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From hazards, vulnerability and human-made disaster, to environmental sustainability and community resilience, this globally-focused course explores real-world problems and how to conceptualise and address them.

You will learn how to prepare for, and respond in, a crisis. You will develop the planning skills to help minimise impact and avert problems where possible. You will develop advanced knowledge, project management and analytical skills whilst developing a specialism in an area of your choice.

In the second year, for one semester, you’ll undertake an internship, study in another country or join a research group. This valuable experience will enhance your employability and further develop your theoretical and practical skills.

The course is supported by the Disaster and Development Network (DDN) hosted by Northumbria University, which can lead to placements across the world. Our highly employable graduates have moved into a range of exciting careers, including in the UN, governments, development, humanitarian aid organisations, charities and local authorities.


This option offers the opportunity to spend three months working full-time to gain all-important work experience and employability skills. You may be able to extend this over more than one semester in cases where it is adjacent to a vacation period. We will endeavour to help those who prefer this option to source opportunities and to perfect their CV but ultimately the onus is on the student to secure the internship position through a competitive application process.

Our students run their own Disaster and Development Society: explore their website for more information about the kind of activities you could get involved in during your time at Northumbria.

Course Information

Level of Study

Mode of Study
2 years full-time (with advanced practice in second year)
1 other options available

Geography and Environmental Sciences

City Campus, Northumbria University


September 2019

Book an Open Day / Experience Disaster Management and Sustainable Development

Visit an Open Day to really get an inside view of what it is like to study Disaster Management and Sustainable Development at Northumbria. Speak to staff and students from the course and get a tour of the facilities

In this rapidly expanding field, you will learn through real scenarios and case studies, live research projects, developing your personal and professional responses to disaster and development challenges.

Guided through lectures, seminars and workshops by staff with vast experience in applying their expertise to current world issues, you will develop the knowledge and practical skills needed to prepare for, take action within, and recover from a crisis. You will develop research and methodology skills. You will also develop a specialism in an area such as health and wellbeing in disaster management, integrated emergency management, or exploring a specific thematic subject of your own choice. The course culminates in a Masters dissertation which can take the form of a traditional research dissertation or a work related project.

Assessment is designed to provide an authentic learning experience, using techniques and approaches common in professional practice and subject-based academic research and consultancy. We provide constructive ongoing and forward feedback to develop your understanding within and between modules.

The Advanced Practice semester will be assessed via a report and presentation about your internship, study abroad or research group activities.   

Videos / Disaster Management and Sustainable Development

Book an Open Day / Experience Disaster Management and Sustainable Development

Visit an Open Day to really get an inside view of what it is like to study Disaster Management and Sustainable Development at Northumbria. Speak to staff and students from the course and get a tour of the facilities

Our MSc was the first of its kind in the world.  Over the last 16 years our staff and graduates have informed policy at an international level, regularly advising and researching with the United Nations and national development organisations.

With many modules directly relating to the research expertise of teaching staff, you will learn from lecturers who lead knowledge creation in their specialist fields. Through collaborations with scholars, practitioners and senior policy makers across the world, our academics have connections with organisations such as the United Nations,  the World Bank, national Emergency Management and  Environment Agencies, as well as international  and national charities and governments in a range of countries around the world.

You will benefit from our outstanding links with research groups and networks including the University-hosted Disaster Development Network (DDN) which is involved with research and enterprise activities on a global scale.

Book an Open Day / Disaster Management and Sustainable Development

Visit an Open Day to really get an inside view of what it is like to study Disaster Management and Sustainable Development at Northumbria. Speak to staff and students from the course and get a tour of the facilities

If you’re looking for specialist software packages or group study areas, our facilities have been developed to help you through your studies.

We also make use of technology in module delivery. Modules take a ‘virtual field study’ approach where real-world examples are brought into the classroom via video clips, podcasts and online discussions with external experts and practitioners.

Lecture materials, learning resources and assessment details are accessible on the eLearning portal (Blackboard), a university-wide system that also provides access to discussion boards where you can communicate with your fellow students and lecturers.


