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Hazards and Human Society

Module titleHazards and Human Society
Module codeGEO2463
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Dr Geoff Main (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Our world is a violent and turbulent place with extreme forces of nature having significant and varying physical, environmental, social, and economic impacts on human societies around the world. Such forces have shifted and changed over time with such changes increasing at a more rapid rate due to anthropogenic climate change, globalization, and increases in interconnectedness. This module explores the various extreme forces ranging from the geophysical, geomorphological, and meteorological, their impacts, mitigation, and societal response throughout recorded history.

Students are strongly advised to have taken either GEO1405B Earth System Science or GEO1408B Global Issues in Environmental Science or CSM1042 Dynamic Planet for this module. This module aligns as a foundation to third-year modules within the Centre for Geography and Environmental Science and Camborne School of Mines. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to provide you with an understanding of the diverse extreme forces of nature, their impacts and differing societal responses throughout recorded history and across spatial scales. Through an applied, interdisciplinary approach, the module explores the extreme forces of nature, their impacts, and how approaches to understanding and mitigating such events have changed over time. For this the module draws on themes of theodicy, development, sustainability, and policy amongst others.

Through the workshops and assessments, you will be exposed to management and policy challenges regarding these threats and will work on real-world authentic tasks relevant to the discipline of geography and environmental science specific to the study of natural hazards.

On completion of this module, you will have gained several key employability and transferable skills that are embedded within the module, module trip*, and summative assessments. These range from teamwork, effective communication, creativity, planning and organization, and time-management.

* This module will include a day visit.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Articulate the dynamic pressures which lead to hazard events and how they may be mitigated
  • 2. Describe and evaluate how responses to, and management of, natural hazard events have changed over recorded history
  • 3. Analyse and evaluate key geographical concepts related to natural hazards in a wide variety of contexts
  • 4. Propose and create effective risk communication strategies appropriate to context

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. With guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within geography and environmental science
  • 6. Describe essential facts and theory across a sub-discipline of geography and environmental science
  • 7. Evaluate and explore the interdisciplinary links between geography and other physical and social science disciplines

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Work within groups as well as independently
  • 9. Communicate ideas, principles and theories fluently using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 10. Collect and interpret appropriate data and complete research-like tasks, drawing on a range of academic, grey, and official sources, with limited guidance
  • 11. Effectively manage deadlines

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Historic trends and geography of natural hazard events
  • Montane and coastal geohazards
  • Geophysical hazards, including volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis
  • Meteorological hazards, including hurricanes, medicanes, floods, and heatwaves
  • Natural hazard tourism
  • Preparedness, resilience, vulnerability, and adaptive capacity
  • Risk and hazard communication
  • Theodicy and natural hazards
  • United Nations policies, strategies, and actions

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching15Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching5Workshops (This module will include a day visit.)
Guided Independent Study30Weekly preparation, reading, and ELE activities
Guided Independent Study100Reading, research and writing for assessments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Engagement in class discussionOngoingAllOral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Public information campaign (group)601,400 words (equivalent, any format)1-4, 7-11Written
Report (individual)401,200 words1-3, 5-11Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Public information campaign (group)Poster (individual)1-4, 7-11August Ref/Def
Report (individual)Essay (individual)1-3, 5-11August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – If you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – If you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Burton I, Kates RW, White GF (1993) The Environment As Hazard. 2nd edn. Taylor and Francis
  • Keller EA, DeVecchio D (2012) Natural Hazards: Earth’s Processes as Hazards, Disasters, and Catastrophes. 3rd edn. New Jersey: Prentice Hall
  • Wisner B, Blaikie P, Cannon T, Davis I (2004) At Risk: Natural Hazards, People’s Vulnerability andDisasters. 2nd end. New York: Routledge
  • Wisner B, Gaillard JC, Kelman I (2012) The Routledge Handbook of Hazards and Disaster Risk Reduction. London: Routledge


Readings specific to each week’s theme will be provided on the module ELE page and within the module handbook.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources


  • The library has a wealth of documentaries and disaster movies in their catalogue which will be referred to throughout this module


  • ELE – College to provide hyperlink to appropriate page

Module has an active ELE page

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

  • To be detailed by the Module Convenor within the module handbook and on the module ELE page

Key words search

Geography, risk, hazards, disasters, resilience, vulnerability.

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

GEO1405B Earth System Science or GEO1408B Global Issues in Environmental Science or CSM1042 Dynamic Planet

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date