, Response, Recovery

      Module Tutor: Professor David Alexander (2019-2020 Dr Gianluca Pescaroli)

      Module code: IRDR0002, 15 credits

      Department: IRDR

      Planning is an essential part of managing risks, crises, emergencies and disasters. This module will teach the methodology and techniques of emergency planning, including the standards, principles, templates and research methods involved. The module will deal with generic emergency planning and specialised planning, including that practised for heritage protection, health service and mass-casualty management, industrial emergencies and business continuity. The module will also address how to plan for recovery and reconstruction after a disaster. Students will learn how to create, utilise and maintain emergency plans in both generic terms and for specific sectors, such as health, industry, commerce and tourism. They will learn how to research, write, implement and verify plans. Students will learn to construct scenarios for different contingencies and use their outcomes as vital ingredients in plans. Students will be encouraged to treat planning as a process rather than an outcome. They will learn about the logistical, organisational, administrative, policy and legal contexts of emergency and crisis planning, and how to utilise plans efficiently in emergency and crisis response and recovery.

      The module will cover the following topics:

      • Introduction: definitions, principles, scenarios, structure of a plan
      • Standards in emergency planning
      • Efficiency of civil protection
      • Sustainability of emergency preparedness
      • Industrial emergency planning (including hazardous materials transportation)
      • Business continuity planning
      • Critical infrastructure planning (including water supply networks)
      • Warning and evacuation planning (including school evacuation)
      • Planning for urban hazards and megacities
      • Health service emergency planning
      • Cultural heritage emergency planning (including tourism)
      • Policy and legal aspects
      IRDR0006 - Conflict, Humanitarianism and Disaster Risk Reduction

      Module tutor: Dr. Ilan Kelman

      Module code: IRDR0006, 15 credits

      Department: IRDR

      Conflict continues to take an excessive toll on humanity with humanitarianism for all forms of disasters continuing to be an important sector. Despite many notable successes, why are disaster risk reduction and conflict resolution efforts not solving all the challenges? 

      This module aims to help students understand the importance of a disaster risk reduction perspective for conflict and humanitarianism, to experience how communication in such situations is made to and from various stakeholders, to discuss field sites with disaster risk, and to improve their own awareness in terms of identifying which of their own skills they need to develop to adequately deal with conflict and humanitarian situations from a disaster risk reduction perspective.

      The lectures, assessments, and seminars will meet the growing and recognised need for those in the field of risk and disaster reduction to understand better the meanings and contexts of conflict and humanitarian settings and how to take a disaster risk reduction perspective of conflict and humanitarianism.

      IRDR0007 - The Variable Sun: Space Weather and You

      Module tutor: Dr Robert Wicks

      Module code: IRDR0007, 15 credits

      Department: IRDR

      Space weather was added to the UK National Risk Register in 2012 and is currently graded as the fourth highest civil emergency risk to the UK. The USA has a similar assessment of the impact of severe space weather and as we increasingly rely on technology for essential services the risk will continue to grow. Yet, very few people have any idea what space weather is, how it may impact the Earth or how to respond to it. 

      In this course we will cover the underlying physics of the outer space environment, understand how the varying behaviour of the Sun impacts outer space, the Earth, people and technology. We will gain knowledge of the forecasting of space weather, how response to severe space weather is changing and what our vulnerabilities to space weather are. The course will also compare space weather to other forms of risk from outer space, such as space debris and meteorite impacts.

      The module will consider the following topics:

      • The history of space weather
      • Solar activity cycle
      • Sunspots
      • Solar flares and solar eruptive events
      • The Earth's magnetic field
      • Geomagnetic storms and aurora
      • The radiation environment in deep space (cosmic rays, solar energetic particles) and in the inner magnetosphere (radiation belts)
      • Ionospheric and ground-induced currents
      • The impacts of space weather
      • Vulnerabilities to space weather: satellites, electrical power grids, radio and radiation
      • Space weather forecasting and international response to space weather
      • Space debris and collision probability
      • Extraterrestrial impactors

      These topics will be covered in a series of lectures, with a field trip to  the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre to see how the UK forecasts space weather.

