Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience
The United Nations defines a disaster as a disruption of social and community function, involving so many losses and destructive impacts that affected communities and regions are unable to cope using their own resources. Global efforts to reduce the impacts of disasters over the last decade have failed to keep up with growing exposure of people and assets to natural and other hazards, which is generating new risks and a steady rise in disaster-related losses. To reverse this trend, UN member nations ratified the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015.
The Sendai Framework calls for a broader, more people-centred, preventative approach to disaster risk reduction, in which communities, government and private sectors, civil society organisations, academia, and research institutions work together to build resilience and develop collaborative disaster risk reduction practices.
This Professional Master’s degree provides an introduction to this rapidly evolving interdisciplinary field.
The Waitaha Canterbury Laboratory
Aotearoa New Zealand is located on the Pacific ‘rim of fire,’ and has one of the most dynamic environments in the world. Floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, and tsunami threaten a rapidly-growing, high income economy, driving collaboration between policy, practice research, and local communities, and increasing demand for disaster risk reduction. This makes Aotearoa New Zealand an outstanding laboratory for the study of multi-hazard disaster risk and resilience.
The University of Canterbury is situated in the centre of New Zealand’s South Island, Te Tai Poutini, where the 2010-2011 Canterbury Earthquakes and the 2016 Kaikōura-Hurunui Earthquakes have had extensive and complex impacts in the central and north-east of the island. This has created considerable scope for highly integrated, cutting-edge disaster risk and resilience research.
The Professional Master's programme is taught by a multi-disciplinary team drawn from the Disaster Risk and Resilience Group in the University of Canterbury’s School of Earth and Environment | Te Kura Aronukurangi, from Lincoln University’s Department of Environmental Management, and from GNS Science | Te Pū Ao. This partnership increases the breadth of teaching expertise, student research projects, and industry practice connections.
Every student for the Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience (MDRR), shall have:
- a bachelor's degree which is relevant to Disaster Risk and Resilience, normally with a B Grade Point Average or higher in the final year; and
- 15 points from STAT 100-level courses, or equivalent. Note: This prerequisite may be waived at the discretion of the Programme Coordinator.
If English is your additional language, you are also required to meet UC's English language requirements.
For the full entry requirements see the Regulations for the Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience or use the admission requirements checker.
How to apply
You will need to enrol at both UC and Lincoln University | Te Whare Wanaka o Aoraki to complete this programme. It is recommended you apply at least a month before the start of the programme in February or July to complete the enrolment process at both universities. For more information please contact Thomas Wilson, Tim Davies, or Sarah Beaven at the School of Earth and Environment | Te Kura Aronukurangi.
You can apply to the UC programme online at myUC. Find out more about how to apply for graduate and postgraduate qualifications.
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).
You may be enrolled for the Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience either on a full-time or part-time basis. It normally takes 1 year to complete (part-time up to 3 years).
Normally the programme starts in February, however a July start date is also available. Students interested in this should discuss with the Programme Director.
Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience (MDRR) courses draw 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, leading guest lecturers from science, government and industry, and an internship programme.
MDRR students gain an understanding of:
- current disaster risk and resilience research and practice fields
- disaster risk drivers, risk communication, and disaster risk reduction strategies
- disaster resilience-building theory and practices.
Students must complete:
- DRRE 408 GIS for Disaster Risk and Resilience (unless prior work or experience in GIS is approved by the Director of Studies)
- DRRE 401 Introduction to Disaster Risk and Resilience
- DRRE 402 Natural Hazard Risk Assessment
- DRRE 403 Disaster Risk and Resilience Applications
- ERST 604 Advanced Urban, Regional and Resource Planning (Lincoln University)
- ERST 609 Advanced Risk and Resilience (Lincoln University)
- either a 60-point dissertation (DRRE 691 Professional Project in Disaster Risk and Resilience) or 60 points of further coursework from either UC or Lincoln University
The MDRR is part of a suite of postgraduate qualifications at UC at the intersection of cutting-edge physical and social sciences, exploring interactions between geophysical and human environments with a focus on resilience and geophysical/social environmental dynamics – a growing area of expertise at UC.
MDRR graduates are in a position to choose between proceeding into funded doctoral programs, or pursuing careers in disaster reduction, risk assessment, hazard assessment, and environmental management and consulting, as well as in local and regional government.
Graduates have found work in consultancies locally and internationally, in NZ Crown Research Institutes, in the Ministry for Civil Defence and Emergency Management, in regional Civil Defence and Emergency management Groups, and in the private sector.
- Read what other UC postgraduate students have gone on to achieve in their studies and careers in our student and graduate profiles.
- Te Rōpū Rapuara | UC Careers can help you to achieve the career you want, connect with employers, or find a job.
- For research into career destinations by qualification, visit Te Pōkai Tara | Universities New Zealand website.
- Find out more about what you can do with a degree from UC.
- Come along to an upcoming information event for prospective postgraduate students.
For full requirements see the Regulations for the Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience.
For study planning help contact Thomas Wilson, Tim Davies, or Sarah Beaven at the School of Earth and Environment | Te Kura Aronukurangi, or the College of Science:
College of Science | Te Rāngai Pūtaiao
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800