ATS1310 - Extreme earth! Natural hazards and human vulnerability - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Human Geography


Dr Megan Farrelly

Unit guides



  • First semester 2017 (Day)


This unit takes as its starting point the catastrophes of our world today, such as droughts, earthquakes, epidemics, fires, floods, hurricanes, landslides, tsunamis and weather extremes, and seeks to provide a blended understanding between the mechanics and dynamics of these environmental phenomena with the social contexts in which these disasters occur. This subject analyses the wide range of environmental processes (hazards) that pose risks to human lives, livelihoods and settlements, and brings together physical and human geographical approaches to explore how risk in a chosen area is a function of both the hazards and the community's vulnerability. Local and international case studies form a central component of this unit. As well, questions pertaining to the role of international aid and risk management (including mitigation, protection and adaptation strategies) will be discussed.


Students completing ATS1310 satisfactorily will:

  • gain awareness of the range of environmental processes that are recognised as hazards to human lives, livelihoods and settlements
  • understand the nature and origin of hazardous environmental processes, including concepts of event magnitude and frequency of occurrence
  • appreciate regional variations in the characteristics of environmental and socio-economic processes that produce catastrophes
  • recognize the social and demographic factors through which an environmental process becomes a human disaster
  • appreciate the range of factors than may influence the vulnerability of particular regions or communities to hazardous environmental processes
  • be able to summarise and discuss some of the strategies used to minimise the risk of environmental disaster and to respond to disasters that occur.


Within semester assessment: 70% + Exam: 30%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

Geographical science

Human geography