Facilities / Disaster Management and Sustainable Development

Experience our world class campus facilities, including our human geography Qualitative Research Suite, IT suits equipped with Nvivo, GIS and Remote Sensing Software, collaborative postgraduate research spaces, and CSE-accredited University Library.

Research-led teaching and learning is used to guide you from the start to the end of the course. We embed research into lectures, seminars and workshops, drawing on staff and visiting lecturers’ research findings and consultancy.

You will be encouraged to debate key readings and actively engage in critical discussion of research strategies in interactive seminars and workshops. This is reinforced by assessments where you critically evaluate case studies, concepts, applications and research outputs.

Our research into Disaster and Development was ranked by judges representing UK Government Departments and Research Councils among the top 20 impact case studies within the Research Excellence Framework for contribution towards global development. DDN has been researching and facilitating the implementation of disaster risk reduction strategies to improve community resilience in some of the world’s poorest communities since 1994, working with communities in Bangladesh, Mozambique, Nepal, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.

Northumbria is one of three Europe wide groups to represent Europe and Africa in the new Global Alliance of Disaster Research Institutes, and a leading member of a new UK national research network for implementing the UK research strategy for the Sendai Framework.

Our contribution is supported through the global MSc, doctoral alumni and the annual Dealing with Disasters conference.

Research / Disaster Management and Sustainable Development

Discover more about the inspirational research happening in this area at Northumbria.

Book an Open Day / Experience Disaster Management and Sustainable Development

Visit an Open Day to really get an inside view of what it is like to study Disaster Management and Sustainable Development at Northumbria. Speak to staff and students from the course and get a tour of the facilities

This postgraduate course is designed to support the development of those seeking to enter a career in the disaster and development fields, as well as to broaden and deepen the career options of those already working in the field. Our connections with professionals working in the sector ensure that the course content is aligned with current practice and relevant to the world, while staff research helps to inform new innovations, reflected in modules on the MSc also.

The course is supported by the Northumbria-based Disaster and Development Network (DDN) and there are also links to the Gender and Disaster Network. Connections that could lead to placements in countries such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar, the Philippines, India, Nepal, Australia and a number of African countries as well as with EU and UK-based organisations.

The Advanced Practice semester will help you develop a track record of achievement that will help you stand out from other job applicants.

A two-year master’s course, like this one, will carry particular weight with employers. They’ll understand that you’ll have a deeper understanding of topics as well as more hands-on practical experience.


Alumni Interviews

Hear from previous students Martin Zuch and Rosie Waller, who have used their Northumbria qualifications to make a remarkable impact.

Book an Open Day / Experience Disaster Management and Sustainable Development

Visit an Open Day to really get an inside view of what it is like to study Disaster Management and Sustainable Development at Northumbria. Speak to staff and students from the course and get a tour of the facilities

Our graduates are highly employable, equipped with the skills to address hazards, disasters, risks, vulnerabilities and complex emergencies, working with/in relief and development organisations, national authorities and emergency services at a local or global level.

Graduates go on to careers in a diverse range of related areas.

Our graduates work in roles, for example, as a: Emergency Planner or Emergency Planning Manager; Disaster and Development Academic and/or Researcher; Business Contingency Manager; Humanitarian and United Nations Consultant; Deputy Head of Field Officer of the Office of the United Nations for Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA); and are often working for the Environmental Agency, Local Authorities and International, National, Regional and Local Non-Governmental Offices - often at managerial level.

A number of students who already worked in the sector have subsequently progressed to senior roles in United Nations bodies, World Vision and UK Emergency Planning. Others have successfully gone on to PhD research before pursuing a career in academia in a range of countries around the world, both so-called developed and developing.

Book an Open Day / Experience Disaster Management and Sustainable Development

Visit an Open Day to really get an inside view of what it is like to study Disaster Management and Sustainable Development at Northumbria. Speak to staff and students from the course and get a tour of the facilities

Entry Requirements 2019/20

Standard Entry

Applicants should normally have:

A minimum of a 2:2 honours degree in an appropriate subject such as geography, environmental management/studies, economics or sociology.
Or equivalent professional qualifications and/or experience.

