Master of Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development (Master)

University of Newcastle, Australia

Cricos: 00109J

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The award

How long you will study
1 year

Domestic course fees
find out

How you will study
full-time, online

Course starts

International course fees
AUD 31650 per year

All study options

About Master of Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development at University of Newcastle, Australia

In 2015 the United Nations identified disaster risk reduction as one of the most impactful ways to achieve global sustainable development. With every dollar spent on disaster resilience there is a saving of up to seven dollars in future economic losses, it's not just good for the planet, but communities and businesses as well.

The UN has partnered with the University of Newcastle to develop a Master's program that that exposes professionals, organisations and communities to global best practice knowledge, and tools to implement the new UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

Upon completing this program - the only one of its kind in the world - you will receive certification from both the University of Newcastle and the UN.

Organisations around the world are becoming more proactive, realising that by championing sustainable development, they can not only save lives and revenue, but also achieve a competitive advantage and lead the way within their industry.

Extreme events do not necessarily need to result in disasters; with appropriate planning and preparation it is possible to weather the storm, survive the bush fire and maintain business continuity through a major disruption. Making your organisation and community more resilient in the face of disasters is about mitigating the risks posed by a hazard and reducing the disruption to little more than a brief disturbance to normal life.

To deliver positive outcomes, it is necessary to involve and coordinate the actions of many stakeholders towards concerted resilience-building; this extends to environmental, economic and social planning, infrastructure and capital. Disaster resilience is relevant to all industries and sectors and can span organisational, political and national boundaries. Moreover, it requires informed professional action well beyond the response to disasters themselves, from disaster mitigation and preparedness through to recovery and reconstruction.

The Master of Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development equips people from diverse backgrounds to understand resilience and sustainable development principles, and systematically apply them to the design of public, private, NGO, civil society organisations and the built environment. Your work will improve your organisations' capacity to avoid disasters, operate through extreme events and emerge better placed to face the future.

Upon graduation, in addition to your degree you will receive UN co-certification from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

The program combines flexibility (available both online and face-to-face on campus), relevance (staff who have global best practice experience in disaster relief, reconstruction and resilience building) and employability (of potential benefit to any organisation that recognises the need to build its resilience capacity for the future).

Apply now to lead your industry into a sustainable future.

What will you study?

The Master of Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development is unique. It is the first and only program to contain UN co-certification in the use of tools and frameworks central to disaster preparedness, reconstruction and resilience building.

It contains two core elements - across eight core courses (80 units of study) - related to disaster resilience and sustainable development that are underpinned by a practical grounding and application of the UN-SDGs and Sendai Framework, all underpinned by the development of disaster management skills.

Under certain circumstances (related to prior qualifications/work experience) you may be required to complete up 160 units of study: a further two clusters of directed electives are available that relate to climate change adaptation and finance for sustainable development.

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Is it for you?

The Master of Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development will position you at the forefront of this emerging and increasingly globally relevant field of expertise.

Not only will you be able to identify hazards, vulnerability and the consequent level of risk faced by your organisation or community, you will also be able to develop evidence-based strategies to overcome them, thereby improving resilience into the future.

If you already work in a role related to business continuity, emergency management, risk management, workplace health and safety resilience management, disaster recovery planning or simply wish to progress into such a role this program will broaden your outlook, increase your knowledge, and provide you with an unrivalled, internationally recognised and certified skill set.

Every decision could make your organisation more vulnerable or more resilient. Learn global best practice resilience strategies and make more informed decisions. This program will simultaneously equip you with a highly relevant set of transferable skills for agility in the employment marketplace.

Be ready to adapt to the next disruption. If you believe you would gain satisfaction by playing a central role in protecting communities, businesses and municipalities from extreme events, during, after, and crucially, before them, this program will be highly relevant to you. 


The Master of Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development is designed to appeal to those in management positions in private and public sector organisations, as well as those in NGOs and civil society, whose work involves resilience-building through the mitigation of impacts arising out of extreme events, which can be as varied as natural disasters, data breaches, political instability, terror attacks or health epidemics.

The term "Resilience Officer" is being increasingly used by organisations to describe this role, though many have yet to embrace the terminology. Nevertheless, elements of this job role will be familiar to those who work in local government, planning and implementing strategies for town planning, urban and rural development, community safety and service continuity in times of emergency.

In the private sector this is mirrored by business continuity, environmental protection, risk management, disaster recovery planning, emergency and crisis management and workplace health and safety functions. Given the financial implications posed by risk, this program is also highly relevant to those managing and minimising risk and insurance cover.

There is also clear alignment between those employed in the emergency services and the planning and implementation of risk mitigation programs, and this is mirrored in the NGO and voluntary sectors including community-based organisations.

In short, if your job role involves identifying, mitigating and managing business/safety/environmental risks - or indeed if you aspire to such a position - this program will allow you be at the forefront of your field of expertise.

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Study options for this course

Entry requirements

There are four pathways into the Master of Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Development (MDRSD) program:

1. Direct entry into the MDRSD program (120 units) is available for applicants who have:

2. Direct entry into the MDRSD program (80 units) is available for applicants who have:

3. Direct entry into the MDRSD program (80 units) is available for applicants who have:

4. Direct entry into the MDRSD program (160 units) is available for applicants who have:

5. Indirect entry into the MDRSD program via the Graduate Certificate in Disaster Risk Reduction (GCDRR). Upon completion of the GCDRR, students would be eligible for admission into the MDRSD program (160 units) with 40 units of credit. This entry path is available for applicants who have:

Relevant work experience will be assessed using the following information:

Postgraduate pathways and pre-masters at other institutions

If you do not meet the entry requirements for this course then consider one of these postgraduate preparation courses from another institution:

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