KE6017 - Development and Disasters

What will I learn on this module?

You will learn about relationships between development and disasters to be able to analyse and respond to environmental and other catastrophes impacting on society, including through knowledge of their physical environmental, political and economic contexts. The way that disasters can be prevented, their impact on people reduced and relief and recovery better provided post disaster forms an applied focus to this module. Examples used include major hazards of environmental change, economic instability and conflict that disrupt human well-being over brief or long time-frames. The module addresses the challenges and solutions prevalent in practice and policy environments for those engaging with the development and disaster reduction sector. The content of this module is partly linked to work in this field through Northumbria’s ongoing facilitation of global disaster and development networks. The module teaches that although hazards, risks and disasters impact society, this is offset by individuals, groups, institutions and organizations through disaster management, and by becoming resilient, healthy and creative. Examples demonstrate the application of theory to practice in these relationships in both the economically wealthy and poorer parts of the world. Approaches detailed within this framework include early warning systems, risk management, mitigation techniques, response and recovery actions as well as appropriate sustainable development actions. The module draws from an interdisciplinary perspective making it suitable for those progressing from, or interested in pursuing physical environmental, economic or social aspects of development and disaster intervention. The knowledge and skills learnt can be readily applied to careers relating to this field.

How will I learn on this module?

The module provides lectures and accompanying group discussions throughout. The context of the module is arranged around assignments designed to assist independent learning. Many of the topics are directly informed by staff member direct engagements with this field in varied parts of the world. Lecture and accompanying discussion moments are supported by films. Examples currently engaging the world’s media are used to examine the state of the art of this field. The module therefore encourages the use of recent and current online sources. These are applied alongside a rapidly expanding array of texts and academic journal papers available within the Northumbria Library system. Assignment work allows for greater focus on either physical hazards, ecological, social, economic, health or behavioural aspects of the development and disaster relationship depending on the preference of individual students. The module pays due attention throughout to practical skills for succinct writing, report formatting and interactive discussion during class contact time.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Presentations and reading material will be made available following each contact session. Staff will be regularly available to provide support through one to one meetings that may be requested by the student and that take place at the staff member’s office or online through Blackboard, or alternatively queries will be answered promptly via email. Lists of currently active online sources that reflect the work of the wider development and disasters industry will be made available. The module will typically also provide a few contact links with external representative from the world of development and disasters to supplement access to the sector first hand. Assignment work will be supported by individual feedback on each item submitted and this will also extend to wider generic feedback to the full cohort of students during the lecture periods for the first of two assignments. Teaching staff operate an ‘open door’ policy for students meaning you can approach them anytime during normal office hours, or via email, to answer questions, receive feedback and support your learning on the module.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• MLO 1: Critically evaluate the relationship between development and disasters in their physical environmental, economic, social and political contexts.
• MLO 2: Critically assess the need for, and identify potential pathways to, new ways of interpreting environment, development and conflict related crises and their management.
• MLO 3: Identify and critique the ways that disasters are being prevented, their impact on people reduced and relief and recovery provided post disaster.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO 4: Review and apply critical appraisal of current global crises based on current theoretical, policy and practice endeavours of this field.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MLO 5: Demonstrate critical awareness of interrelated development and disaster threats alongside people centred and institutional approaches to disaster reduction, inclusive of humanitarian ethics, rights based approaches, empathy and the need for professionalism in a burgeoning sector.

How will I be assessed?

There are two assessments for this module. These are individual pieces of work.

MLO 1, 2, 4, 5: Short Essay (50%)
MLO 3, 4, 5: Short Report (50%)

Formative feedback will be provided on the essay through individually orientated written comments on assignment scripts and through group feedback during one of the contact sessions following submission.

Formative feedback on drafting of the report will be made during the preparation weeks prior to its submission based on group discussion during one of the scheduled contact sessions. Assessment feedback will then be provided subsequently through written comments to individuals on handing back of assignment scripts.





Module abstract

The module applies sustainable development and disaster reduction to environmental and other major catastrophes through improved prevention and response over long or brief time-frames. Whilst hazards, risks and disasters have societal impacts, people and organizations engage disaster management, resilience and wellbeing. Case examples are based on economically wealthy and poorer parts of the world between macro to micro scale. Module content is informed by the development and disasters industry through Northumbria’s significant global networking in this field. Topics include environmental sustainability, risk management, emergency response, recovery, humanitarianism, early warning, rights and conflict based approaches. It is suitable for those interested in physical environmental, economic or social and behavioural aspects of development and disasters. The module uses lectures, group discussion and occasional film. Assignments are discussed in class and comprise submission of one essay and one report. Students get to apply perspectives variously from across human, environmental or physical geography.

Course info

UCAS Code L700

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Geography and Environmental Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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