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School of Environment, Education and Development

Student of environmental monitoring and modelling at The University of Manchester
MSc Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Reconstruction
Develop your environmental fieldwork skills, data handling and analysis at master's level.

MSc Environmental Monitoring, Modelling and Reconstruction

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Climate Change, Disasters and Responses

Unit code MGDI60552
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Global Development Institute
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Climate change represents one of the most serious challenges currently facing urban poverty reduction. Despite uncertainties within the field of climate science, there is a broad consensus that human-induced carbon emissions are already causing climate change. At a global level, the poor are most likely to experience its effects; in particular, the urban poor majority in cities of the global South are among the most vulnerable to climate-related disasters and changing patterns of severe weather.

Over the past two decades alone, disasters have claimed more than two million lives, with 98 per cent of casualties occurring in developing countries, and climate-related disasters accounting for two-thirds of the total. As well as one-off events, urban residents' homes and livelihoods are also threatened by slow, insidious, weather-related changes brought about by climate change. In urban areas where institutional responses are limited by resources or capacity, households, small businesses and communities are leading adaptation efforts at the local level.

This course will explore how best to strengthen the resilience of these communities to climate change and climate-related disasters, in support of sustainable urban poverty reduction.


The overall aim of the course is to understand how urban poor communities' resilience to climate change and disasters can be strengthened. More specifically, the course aims to:

- Explore the complex interrelation between climate change, disasters, poverty and urban development.

- Analyse the role that local coping strategies, urban institutions and governance (can) play in addressing increasing climate change impacts and disasters.

- Provide understanding on how to integrate climate change adaptation and risk reduction into development planning, disaster response and recovery.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this unit successful students will be able to:

- Demonstrate a critical understanding of climate change and disasters, as well as of related theories and concepts on adaptation and disaster risk management for sustainable urban poverty reduction.

- Show knowledge of frameworks and operational tools for integrating climate change adaptation and risk reduction into urban development planning, disaster response and recovery, thus building related governance capacities.

- Demonstrate the need to adopt a holistic approach to adaptation and disaster risk management.

Teaching and learning methods

Eight two-hour lectures, one panel session, three two-hour seminars and one thematic seminar for group presentations. Guided individual reading for lectures and seminars.

Assessment methods

Group presentation (25%) and 3,000 word essay (75%)

Recommended reading

Bicknell, J., Dodman, D. and Satterthwaite, D. (eds) (2009) Adapting Cities to Climate Change, London: Earthscan
DFID (2005) Disaster risk reduction: a development concern, [URL document], 2010-01-19, Available online:
Few, R., Osbahr, H. et al. (2006) Linking Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management for Sustainable Poverty Reduction, Synthesis Report. Vulnerability and Adaptation Resource Group (VARG), European Commission. Available online:
Moser, C., A. Norton, Stein, A., Georgieva, S., 2010. Pro-Poor Adaptation to Climate Change in Urban Centers Report No. 54947-GLB, Washington D.C., World Bank.
Pelling, M. (2011) 'The adaptation age'. In: Pelling, M. Adaptation to climate change : from resilience to transformation. London : Routledge. 3-19.
Cynthia Rosenzweig et al eds (2011) Climate Change & Cities Cambridge: CUP.
Satterthwaite, D.; Huq, S.; Pelling, M.; Reid, H. and Romero Lankao, P. (2009) 'Adapting to Climate Change in Urban Areas: The possibilities and constraints in low- and middle-income nations', in Bicknell, J., Dodman, D. and Satterthwaite, D. (eds) (2009) Adapting Cities to Climate Change, Earthscan: London.
Tanner, T. and Allouche, J. (2011) 'Towards a New Political Economy of Climate Change and Development', IDS Bulletin 42(3), 1-14. Available online:
UNHabitat (2011) Global Report on Human Settlements 2011 Cities & Climate Change London: Earthscan.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 124

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nicole Greenidge Unit coordinator

Additional notes

GDI Programmes on which course unit is offered:

MSc International Development (all pathways). Core for Environment, Climate Change and Development pathway.

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