      IRDR0008 - Catastrophe Risk Modelling

      Risk, Hazard, Vulnerability, Disaster, Risk modelling, Catastrophe model, Insurance.

      Module Tutor: Dr Joanna Faure Walker (2019-2020 Dr Carmine Galasso

      Module code: IRDR0008, 15 credits

      Department: IRDR

      This module aims to provide the student with an understanding of the science and engineering underlying catastrophe models. It will further discuss catastrophe modelling in the context of risk transfer in industry and future possibilities for building resilience. An industry-focussed module, this module is taught by a range of guest lecturers from within industry and UCL lecturers who have industrial experience working within the Catastrophe Modelling industry.

      In this module, the following topics will be covered: 

      • An introduction to catastrophe modelling and how they can be used for building resilience.
      • Probabilities and statistics - the role of uncertainties, probability, and Monte Carlo simulation in Catastrophe models
      • Hazard modelling including examples of earthquake, wind and flood
      • Exposure Modelling and its challenges
      • Fragility and Vulnerability Modelling with a focus on earthquake, wind and storm surge modelling
      • Financial losses
      • Application of catastrophe risk models for pre and/or post-event loss modelling and real-time scenarios
      • Appraising and selecting current models 
      • The challenges and issues in application of catastrophe models in developing countries.
      IRDR0009 - Digital Health: Epidemics and Emergencies in the Era of Big Data

      Public health, global health, big data, serious games, computer science, disaster surveillance

      Module Tutor: Dr Patty Kostkova

      Module code: IRDR0009, 15 credits

      Department: IRDR

      This module will introduce students to the key concepts of digital public health. It will cover the underlying computer science principles including knowledge management, semantic modelling, international disaster surveillance IT systems; early warning and response to disease outbreaks and emergencies, social media and serious games for public health interventions and behaviour change. Students will become familiar with the fundamental principles of public health, global health, disease surveillance, epidemic intelligence, emergencies, public health  behaviour change interventions, and risk communication.  This module is aimed at postgraduate students with a science degree or medical sciences degree with interests in new technologies for public and global health, emergencies and big data challenges. This will enable students  to apply for jobs and placements at international public health agencies and NGOs (e.g., European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, MSF, Save the Children, Joint Research Centre, WHO, etc).

      This module is expected to feature senior guest lecturers from international public health and disaster organisations.

      This module is suitable for students from all backgrounds, however, students with CS/IT, science, GIS backgrounds would find it particularity appropriate. The module does not require programming skills as a prerequisite and assumes very basic statistical skills. The assessment projects will be allocated to students drawing from their skills and backgrounds. Please see me if you want to discuss the skills needed to take this module.

      It will apply problem-orientated learning methods (POL) to:

      • introduce public health, field epidemiology, and global health concepts
      • present the key technological systems underpinning public health surveillance, early warning, and response to outbreaks and epidemics
      • understanding challenges and opportunities created by new technologies, social media, mobile systems
      • apply the principles in the practice on case studies and on technologies and/or try interactive hands-on approaches
      • apply new knowledge on an interdisciplinary project of choice gaining in-depth practical experience with the subject. The project should form a substantial part of a student's application for a placement in the host public health institution.  
      IRDR0010 - Risk Analysis For Disaster Science

      Risk, earthquake, seismology, statistical modelling, numerical modelling, earthquake science, seismic risk assessment

      Module Tutor: Dr Katerina Stavrianaki, Prof Peter Sammonds

      Module code: IRDR0010, 15 credits

      Department: IRDR

      The module aims to take a modelling and statistical approach to geophysical risks. Students will understand statistical modelling and observational approaches to geophysical events such as earthquakes. Students should understand the disaster chain from hazard to risk. You will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to analyze disaster-related risks posed using statistical risk analysis techniques. You will understand the successes and limitations of statistical approaches to risk assessment and the impact this has on our current mitigation strategies including risk transfer mechanisms.

