GEOG 325 : The Human Dimension of Disasters


2020 Semester One (1203) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

An overview of the human dimension of disasters which covers crucial concepts and theories, vulnerability and the causes of disasters, disaster risk reduction and management, post-disaster recovery and transversal issues such as culture and gender. The discussions encompass not only theoretical but also policy and practical materials and draw on examples and case studies from throughout the world with a particular focus on the most vulnerable and marginalised areas and communities.

Course Overview

This 15-point course provides an overview of the human dimension of disasters. It covers crucial concepts and theories, vulnerability and the causes of disasters, people’s capacities and response to disasters, disaster risk reduction and management and post-disaster recovery. The course also emphasises the policy and practical outcomes of theoretical debates. Discussions draw upon examples and case studies from throughout the world with a particular focus on the most vulnerable and marginalised areas and communities. This course is based around lectures and participatory activities which actively involve the students in the learning process. Tutorials provide additional insights through film showing, video games and role games. Furthermore case studies will be used often to illustrate theoretical and methodological discussions. A treasure hunt throughout Auckland provides the students with a first-hand experience in dealing with potential disasters and associated social issues.

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: 30 points at Stage II

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Use the right concepts in the right place (Capability 1 and 6)
  2. Understand why disasters occur and why their impact is unequal (Capability 1 and 6)
  3. Master the main principles of sustainable disaster risk reduction and management (Capability 1 and 6)
  4. Recognise the main tools for policy and practice related to disaster risk reduction and management, and post-disaster recovery (Capability 1 and 6)
  5. Provide concrete, articulate and varied examples of disasters, their cause, their impact, and the remedial measures which have been considered in response (Capability 1 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Treasure hunt 25% Group Coursework
Mid-semester test 20% Individual Test
Poster 30% Individual Coursework
Final test 20% Individual Test
Participation 5% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5
Treasure hunt
Mid-semester test
Final test


As part of the University-wide Tuākana community, The School of Environment Tuākana Programme aims to provide a welcoming learning environment for, and enhance the success of, all of our Māori and Pacific students. We are led by the principles of tautoko (support) and whanaungatanga (connection), and hope you find a home here at the School. Students who have identified as Māori and/or Pacific will receive an invitation to our online portal introducing the Programme, the resources we have available, and how you can get involved.
This course is supported by our Programme Coordinator, Kaiāwhina/Māori student adviser, and Pacific student adviser. They are able to organise group study and facilitate direct assistance regarding material taught in this course. For more information regarding the Programme feel free to email our Programme Coordinator:

Key Topics

- Defining disasters
- Some crucial concepts
- Trends in the occurrence of disasters
- Disasters and scapegoats
- Looking for the root causes of disasters
- People’s behaviour in time of disaster
- People’s capacities in facing disasters
- Dominant strategies for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and their shortcoming
- Fostering people’s participation in DRR
- Integrating bottom-up and top-down actions in DRR
- DRR in practice: an NGO perspective
- DRR from a Māori perspective
- Post-disaster recovery

Learning Resources

All readings are available from Talis and the University Library.

Special Requirements

The course involves two half-day field trips on Saturdays during the first half of the semester:
1/ the final stage of the treasure hunt
2/ the class on the beach

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 36 hours of lectures, a 6 hours tutorial, 40 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 38 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Other Information

The course revolves around four principles to facilitate students’ learning:
1/ it is grounded in the reality of the world and therefore combines theoretical, policy and practical materials;
2/ it forces students to think out of the box and be creative and therefore encourages critical thinking;
3/ it emphasises the learning process as much as the outcomes through active students’ participation;
4/ learning should be fun and enjoyable.

These four principles are in line with the university graduate profile, notably points II.1. (which fosters critical, conceptual and reflective thinking), II.2. (which encourages intellectual openness and curiosity), II.3. (which promotes creativity and originality) and III.1. (which advances enjoyable learning). See: They are also synchronised with the Faculty of Science graduate capabilities II.1 (Reason logically and think and write critically and analytically), II.2 (Evaluate information and data critically and draw on evidence and existing results where appropriate), III.1 (Find information and use principles and methods appropriate to the discipline to define problems in context or abstractly and analyse or solve them), III.2 (Creatively seek solutions, taking advantage of developments in research and technology, as appropriate), IV.1 (Use, manage, present and communicate information in English and/or Māori, to diverse audiences, including with the use of modern information technology), IV.2 (Work collaboratively and constructively, leading and influencing others when appropriate to do so), IV.3 (Communicate effectively using appropriate context dependent language and present information clearly and logically), V.1 (Personal, professional and academic integrity and an awareness of codes of ethics appropriate to the discipline) and V.2 (Displaying intellectual curiosity, working autonomously and with self-discipline and developing independent understanding).

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website at

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page:

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter (


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 11/01/2020 03:09 p.m.