LWMDMT-Disaster Management

Module Provider: School of Law
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Katja Samuel

Email: k.l.samuel@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module examines a number of key elements of the disaster cycle that are relevant to disaster management, namely prevention, mitigation, response and recovery. In doing so, it examines a number of key issues in relation to measures to be taken before, during, and post disasters, such as: how to prevent or reduce the risk of ‘man-made’ or ‘natural’ disasters from occurring in the first place through effective laws, policies, and practical measures; the law governing responses to emergencies and disasters known as international disaster relief or response law (IDRL); current law and policy developments, for example the envisaged impact of the international agenda on disaster risk reduction; planning for disasters, particularly civil contingency planning; and how to better safeguard basic human rights and protect more vulnerable groups in the aftermath of a disaster. The module considers these issues in the context of significant global law and policy trends and developments.

The overarching aim of the module is to introduce students to the concept of disaster management, focusing especially on law and policy considerations and developments – such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the International Law Commission’s draft articles on the protection of persons in the event of disasters, and Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement - which may influence or even require legal actors, particularly (though certainly not exclusively) states, to take certain steps not only to prevent or mitigate the potential effects of future disasters, but also in relation to their immediate and longer term responses to them. Specifically, the module introduces students to a body of law called international disaster relief or response law (IDRL). In addition to examining some key concepts and principles, this module will further consider a number of more technical and case-specific approaches which illustrate some of the strengths and limitations of how theory is worked out in practice in the aftermath of a disaster.

Assessable learning outcomes:
On completion of the module, students will be expected to be able to:
•Identify, understand, and explain the concept of disaster management, including associated law and policy.
•Explain disaster management in the context of the cycle of disasters particularly prevention, mitigation, response and recovery.
•Critically analyse the synergies between disaster management and DRR.
•Identify, understand, and explain key principles, strengths, weaknesses, challenges etc. associated with IDRL, including how this body of law is currently developing.
•Critically evaluate the effectiveness of law and policy in practice in the aftermath of a disaster, for example in protecting vulnerable groups.
•Write a press release.

Additional outcomes:
Given the fact that the module is orientated towards small group teaching and independent study, it will encourage autonomy with regard to reflective critical analysis and debate of the legal and policy topics examined, as well as high-level oral and written communication skills. The module will further test students’ comprehension of substantive issues examined by requiring them to prepare a press release which communicates complex matters to the general public in a clear and appropriate manner, further developing their professional communication skills.

These outcomes are in addition to those listed in the School's ‘core skills statement’.

Outline content:
The module will examine a broad range of issues, such as:
•International disaster relief/response law (IDRL): what is IDRL? What are its parameters? How is IDRL developing and being codified? How is IDRL used in practice to govern humanitarian responses to disasters? What is the relationship between IDRL and national laws of affected states (eg state sovereignty issues, access to the affected state by search and rescue teams)?
•Resilience and DRR (from a legal perspective) – what are law and policy synergies between DRR, resilience, response and recovery, including in the context of the Sendai Framework for Action; are there international trends towards binding legal obligations on states to take adequate resilience and DRR measures to prevent or mitigate the likelihood of disasters and their effects?
•Roles, responsibilities and coordination, particularly the legal base underpinning national governments, National Disaster Management Authority/Local Emergency Management Authority.
•Planning for disasters – civil contingency planning (law, policy, and practice).
•The role of land use change and land use policy in disaster risk reduction and management, eg in terms of how these can impact upon the vulnerability and exposure of communities.
•Rights and participation of affected populations.
•Protection of basic human rights and vulnerable groups during and post conflicts and disasters: eg protection of the most vulnerable groups (especially women, children, elderly, disabled) from eg trafficking, facilitating access to aid; internal displacement, refugee, and mass migration issues.
•Preventing and responding to sexual and gender based violence against women and girls, including international standards and commitments.
•Child protection, including the mandates and responsibilities of key actors, in different contexts, as well as coordination issues across different sectors.
•Handling the media, including the CNN factor; the use of communications, such as social media, as a disaster management tool; how to write a press release.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Teaching in this module is designed to provide students with a range of resources on which they can draw in their learning. The main elements are:
•A list of required and recommended readings, with notes and questions that will be used to guide class discussion and reflection.
•Ten seminar classes of 2 hours each.
•Students will have the opportunity to prepare an oral presentation (either individually or in groups) on a topic relevant to issues considered during the module to further inform the discussions.
•Students will be given an independent research assignment in the form of a written assessment relevant to one or more topics examined during the module.
•Students will undertake the writing of a press release assignment.
Where there are specialist programme lectures or events, or other University seminars, relevant to these issues, students in the module will be encouraged to attend and be given the opportunity to discuss the issues with visiting academic presenters.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 20
Guided independent study 180
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 80
Report 20

Other information on summative assessment:
•An assessed essay of 12 pages maximum (formatted in accordance with the School of Law’s Assessed Work Rules). 80%
•A press release of 3 pages maximum (formatted in accordance with the School of Law’s Assessed Work Rules). 20%

Formative assessment methods:
•Students will have the opportunity to submit a press release of no more than 2 pages on which they will be given written feedback.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:
50% overall

Reassessment arrangements:
See School of Law PGT Programme Handbook

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 21 December 2016

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