      IRDR0016 - Gender, Disaster and Conflict

      Gender responsiveness, structural vulnerabilities, women, men, sexual minorities, social, violence, disaster, conflict, policy, gender theory, intersectionality, LGBTQI, climate change, migration, IDPs

      Module Tutor: Dr. Punam Yadav and Professor Maureen Fordham

      15 credits

      Department: IRDR

      Women, men and sexual minorities are impacted differently during conflict and disaster. In general, more men are likely to die in conflict, whereas more women die in disaster. This is due to their gender roles, social expectations and unequal power relations. Women are faced with different forms of violence in conflict and disaster, as they are in the everyday. Hence, the module aims to advance students’ understanding around differential gendered impacts of conflict and disaster, and gender responsiveness in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), by analyzing the structural causes of vulnerabilities and marginalization. The module is divided into three parts. The first part will focus on theoretical debates around gender, disaster and conflict; the second part will focus on policies and practices; and the third part will focus on examining the real-life experiences of people living in conflict and disaster vulnerable countries and contexts.

      As a student on this module, you will learn about the following topics through lectures, seminars and discussions: the basic concepts of gender and gender theories; the significance and the relevance of gender to DRR and humanitarian crisis; the relationships between gender, conflict and disaster; gender, vulnerability and resilience concepts; gender and intersectionality; LGBTQI, DRR and conflict; gender, conflict and the continuum of violence, including GBV; gender, DRR policies and frameworks; gender, SDGs and climate change; gender, migration and IDPs. After completion of this Module you will have a better understanding of gender responsive approaches to DRR and humanitarian crises.

      IRDR0017 - Business Continuity Management and Organisational Resilience

      Managing operations, supply chain distributions

      Module Tutor: Dr. Gianluca Pescaroli

      15 credits

      Department: IRDR

      This module aims to give the understanding of Business Continuity Management (BCM) as an essential process for enhancing organisational resilience in the public and private sectors. It aims to enable students to integrate resilience in “business as usual” management, supporting them in understanding of how developing the analysis of requirements, design and implement solutions, validating the objectives and procedures put in place. The students will be able to critically analyse the challenges for organizational resilience in different contexts, building up on good practices and procedures shared during the course. Finally, they should also be able to recall the tools explained in the course, such as threat and risk analysis, and be familiar with the collaborative approach required to implement them in a comprehensive process. 

      The module consists of an overview of Business Continuity Management (BCM) and its application for building organizational resilience, including:

      The BCM Lifecycle;  ISO standards; 


      The core lectures will be supported by group exercises to give familiarity with BCM as a process, while a set of guest speakers will share their experiences. The participants are encouraged to actively contribute to the lessons.  

      • Analysis of requirements; 
      • Design and implementation of solutions;
      • Validation of the objectives and procedures;
      • Business impact analysis and threat and risk analysis;
      • Good practices for integrating BCM in “business as usual” management.

      Additional Modules

      These courses are taught in partner departments:
      *Please note the availability of particular optional modules can vary and cannot be guaranteed*

      Risk, Power and Uncertainty

      Module Tutor: Dr Allen Abramson

      Module: 15 credits

      Department: Anthropology

      This course sets out to explore risk, power and uncertainty. Why so? Because, increasingly, late modern settings come to be specified and evaluated in terms of the hazards, risks and uncertainties they appear to generate: more so, perhaps, than the inequities, oppressions and alienations that formerly characterised the social analysis of modern malaise. The extent of this shift; the reasons for it; the place of power in its operation; its socio-cultural (and indeed, cosmological) implications are all matters of controversy that need to be rigorously examined.

      The course begins with a brief survey of pre-modern notions of fate, destiny and magical protection; moves onto consider key contributions in the anthropology of risk (Douglas); assesses the applicability of the concept of 'chaos' in socio-cultural anthropology; and concludes with a critical examination of the sociology of 'the risk society' (Beck) and associated ideas. The second part of the course tackles a series of special issues chosen from areas of science, environment, medicine, politics, marginality, material culture, art, finance, gambling and extreme play. It is intended that the course will link together social, biological and material cultural trends in contemporary anthropology.

