Theories of Risk and Crisis

Module code: AE7505

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

During the last 30 years, risk has increasingly become of interest to social analysts and practitioners. Risk, however, is not a new problem. It could be argued that humans have been attempting to manage the problem of risk for as long as they have had powers of cognition. Certainly from examining early documentary sources, the risk issue has been considered for almost as long as writing itself (Bernstein, 1996; Borodzicz, 2005).

In the complex social world in which we now live, particularly since the 1980s, risk has emerged as a key concept for the social sciences. Some theorists have even suggested that risk represents a fundamental principle for organisation in the social sciences (Beck, 1992; Douglas and Wildavsky, 1982; Giddens, 1991; Hood and Jones, 1996).

The reasons for this profound interest in risk arise from a number of key areas. This module introduces you to a range of social science perspectives on risk and crisis. You will explore psychological and systems theory approaches to risk, isomorphic learning, cultural theory, risk communication and safety culture.

Topics covered


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


  • Essay (100%)