RDS-35306 Natural Hazards and Disasters


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Literature study
Problem-based learning5
Course coordinator(s)dr. JF Warner
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. ir. JWM van Dijk
dr. JF Warner
Examiner(s)prof. dr. ir. JWM van Dijk
dr. JF Warner

Language of instruction:



Disasters caused by natural hazards such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods 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 impact of climate change and the use of remote sensing in disaster management.

Learning outcomes:

At the end of the course, the students are expected to be able:
- to identify and discuss the prevailing theories, basic concepts, typology and epidemiology of natural hazards and disasters;
- to explain the concept of vulnerability and use it as an analytical tool;
- to identify and discuss disaster management practices and policies at local, national and international levels;
- to relate social and technical aspects of disasters and disaster management.
Comprehension and capacity to critically discuss are assessed during discussions in class and in the written exam. In addition, students are expected to be able to 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. At the end of the course, 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, the group essay and the poster presentation.


Literature will be made available in the form of a reader obtainable at the commencement of the course.

Restricted Optional for: MHWHydrology and Water QualityMScD: Integrated Water Management5MO
MILInternational Land and Water ManagementMScC: Integrated Water Management5MO
MESEnvironmental SciencesMSc5MO