      Disaster Risk Reduction in Cities

      Module Tutor: Dr Cassidy Johnson

      Module: 15 credits

      Department: Development Planning Unit (DPU)

      Disaster Risk Reduction in Cities provides a detailed examination and structured understanding of Disaster Studies and Disaster Risk Reduction, with specific reference to urban areas. It engages with extreme condition of disasters and their social, physical and political implications on urban areas, the built environment and planning disciplines. Drawing from current research on the urban turn in Disaster Studies and the entanglements between Disaster Risk Reduction, Development processes and Urban Poverty, the module offers an introduction to the debate on urban resilience and its policy implications.

      Post Disaster Recovery: Policies, Practices and Alternatives

      Module Tutor: Dr Camillo Boano

      Module: 15 credits

      Department: Development Planning Unit (DPU)

      Post Disaster Recovery: Policies, Practices and Alternatives provides a detailed and critical examination of post-disaster recovery practices and policies, with a particular focus on its institutional arrangements and socio-spatial implications. Drawing from transnational research experiences and connections with practitioners, humanitarian workers and development managers, the module reflects on the different challenges posed when working in a post disaster environment and implementing plans, projects and interventions. 

      Adapting Cities to Climate Change in the Global South

      Module: 15 credits

      Department: Development Planning Unit (DPU)

      Adapting Cities to Climate Change in the Global South aims to provide participants with an understanding of the ways in which climate change will affect urban areas in low- and middle- income countries. 

      Seismic Risk Assessment

      Module tutor: Professor Tiziana Rossetto

      Module: 15 credits

      Department: Civil Engineering

      Seismic risk and the potential earthquake losses are evaluated differently by disparate industries and organisations. This course covers the fundamental components of earthquake risk assessments from the estimation of probable earthquake ground shaking in an area, ways to assess building types and their vulnerability to the consequent building damage, human casualties and economic losses. The course provides an introduction to GIS and to simplified structural analysis and seismic assessment tools.


      • To provide an overview of how engineers and different agencies assess seismic risk to life, economy and buildings; 
      • Provide understanding of the technical calculation of seismic risk; 
      • Deliver an understanding of the uncertainties involved in seismic risk estimation.

      Learning Outcomes:

      • Understand the underlying principles, appreciate the limitations and be able to critically evaluate conventional and new unconventional techniques for the seismic hazard assessment and the seismic assessment of civil engineering structures; 
      • Understand the special case of critical facility seismic and damage consequence assessment; 
      • Knowledge of the possible consequences of a damaging earthquake in different social and economi
      Climate Risks to Hydro-ecological Systems

      Module tutor: Professor Richard Taylor

      Module: 15 credits

      Department: Geography

      Course aims:

      • To introduce students to the complex linkages between climate and hydrology and their associated risks to hydro-ecological systems;
      • To introduce both statistical and numerical modelling approaches to assess the climate change impact and the estimation of ecological water demand in hydro-ecological systems;
      • To discuss the critical need for monitoring water storage and identify sustainable ways to manage water resources to ensure good public health and food security.

      Course Content:

      The Climate Risks to Hydro-ecological Systems begins first by outlining how anthropogenic global warming impacts hydrological systems introducing concepts of climate change, and second by relating these basic principles to empirical studies summarised in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports and more recent studies at UCL such as the Global-scale Impacts of Climate Change (QUEST GSI). The course then extends this conceptual and empirically driven knowledge base of climate risks and impacts on terrestrial hydrology to a range of aquatic ecosystems including lakes and wetlands as well as groundwater and glacial environments around the world. These case study environments serve to demonstrate the complexity of the interactions that involve changes in freshwater withdrawals primarily for irrigation and land-use, and include non-linear and non-intuitive responses to climate variability and change. These case studies will further demonstrate the use of specific analytical techniques for establishing linkages and evaluating trends, and highlight key challenges to current understanding of climate change impacts that include: (1) limited monitoring networks and observational datasets, and (2) uncertainty in hydrological projections of rainfall, evapotranspiration, river discharge, soil moisture and groundwater recharge. The course will conclude with examples of the challenging task of communicating uncertain and complex impacts of climate change on water resources and hydro-ecological systems to water managers, policy makers and the general public.


