Course Title: Disaster, Design, and Development

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Disaster, Design, and Development

Credit Points: 24.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


320H Architecture & Urban Design


Sem 2 2021


City Campus


320H Architecture & Urban Design


Sem 2 2022

Course Coordinator: Esther Charlesworth

Course Coordinator Phone: Contact via email

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Contact via email

Course Coordinator Availability: Contact via email

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

In this course, you will examine the links between disasters, design and development and investigate how the design of the built environment can lead to effective disaster risk reduction and post-disaster recovery on a local and global scale. You will explore approaches to design as both a tool for community empowerment and development ‘interventions’ that involves decision-making to both protect infrastructure assets from the impacts of disasters as well as to prevent disasters from exacerbating existing risks to communities.

You will examine how disasters can impact positively and negatively on development initiatives and how ’mal-development’ can sometimes increase disaster risk.  You will analyse the different roles that design plays through exploring case studies of disaster risk reduction and post-disaster recovery as well as ‘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:

  • Master a body of knowledge and specific technical skills to progress your professional career within an SDG framework.
  • Determine and apply specialist knowledge and technical skills required to creatively solve problems, demonstrating expert judgment and ethical responsibility relating to your developing professional practice.
  • Critically analyse, synthesize and reflect on complex theories and recent developments globally to extend and challenge knowledge and practice in sustainability problem-solving.
  • Provide leadership within your discipline as well as collaborate with others in multi-disciplinary contexts across the disaster and development sector.

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:  

  1. Review the relationship between development and disasters, and analyse how development can increase or decrease disaster risk.
  2. 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. 
  3. Identify and review the cultural, environmental and social complexities underpinning the range of roles played in disaster and development projects.
  4. Explore and critique the concept of the disaster management cycle and its use in planning for disaster risk.  
  5. Utilise skills in design and systems thinking to propose design solutions to specific cases of disaster risk and prevention and develop general principles from these. 
  6. Develop a local emergency management plan based upon design and systems thinking strategies. 

Overview of Learning Activities

You will engage in learning that involves a range of online activities, such as discussions, group work and research. Learning how to analyse and comment on your own and others’ work will be achieved through group reviews and discussions.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems.

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 developing personal and professional interests.

The RMIT Library has extensive resources for students. A MoDDD guide that includes quality online and print resources may be found on the Canvas pages for the MoDDD program at

There are services available to support your learning through the University Library. The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help as well as a range of study support services. For further information, please visit the Library page on the RMIT University website and the myRMIT student portal.

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes. Assessment will be done individually and/or in groups.

Assessment Tasks

1) Disaster Recovery and Reconstruction Report (30%), 1500 words + graphics, CLOs 1, 2, 3, 4

2) Research Report (20%), 2000 words, CLOs 2, 3

3) Local Emergency Management Plan (30%) 1500 + graphics; CLOs 5, 6.

4) Portfolio of Weekly Tasks (10%) CLOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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 Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more.

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