GEOG1104 Disasters!

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Semester 2AlbanyMulti-mode
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 1 core unit in the Environmental Science; Geographical Sciences; Human Geography and Planning major sequences
  • The area of knowledge for this unit are Life and Health Sciences, Society and Culture
  • Category A broadening unit for Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science students where relevant according to the broadening requirements for each student
  • Level 1 elective
This unit investigates the physical and social drivers of disasters in our modern world such as earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, droughts, floods, landslides, tsunamis and epidemics. It provides a comprehensive understanding of the social vulnerabilities and failures in governance as well as environmental and geological triggers 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, 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 vulnerabilities and governance as integral to human geography and environmental and geological hazards as understood through physical 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) understand the social, institutional, demographic and management factors through which an environmental hazard becomes a disaster; (2) distinguish between a variety of environmental and geological hazards, including their origin, pace, frequency and intensity; (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) three quizzes relating to the tutorial program, after each core concept (worth 10 per cent each); (2) an in-class examination; and (3) a report on disaster profile, group project. 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: 1 hour per week from weeks 1 to 12; tutorials: 3 hours per week from weeks 1 to 12
Unit Outline
Semester 2_2019 [SEM-2_2019]
  • 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.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available at the University Co-operative Bookshop (from early January) and appropriate administrative offices for students to consult. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.