Faculty of Engineering

Master of Disaster Management


The Master of Disaster Management is a course-based programme which includes a research project, and is designed to prepare people for careers and leadership roles in disaster management.

The Master of Disaster Management programme provides graduates with the multidisciplinary knowledge and skills required to underpin successful approaches to addressing the management of disasters in complex urban environments. It concentrates on key issues such as disaster resilience and risk management.

This programme is for anyone wanting to work in the field of humanitarian aid, disaster risk, recovery, resilience or disaster management or people who want to understand the impact of disasters on societies and help with making societies more resilient to disasters.


Quick facts - MDisMgt
  Option A Option B
Points per degree 120 180
Full-time study 1 year 18 months
Part-time study Up to 4 years Up to 6 years
Structure Taught
Application close dates* Semester One: 8 December of the previous year
Semester Two: 8 April of the same year
2017 start dates Semester One: 6 March
Semester Two: 24 July

*Late applications may be considered. However, international applicants should be mindful of the length of time visa applications may take.

**Please note part time study is only available for domestic students.

Entry requirements

Note: Students should refer to the regulations before making an application. 

Option A

120 points

Candidates must have met the requirements of any of the following degrees from the University of Auckland with a GPA of 5.0 or higher in 120 points above Stage III.

  • Bachelor of Engineering
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours)
  • Bachelor of Commerce (Honours)
  • Bachelor of Health Sciences (Honours)
  • Bachelor of Laws
  • Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
  • Bachelor of Planning
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours)

Option B

180 points

Candidates must have met the requirements of any of the following degrees from the University of Auckland with a GPA of 5.0 or higher in 120 points above Stage II, or an equivalent qualification from another NZ or overseas university as approved by Senate or its representative, at a level deemed satisfactory by the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering.

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Commerce
  • Bachelor of Health Sciences
  • Bachelor of Science



International students

International applicants are asked to check the minimum entry requirements for this programme to determine their eligibility to apply – this extends to students applying from the following countries: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Singapore, South Pacific (USP), Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States and Viet Nam.

Only proceed with your application if your GPA matches or exceeds the requirements for your country listed in the engineering programme of your choice. Please do not apply if your GPA is below the minimum entry requirements, but consider the alternate study options that may be offered as a pathway into your preferred programme.


Who should apply

New Zealand is a recognised leader in disaster management, which makes it the perfect place to study the topic. Our significant, multi-hazard activity keeps disaster management at the forefront of government policy – and recent disasters both here and around the globe have highlighted a need for expert knowledge in managing them.

The Master of Disaster Management is intended to prepare you for a professional role in a disaster management career and/or humanitarian aid field. Many professions, including engineers, urban designers, project managers, economists, health workers, aid workers, scientists and government officials, can benefit significantly from expert knowledge and skill in this highly relevant programme.  



Programme outline and structure

This programme draws on expertise from across the University of Auckland – such as Engineering, Science, Architecture and Planning, Development Studies and Environmental Law – including the world-recognised research we’ve undertaken to date. It offers students a variety of knowledge and skills to implement a holistic approach to managing unexpected events such as disasters and emergencies. It focuses on key issues of disaster resilience and disaster risk reduction, ensuring you are equipped to apply this knowledge to disaster management operations, planning frameworks, policy-making and devising solutions in different and complex environments.

Taught (120 points or 180 points) Full-time or part-time

The Master of Disaster Management is a flexible programme – domestic students can study full or part-time (international students must study full-time), and depending on your existing qualifications, will undertake either a 120-point (12 months full-time/four years part-time) or 180-point (18 months full-time/six-years part time) degree. The programme includes:

  • Three core courses (of 15 points each): DISMGT 701 Disaster Risk Management, DISMGT 703 Disaster Management and Resilience, and Civil 703 Project Management
  • A research project DISMGT 704A and B (45 points), where you will address a topic relevant to disaster management. The MDisMgt research project develops your knowledge of how to support community resilience and the built environment after a disaster. It will help you demonstrate critical thinking and analytical skills, and give you the ability to independently solve a real-world issue in disaster settings, as well as
  • A variety of electives to suit your schedule and interests

The University of Auckland provides you with all the facilities, flexibility and support needed for your study success. The Faculty of Engineering also offers the capability and pathways for you to undertake PhD study in Disaster Management after you have completed the Master of Disaster Management.


