Course Title: Disaster, Design, and Development

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Disaster, Design, and Development

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


320H Architecture & Urban Design


Sem 2 2017,
Sem 2 2018,
Sem 2 2019,
Sem 2 2020

Course Coordinator: Esther Charlesworth

Course Coordinator Phone: online

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 100.08

Course Coordinator Availability: by appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Course Description

 This course introduces the links between development, design and disasters and explores how the design of the built environment can lead to effective post-disaster recovery and disaster risk reduction. You will investigate approaches to design as a development intervention that involves decision-making to both protect investments from the impacts of disasters as well as to prevent disasters from exacerbating the existing risks to communities and assets. You will examine how disasters can impact on development initiatives and investments and how ’mal-development’ can increase disaster risk.  You will analyse different roles through exploring case studies of post disaster recovery and development as well as undertake simulation exercises of ’real world ’responses to such complex situations in multi-disciplinary teams.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

 In this course you will develop the following program level learning outcomes:

  • Determine and apply specialist knowledge and technical skills required to creatively solve problems, demonstrating expert judgment and ethical responsibility relating to your professional practice in disaster, design and development.
  • Critically analyse, synthesize and reflect on complex theories and recent developments globally to extend and challenge knowledge and practice in design and development for disaster risk reduction and management.
  • Professionally communicate propositions, processes and outcomes to address specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • Provide leadership within your discipline as well as collaborate with others in multi-disciplinary contexts across the disaster and development sector
  • Master a body of knowledge and specific technical skills to progress your professional career within the contemporary disaster management, design and development arena.

Upon completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Review the relationship between development and disasters, and analyse how development can increase or decrease disaster risk
  • Critique the key design approaches that reduce disaster risk in disaster-threatened contexts and through post-disaster recovery projects.
  • Interpret and analyse the complexities of design projects in a range of resource-constrained and vulnerable contexts
  • Identify and review the cultural, environmental and social complexities underpinning the range of roles played in disaster and development projects

Overview of Learning Activities

You will engage in learning that involves a range of activities, both face-to-face and online, such as discussions, group work and research and will be delivered in intensive mode in Melbourne. Learning how to analyse and comment on your own and others’ work will be achieved through individual presentations, reviews and discussions in groups.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems including myRMIT. Field-based seminars and meetings with experts and organisations will comprise key learning activities and resources.Additionally a list of recommended learning resources will be provided, including books, journal articles and web resources. You will also be expected to seek further resources relevant to the focus of your own  learning. The University Library has extensive resources for students. The Library has produced a subject guide that includes quality online and print resources for your studies.The Library provides guides on academic referencing:

and subject specialist help via your Liaison Librarian.

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and in relation to the program learning outcomes.

Assignment 1: A report on the recovery and reconstruction process in a global mega disaster

(2500 -3000 words) 50%

This assessment task will address the following course learning outcomes

  • Review the relationship between development and disasters, and analyse how development can increase or decrease disaster risk.
  •  Critique the key design approaches that reduce disaster risk in disaster-threatened contexts and through post-disaster recovery projects.

Assignment 2: A Reflective Report

This assessment task will address the following course learning outcomes

  • Interpret and analyse the complexities of design projects in a range of resource- constrained and vulnerable contexts
  • Identify and review the cultural, environmental and social complexities underpinning the range of roles played in disaster and development projects

You are strongly encouraged to collaborate with your peers in the course.

Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks.

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or the Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more.

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies and procedures:

The Student Charter provides an overview of key responsibilities of RMIT Staff and Students to ensure a successful experience of university life.