LWMDRM-Disaster Risk 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:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Marie Aronsson-Storrier

Email: e.m.l.aronssonstorrier@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module focuses on preventing, preparing for, responding to, as well as recovering from disasters triggered by both ‘human-made’ and ‘natural’ hazards. In doing so, it examines a number of key issues in relation to measures to be taken before, during, and post disasters, such as: the law governing responses to emergencies and disasters known as international disaster relief or response law (IDRL); disaster risk reduction (DRR); how to better safeguard basic human rights and protect more ‘vulnerable’ groups in all phases of a disaster; governance and accountability issues; and dispute settlement where a disaster that has occurred is attributable at least in part to some element of wrongdoing or negligence. 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 those elements of the ‘disaster risk management cycle’ concerned with preventing, mitigating, preparing for, responding to, as well as recovering from peacetime disasters. In doing so, it will consider the significance of some key law and policy developments, such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the International Law Commission’s Draft articles on the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters, which may influence or even require legal actors, particularly (though certainly not exclusively) states, to take certain steps in relation to their immediate and longer term responses to disasters. Specifically, the module introduces students to the emerging body of law often referred to as ‘international disaster law’ (IDL). 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 actual disaster contexts .   

Assessable learning outcomes:

On completion of the module, students will be expected to be able to:

  • Identify, understand, and explain the concept of disaster risk management, including associated law and policy.

  • Explain disaster risk management in the context of the prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and short/longer term recovery elements of the ‘disaster risk management cycle’.

  • Critically analyse synergies between disaster response 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 and marginalised groups.

  • Write a press release.

Please note that not all assessable learning outcomes will apply to all assessments. Whilst some are generic, others will only be relevant to specific topics and will depend on the assessment title selected.

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:

  • Roles, responsibilities and coordination of various national and international actors.  

  • International disaster relief/response law (IDRL) governing immediate responses/ recovery from disasters.

  • Preventing and planning for disasters.

  • Rights and participation of affected populations.

  • Protection of human rights before, during and post di sasters: eg protection of the most vulnerable persons from eg trafficking, facilitating access to aid; and displacement issues.

  • Preventing and responding to sexual and gender based violence against women and girls, including international standards and commitments.

  • Accountability and governance issues, e.g. of actors responding to disaster events.

  • Climate change justice.

  • Dispute settlement of claims e.g. for compensation following a disaster event.

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.

  • A formative feedback opportunity writing a press release.  

  • Students will be given an indepe ndent 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:      
    Wider reading (independent) 30
    Wider reading (directed) 20
    Preparation for seminars 60
    Completion of formative assessment tasks 15
    Essay preparation 50
    Reflection 5
Total hours by term 0 0
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

  • An assessed essay of 12 pages maximum (formatted in accordance with the School of Law’s Assessed Work Rules).

  • A press release of 3 pages maximum (formatted in accordance with the School of Law’s Assessed Work Rules). Additional assessment criteria will apply for this part of the assessment.

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

Assessment requirements for a pass:

50% overall

Reassessment arrangements:

See School of Law PGT Programme handbook

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

Last updated: 4 April 2020


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