GEOG1104 Disasters!

6 points
(see Timetable)

If this unit does not have an online alternative, then students who are presently unable to enter Western Australia and whose studies would be delayed by an inability to complete this unit, should contact the unit coordinator (details given on this page) to ascertain, on an individual case-by-case basis, if alternate arrangements can be made to support their study in this unit.

Semester 2UWA (Perth)Online timetabled 100% Online Unit. NO campus face-to-face attendance is required to complete this unit. All study requirements are online only. Unit includes some synchronous components, with a requirement for students to participate online at specific times.
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face Predominantly face-to-face. On campus attendance required to complete this unit. May have accompanying resources online.
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 1 core unit in the Human Geography and Planning major sequence
  • Level 1 option in the Geographical Sciences major sequence
  • Level 1 elective
This unit focuses on physical disasters including earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, epidemics, and those related to climate change including fires, droughts and floods. It provides a comprehensive understanding of the environmental, physical and geological and social triggers of these events from an environmental science viewpoint and the social vulnerabilities and failures that, together, result in slowly unfolding disasters or rapid-onset catastrophic events. The unit uses a variety of domestic and international case studies to examine how, in each case, physical vulnerabilities, environmental hazards and risk management intersect to produce disasters that threaten lives, livelihoods and ecosystems across a range of biophysical and socioeconomic contexts and scales.

The unit is delivered via a one-hour lecture each week which focuses on overarching themes and concepts that are further explored through a three-hour tutorial each week. The concepts include vulnerability, hazards and governance as understood through physical geography and human geography. Students apply these concepts through an investigation of a real-world disaster in tutorials to unravel the layers of complex interactions that result in disasters. Tutorials are designed with a strong emphasis on practical and group work to foster skills in multi-layered analytical thinking that encompasses patterns, processes and interactions which are fundamental to Level 1 learning goals.
Students are able to (1) distinguish between a variety of environmental and geological hazards, including their origin, pace, frequency and intensity; (2) understand the environmental, physical and governance factors through which an environmental hazard becomes a disaster; (3) appreciate the multiple layers that produce vulnerability in societies, including differences between low- and high-income countries and inherent disadvantages of particular populations; (4) gain knowledge of and experience in applying core concepts and analytical skills in human and physical geography, environmental sciences and planning; and (5) debate and design strategies for better risk management to reduce harm from disasters.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) online quizzes; (2) individual essay; and (3) group poster and presentation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Petra Tschakert
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hour per week from weeks 1 to 12; tutorials: 2 hours per week from weeks 1 to 12
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.