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University of Canterbury
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Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience

This course is available


Level of Study

Master's Degree


1 year

Next start date

Expected Feb 2025


University of Canterbury


The United Nations defines a disaster as a disruption of social and community function, involving so many losses and destructive impacts that affected communities and regions are unable to cope using their own resources. Global efforts to reduce the impacts of disasters over the last decade have failed to keep up with growing exposure of people and assets to natural and other hazards, which is generating new risks and a steady rise in disaster-related losses. To reverse this trend, UN member nations ratified the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015.

The Sendai Framework calls for a broader, more people-centred, preventative approach to disaster risk reduction, in which communities, government and private sectors, civil society organisations, academia, and research institutions work together to build resilience and develop collaborative disaster risk reduction practices.

This Professional Master’s degree provides an introduction to this rapidly evolving interdisciplinary field.

Subjects and courses

Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience (MDRR) courses draw disaster risk and resilience content from social, physical, and geospatial sciences, as well as planning, law, and engineering disciplines. Innovative teaching methods include role play disaster simulation exercises, field trips to major infrastructure assets/systems and disaster hotspots, and leading guest lecturers from science, government, and industry.

MDRR students gain an understanding of:

current disaster risk and resilience research and practice fields
disaster risk drivers, risk communication, and disaster risk reduction strategies
disaster resilience-building theory and practices.

Further study

The MDRR is part of a suite of postgraduate qualifications at UC at the intersection of cutting-edge physical and social sciences, exploring interactions between geophysical and human environments with a focus on resilience and geophysical/social environmental dynamics – a growing area of expertise at UC.


MDRR graduates are in a position to choose between proceeding into funded doctoral programmes, or pursuing careers in disaster reduction, risk assessment, hazard assessment, and environmental management and consulting, as well as in local and regional government.

Graduates have found work in consultancies locally and internationally, in NZ Crown Research Institutes, in the Ministry for Civil Defence and Emergency Management, in regional Civil Defence and Emergency management Groups, and in the private sector.

Entry criteria

To apply for the Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience (MDRR), you will need to have:

a bachelor's degree which is relevant to Disaster Risk and Resilience, normally with a B Grade Point Average or higher in the final year; and
15 points from STAT 100-level courses, or equivalent.
Note: This prerequisite may be waived at the discretion of the Programme Coordinator.

Applicants must also satisfy our English language entry requirements:

IELTS (Academic): An average score of 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in reading, writing, listening, and speaking.
TOEFL (IBT): Total minimum score of 90, minimum score of 19 in reading, writing, and listening.
PTE (Pearson Test of English - Academic): PTE with an overall score of 58 and no PTE communicative skills score below 50.

Applications after the deadline date (8 December) will be considered if places are available.

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