Preparedness and Response to Humanitarian Crises

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Disaster preparedness and response involve forecasting and taking precautionary measures prior to an imminent threat when advance warnings are possible. Preparedness planning improves the response to the effects of a disaster by organising the delivery of timely and effective rescue, relief and assistance. Preparedness involves the development and regular testing of warning systems (linked to forecasting systems) and plans for evacuation or other measures to be taken during a disaster alert period to minimise potential loss of life and physical damage. It also involves the education and training of officials and the population at risk, the training of intervention teams, and the establishment of policies, standards, organisational arrangements and operational plans to be applied following a disaster. Effective plans also consider securing resources, possibly including stockpiling supplies and earmarking funds.

This course is designed to introduce two aspect of disaster management – Preparedness and Response – and to increase students’ awareness of the nature and management of disasters, leading to better performance. The content has been written to cover principles, procedures, methods and terminology. However, terminology in this field is not standardised and different institutions may use the same terms in slightly different ways. This will also be covered as one of the problematic issues in this field.

The course includes a wide range of topics within Disaster Preparedness and Response such as: Conflicts and complex emergencies; International security; Management of disaster situations; Needs assessment and monitoring; Legal framework for refugees and IDPs; Information management and GIS; Communications in emergencies; Financing and donors; Personal safety in the field. These four weeks of Disaster Preparedness and Response also include a thorough introduction to the cluster-approach with extensive coverage of the most essential clusters (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; Health; Emergency Shelter; Logistics; Food/Nutrition; Protection; Camp Coordination and Management; Education) as well as many international actors working within response (e.g. Save the Children, UNICEF, WHO, UNOSAT, UNOPS, UN-OCHA).

Deadline for applications: 1 September 2020. Start your online application now!

This core course is part of the full Master of Disaster Management programme.


School of Global Health, University of Copenhagen.
The course takes place in Copenhagen, Denmark

Course leader

Assistant Professor Emmanuel Raju


This is a mandatory course in the Master of Disaster Management programme and an elective course on the MSc in Global Health. This course can also be taken as a stand-alone course. Information about fees and admission requirements below.


28 September - 6 November 2020

ECTS credits

7.5 ECTS



Learning outcomes


On completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an overall understanding of key aspects of disaster preparedness and response.
  • Acquire an understanding of the complexity of the “assistance” deployment environment.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the range and role of stakeholders in preparedness and response.
  • Be aware of the sectors (Health, WASH, Shelter, Nutrition, etc.) and related standards for response.
  • Be familiar with coordination, information management and operations and logistics for disaster response.
  • Be familiar with the concept and methodologies for conducting a needs assessment.


On completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Research into the issues of pre-disaster preparedness planning and post-disaster response.
  • Apply concepts, standards, principles, and methods of preparedness planning and response operations to case studies.
  • Acquire the conceptual basis to appreciate the complexity of the response environment.
  • Develop a better ability to engage with and relate to disaster professionals – across sectors and disciplines and work collaboratively in a field situation through understanding some of the operational procedures in preparedness and response within the Cluster System.
  • Develop a Preparedness and Response Framework and Plan for a specific case study.
  • Critically evaluate the strengths and limitations of the existing international preparedness and response systems.


On completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Apply tools used for teambuilding and stress management and demonstrate knowledge about intercultural and interdisciplinary communication.
  • Identify and formulate a relevant and current research question and develop a vulnerability profile for a case study assignment.
  • Work independently in self-directed study.
  • Work in a group – teamwork and presentation.
  • Engage in dialogue and discussions, and argue a case.
  • Negotiation, including compromise, argument and trade offs.
  • Read and critique literature.


The main content areas are:

  • Basic concepts related to disaster preparedness and response.
  • Considerations in regional and local planning for disaster preparedness and response.
  • International collaboration for preparedness and response with a focus on the Cluster System.
  • Implementation of disaster preparedness and response plans and their limitations and pitfalls.
  • Health, pandemics, WASH and nutrition preparedness plans and response.

Teaching and learning methods

There will be a variety of teaching/learning methods on the module ranging from lectures, to video screening followed by open discussions and to student led presentations. The teaching/learning methods could be listed as follows:

  • Lectures - Imparting knowledge, concepts, theories and models
  • Exercises – Inquiry or skills based with emphasis on analytical skills and problem solving
  • Case Study Analysis – Review of previous practice and guided analysis of specific aspects of a case
  • Videos – Guided with a set of questions or an exercise that follows
  • Seminars – Self-directed by students and guided and mentored by tutors
  • Presentations – of group assignments and feedback by a panel of tutors

Assessment Procedures:

An individually 48-hour written assignment. Internal moderation.
The 48-hour exam can be carried out from anywhere in the world – provided you have access to the Internet and have access to the relevant materials.
Evaluation: Danish 7-point grading scale.


  • Reduced fee: 22,000 DKK - For students from EU/EEA or Switzerland.
  • Normal fee: 30,000 DKK - For all other students.

For approximate exchange rates between DKK (Danish Krone) and other currencies please contact your bank or visit this website. All fees are subject to regulation.


We do not offer any scholarships, nor can we assist in finding funding, but on our page about scholarships we have collected some information that might be useful.