International qualifications:

If you have studied a non UK qualification, you can see how your qualifications compare to the standard entry criteria, by selecting the country that you received the qualification in, from our country pages. Visit

English Language requirements:

International applicants are required to have a minimum overall IELTS (Academic) score of 6.5 with 5.5 in each component (or approved equivalent*).

*The university accepts a large number of UK and International Qualifications in place of IELTS. You can find details of acceptable tests and the required grades you will need in our English Language section. Visit

Fees and Funding 2019/20 Entry

Full UK Fee: £9,990

Full EU Fee: £9,990

Full International Fee: £18,000


There are no Additional Costs


Click here for UK and EU Masters funding and scholarships information.

Click here for International Masters funding and scholarships information.

Click here for UK/EU Masters tuition fee information.

Click here for International Masters tuition fee information.

Click here for additional costs which may be involved while studying.

Click here for information on fee liability.



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Modules Overview 2019/20


Module information is indicative and is reviewed annually therefore may be subject to change. Applicants will be informed if there are any changes.

KE7001 -

Approaches to Project Management (Core,20 Credits)

In this module you learn Project Cycle Management. The main focus will be on the Logical Framework Analysis approach that is used by the United Nations and most major donors for evaluating project proposals and managing projects. You will also learn other forms of project management. You will learn the discrete component approach to the implementation of policy and programme. You will learn the Rules of Thumb for managing projects with an emphasis on measurable objectives in a specified timeframe with all assumptions, especially about capital and revenue budgets, explicit. In addition you will learn:-

Methods for evaluating the financial performance of projects.

Methods for evaluating the environmental performance of projects.

Methods for evaluating the social impact of projects.

The Logical Framework Analysis from objectives, activities and inputs through to exit strategies.

Project monitoring and evaluation

Designing ToR (Terms of Reference), team selection, managing the process, triangulating results and sharing lessons learnt.

More information

KE7003 -

Subject Exploration in Disaster and Development (Optional,20 Credits)

You will be given the opportunity to critically explore a topic of your choice into a specialised cutting edge dimension of disaster management and sustainable development. This may be theoretical / philosophical / ethical in nature, or into a applied professional area in disaster management and sustainable development. The latter may be, if you so prefer, related to exploring the trend of professionalization, enterprise and entrepreneurship in the disaster and development field, but there are no pre-selected topics due to the tailored individualised.
You will be expected to undertake an individual critical exploration.
Real scenarios and case studies will be engaged with during the module through directed learning activities, but for the predominate part of the module you will be working individually on your chosen topic which will need to be agreed with the module leader as appropriate. This topic of yours could be a virtual or real research or advisory / consultancy project (widely defined).
You will individually reflect on your interaction and learning with the issues focussed on, but also benefit from peer learning. You will take your findings into a mode of communication to share this more widely, which ordinarily would be a report but a negotiated alternative mode of presentation (website, visualisation etc) can be negotiated with the module tutor if equivalent to the report in length and effort.

More information

KE7004 -

Themes in Sustainable Development (Core,20 Credits)

You will learn about contemporary debates in Sustainable Development from so-called developed and developing world perspectives. This serves as an essential foundation to learning about disasters and their relationship to development. The module starts by covering concepts, interpretations and principles of sustainable development. We will look at the global institutions, conferences and landmark contributions to the sustainability debate (policy and practice). You will then focus on the developing world to learn about approaches to poverty alleviation, livelihood enhancement and natural resource management. Some conceptual frameworks in this field will be covered in depth. Finally the module explores the problems in urban industrial societies.

This module provides an excellent foundation to employment in the development sector, for example by enabling you to better understand the different roles of various organisations and sectors in the development process. Providing an opportunity to develop the key skills of giving oral presentations and writing a logical, reasoned argument as well as applying theory to practice will prove valuable in terms of enhancing employability.

