Models of Risk, Crisis and Disaster

Module code: AE7503

Module co-ordinators: Dr Simon Bennett, Dr Nibedita S Ray-Bennett

This module will introduce you to the ways in which risk, crisis and disaster may be effectively modelled and how they may be understood in different ways by different people. An air crash, for example, may be understood primarily as a potential blow to future sales by the aircraft manufacturer, as a commercial upset and threat to profitability by the carrier, as a political embarrassment by a Prime Minister or President, as a commercial opportunity by rival manufacturers and/or carriers, as an unwanted burden by investigative agencies, or as a human tragedy by the relatives of the victims. Thus the same event may be ‘constructed’ or experienced differently by different involved parties. In this module we will examine how parties with different ‘investments’ (financial, reputational, emotional etc.) in crises and disasters may experience them in quite different ways.

Topics covered

  • The role of central government in disaster management
  • Disasters as heuristics?
  • The economics of disaster – Sea Empress
  • Hazard construction
  • National emergency management: a comparative study
  • The Lockerbie disaster: experience of a victim’s family
  • The public inquiry: an example and critique


  • 2 one-hour lectures
  • 2 hours of supervised workshops


  • Essay (100%)