Disaster Management and Sustainable Development MSc

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About this course

This stimulating and dynamic MSc course will permit you to register for an MSc or Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) in Disaster Management and Sustainable Development.

The course focuses on disaster management and sustainable development including frameworks and skills for addressing contemporary hazards, disasters and complex emergencies, in both post-development and majority world contexts.

During the course, you will develop knowledge and analytical skills related to disaster risk reduction, emergency planning, evaluation in the humanitarian sector, early warning, response systems and sustainability. You will also have the opportunity to pursue specialisms in physical and mental health in disaster management; development and Integrated Emergency Management; and community wellbeing.

Placements are offered, giving you the opportunity to get work experience in your chosen field and many of our students are placed with UK emergency planning bodies, the UN system and humanitarian sector.

The MSc course is supported by the Disaster and Development Network (DDN) which is based at Northumbria University.  The DDN facilitates internships over the summer and you may wish to use this to work on your dissertation topic in collaboration with a particular organisation. Some of our students recently have been working in Darfur and Sri Lanka while others have been to the:

  • Centre for Disaster Preparedness, Philippines UNDP, UNOCHA, UNHCR
  • Disaster Mitigation Institute, India
  • National Society for Earthquake Technology, Nepal
  • Office of Emergency Services Commission, Melbourne, Australia
  • UNISDR, Geneva
  • Development Workshop in Vietnam.

The course is normally one year long but an extra year is allowed to complete the research dissertation project.

In the first semester, you will take three core modules which are taught in block form of four weeks each. In the second semester, if you are taking the Postgraduate Diploma or full MSc Masters Course, you will take the core Research Methods module and will be able to choose two option modules.

If you are a Masters student, you will take the Masters dissertation module and complete a 20,000 word dissertation, usually over the summer months, for submission normally in the September following enrolment.

Many students have been successful in gaining employment in UK emergency planning posts in addition to jobs in the following areas:

  • UN system
  • Environment Agency for England and Wales
  • Local, national and international NGOs (e.g. Médecins Sans Frontières; Norwegian People’s Aid).

A number of students are already employed in the sector and complete the MSc for career development reasons (e.g. WHO; World Vision; UK Emergency Planning).

Key Study Areas:

  • Disaster Risk Reduction and Response
  • Project Management
  • Themes in Sustainable Development
  • Integrated Emergency Management
  • Managing Climate Change Risk
  • Physical and Mental Health in Disaster and Development

Disaster Management and Sustainable Development research is facilitated by the international department - coordinated Disaster and Development Network and the Gender and Disasters Network (both made up of Northumbria Staff and affiliates from around the world), as well as a research cluster within the department and beyond on Disaster, Risk and Resilience. Its research spans:

  • Disaster Resilience and Human Security Including Community Based Disaster Reduction, Disaster Education and Communication, Sustainable Livelihoods, Natural Resources Management and Rights Based Approaches.
  • Health Centred Disaster Risk Reduction Including Health Security, Infectious Disease Risk Management, and Integrated Food and Livelihood Security.
  • Wellbeing in Disaster and Development Including Community Wellbeing, Gender and Disaster, Migration and Displacement/
  • Disaster Response and Adaptation Including Integrated Emergency Management, Energy Security, Relief and Restoration and Climate Change Adapatation.

These themes involve cross-cutting and critical issues such as environmental sustainability, uneven development, poverty reduction, rights, civil society, living with uncertainty, adaptation to global change, emergency and humanitarian response. Staff and the networks work on a number of projects utilising their areas of expertise. These projects normally attract grant funding from external bodies and include:

  • Community Wellbeing Research
  • Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods
  • Health Security
  • Social Impacts of Disasters

The academic staff connected to the Network have international research profiles, meaning that students studying on the Disaster Management and Sustainable Development MSc become part of the international career upon graduation through the contacts they will become exposed to.



Facilities InformationWhether your subject matter is plant or animal material, soil, sediment or water, our range of specialist and general use facilities will support you. Throughout your work, whether undergraduate, postgraduate or research, you will be able to measure, analyse, experiment and model the elements that make up our environment.  


Discovermore _button55% of the Geography department’s research was ranked as world leading or internationally excellent according to the latest UK-wide research assessment exercise (REF2014, UoA17) making us a top-30 Geography Research Department based on research power.



Course info

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study One year full-time, with the option to continue the research dissertation into second year

Department Geography

Location Ellison Building, Newcastle City Campus

City Newcastle

Start September 2015

Disaster Management and Sustainable Development MSc