Natural Hazards and Disasters


About this course

Disasters related to earthquakes, tsunamis, mudslides, floods, droughts, (wild)fires and famines seriously affect human societies. This interdisciplinary course introduces different analytical perspectives on the causes and consequences of disaster, including the question where disaster begins and where normality resumes, it explores the interconnections between natural hazards, the vulnerability of populations exposed to them, and the relation with climate change. It also discusses the responses to disaster as developed in different social domains, including local communities, governance structures and science. Guest lectures by experts address technical issues such as the use of remote sensing in disaster management.
NB The course does not go into the specific geophysical mechanics of disastrous events.

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

  • identify and discuss the prevailing theories, key concepts and analytical methods in disaster studies, especially disaster sociology;
  • explain the concepts of vulnerability, capacity and social resilience and use them as analytical tools;
  • identify and discuss disaster (risk) management practices and policies at local, national and international levels;
  • relate social and natural-science aspects of disasters and disaster management;
  • comprehend and critically discuss the key concepts;
  • synthesise information and formulate new questions on the above issues by designing and presenting a poster to their fellow-students.

Required prior knowledge

Assumed Knowledge:
A characteristic of this course is that students have a variety of scientific backgrounds ranging from natural to social sciences (e.g.: ecology, land and water management, water quality, soil science, meteorology, forestry, environmental engineering, policy making, sociology, communication, development studies). Consequently, no specific background knowledge is required. We expect you are eager to learn more about the 'other' fields of science and what the importance is of these different disciplines. You appreciate that this is an SDC course and therefore will emphasise the social side of disaster, but also acknowledge that an interdisciplinary approach is vital for everyone who wants to contribute to understanding and managing disaster risks.

Link to more information

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of Wageningen University.


  • Start date

    10 March 2025

    • Ends
      2 May 2025
    • Term *
      Period 5
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    • Register between
      1 Jun, 00:00 - 9 Feb 2025
These offerings are valid for students of TU Eindhoven