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1 year full time, 2 years part time


Durham City

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Course details

Our Climate, Risk and Society MSc draws primarily on a natural science approach to risk and enables you to engage with the natural and social dimensions of climate change.

The programme gives you a thorough grounding in the theoretical and practical approaches to identifying, understanding, framing, assessing and managing risk; and the underlying physical and social mechanisms that generate it.

Module content, methods training, and research projects emphasise how climate change affects the physical environment.

Who is the programme aimed at?

The programme is aimed at anyone interested in how climate risk is understood, managed and mitigated by individuals, organisations and government. We will explore climate change’s spatial and temporal impacts on society.

You will learn interdisciplinary approaches to climate-related risks from the physical and social sciences and develop your expertise in climate risk through independent coursework in physical hazards, risk and resilience. The MSc offers additional training in natural science methods.

The programme is relevant and accessible to students varied backgrounds including social science, natural science and engineering.

Employment opportunities

Employers of our Risk Masters students are particularly keen on the foundational, interdisciplinary understanding of risk and the specific critical and / or practical analysis skills related to climate change.

Upon completion of the programme, our students have taken up employment within sectors such as:

  • Environmental consultancy
  • Risk and resilience government agencies
  • Insurance and re-insurance
  • Catastrophe modelling
  • Infrastructure security
  • Non-profits, humanitarian organisations and charities
  • Technology firms
  • Public services and the private sector.

What is the course about?

Understanding and managing risk is ultimately about choice. All elements of society, from individuals to governments, must make decisions – conscious or not – about the ways in which they perceive, interpret, balance, and mitigate risk and uncertainty.

Our MSc in Climate, Risk and Society equips you with an advanced understanding of how anthropogenic climate change poses new risks, challenges and vulnerabilities to society.

You will develop tools for comprehending, interpreting and responding to the emerging natural and socio-political threats associated with climate change.

You will also learn to think critically about how evolving understandings of climate risk, resilience and vulnerability shape efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

For more information on teaching styles and module content, click here.

What is special about this course?

The MSc in Climate, Risk and Society is part of a suite of masters programmes in the Department of Geography.

These programmes draw together a diverse range of students in core modules, forming a vibrant Taught Postgraduate community.

Core modules provide foundational content and training, drawing on social and physical science approaches to risk. This interdisciplinary training makes our students uniquely qualified to tackle complex problems when they enter the workplace.

For more information our suite of taught masters programmes, click here.

Study Climate, Risk and Society within an interdisciplinary framework

You will study core and optional modules, grounding your learning in social and physical sciences, an interdisciplinarity highly valued by employers.

We also collaborate closely with Durham University’s Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR), enabling you to gain exposure to practitioner and academic perspectives at the forefront of risk thinking and practice. IHRR hosts an annual seminar series tailored to students on our climate risk postgraduate programmes.

You will receive specialised training in science and social-science based elements of risk-related research and practice whilst gaining a general understanding of risk. You will examine the relationship between climate risk, knowledge and policy and learn about the array of advanced tools and techniques to assess the physical and social dimensions of climate risk under conditions of uncertainty.

Hear what our student’s have to say about our taught masters programmes.

Dissertation by Research or Vocational Dissertation

Research is a cornerstone of our Risk Masters programmes. You will build on your taught modules with two options to develop independent research skills:

  • Research Dissertations enable you to perform original independent research projects supported by our staff.
  • Vocational Dissertations combine practical collaborations or placements with external organisations with original problem-oriented research. We offer several vocational dissertation partnerships and project options through our large and growing partner and alumni network. Alternatively, we will support you in developing your own vocational research collaborations.

We support students in selecting their own dissertation topics to maximise learning around their interests relating to climate, risk and society.

Previous dissertation themes include:

  • Place-specific environmental change such as deforestation and desertification
  • Disaster resilience and risk reduction science, practice and policy; the politics of climate-induced migration
  • Global climate change governance
  • Social inequality and emergency preparedness
  • Urban responses to climate change.

Whether you choose a dissertation by research or a vocational dissertation, you will demonstrate that you can combine your general training in Climate, Risk and Society with the specific understanding of the substance and method associated with your chosen area of research.

Other programmes of interest

Our MSc in Climate, Risk and Society is one of five taught masters programmes within the Department of Geography. Visit the Department of Geography’s Postgraduate Study page for more information on our masters programmes.

Hear what previous students have to say about our programmes.

Learn why Durham is a great place for postgraduate study.


A hallmark of our Masters programmes is a participatory and interactive approach to learning, ranging from our delivery of course content to a supportive learning environment. We are particularly keen to get to know our students and work with them individually to develop their learning. Throughout your period of study, you will be supported by an academic advisor who will be fixed for the year of study. You will also be assigned a dissertation supervisor with whom you will work from January to September. Support is also available from the module staff and the course director, and the Learning and Teaching office.

You can expect to receive approximately eight hours of module contact time per week during Terms one and two; however, this amount can vary week to week. Classes are delivered using a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and practical sessions. In total, for full-time study, you will be expected to devote around eight hours per day of study hours during term time, including all assessments. Summative assessments for the taught modules take place as course work and include more traditional forms of assessment such as essays, presentations or reports as well as other forms of assessment such as podcasts and portfolios. Summative assessments are supported by ‘practice’ formative assessments. Over term three and the summer, you will carry out your dissertation research.

Entry requirements

A second-class degree (2:1).

Band E English language requirements (see here for details.)

Application to the MA/MSc in Climate Risk and Society requires:

  • Transcripts of your qualifications
  • English language test certificates if taken
  • Personal statement (if not written directly into the portal)
  • Two satisfactory references (unless you wish to supply referee details so we can contact them for you)
  • Scholarship documentation (if applying)

English language requirements

Fees and funding

The tuition fees for 2023/24 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


Our graduates go on to a wide variety of jobs across a broad range of sectors. Our graduates are highly employable owing to the wide range of skills and experience that they develop during their degrees. Each term we invite our alumni to give talks to our students to help them explore different careers. If you want to make sure that you are employable, but also want to leave your options open, then Geography is a great choice.

For more information visit our department pages.

Department information


The Department is notable for its balance of coverage across both human and physical geography, and for its emphasis on interdisciplinary working. We provide a high–quality research environment and excellent facilities. Laboratories for water and sediment analysis, geotechnical studies, geomorphology and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction contain cutting-edge research equipment.

For more information see our department pages.


  • Top 15 For Over a Decade in The QS World University Subject Rankings 2022
  • 3rd in The Complete University Guide 2023
  • 5th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023


For a current list of staff, please see the Geography Department pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • Ranked Joint 1st Nationally based on GPA (REF 2021)


Our departmental facilities include a suite of well-equipped laboratories, a workshop, an extensive field equipment store and a cartographic unit, all of which are overseen and supported by a team of dedicated technical staff.

More information about our facilities and equipment.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more

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