Disaster Risk and Resilience

Road cracked from Kaikoura earthquake

Learning ways to manage the risks from natural hazards is a relevant and fascinating area of study. Globally, the impacts of natural hazards on society appear to be increasing exponentially, threatening developments and lives in many countries. New Zealand is intrinsically one of the most dynamic and dangerous countries on Earth, with floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides and tsunami all threatening a rapidly growing first-world economy, making it an ideal location for the study of Disaster Risk and Resilience.

The 180-point MDRR programme is made up of:

  • five compulsory courses (75 points)
  • three optional courses: 45 points - selected from an approved list of 400 level courses (University of Canterbury) and 600 level courses ERST 604 and ERST 609 (Lincoln University) 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).

The Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience provides an introduction to this rapidly evolving interdisciplinary field.

The courses? Cover a broad range of disaster risk and resilience content from social sciences, physical sciences, planning, geospatial, and engineering. Innovative teaching methods include role play disaster simulation exercises, field trips to major infrastructure assets/systems and disaster hotspots, expert guest lecturers from science, government and industry, and an internship programme.

Teaching staff? A cohesive multi-disciplinary team drawn from the Disaster Risk and Resilience Group in the University of Canterbury’s Department of Geological Sciences and from Lincoln University’s Department of Environmental Management. They have a range of research expertise and knowledge, much of it developed from the recent Canterbury earthquake sequence, and are well connected across research and practice fields, nationally and internationally.

Connectivity? Teaching and research activities are informed by and carried out in collaboration with actors from public and private sectors, civil society organizations,  academia and scientific and research institutions.

Job market? Strong and varied. Recent graduates have taken up roles in both central and local government and in the private sector, including for example NZ Crown Research Institutes, Ministries for the Environment and for Defence, Civil Defence and Emergency Management groups, local government hazard management, and consultancies (both here and overseas). Several graduates have been accepted into funded doctoral programmes.

MSc (DRR) is a 12-month, thesis-only degree, entry for which requires a B+ grade average in MDRR courses or equivalent, an appropriate lecturer or research associate must agree to be supervisor, and a research proposal must have been written in conjunction with the supervisor and approved within the Dept.

All applicants for MSc are initially admitted to MDRR or have the equivalent from elsewhere. At the end of the coursework for the MDRR degree, you may apply for entry to MSc (12 month thesis) without needing to complete the MDRR report. MSc students must conduct their research, write a thesis, and also present their research as a seminar in the Department.

For entry to PhD Geology, a PhD student must normally have obtained a BSc Honours or MSc degree of high standard.

The PhD is examined on the basis of a thesis presented after individual study over a period normally of three or four years and no more than five years. It is possible at UC to do a PhD on a part-time basis because of employment, health, family, or other reasons. In this case submission must be within seven or exceptionally eight years of enrolment. 

Find out more.

Our postgraduate programmes in Disaster Risk and Resilience are taught in conjunction with Lincoln University.

UC staff

Tom Wilson

Associate Professor
Disaster Risk and Resilience
Rutherford 326
Internal Phone: 94503

Tim Davies

Professor
Natural Hazards
Rutherford 322
Internal Phone: 94508

Matthew Hughes

Lecturer
Civil & Natural Resources Engineering E446
Internal Phone: 94599

Sarah Beaven

Lecturer
Rutherford Rm 315
Internal Phone: 95992

Lincoln University staff

Suzanne Vallance
Suzanne.Vallance@lincoln.ac.nz
Research interests: Urban studies, collaborative planning, disaster risk reduction

Assoc. Prof. Hamish Rennie
Hamish.Rennie@lincoln.ac.nz
Research interests: Resilience to nature's challenges; coastal, marine and freshwater planning, common property management; fisheries and aquaculture governance; marine tourism, environmental impact assessment

Students who intend to undertake postgraduate research in Geology can find more information about the process on our Postgraduate advice and forms webpage and on the College of Science's Postgraduate advice and forms page.

Need more information?

Postgraduate students should contact the relevant Programme Co-ordinator in the first instance. Masters-level study is administered by the College of Science, and PhD-level study by the Postgraduate Office.

Disaster Risk and Resilience Programme Co-ordinators

Tom Wilson

Associate Professor
Disaster Risk and Resilience
Rutherford 326
Internal Phone: 94503

Tim Davies

Professor
Natural Hazards
Rutherford 322
Internal Phone: 94508