Course list

Core courses (90 points)

For MDisMgt (120 points): Choose two electives

For MDisMgt (180 points): Choose six electives

DISMGT 701 - Disaster Risk Management (15 points)
A broad based understanding of the critical elements of risk and risk management in pre- and post-disaster scenarios. Key elements include risk identification with regard to the forms and types of risk inherent in areas prone to disasters. Risk management approaches are explored and applied to different aspects of disaster management.
DISMGT 703 - Disaster Management and Resilience (15 points)
Disaster management concepts and approaches related to urban resilience, including societal and infrastructure resilience. Key elements include exploring holistic approaches to disaster management and assessment of the relationship between resilience and disaster management. This includes systems and complexity, policy and general regulatory environment. This course involves group work and a course project.
CIVIL 703 - Project Management (15 points)
Planning, organisation and control of engineering projects. Application and integration of project management processes to the typical project lifecycle (initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and closing). Studies in the nine knowledge areas defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI): Project Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Human Resources, Communications, Risk and Procurement Management. Development of a range of skills, tools and techniques to become an effective project manager.
Disaster Management Research Project - DISMGT 704A (15 points) + DISMGT 704B (30 points) 
Supervised research project addressing a topic of your choice to support your career goals.
To complete this course students must enrol in DISMGT 704 A and B in two consecutive semesters.
Elective courses

Note: Enrolment into electives outside of the Faculty of Engineering is at the discretion of the faculty who run the course. There is no guarantee that your enrolment will be approved. Your background will be assessed and a decision made on your enrolment request. If your request is declined, you will need to select another course. Please contact the Faculty of Engineering Student Centre for information on the availability and enrolment matters of electives at foe-enquiries@auckland.ac.nz or consult the relevant faculty website.

DEVELOP 701 - Development Praxis (15 points)
Focuses on the practice of development and its relation to theory. General topics include aid modalities, participatory development and social and environmental discourses and practices, and in those contexts the project cycle, programme management tools, monitoring and evaluation and impact assessment.
DEVELOP 709- Theories of International Development (15 points)
Examines early and contemporary theories and paradigms of international development, including modernisation and dependency theory, neoliberalism, human development, post-development, and participatory development. Investigates the dominance of economic growth as a development target and how this has been contested. The course will enable students to critically analyse the processes and phenomena involved in what is called ‘development’.
DEVELOP 710 - Contemporary Theories of International Development (15 points)
Consideration of contemporary development issues and strategies, including globalisation, gender, environment, human rights and current thinking.
Restriction: DEVELOP 700
DEVELOP 716 - Global Health and Development (15 points)
Introduces a social science approach to the study of health and globalisation, tracing various historical genealogies from colonial hygiene movements, to international public health in the development sector, up through contemporary global health institutions and their governance structure. Current issues in health and development, including the increasing role of NGOs and human rights frameworks, are critically analysed.
DEVELOP 702 - Gender and Development (15 points)
Considers a range of topics focusing on the centrality of gender to development and developing nations. Topics include: empowerment, reproduction, masculinities, health, fertility, gendered economies, micro-credit and familial resource allocation.
DEVELOP 717- Humanitarian Interventions (15 points)
Traces the rise of the humanitarian narrative and examines how humanitarianism – along with other key words such as crisis, emergency, and intervention – has become one of the organising categories of political action and order. The course explores the possibilities and limits of intervening in the lives of individuals and communities grounded upon discourses of compassion.
EARTHSCI 705 - Geohazards (15 points)
Introduction to contemporary methods used to identify and assess natural hazards, techniques used for the probabilistic forecasting, spatial representation and communication of hazards. How the relationship between hazard information, risk mitigation and emergency management is addressed. There will be a strong focus on the use of case studies.
CIVIL 765 - Infrastructure Asset Management (15 points)
Advanced theories and techniques fundamental to the management of infrastructure assets, with a primary focus on Asset Management Plans. Covers the entire spectrum of infrastructure, including roads, water networks and buildings. A major independent project incorporates a literature review and selection, and then critical review, of an Asset Management Plan from industry.
ENVENG 752 - Risk, LCA and Sustainability (15 points)
The objectives of this course are to provide students with an understanding of sustainability, life cycle assessment, impact assessment and risk assessment and how these can be used to measure sustainability. The format will include discussions on sustainability, assessment methods and sustainability assessment, including scoping, sustainable levels, inventory, impact and risk assessment and mitigations measures.
CIVIL 707 - Construction Logistics Engineering (15 points)
Advanced topics in construction logistics such as construction supply chains, buffer management, relational contracts and behavioural dimensions, analytical models for construction, information technologies and sustainable supply chains. Independent research is undertaken by developing individual research projects in which students study logistics and supply chain problems by analysing real production scenarios or the current literature available in this topic.
URBPLAN 713: Shelter (15 points)
Housing policies and practices. Housing and urban sustainability.
POPLHLTH 715 - Global Public Health (15 points)
Explores global health from a public health perspective, with a strong emphasis on health and its determinants in developing countries. Topics covered include the global burden of risk and disease, global environmental challenges to health, international health governance, international healthcare financing and international health promotion.
POPLHLTH 722 - Organisation of Health Systems (15 points)
The principles, structure, financing and organisation of health systems. Current issues and challenges facing health systems from a national and international perspective.
POPLHLTH 752 - Case Studies in Global Health (15 points)
Provides the opportunity to develop critical awareness and practical engagement with a public health issue or issues facing people in the Asia Pacific region. The public health issues facing the region are broad and complex and require a region and country-specific response. Students will develop an understanding of the key health challenges, and the range of possible responses to improve health in the country and wider region.
POPLHLTH 760 - Principles of Public Health (15 points)
Consideration of the principles underlying the modern practice of public health. Students examine the major core concepts in public health, including determinants of health, health equity, environments and health, health promotion and health systems.
PROFCOUN 707 - Specialist Counselling Skills and Approaches (15 points)
An advanced examination of the specialist counselling skills and knowledge required to work effectively with clients from a wide range of contexts and experiences. Topics may include working with sexual abuse, family violence, trauma, anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicidality, and loss and grief. The course will focus on the integration of theory, research and practice, and the development of working models to facilitate effective counselling.
PROFSUPV 710 - Stress and Trauma in Health and Human Services (15 points)
Explores the complex dimensions of stress and trauma encountered by health and human services workers. The historical, cultural and conceptual basis for an understanding of the impact of stress and trauma on both clients and workers is considered. Critically explores research-led strategies to address personal, professional and organisational responses to stressful environments.
SOCHLTH 732 - Working with Grief and Loss (15 points)
An in-depth examination of theoretical and cultural perspectives of grief and loss that includes loss associated with trauma, terminal and chronic illness and suicide. Personal experience of loss will also be explored. Content will include contemporary literature and the examination of evidence-informed interventions that can assist adults and children experiencing grief, loss and change.
Restriction: ACE 990.601, SOCHLTH 432
SOCIOL 713 - Sociology of Law: Human Rights (15 points)
Examines recent developments in the sociology of human rights within the study of law and society. Sociological thinking can offer a critical examination of international rights thought and practice, addressing the place of rights discourse in law and literature, feminist issues, indigenous rights, the place of rights in critical race theory and for refugees.
LAWENVIR 714 - Natural Resources Law (15 points)
An examination of the legislative framework and legal principles relating to agriculture, forestry, and fisheries activities in New Zealand. Selected topics will include: legal ownership and interests in rural land and natural resources, the role of government, Māori claims and resource development conflict resolution.
Restriction: LAWENVIR 713
LAWENVIR 716 - Resource Management Law (30 points)
Studies in the New Zealand law relating to resource management and environmental regulation including: evolution of the sustainable management concept, consideration of national objectives, Treaty of Waitangi application, national standards, coastal policies, regional statements and plans, district plans, designations, heritage and conservation powers, resource consent procedures, and remedial powers and enforcement procedures.
LAWENVIR 726 - Selected Issues in International Law (15 points)
This course is structured around a series of contemporary themes in public international law. These include international governance, the way in which existing structures respond to emerging threats and the changing role of the United Nations. In interrogating these themes students will engage with specific topics in international law as well as gain an understanding of more conceptual questions about the international legal order.
LAWPUBL 736 - Human Rights Litigation (30 points)
Study of international conventions and customary international law on human rights, including: free speech, exercise of religion, privacy and non-discrimination, enforcement mechanisms, human rights theories in international law, third generation human rights including rights to development and a functioning environment, and the recognition of these in international law.
LAWENVIR 725 - Corporate Environmental Governance (30 points)
Takes a comparative and global perspective exploring the regulatory and governance frameworks that shape how corporations address environmental and related social issues.