      • Lectures & seminars (2 hour sessions providing concepts, contexts, and case studies) run by experts within and outside of UCL: Richard Taylor, UCL Geography; Mohammad Shamsudduha UCL IRDR, Mike Acreman, CEH Wallingford; Simon Dadson, Oxford;, Simon Lewis, UCL Geography (SL).
      • Practical focused on the estimation of ecological water demand (environmental flow requirements) from projections of river discharge under climate change.
      • Moodle resources (hosting reading lists, lecture/seminar handouts, datasets, guides and practical support materials).

      The module will be delivered through:

      Form of Assessment

      1 piece of coursework, 100% of the assessment.

      Principles and Practice of Remote Sensing

      Module Tutor: Dr M. Disney

      Module: 15 credits

      Department: Space and Climate Physics

      This module provides an introduction to the basic concepts and principles of remote sensing. It includes three components:

      1. The geometric principles of remote sensing: geodetic principles and datums, reference systems, mapping projections distortions and transformations; data acquisition methods.

      2. The radiometric principles of remote sensing: electromagnetic radiation; basic laws of electromagnetic radiation; absorption, reflection and emission; atmospheric effects; radiation interactions with the surface; orbits; spatial, spectral, temporal, angular and radiometric resolution; data pre-processing; scanners. Introduction to radiative transfer, with focus on models of vegetation and terrestrial surface.

      3. Active remote sensing and time-resolved signals (Lidar and RADAR): Lidar: lidar principles; types of lidar system; advantages of lidar observations; information content; discrete return v waveform; current and future systems; ground-based lidar. RADAR: RADAR principles; time-resolved signals; the RADAR equation; RADAR resolution; phase information and SAR interferometry; microwave applications.

      Global Monitoring and Security

      Module Tutor: Prof. J. P. Muller, Dr M. Disney

      Module: 15 credits

      Department: Space and Climate Physics

      The module provides an introduction to the current state-of-the-art in Global Monitoring of Environment and Security (which is the EU/ESA name for the Group on Earth Observations, GEO).

      The aims of the module are:

      • To define the objectives of a GMES system within the context of the GEOSS (Global Earth Observation System of Systems) and its nine societal benefit areas.
      • To describe the scientific underpinning for many of these societal benefit areas, including improved weather forecasting, the monitoring of climate change and the monitoring and prediction of natural hazards.
      • To investigate the needs for EO monitoring of human security concerned with transmigration of people, diseases and animals and what remote sensing tools and techniques exist to address these needs.
      • To study the requirements for accurate calibration and validation of instruments to be able to address the needs of GMES, especially related to long-term monitoring.
      • To describe the fundamental principles of data and system inter-operability and to explore the role of OGC protocols within GMES.
      • To assess the progress of the GEOSS 10 year Implementation Plan in the context of international programmes.
      Perspectives on Terrorism

      Module Tutor: Dr Noemie Bouhana

      Module: 15 credits

      Department: Department of Security and Crime Science

      This module provides students with an overview of terrorism, including empirical trends, historical manifestations, current groups and tactics, and prominent theories operating at various levels of analysis. While much of the course material and required readings draw from an array of disciplines traditionally concerned with the topic, such as public policy, criminology, sociology and psychology, the main purpose of the module is to introduce students to a more distinctive security and crime science perspective on the subject. Students are encouraged to adopt a critical yet open mind set, to reflect on the conceptual and methodological issues involved in studying terrorism as a concrete scientific problem, and to consider what this particular approach implies for the design of preventive or disruptive interventions and technologies against terrorism. Assessment: one 3000 word essay.

