The Social Dimensions of Disasters

Key facts

  • Module codeSWKPG88
  • Start date 2 Jun 2021 The course runs from 2 June 2021 to 6 June 2021
  • Duration10:00 - 12:00 and 13:00 – 15:00
  • Credit value SCQF 20 credits
  • Fees Home/EU students £667, Overseas students £1884
  • Study mode Online


An online, continuing professional development module on understanding how social forces and activities shape hazards and turn them into disasters affecting people, plants, animals and the physical environment, and the responses to these. The module is open to any practitioner who wants to accumulate credits in continuing professional development, or anyone who has an honours degree in a relevant subject.

Entrance requirements

Relevant honours degree or practice experience accepted.

Structure and content

The structure of the module is divided into two parts.

Part 1: Theories and Concepts

  • The role of sociology in disaster research and responses, including the ethical issues raised.
  • The sociology of disasters: theories and concepts.
  • Understanding the roles of key players in disaster responses, from the UN to local emergency professionals.
  • The disaster cycle and the interdependencies between socio-economic formations, social stratification and status, cultural traditions, governance structures and how these impact different groups of people, depending on vulnerabilities.
  • Understanding complex and cascading disasters such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami and Nuclear Disaster in Japan.
  • Global interdependencies between disasters and their impact on victim-survivors during disasters and need for external assistance and support.
  • Global governance in disasters and humanitarian aid.
  • Local disaster policy, legislation and disaster action plans: The social inclusion and exclusion of diverse social actors at local authority level in the UK.

Part 2: Case Examples

  • Case studies of disasters covering the social impacts on victim-survivors, communities inhabit, issues arising from the onset of a disaster to reconstructing sustainable communities.
  • Examples of disasters and their impacts upon society, including health pandemics like Covid-19, climate change, air pollution, nuclear explosions, extreme weather events such as flooding, drought, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, wildfires, and terrorism.
  • Climate change migration and refugees – policies and responses to a global crisis.
  • The internationalisation of humanitarian responses: social issues and dilemmas raised.
  • Rebuilding communities after disasters: evaluating social actors' roles and performances to include state officials, civil society organisations, private enterprises, and local residents.

Delivery and assessment

Individual tutorials will be agreed with students.

A single 20-credit module, delivered online. Students are treated as adult learners responsible for contributing to their own education and that of others.

The module has a poster presentation formative assignment and a 3000 word case study.

A student who successfully completes the assignment for the SWKPG88 module can ask to be exempted from SWKPG80, (Humanitarian Aid: Ethics, Values, and Human Rights) also worth 20 credits if they subsequently decide to register for the MSc in Disaster Interventions and Humanitarian Aid.

If a student chooses not to complete the assignment they will be given a certificate of attendance, which may be used towards fulfilling their CDP requirements.

Module coordinator

What next?

How to apply

To apply for this course, please complete the online application form.

Contact us

For more information contact our course administrator:Please contact our Admissions Office by email to