SDC-35306 Natural Hazards and Disasters


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work3
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. JF Warner
Lecturer(s)dr. JF Warner
prof. dr. ir. JWM van Dijk
dr. RJ Coates
Examiner(s)prof. dr. ir. JWM van Dijk
dr. JF Warner
dr. RJ Coates

Language of instruction:



Disasters related to earthquakes, tsunamis, mudslides, floods, droughts, (wild)fires and famines seriously affect human societies. The course introduces different analytical perspectives on the causes and consequences of disaster, including the question where disaster begins and where normality resumes, it explores the interconnections between natural hazards, the vulnerability of populations exposed to them, and the relation with climate change. It also discusses the responses to disaster as developed in different social domains, including local communities, governance structures and science. Guest lectures by experts address technical issues such as the use of remote sensing in disaster management.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- identify and discuss the prevailing theories, basic concepts, typology of natural hazards and disasters and analytical methods;
- explain the concepts of vulnerability and capacity and use it as an analytical tool;
- identify and discuss disaster management practices and policies at local, national and international levels;
- relate social and natural-science aspects of disasters and disaster management;
- comprehend and critically discuss the key concepts;
- synthesise information and formulate new questions on the above issues by designing and presenting a poster to their fellow-students.


Classroom lectures with room for active participation of students.

Each third lecture will have a practical exercise or assignment  
At the end of the course, groups of students prepare a poster for presentation on a topic of their interest.


A written exam concludes the course.
The final mark comprises the results of the examination (2/3), the group essay (2/9) and the poster presentation (1/9). A minimum score of 5.5 out of 10 is required for each of these elements.


The study guide presents the readings for this course. Readings not easily available online will be made available digitally at the commencement of the course.

Restricted Optional for: MILInternational Land and Water ManagementMScC: Spec. C - Adaptive Water Management5MO
MILInternational Land and Water ManagementMScD: Spec. D - Flexible Configurations for Innovative Minds5MO
MESEnvironmental SciencesMScD: Spec. D - Human-Environmental Systems5MO
Compulsory for: WUDIRBSc Minor Disaster Risk and Resilience5MO