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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Earth Science

Undergraduate Course: Natural Hazards and Risk (EASC10117)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryA comprehensive introduction to Natural Hazards and Risk at Honours level. The first part of the course is concerned with fundamentals of measurement and observation, the relevant principles of probability and statistics, the quantification of uncertainty and handling of extreme events. The second part concentrates on applications in forecasting hazards, using earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, climate, extreme weather and flooding as exemplars. The final part includes assessment of vulnerability and risk, and societal issues such as planning, resilience-building, and mitigation in a social context.
Course description This is a quantitative 'applications' course- building on the generic skills planned to be taught in the new Junior Honours programmes. The students will be introduced to a range of natural hazards and risks, including the underpinning science, the necessary statistical analysis, and issues of forecasting and decision-making under uncertainty in a societal context. The course is fundamentally multi-disciplinary, and will be taught by staff with strong research interests in these topics. It will open up significant new opportunities for our graduates in Environmental Risk Assessment, Management and Mitigation.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Algebra and Calculus (PHYS08041) OR Linear Algebra and Several Variable Calculus (PHYS08042)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This course is also open to students who MUST have achieved a grade of 65% or more in EASC08018 Earth Modelling and Prediction (EMP2)
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students with an equivalent level of Mathematics
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2017/18, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 9, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 6, Summative Assessment Hours 3, Revision Session Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 136 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework: 40%
1) Formative Oral presentation on a 'specific historical natural disaster' to be chosen by the student
2) Formative exercise on 'Monte-Carlo simulation of an Earthquake Focal Mechanism' (computer practical)
3) Assessed exercise on 'Analysis of extreme weather events' (case study of a flood or drought- e.g. Louisiana floods in 2016, UK floods in 2015, European heat waves in 2006 and 2016)
4) Summative Essay in Disaster Risk reduction in Volcanology
Feedback for exercises 1 and 2 within the scheduled time slots for the exercises. For exercises 3 and 4 the submission date for the report/essay will be 12 noon, two weeks after the exercise is completed, or the date of the essay question being assigned.
Written Exam: 60%: one 2.5 hour exam
Feedback 1) Oral presentation. Feedback sheets would be given out at the start of each presentation and completed by peers in the class and the course lecturers. The course organiser will collate and go through these individually with the students no more than one week after the presentation, with presentations given in weeks 4-5.
2) Computer practical. Feedback will be in the form of an enabled discussion of the Monte-Carlo exercise by the whole cohort, examining the pathway to an ensemble solution, and discussing what this might imply, led by the seismologists on the team, also timetabled one week after the practical, scheduled for week 10.
3) Assessed exercise. The Met/Climate lead (shared with allied discipline staff if the class is large) will provide detailed written feedback within 2 weeks of the completion of the exercise, scheduled for week 15. (Geologists will be assigned to a group of 2 or more which contains students with Geophysics-level Mathematics).
4) Assessed essay. Detailed feedback will be given to the student within 2 weeks of submission at the end of week 22, again with marking and feedback shared between the course team.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:30
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the science and statistics underpinning natural hazard estimation.
  2. Estimate hazard and risk quantitatively, including all sources of uncertainty.
  3. Demonstrate practical skills in data analysis, integration and interpretation in hazard and risk applications.
  4. Understand societal issues affecting vulnerability, risk and resilience, and disaster risk reduction.
Reading List
1. Bryant, EA, 1993. Natural Hazards. Cambridge
2. Keller, EA & RH Blodgett, 2006. Natural Hazards, Pearson Prentice Hall
3. Not, J., 2006. Extreme Events, Cambridge
4. Woo, G., 2011. Calculating Catastrophe
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1. Thorough knowledge of relevant physics, statistics and probability for application to a variety of complex systems
2. Confidence in presenting case studies and reports to a variety of potential audiences
3. Experience in risk quantification and assessment
4. Awareness of social issues relating to a scientific field
5. Skill in delivering a critical assessment of a societally-relevant scientific problem
KeywordsNatural Hazards,Risks
Course organiserProf Ian Main
Tel: (0131 6)50 4911
Course secretaryMiss Sarah Thomas
Tel: (0131 6)50 8510
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