Master of Disaster, Risk and Resilience


Why talk about disaster and risk when many of the challenges facing the modern world are beyond control? While you can't predict the next disruption or tragedy, cities can manage responses to these scenarios by identifying and managing risks in advance. This innovative master's degree addresses this topic and identifies how to build the qualities of resilience and preparedness in citizens and leaders.

At the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction was adopted and consequently, disaster reduction protocols are developing around the world. This is an interdisciplinary field, which requires an understanding of natural science, social science, political science, and economics in disaster reduction professionals.

The Canterbury laboratory

Christchurch is one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities and the Canterbury region remains a focus of urban renewal. Canterbury-based students are in a unique position to understand how people and places can become more disaster-resilient in the future by learning from regional experiences.

This master's is collaboratively taught by members of Lincoln University’s Department of Environmental Management and University of Canterbury’s Department of Geological Sciences. Both universities have expertise and knowledge from the recent Canterbury earthquake sequence, and have been involved in national-level design of research programmes on Resilience to Nature’s Challenges. This partnership increases the scope of teaching expertise and student research projects.

Entry requirements

Normally the minimum requirement is a three-year bachelor’s degree from a New Zealand university, or a qualification or combination of qualifications considered to be equivalent. If you gained your qualifications overseas, these will need to be assessed to make sure they are of an equivalent standard. You are also required to meet UC’s English language requirements.

Qualification specific requirements

Every candidate for the degree of Master of Disaster, Risk and Resilience (MDRR), shall have:

(a) qualified for a university degree which is relevant to Disaster Risk and Resilience, normally with a B+ average or higher in the final year; and

(b) 15 points from STAT 100-level courses or equivalent. Note: This prerequisite may be waived by the Head of Department if the student can demonstrate a suitably high level of ability in Mathematics and/or Statistics.

Qualification structure and duration

The 180-point programme is made up of:

  • five compulsory courses (75 points)
  • three optional courses (45 points – selected from an approved list of 400-level (UC) and 600-level (LU) courses in which the student has specific interests)
  • plus either a 60-point dissertation (DRRE 691 completed over summer) or a third semester of coursework (60 points).


A candidate may be enrolled for the degree of Master of Disaster, Risk and Resilience either on a full-time or part-time basis. It normally takes between 12 and 24 months to complete.

For the full entry requirements see the Regulations for the Master of Disaster, Risk and Resilience or use the admission requirements checker.

Subjects and courses

Master of Disaster, Risk and Resilience (MDRR) students gain an understanding of:

  • disaster causes
  • disaster-reduction strategies
  • risk communication and risk-reduction strategies
  • resilience-building methodologies.

For the up-to-date list of courses for this qualification, visit the Regulations for this degree. 

How to apply

Find out more about how to apply for graduate and postgraduate qualifications.

Further study

The MDRR is part of a suite of postgraduate qualifications at UC that deal at the intersection of cutting-edge science and social science, exploring interactions between physical environments and human responses, with a focus on resilience and environment-society dynamics – a growing area of expertise at UC. See also the Master of Urban Resilience and Renewal (led by staff from UC Geography’s department). Along with the Master of Science or Doctor of Philosophy in Disaster, Risk and Resilience.

Career opportunities

The MDRR programme will produce graduates who will be well-suited to pursue careers in environmental management and consulting, disaster reduction, hazard management, as well as local and regional government. 

Postgraduate study can bring many career benefits eg, specialist skills and enhanced knowledge, entry into specific occupations, higher starting salary/progression rates, research capability/achievement and evidence of high academic attainment/self-discipline.

Useful resources:

More information

For full requirements see the Regulations for the Master of Disaster, Risk and Resilience.

For study planning help contact the Department of Geological Sciences or the College of Science:

College of Science
University of Canterbury
Okeover House
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

Phone +64 3 364 2312
Email collegeofscience@canterbury.ac.nz

Sophie Eggleton

Sophie Eggleton

'There is so much that we are still to know, and seeing the future of geology unfold is incredibly exciting...'

Rebekah Perry

Rebekah Perry

'I love that I get to see what I learn around me every day...'