Climate Hazards and Risk Assessment

Module titleClimate Hazards and Risk Assessment
Module codeGEOM353
Academic year2017/8
Module staff

Dr Stephan Harrison (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Assessment of hazard and risk posed by climatic processes are critical to disaster risk reduction and sustainability. This module examines climate hazards and risk assessment at local to national and international scales. Physical processes of key climate hazards including flooding and slope instability will be covered along with theoretical approaches and practical skills for assessing hazard and risk. This module receives input from practitioners working to assess climate-related risks, providing case studies in both hazard assessment strategies and risk assessment policies. Practical workshops develop your observational and technical skills in spatial hazard and risk assessment using statistical analysis and QGIS, allowing you to combine your theoretical knowledge and practical skills to tackle real-life climate hazard and risk challenges.

Module aims - intentions of the module

By the end of this module you should be confident at identifying and prioritising climate hazards and risks in a range of geographic locations, for different sectors and across a broad range of scales. You will have a broad knowledge of the nature of climate hazards and be able to recommend appropriate strategies for hazard and risk assessment suitable for different circumstances.

This module blends theoretical knowledge development, awareness of practical applications and challenges of risk assessment and also skills development. You will have guided support through completion of statistical risk assessments using risk data sets and will be able to apply these skills widely.

While specifically aiming to develop your hazard and risk assessment skills this module will also develop transferrable and highly employable skills applicable to a broad range of workplaces in research design, written and oral communication, data collection, synthesis and analysis practise and spatial analysis skills through training in GIS and statistics. Staff contributing to this module draw on their experience from a range of hazard and risk assessment research, consultancy and industry projects at local, national and international scales to offer a wide range of case studies and examples to support your skills development.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Identify and explain the causes of several key types of climate hazard and risk in a local as well as a global context
  • 2. Explain how these climatic hazards and risks may change in the future associated with climate change
  • 3. Describe methods of hazard and risk assessment and explain the need for a holistic approach
  • 4. Critically assess different approaches to hazard and risk assessment at a range of scales
  • 5. Review and explain the role of hazard and risk assessment in the wider context of disaster risk reduction and sustainability
  • 6. Identify the role of risk in different sectors (local government, business and the insurance industry), how it may affect decision making and how this can influence management of climate change risks

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 7. Take a holistic approach in risk management and sustainable development
  • 8. Quantitatively and qualitatively assess risk associated with climate change for a range of scenarios
  • 9. Incorporate risk into management decisions

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 10. Work effectively in a group
  • 11. Communicate complex and technical material to a general audience
  • 12. Organise material from disparate sources into a coherent analysis
  • 13. Describe in detail the use of qualitative and quantitative methods
  • 14. Carry out basic spatial analysis in GIS
  • 15. Demonstrate an awareness of the uncertainties and limitations of hazard and risk assessments

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The module will cover the following topics:

Examples of physical risks associated with climate change:

  • Slope stability and impact of climate change on coastal areas.
  • Extreme weather events
  • Flooding: river flooding, flash flooding and coastal flooding

Hazard and risk assessment:

  • Basic knowledge and methods of different forms of risk assessment at a range of scales
  • Assessing and quantifying risk from climate hazards and in the future with climate change
  • Hazard and risk assessment in the context of disaster risk reduction and sustainability

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 Teaching10Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching4Seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching8Practicals
Guided Independent Study128Additional research, reading and preparation for module assessments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short answer questions during lectures/discussionsOngoing throughout the moduleAllOral
Analysis and discussion of published hazard and risk assessment methodologiesWithin a seminar prior to submission of essay and risk assessment tasksAllOral

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
Spatial analysis project report502000 wordsAllWritten
Essay on problems in risk management502000 wordsAllWritten


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Spatial analysis project reportSpatial analysis project reportAllAugust Ref/Def
Essay on problems in risk managementEssay on problems in risk managementAllAugust 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 50%) you will be required to resubmit the original assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Smith, K, 2012. Environmental hazards: assessing risk and reducing disaster. Sixth Edition. London, Routledge. 478 pp.
  • Trexler, M.C. and Kosloff, L.H. 2003. The changing profile of corporate climate change risk. Oxford: Do Sustainability
  • Hardy J, 2003, Climate Change: Causes, Effects and Solutions, Wiley.
  • Molak V (ed), 1996, Fundamentals of Risk Analysis and Risk Management, CRC Press.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Hazard, risk, risk assessment, slope stability, landslide, extreme weather, storm, river, flooding, coastal, wildfire, disaster risk reduction

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date