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GEOG 3111

Natural Hazards

  • Credits: 3
  • Level: Undergraduate, Year 3
  • Semester: 1
  • Status: Core course for BSc/BA major (Geography) and BSc Geography.
  • Pre-requisites: GEOG 1900; or GEOG 1231 and GEOG 1232 or HOD permission.
  • Course coordinator: Prof. Paul Shaw
  • Note: replaces GEOG 3007. Students who have already completed that course may not additionally take this one.

Course coverage

Risk and hazard, human response to risk, tectonic, meteorological, hydrological and biological hazards, their patterns and significance. The modeling and management of risk.


This core course provides an in-depth examination of the key concepts of risk, hazard assessment and hazard management as related to naturally occurring hazards across a range of fields, including geomorphology, meteorology, hydrology and biology. The course builds on the introductory ideas from Level 1 and the more specific subject knowledge at Level 2. In particular it integrates concepts from both physical and human geography and applies them to problem solving in the real world. The course encourages critical thinking, effective communication and self-motivated learning.

Course description

The course introduces students to the concepts of risk and hazard, and reviews recent theoretical work on human response to hazard and disaster, such as Blaikie's Access and Pressure:Release models and Hewitt's Temporal Sequence model. Using this theoretical background it reviews a range of natural hazards operating of different spatial and temporal scales, including geological (volcanoes, earthquakes), hydrological (floods), climatological (drought, hurricanes) and biological (diseases, epidemics), and examines the possible changes to risk under climate and sociological change. Emphasis throughout is on the use of appropriate technology and social structures to mitigate hazard impact. Delivery of the course is primarily through a series of lectures and seminars, assessed by examination and presentation/essays. Emphasis in the coursework will be placed on the recovery, synthesis and presentation of scientific information.

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