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Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

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Course details

Our MSc in Environmental Hazards and Risks explores the causes and devastating impacts of natural events including earthquakes, floods, drought, heatwaves, landslides and climate change and the threat they pose to environments and populations around the world.

Taking a natural sciences approach, you will develop an in-depth knowledge of these global environmental hazards, and consider the extent of their physical and social impact on society, the consequences for social vulnerability and for resilience. The course is likely to appeal to those with a background in natural sciences or engineering.

Offered over a year full-time and two years part-time, you will study modules that cover the understanding, managing and preventing of risk, understanding the spatial and temporal dimensions of hazards, hydro-meteorological hazards as well as learning about the theories and concepts related to risk, science and communication. There is also a module dedicated to current research in the fast-growing field of risk.

You will also complete either a research-based dissertation by carrying out original independent study on a subject of particular interest or a vocational dissertation that combines external work placements with independent research.

Our partnership with the renowned Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience at the University, will enable you to learn about the current thinking around risk from academics and professionals in the sector as well as participate in the Institute’s annual climate risk seminar series.

The course is one of five masters programmes in the Department of Geography that form a vibrant and active postgraduate community which consistently proves to be supportive and encouraging, both academically and socially.

Course structure

Core modules:

Spatial and Temporal Dimensions of Hazards is a science-based module that considers issues relating to locations and timings, along with the key physical characteristics, of a variety of hazards. It offers both theoretical and practical training in how to understand and quantify such dimensions of hazards.

Hydro-meteorological Hazards provides fundamental knowledge of hydro-meteorological hazards, with a focus on flood and drought risk, their causes and the changing environmental conditions that influence them, including projected climate change. This module will also look at the ways that such hazards might be investigated and dealt with as part of an overall management strategy.

Risk, Science and Communication gives you an overview of the natural, engineering and social science methods used in risk research. It provides training in the generic science, media and communication-based skills that risk research requires – in particular, written and spoken communication and the tools of public engagement.

Understanding Risk provides an overview of the key theories and concepts that reflect the interdisciplinary nature of risk involving human action and environmental events. You will learn the basic concepts and terms used to describe and communicate risk, as well as studying interventions involved in managing, preventing or mitigating against risk to populations, and building an understanding of the determinants of risk and its social inequalities.

Risk Frontiers is delivered by the Institute of Hazard and Risk Research. This module looks at current risk research and provides training in the generic skills of interpreting, criticising and collating the emerging research. What you learn will help meet the demands of the risk industry and associated areas such as disaster reduction, security, development and humanitarian relief.

The Dissertation (Research or Vocational) builds on your learning in core and optional modules. It offers the option to develop your independent research skills through a research dissertation in which you carry out original independent research supported by our staff. Alternatively, you can choose the vocational dissertation route which combines research with collaborations or placements with external organisations. We offer vocational dissertation partnerships and project options through our large and growing partner and alumni network, or we can support you in developing your own vocational research collaborations.

Learn more about our suite of taught masters in the Geography Department.


We take an active approach to learning from the start. Teaching and learning on this course take place in a supportive environment in which you will be encouraged to actively engage with tutors and peers from day one, sharing your ideas and experiences.

The course is delivered using a mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and practical sessions, with lectures providing key information and the seminars developing further discussion. You will have around eight hours of contact time per week during the first two terms, although this can vary from week to week. You can expect to undertake around eight hours per day of study during term time, including all assessments.

Throughout your period of study, you will be supported by an academic advisor and you will also be assigned a dissertation supervisor.


Assessment will be conducted on an ongoing basis including a research-based or vocational dissertation in the final term

All modules require the completion of coursework, including the traditional tools of assessment such as essays, presentations and reports but also other forms such as podcasts and portfolios featuring a compilation of work.

Entry requirements

An upper second-class degree (2:1).

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

 Application to the MA/MSc in Environmental Hazards and Risk requires:

  • Transcripts of your qualifications
  • English language test certificates if taken
  • Personal statement (if not written directly into the portal)
  • Scholarship documentation (if applying

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £13,500 per year
EU students £25,900 per year
Island students £13,500 per year
International students £25,900 per year

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


Studying in a department with a global reputation for the quality of research, our postgraduates are well placed to continue research at a higher level or progress into a rewarding professional career.

Taught courses are designed to develop the transferable skills that are highly sought after by employers such as the ability to analyse and communicate information and make decisions, and our postgraduates are much valued in areas such as government, non-governmental organisations and the charity sector.

Other roles in which postgraduates make a real difference to people and communities include property and surveying, environmental consultancy and management, conservation, town planning, geopolitical risk, market research, development work, health, public policy, social research, logistics, youth and community work, education, energy, utilities, tourism, banking, law, PR, IT, publishing, journalism and the media.

For more information visit our department pages.

Department information


The Department of Geography is a global academic centre for the study of physical and human geography. Our high-quality research and our industry connections combine to create a learning experience underpinned by the theory and practice to take on the challenges we face as a result of natural events and human activity.

We provide a leading-edge environment in which to study, giving a learning experience that is tailored to suit particular interests. We offer MA and MSc degrees in Climate, Risk and Society and in Environmental Hazards and Risk, and MAs in Geography (Research Methods) and in Risk, Security and Politics.

Our academic staff are experts in their field with research activity in the Department divided into seven clusters comprising Politics-State-Space, Economy and Culture, Urban Worlds, Geographies of Life as well as Sea Level, Ice and Climate, Catchments and Rivers, and Hazards and Surface Change.

The postgraduate community plays a crucial role in contributing to the Department’s research goals, by conducting original research and by learning from research-led teaching about understanding and implementing the process of turning policy into practice. An in-house conference provides the opportunity for postgraduates to present ideas.

For more information see our department pages.


  • Top 15 For Over a Decade in The QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 5th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • 5th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024


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

Research Excellence Framework

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


The Department of Geography is located on the main campus of Durham University at Lower Mountjoy, not far from the historic centre of the city with UNESCO World Heritage status.

Facilities are state-of-the-art after a £1.7 million investment and our laboratories are equipped with an extensive suite of analytical and geotechnical instruments which are overseen and supported by a team of dedicated technical staff.

Also available to postgraduates are a dedicated computer lab, world class library and research facilities, one of the few dedicated cartographic units in the region and field and labwork support.

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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