Skip to main content

Module

TCP3056 : Disasters, Monsters and Mess

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Andrew Donaldson
  • Owning School: Architecture, Planning & Landscape
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

This module deals with things that threaten the life of cities in various ways, and the ways in which we understand, frame and govern these complex problems.

The module will introduce students to socio-ecological and assemblage perspectives on cities, through a focus on environmental risk and other threats to cities. Through examination of historical and contemporary disasters, emergencies and crises, alongside fictional scenarios from various media, the module will introduce and analyse threats that can emerge from human actions or on a huge scale (monsters) and exhibit such complexity (mess) that tackling them requires new perspectives from policy makers, scientists and practitioners.

The module also aims to demonstrate the need for interdisciplinarity, drawing together geography, urban planning, environmental history, disaster risk reduction, science and technology studies and other social science approaches, and highlighting the interaction of social and natural sciences in understanding and managing emerging risks. The importance of complex team working and collaboration in dealing with major risks will be explored.

Outline Of Syllabus

Lecture topics covered: disasters and futures, warfare and critical infrastructure, contagion, pandemics and public health, ‘natural’ hazards and the anthropocene, resilient cities and a rotating selection of other problems.

Workshops will include: supported work on a group project to conduct a city risk analysis; additional analytical exercises around complex problem framing on different issues; and exploration of theories and concepts around the themes of 'monsters' and 'mess' to help develop individual assignments. The workshops will include discussion of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:3016:30in person
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1100:00100:00Group and individual assignments.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops71:3010:30in person
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery32:006:00In Person
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study167:0067:00N/A
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures provide an introduction to the substantive knowledge outcomes described above. Knowledge outcomes 1 and 2 will be the focus in the opening lectures, and then developed alongside outcomes 3 and 4 for the remainder. Outcome 5 will be introduced toward the end of the module providing a link to current policy and practice at an international level.

Workshops will support the development of knowledge outcomes through providing activities and discussions that develop reflective understanding of key issues introduced in the lectures. The workshops will also provide practical experience of conducting a high-level city risk assessment which will form part of the module assessment.

One surgery session is for the group assignment and the remaining two are for individual assignments. These latter two sessions will also include time set aside to address wider question on the module (topics determined by student input).

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prob solv exercises2M30Group work, supported by workshop sessions, students will conduct a risk/threat assessment for a city (1500 words per student)
Essay2M70An individual essay (2,500 words) engaging with academic theories/themes of the module
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The group exercise emphasises the need for collaboration, team working and incorporating different perspectives into dealing with complex problems. It also provides a basic introduction to a process found in many organizational contexts.

The individual written assessment assesses the critical understanding of the theoretical content of the module and its role in understanding contemporary socioecological problems.


Group work will be marked in accordance with the group work policy.

Reading Lists

Timetable