More information

KE7005 -

Disaster Risk Reduction and Response (Core,20 Credits)

You will learn about hazard, disaster and emergency paradigms in developed and developing world contexts and the evolution of disaster management from a response focus to a risk reduction perspective. The developed world perspective will focus particularly on EU and UK responses, whilst the developing world perspective will focus on managing relief and evaluation of quality in developing world emergency relief and response systems; the Humanitarian Charter and minimum standards in emergency relief, refugees and population displacement. The specific topics you will learn are:-

The range of interpretations of disaster management in the context of the global environment for the developed and developing worlds

The range of institutions, stakeholders and processes at various levels and the role of intergovernmental, governmental and non-governmental organisations with reference to disaster risk reduction and response

The principles, practice and policy of disaster risk reduction and disaster management at various levels

Through case studies and the application of conceptual frameworks the circumstances that give rise to disaster risk or disaster resilience

How to recognise good practice in interventions for disaster management and sustainable development.

More information

KE7006 -

Health and Well-being in Disaster and Development (Core,20 Credits)

You will learn approaches to physical, psychological, social, political, economic, cultural and environmental aspects of health and well-being associated with immediate crises and longer-term health burdens. This lays foundations for comparing and contrasting strategic policy for preparedness and responses to emergent health hazards, complex political disasters, resilient health care and ways of looking at communities and the socio-economic, political, psychological and environmental characteristics they exhibit. This agenda is based on a demand to understand the nature and context of changes in human health and well-being in response to local and global crisis. It provides grounding in applied principles and practices of health and well-being centred disaster risk reduction and health care relative to conceptions of ‘health and well-being’ in emergency’, and transformations, bottom-up capabilities, leadership and hopes from inside and outside a community. Critical issues in both minority and majority worlds are examined either in terms of health hazards, vulnerability, resilience, coping, individual and institutional health care and societal responses and in terms of a virtual or real project in community well-being. These central themes, which are adjustable to most health and well-being phenomena, are addressed for the cases of infectious disease, nutrition, mental health and well-being, primary and emergency health care systems, the political economy of care, self-care, one health and other integrated well-being perspectives. A prime purpose of the module is that students from varied backgrounds will be equipped to contribute to policy and practice debates or health disaster avoidance, survivability and sustainable well-being.

More information

KE7007 -

Integrated Emergency Management (Optional,20 Credits)

Through your journey on this module you will learn how integrated emergency management (IEM) can be applied to deliver resilience across communities, businesses, infrastructure, etc. You will learn to define and then apply key terms like ‘hazard’, ‘risk’, ‘emergency’ and ‘major incident’ within the context of anticipating and assessing the impacts from emergencies before then appraising mechanisms of preventing the emergency, or otherwise preparing to respond to it, and how we recover after an incident happens.

Included in your learning is an appraisal of international frameworks but the focus is primarily on seeing how these principles apply in practice. So you will learn about, for example, the United Nation’s The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (UNISDR, 2015) and the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) manual for The Public Health Management of Chemical Incidents (WHO, 2009). Equally, you are encouraged to share your own country’s approaches, and your own experience, as additional examples of practice in this area. As an example of IEM you will appraise the UK’s civil contingencies structures and through real case studies from incident mangement, some where possible will be delivered by guest speakers, you will see how theoretical incident management is delivered into practice. Alongside civil contingencies structures you will evaluate how other regulatory frameworks support community resilience such as the application of the European Serveso Directive promotes resilience in anticipation of chemical incidents from defined high risk sites.

More information

KE7022 -

Postgraduate Research Methods (Core,20 Credits)

You will learn about the foundations (research theories), benefits / advantages and limits /drawbacks of a range of advanced standard social science research methodologies. You will thus be in a better position to design a research strategy and operationalise this, particularly for your Masters Dissertation or Project, but also for future graduate employment in knowledge societies and research-rich or informed careers and professions. You will also be better prepared to scrutinise other people’s / organisations’ research, and to what extent it is appropriate, robust and meaningful – particularly the connection between research objectives / questions and methods and interpretation of findings.
Research methods covered will include both qualitative and quantitative methods and techniques to explore issues in disaster and development studies, and health, safety and environment from a human / societal / social processes / organisations / communities perspective. Particular attention will be devoted to evidence-based policy making and “wicked issues”. Natural” environmental processes will be within the scope of the module as far as a social science-based exploration of “produced nature” is fruitful and necessary.