      Risk and Contingency Planning

      Module Tutor: Dr Herve Borrion

      Module: 15 credits

      Department: Department of Security and Crime Science

      This course introduces students to a range of frameworks and quantitative techniques used by systems engineers and risk experts to analyse security threats and systems vulnerabilities. At the end of this course, students should have developed the knowledge needed to critically discuss different approaches to risk and resilience assessment.

      Space Instrumentation and Applications

      Module Tutor: Prof. M. Cropper

      Prof. A. Fazakerley, Dr K. al-Janabi, Prof. I. Hepburn, Dr D. Kataria, Prof. J.-P. Muller, Prof. L. Harra

      Module: 15 credits

      Department: Space and Climate Physics

      This module aims to teach students about scientific instrumentation on satellites and spacecraft, their uses, design, operation and data processing. Specific topics include:

      1. Spacecraft as observation platforms

      Why go into space, space environment, space effects from Earth's surface, in situ measurements, remote sensing, space as a laboratory, impact of space studies.

      2. Systems approach to measurements

      Analysis, detection, signal processing, data encoding, control. Spacecraft interface and subsystems: accommodation, attitude control, power conditioning. Examples from solar system exploration.

      3. Spacecraft-environment interactions

      Spacecraft charging in low Earth orbit and geostationary orbit. Radiation damage effects. Background effects and their minimisation. Plasma influx, penetrating radiation, sunlight.

      4. In-situ plasma measurements

      Requirements; Energy and mass analysis for charged species from 1eV to 1MeV. Neutral mass spectrometers.

      5. Detectors and sensors for in-situ measurements

      Channeltrons, microchannel plates, solid state detectors, charge coupled devices, current collectors, antennas and probes, magnetometers and electric field sensors

      6. Planetary analysis

      Nuclear remote and in-situ measurement techniques. Introduction to planetary analysis, spectroscopy: γ-ray, X-ray, α-particle, neutron, Mossbauer. Visible light & dust particle measurement techniques. Imagers, experimental platforms, future missions, dust detectors. Radar instrumentation and chemical analysis.

      7. Atmospheric measurements

      Basic physics and chemistry, spectroscopy, practical instrument examples, applications of fundamental principles to measurements

      8. Detectors and sensors for astrophysics

      Radiometry, solid state physics, cooling, intrinsic and extrinsic photoconductors, radiation effects, stressed photoconductors, photodiodes, photoemission detectors, photomultipliers, image intensifiers, bolometers, coherent detectors, amplifiers; Attitude and position sensing: sun sensors, earth sensors, star sensors, magnetometers, attitude control

      9. Astronomical observations (astrophysics, UV/optical/IR)

      Radio, Microwave and Sub-millimeter, Far Infra-red and Infra-red, Visible and UV, X-ray, Gamma-ray, Formation Flying, Cryogenics

      10. Solar measurements

      Remote sensing instrumentation for studying the Sun. Motivation for observing the Sun, detectors used, telescope designs, instrumentation from the optical to gamma-ray wavelength ranges, future solar instrumentation.

      11. Onboard and ground data processing

      System overview, onboard data processing, data compression techniques, on-board data handling (OBDH) and telemetry systems, spacewire, ground systems

      12. Case studies I: Case studies of missions

      13. Case studies II: Student presentations of case study missions

      Space Based Communication Systems

      Module Tutor: Dr. J. McEwen, Prof. A. Smith

      Module: 15 credits

      Department: Space and Climate Physics

      The aim of this module is to provide an understanding of how digital communications are used to transfer data to and from satellites and spacecraft. Topics taught include:

      • Fundamentals of satellite communication systems: orbit types, ground stations, support subsystems.
      • Communications system requirements, constraints and regulations.
      • Data rate fundamentals: data volume, data compression, error correction and coding.
      • Link design: link equation and link budgets, antenna gain, modulation and coding, atmospheric loss and rain attenuation.
      • Multiple access types and beam switching.
      • Communication subsystem payload.
      • Deep space communications.
      • Cubesats and ground-station networks.
      • Iridium satellite network.
      • Encryption.
      • Space weather effects on communications systems.
      • Inter-satellite communications, constellations for scientific, terrestrial, maritime and aeronautical use including next generation broadband data and multi-media services.
      • Telecommunications infrastructure and services, including business models.
      • Defense telecoms.
      • Emerging telecoms applications.
      • Telecommunications in developing countries.
      Spacecraft Design Electronic Sub-systems

