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Degree type


Course length

1 year full time, 2 years part time


Durham City

Program code


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Course details

We have designed our MA in Environmental Hazards and Risk for anyone interested in understanding the broader concepts of environmental hazards and risk.

You will develop specific skills within the natural and social dimensions of environmental hazards including flooding, landslides, and earthquakes. You will also gain an interdisciplinary understanding of risk from both the physical and social science perspectives and develop the ability to put your learning into practice by focussing on and pursuing your interest in environmental hazards, risk, and resilience.

Who is the programme aimed at?

This programme is aimed at students seeking a social science approach to environmental risk and is relevant and accessible to students from a social science, a natural science, or an engineering background.

Employment opportunities

Our MA in Environmental Hazards and Risk provides you with knowledge and skills that are highly sought after by employers particularly:

  • The foundational, interdisciplinary understanding of risk
  • The specific technical and / or conceptual skills to critically analyse environmental hazards.

On completing the programme, our graduates have taken up employment within the following sectors:

  • Environmental consultancy
  • Governance
  • Insurance
  • Security
  • Charitable organisations
  • Technology firms
  • Public services
  • Private sector
  • PhD research.

What you will learn

Understanding and managing risk is about choice. Our entire society, from individuals to governments, must make decisions – conscious or not – about how risk is perceived, interpreted, balanced, and mitigated.

The MA in Environmental Hazards and Risk equips you with in-depth knowledge of global environmental risks, including earthquakes, floods, drought, heatwaves, landslides, and climate change. You will also develop an understanding of the relationship between hazards, social vulnerability, and resilience.

The programme enables you to explore the social dimensions of environmental hazards. You will develop skills to understand the interaction between human and physical processes and how they produce socially differentiated vulnerabilities in specific contexts. You will also learn how environmental hazards and risks persist over long time periods and are made up of natural and socio-economic processes.

You will receive theoretical, technical, and practical training for understanding, quantifying and critically evaluating environmental hazards. You will also develop 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.

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

What is special about this course?

Our Department of Geography teaches the core programme modules, and you will receive specialised training in social and physical science approaches to risk.

The programme is part of a suite of masters programmes within the department, creating a vibrant Postgraduate Taught community of students with diverse skills and knowledge. This interdisciplinary training uniquely positions you to tackle complex workplace problems.

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

Study Environmental Hazards and Risk within an interdisciplinary framework

We collaborate closely with Durham University's Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR), offering 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 providing opportunities to further expand your knowledge.

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

Develop your expertise in Environmental Hazards and Risk through a Dissertation by Research or a Vocational Dissertation

You will elect a Dissertation by Research or a Vocational Dissertation to demonstrate your ability to combine your training in environmental hazards and risk with the specific understanding of the substance and method associated with your chosen research area.

Dissertations by Research offers an opportunity to perform original independent research of your choice with support from our academic colleagues.

If you elect a Vocational Dissertation, we offer several vocational dissertation partnerships and project options through our large and growing partner and alumni network. We can also support you to develop your own vocational research collaboration.

Whether undertaking a research or vocational dissertation, we will support you in developing your research topic.

Previous dissertation topics include:

  • The analysis of place-specific risks of flooding, earthquakes, landslides, drought, deforestation, and other environmental hazards
  • Social inequality and vulnerability to environmental risks
  • Differential exposure to specific environmental hazards
  • Analysis of environmental change over time
  • Disaster resilience and risk reduction
  • Risk communication and perception.

Other programmes of interest

Our MA Environmental Hazards and Risk 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.

To hear what previous students have to say, click here.

To learn why Durham is a great place for postgraduate study, click here.


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

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

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

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £12,900 per year
EU students £23,900 per year
Island students £12,900 per year
International students £23,900 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


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.

Visit Us

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

Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 08/02/2023
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Register for open day
Postgraduate Open Days - Online
  • Date: 13/02/2023
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Register for open day