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Unit information: Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development in 2021/22

Unit name Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development
Unit code CENGM0071
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Liz Holcombe
Open unit status Not open

For this unit students will need to understand the concepts of civil engineering systems, engineering risk and at least one type of environmental hazard or system. For example, from the MEng Civil Engineering programme: CENG33900 Civil Engineering Systems 3 or equivalent and CENG33600 Water Engineering 3, or equivalent.



School/department Department of Civil Engineering
Faculty Faculty of Engineering

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will enable students to understand: (a) the interconnected challenges of natural hazards, disasters, risk, resilience, and sustainable development and (b) related stakeholder perspectives, policies, and practices. Students will learn about natural hazards (such as floods, landslides and earthquakes) and the risks they pose to infrastructure, communities, and societies around the world. The effects of engineering and development activities on the environment and society will be explored. Students will be equipped to develop disaster resilient and sustainable engineering strategies.

The content is based around three overlapping themes:

  1. Conceptual framework: Definitions and evolving concepts of hazards, risk, disasters, resilience, international development and sustainable development. The United Nations Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals. Perspectives and actions of policy makers, practitioners and communities. Systems thinking for understanding and managing risks to infrastructure, society, and the environment.
  2. Risk assessment and management practice: Selecting appropriate hazard and risk assessment and management approaches for different spatial scales, data and resource levels, and end-users. Case studies may include infrastructure lifecycle risk management, disaster risk insurance, national flood risk management, community-based landslide mitigation, and partnerships for urban resilience.
  3. Engineering for disaster resilient and sustainable development: Learning from case studies around the world such as: post-disaster response, shelter and reconstruction; safer buildings and construction; water, sanitation, hygiene and health; deforestation; and clean and accessible energy, for example.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the course, the students will be able to:

1. Explain risk and resilience concepts in terms of natural hazards and human interactions; exposure and vulnerability of infrastructure, society, economy, and environment; and risk management.

2. Discuss disaster risk reduction, international and sustainable development concepts and policies; and analyse interactions with climate change, urbanisation, infrastructure, water, and inequality, for example.

3. Critically evaluate the perspectives, actions, and interactions of disaster resilience and sustainable development stakeholders (including engineers).

4. Demonstrate how to carry out qualitative and quantitative risk assessments for infrastructure and the built environment at different spatial scales and stages of the disaster cycle and identify engineering measures for improving resilience.

5. Propose appropriate disaster resilient and sustainable strategies for scenarios in which engineers need to work with multiple stakeholders to address complex development challenges.

Teaching Information

Each week the teaching will comprise:

(a) 1 or 2 hours of tasks for students to complete in their own time, such as watching pre-recorded lectures, case studies or online videos; reading notes and papers and writing a short summary; or completing a quiz.

(b) a timetabled ‘live’ class for a seminar or discussion on that week’s topic, potentially with one of the case-study presenters.

(c) optional open office times with one of the unit’s teaching team (these may be bookable or drop-in sessions, and for individuals or groups of students).

Assessment Information

Single coursework submission – 100% (6 pages maximum, using a template with set margins, font size etc)


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. CENGM0071).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.