      Module Tutor: Prof. I. Hepburn

      Module: 15 credits

      Department: Space and Climate Physics

      This module aims to teach students about the electronic design of satellites and spacecraft. Topics include:

      • Introduction - Comparison of spacecraft electronic systems to an equivalent ground based unit. Power Systems - Solar cells, solar arrays; storage cells; regulation dissipative and non-dissipative, regulators linear and switched mode, noise reduction, filters, supply monitoring, decentralised regulation.
      • Attitude sensing and control - Earth and Sun sensors, charge coupled devices, wedge and strip, crossed anode, magnetic sensors, search coil and fluxgate, magnetic torquers.
      • Mechanisms & Housekeeping - Control monitoring; optical and magnetic, pyrotechnic actuators, bridge techniques.
      • Harnesses - EMC magnetic and electric coupling, shielding efficiencies for near and far field, EMC outgassing ports, connector types, low and high voltage, printed circuit board types.
      • Reliability - Design techniques, heat dissipation, latch-up, interface and single point failures, housekeeping requirements, components specification, failure rates, fabrication, radiation testing, effect of radiation, displacement and ionisation damage, transients effects, designing for radiation protection.
      • Analogue design - Charge sensitive amplifiers, noise considerations, practical circuits, pulse shaping circuits, unipolar and bipolar pulses, base line depression, pulse pile-up, low frequency measurements.
      • Example sessions - Electrical hardware circuits for past and present space missions will be described and demonstrated utilizing the project's development circuit boards.
      Mechanical Design of Spacecraft

      Module Tutors: Dr B. Shaughnessy and Dr. Matt Hills

      Module: 15 credits

      Department: Space and Climate Physics


      • Spacecraft configurations - Interplay of mission, solar power requirements, attitude system and launch vehicle. Mechanical interfaces. Subsystems.
      • Launch accelerations, acoustic fields, vibrations - cases, loads and factors.
      • Foundations of stress analysis and mechanics of materials - Examples of application to spacecraft.
      • Frame structure and analysis - Strut buckling and optima. Shell structure and analysis - Finite elements. Sandwich panels theory and practice.
      • Materials for lightness, space vacuum and the radiation environment - Metals, polymers, ceramics and composites. Cryogenics and low temperatures.
      • Nuts, bolts and joints generally. The deployment of booms, arrays and antennas.
      • Mechanisms - Elements, kinematics, kinematic design.
      • Bearings - Sliding, rolling and flexing. Space lubrication.
      • Actuators - Stepping motors. Pyrotechnics. Gear transmissions. Space Tribology. Mechanism life.
      • Vibration theory for space technology - Single degree of freedom frequency, damping, transmissibility. Response of systems with 2 or more systems. Random excitation and response.
      • Vibration testing - Typical test specifications. Derivation from measurements. Notching. Modes of failure.
      • Thermal design - Physics of temperature and heat exchange. Thermal control materials covered in the module: and devices. Models and computing. Thermal simulation and testing.
      Space Science, Environment and Satellite Missions

      Lecturers: Dr S. Matthews, Prof. A. Coates, Mr M. Whyndham

      Module: 15 credits

      Teaching Term: 1

      Department: UCL Department of Space and Climate Physics

      This module will give students an appreciation of the history of early spaceflight and examples of early space science satellites. Lectures will lead students to understand different space science fields, and will equip them with basic knowledge of the spacecraft environment, of spacecraft dynamics, rocket propulsion, spacecraft design and the essential spacecraft sub-systems; will inform them about space mission planning and space project management.