Key topics/themes/issues covered include: Approaching Research Methods, Designing Your Research Process, Ethics and Risk Assessment, Fieldwork Research Issues, Consultancy / Stakeholder issues and Ethics in research, Case study research, Qualitative / Institutional Research Methods and Analysis, Quantitative Research Methods and (spatial and thematic) Data Analysis, Development Fieldwork through Interviewing, Participatory methods, Survey research, qualitative versus quantitative research and its applications, mixed methods research, research analysis and communication (writing-up and for of presentation).

More information

KE7028 -

Academic Language Skills for Geography (Core – for International and EU students only,0 Credits)

Academic skills when studying away from your home institution can differ due to cultural and language differences in teaching and assessment practices. This module is designed to support your transition in the use and practice of technical language and subject specific skills around assessments and teaching provision in your chosen subject area in the Department of Architecture and Built Environment. The overall aim of this module is to develop your abilities to read and study effectively for academic purposes; to develop your skills in analysing and using source material in seminars and academic writing and to develop your use and application of language and communications skills to a higher level.

The topics you will cover on the module include:

• Understanding assignment briefs and exam questions.
• Developing academic writing skills, including citation, paraphrasing, and summarising.
• Practising ‘critical reading’ and ‘critical writing’.
• Planning and structuring academic assignments (e.g. essays, reports and presentations).
• Avoiding academic misconduct and gaining credit by using academic sources and referencing effectively.
• Listening skills for lectures.
• Speaking in seminar presentations.
• Giving discipline-related academic presentations, experiencing peer observation, and receiving formative feedback.
• Speed reading techniques.
• Discussing ethical issues in research, and analysing results.
• Describing bias and limitations of research.
• Developing self-reflection skills.

More information

KE7015 -

Research or Work Related Dissertation (Core,60 Credits)

You will learn to identify research questions and project ideas by critically evaluating current research and /or practice in a discipline and identifying an appropriate topic for your own exploration through reviews and analyses of appropriate literature and the planning, development and management of a research / work related study. The module enables you to design your research using appropriate project methodologies including through analysis and evaluation of qualitative or quantitative data and within the context of existing literature. You will learn to apply concepts, models or theories to consolidate an extended knowledge in your chosen field of study whilst being aware of your own influence on the research and project process. The module enables you to apply combinations of theoretical, empirical or practice based analysis in proceeding to further applied research or practice and to present findings effectively using academic or project based conventions. You will learn to comprehend the importance and application of research and project ethics, good practice and health and safety aspects of field research and projects including regards its potential commercial status, confidentiality and data protection. You will be able to write up the research in the form of a 15,000 to 20,000 word dissertation. The dissertation module equips you to cope with and extended piece of work that significantly increases your employability in the sectors represented by the MSc programme. This may include through an internship / placement within the industry itself that you use to produce the dissertation.

More information

KF7005 -

Engineering and Environment Advanced Practice (Core,60 Credits)

This 60 credit module is designed for all full-time postgraduate programmes within the Faculty of Engineering and Environment and provides you with the option to either study abroad, undertake a work placement or join a research group for one semester as part of your programme. This experience gives you the opportunity to apply skills and knowledge acquired during the taught part of your programme and to acquire new skills and knowledge in an alternative learning environment. Specific learning will be defined in a personal learning contract.

Your Advanced Practice semester will be assessed on a pass/fail basis and as such, it does not contribute to the classification of your degree. However when taken and passed it is recognised both in your transcript as a 60 credit Advanced Practice Module and in your degree title.

More information

No module Data

Study Options

The following alternative study options are available for this course:

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