Vulnerability and Risk Assessment Methods

This course takes place in South Asia (India, Sri Lanka or Nepal), and includes one week of theory lectures and two weeks of field work/visit. In 2021 the course takes place in India.

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Assessing vulnerabilities and risks is a crucial task in any serious attempt to substantially reduce disaster losses. Without an understanding of the relevant risks, it is impossible to effectively prepare for or reduce them.

This intensive course focuses on the entire vulnerability and risk assessment process, from different methods for analysing risk to evaluating their results. The concept of vulnerability is vital in this context, as it allows us to understand why some individuals or systems are at more risk than others, thus widening our scope of possibilities for risk reduction.

The students of this course will go on a three week field trip in India, Sri Lanka or Nepal. This gives the student a chance to work in a developing country with the risk assessment methods they learn during the first week of the course.

Deadline for applications: 1 December 2020
Start your online application now


This course is offered by School of Global Health, University of Copenhagen as part of the programme Master of Disaster Management.

This is a field course that takes place in South Asia (i.e. India, Sri Lanka or Nepal).

Course coordinator:

Mariel de Guia Britanico,

Course leader:

Assistant Professor Emmanuel Raju


This is an optional advanced course in the Master of Disaster Management programme. This course can also be taken as a stand-alone course. Information about fees and admission requirements below.


8 - February - 5 March 2021 
8 - 26 February 2021 field visit to India
1 - 5 March 2021 exam week.

ECTS credits:




Learning Outcome

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


  • Understand how risk perception influences the evaluation of risks.
  • Understand the differences between VCA and the more conventional research and risk assessment methods, and the strengths of application of each.  


  • Critically analyse different types of vulnerabilities to hazards and their potential consequences.
  • Critically analyse central underlying aspects that influence the vulnerabilities and capacities of individuals and societies.
  • Develop a set of guidance and recommendations for vulnerability and risk reduction in the case study.
  • Work with international and local agencies in a field setting to undertake a VCA.


  • Identify a variety of tools and techniques applied in VCA concentrating on use, characteristics and caution measures.
  • Examine critically an actual VCA plan produced from a real life case.  


The course is focused on the basics of vulnerability and capacity assessment (VCA) including definitions of risk, methods for risk analysis, decision analysis, management of uncertainty, and analysis of chronic vulnerabilities as well as those related to extreme events and hazards. The course is based on IFRC’s Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA) Methodology. A central part of the course is the case study and fieldtrip, which involves performing a vulnerability and capacity assessment for an area/city/village/community. The students will work with the case throughout the course.


Combination of Theory lectures on VCA as a methodology and a series of exercises on practical applications of VCA and risk assessment methods. This is followed by a field visit to South Asia to take part in one or more projects dealing with DRR and CCA where VCA had been applied and was at the centre of decision-making. During the field visit, the students will be split into teams each working to develop a VCA assignment and report back and share the findings with the community and the facilitating organization.

Assessment Procedures:

The examination is based upon an assessment of a written individual report in which the students present their risk analysis of a given case, as well as their reflections around issues raised by the course management regarding the risk assessment process. Parts of the report can be written in cooperation with other students that belong to the same case group.

Grading according to the Danish 7-scale - internal moderation.


The applicants must live up to the Master of Disaster Management admission criteria.

Class size:

The number of participants is limited to 40. The course may be cancelled if there are less than 12 participants.


Reduced fee: DKK 18,500
For students from EU/EEA or Switzerland.

Normal fee: DKK 25,000
For all other students.

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

Students in this course will go for a 3 week  field trip to South Asia and will have to pay their own flights, travel insurance, accommodation and vaccinations. 


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.