      Topics covered by the module:

      • Space science and other space applications - Brief history of early spaceflight to 1961. Examples of early space science satellites: Ariel 1, Orbiting Observatories, European programme. Brief outline descriptions of the following space science fields, with major related space science missions and discoveries: solar physics, space plasmas (solar wind and Earth's magnetosphere), solar system exploration (moons, planets, asteroids and comets), astrophysics from space, Earth observation from space (remote sensing).
      • The spacecraft environment - Earth's atmosphere, equation of hydrostatic equilibrium, measurements of density, atmospheric drag. The ionosphere and solar radiation, the trapped particle zone (radiation belts). The magnetosphere, the Sun and the solar wind.
      • Spacecraft dynamics - Orbits, trajectories and launching. The nature of satellite orbits and elementary orbit theory, perturbations. Rocket propulsion - the rocket equation, propellants and specific impulse, nozzle design, staging.
      • Mission objectives. Design concept and assessment of requirements. Proposal document - scientific justification, technical plan, management plan, cost, PA, interface document.
      • Funding application.
      • Project management - organogramme, work packages, schedule. PERT network, milestones, critical path, progress meetings, expenditure profiles and financial control.
      • Mission planning and operations, science planning, timelining, ground support
      Space Systems Engineering

      Module Tutors: Mr M.Whyndham, Prof. I. Hepburn

      Module: 15 credits

      Department: Space and Climate Physics


      The aim of this module is to provide an understanding of how a spacecraft operates from a technological perspective. This will necessitate exploring the physical, mathematical and engineering principles used in the operation of the major subsystems of a modern spacecraft. On completion of the module the student will be able to describe in some detail the major subsystems of a spacecraft, calculate the basis of operation of these, develop simple models of their functional scope and relate these to simple scientific or operational goals of space missions.

      Topics covered by the module:

      • Systems engineering lifecycle, structure and management of systems development projects and programmes, management of requirements and interfaces. Technology selection, development, insertion and trade-off.
      • Review of scientific spacecraft subsystems, with examples from modern space vehicles. Spacecraft and instrument design constraints and evolution - size, mass, geometry, power, apertures, thermal control, surface requirements, booms, e-m properties, command capability, data rate.
      • Mechanical sub-systems: the mechanical environment and design.
      • Electrical sub-systems: power sub-system and other electronic sub-systems, including analogue signal amplification and processing.
      • The spacecraft thermal environment and design considerations and methods. Cooling methods and refrigeration.
      • Attitude control and station keeping, and the basic technology of attitude sensors.
      • Quality management in the space domain, qualification and integration activities. Component, sub-assembly, instrument and spacecraft level tests. Vibration, temperature, vacuum, solar simulation tests. Configuration management.
      • Product assurance: approved parts and materials lists, cleanliness, testing, protection during shipping, documentation.
      • Commanding and data acquisition. Data relay satellites, ground stations, control centre requirements.
      • Digitised signal data, On-Board Data Handling (OBDH), telemetry and telecommanding, including encoding and command decoding, error detection and correction, RF satellite communications links and link budgets.
      Decision and Risk Statistics

      Module Tutor: tbc (Please contact Dr Katerina Stavrianaki k.stavrianaki@ucl.ac.uk for inquiries )

      Module: 15 credits

      Department: Statistics and IRDR

      This course aims to give an introduction to the statistical treatment of risk, the calculation of losses, and the theory of how to make optimal decisions based on such considerations. We begin with a review of statistical methods for estimating parameters of physical processes, and then show how these can be used to find the expected loss associated with different decisions, allowing choices to be made. Much of this course focuses on how to estimate the probability of extreme events occurring, for example high magnitude earthquakes, or large terrorist attacks. Additionally, we cover methods for detecting whether something important about a physical process has changed, so that risk computations can be updated in the light of new information.

      On successful completion of this course, a student should be able to understand measures of risk, find appropriate probability models for risky events, and check the validity of the underlying assumptions, understand Bayesian risk together with its theoretical assumptions, understand basic extreme value statistics, and understand basic time series modelling with structural change detection.