DRRE401-21X (C) General non-calendar-based 2021

Introduction to Disaster Risk and Resilience

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 22 February 2021
End Date: Sunday, 25 April 2021
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 7 March 2021
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 9 April 2021


The DRRE401 course provides an introduction to disaster risk and resilience situations, theory and practices. It explores drivers of disaster risk and covers national and international frameworks for disaster risk reduction. The course allows students to undertake natural hazard risk assessments and explore resilience strategies for real life communities in high risk environments (via field trips) and utilises a number of guest lectures from leading international thinkers in this field. The course assumes no background, but progresses to advanced topics throughout the course.

Learning Outcomes

  • Students successfully completing this course will:

  • Have a clear understanding of the basic terminology used in disaster studies, particularly “hazard”, “risk” and “disaster”.
  • Understand the concept of risk resulting from uncertainty about the behaviour of complex dynamic systems
  • Have a clear overview of the processes of complex earth and human systems within a disaster context.
  • Investigate the drivers of disaster risk
  • Be familiar with case studies relating to a variety of disaster situations, and the management possibilities.
  • Carry out a disaster risk assessment within a specified topic, including identifying principal drivers of risk and potential impacts.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Biculturally competent and confident

      Students will be aware of and understand the nature of biculturalism in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its relevance to their area of study and/or their degree.

      Engaged with the community

      Students will have observed and understood a culture within a community by reflecting on their own performance and experiences within that community.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Subject to approval of the Programme Director



Timetable 2021

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 12:00 - 14:00 Ernest Rutherford 213 Geol Engineering Lab
22 Feb - 28 Mar
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 15:00 - 17:00 Ernest Rutherford 213 Geol Engineering Lab
22 Feb - 4 Apr
Field Trip A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 14:00 - 18:00 Christchurch urban area 22 Feb - 28 Feb
Field Trip B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Monday 09:00 - 17:00 Hari Hari 5 Apr - 11 Apr
Field Trip C
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 09:00 - 17:00 Hari Hari 5 Apr - 11 Apr
Field Trip D
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00 Hari Hari 5 Apr - 11 Apr
Field Trip E
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 09:00 - 17:00 Hari Hari 5 Apr - 11 Apr
Field Trip F
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 09:00 - 17:00 Hari Hari 5 Apr - 11 Apr

Course Coordinator

Tim Davies


Tom Wilson and Sarah Beaven


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Course Participation 10% Course Participation
Assignment 1 20% Assignment 1
Assignment 2 30% Assignment 2
Assignment 3 40% Assignment 3

Note: there is no final examination for this subject.

Textbooks / Resources

There are a vast number of text books and other literature in this subject area; the recommended texts are only a sample. Mileti’s book is now aged but still relevant.

Resources – ISO/NZ 31000 Risk Management
– Readings for each module: to be advised.


Course Content:
The course deals with the nature of natural hazard and disaster risks – what they are, why they occur, why they are increasing and ways in which they might be managed. The roles of hazard events (eg floods, tsunami, volcanic activity, earthquakes) and social/cultural factors (e.g. economics, institutional & governance arrangements, risk perception, world-views) in understanding and managing hazards and disasters are studied. The focus is on the limiting role of economic, institutional, social and cultural factors on the capacity to manage hazards and disasters, and the potential to reduce disaster effects by modifying human systems. Case studies and exercises illustrate the points being made.

Course Programme:
The course comprises 6 weeks of classes, with two 2-hour sessions per week during the first half of Semester 1 (Term 1). A 4-day field trip to the West Coast which pulls together lecture content from throughout the seminar sessions, completes the course -- scheduled in the April lecture-break.  

Topics include:
The conceptual basis of disasters; complex system behaviour; patterns of system behaviour; application to earth systems and disasters; application to complex social systems and disasters; anticipating disasters; West Coast hazardscape.

In addition to the scheduled seminars/discussion sessions, a 4-day field trip will be run in the Easter semester break to examine natural hazards and other risks in the Franz Josef area of Westland. Further local trips or laboratories may be organised to complement other seminars.
The course is assessed by way of course participation and three assignments.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,066.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 5 people apply to enrol.

For further information see School of Earth and Environment on the department and colleges page .

All DRRE401 Occurrences

  • DRRE401-21X (C) General non-calendar-based 2021