Domestic students

The University of Auckland offers guaranteed scholarships to domestic research students who meet GPA thresholds from their qualifying programme. 

Masters scholarships (domestic students)

International students

The New Zealand government offers scholarships that cover many countries in the Pacific Islands, Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and the Caribbean. The following scholarships are the most relevant for international students:

  • New Zealand Pacific Scholarships
  • NZ Development Scholarship (NZDS)
  • NZ Regional Development Scholarships
  • NZ ASEAN Scholar Awards
  • Commonwealth Scholarships
  • University of Auckland International Scholarship (Postgraduate)

More information on these and other scholarships is available here: Scholarships, loans and funding (international students)



Career opportunities

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Recent disasters have generated a need to gain expert and specialist knowledge for many professionals, including engineers, policy planners, urban designers, development experts, project managers, economists, scientists, health and social professionals.

This highly relevant programme is designed to prepare people for careers and leadership roles in disaster management.

With a Master of Disaster Management you will be equipped with a dynamic mix of technical, engineering, economic, and regulatory knowledge and skills required to implement comprehensive, holistic approaches to managing disasters and emergencies.

The University of Auckland is one of the only universities around the world to offer this disaster management degree accommodating multiple discipline backgrounds. The demand for these skills and knowledge has been identified by the disaster management industry and its stakeholders, including:

·         Central and local government

·         Emergency services

·         Non-governmental organisations (NGOs)

·         Insurance companies

·         Private consulting and contracting organisations

MDisMgt graduates will have a unique blend of understanding that emphasises imaginative thinking as well as sound knowledge and technical skills. Development across a wide variety of subject areas will ensure that they can apply the desired knowledge and skills in a range of complex disaster situations.

Programme coordinator


Note: From 1 July 2016 to 1 February 2017 please direct any enquiries about Master of Disaster Management to: foe-enquiries@auckland.ac.nz