Module Catalogue 2020/21

GEO3155 : Geographies of Risk

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Tom Robinson
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Code Title
GEO1020Introduction to Physical Geography
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



The aim of the module is to introduce studies to the key concepts and methods involved in risk research, and investigate how geographers are contributing to this emerging areas of research. It will provide an overview of the natural, engineering and social science skills required, focusing on analysis of the impacts of natural hazards to society. The module will draw on a number of real world examples from across the globe, investigating how and why hazards and risks are researched by geographers and considering how these risks may be mitigated by human intervention.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will be divided into 3 blocks that reflect the key stages of risk management:

1. Block 1 will focus on a basic understanding of risk concepts/definitions such as the difference between risk, hazard, exposure, and vulnerability. It will introduce students to key methods for identifying and measuring risk, including disaster databases, risk assessments, and risk tolerability.

2. Block 2 will introduce risk mitigation and methods to monitor and evaluate the outcomes (cost v. benefit). Students will consider different options for reducing various hazards, population and infrastructure exposure to these hazards, and approaches to decrease vulnerability.

3. Block 3 will focus on the communication of risk. Students will engage with risk perception and uncertainty as well as approaches to communicating risk science to different stakeholders. Students will be introduced to examples of good and bad practice in risk communication and will have the opportunity to practice
communication e.g. through press releases.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of this module you will be able to:
1. Understand the key concepts and definitions associated with the study of risk.
2. Evaluate the effectiveness of engineering and social science approaches to studying risk.
3. Evaluate the different approaches used to mitigate risk and to evaluate the outcomes of these different approaches effectively (using a cost v benefit model).
4. Evaluate good and bad examples of communicating risk to wider society (eg through press releases).

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of this module you will be able to:
1. Understand and apply the methods used to assess risk.
2. Communicate the impact of risk to wider society effectively.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture122:0024:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical42:008:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery41:004:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1164:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The module is taught through a mixture of lectures and practicals. The lectures will provide an in-depth overview of key concepts and themes in risk research, introduce essential topics and outline detailed case studies. The practicals will give students first-hand experience of using a suite of risk analysis techniques, training students to develop quantitative and qualitative approaches to assessing risk and understanding the real world problems risk researchers engage with.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination901M60Take-home exam
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prob solv exercises1M20A group podcast of a press release relating to a risk situation
Essay1M201,000 word risk analysis report
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The module is assessed by three different assessments. The first assessment will be a group podcast that is developed from the practical classes and is designed to enable student to engage with ideas about how risks and hazards are communicated to non-academic audiences. The second assessment is a 1000 word risk assessment, drawing on practical work to provide an expert analysis of a specific risk, using professional risk analysis techniques. The third assessment will be a take home exam designed to test students’ knowledge of the academic literature and research relating to risk research.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2020/21 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2021/22 entry will be published here in early-April 2021. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.