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Certificate course in

Natural Hazards Modelling and Risk Assessment

Certification Certificate Location Start Duration EC Tuition fee Registration deadline NFP/MENA registration deadline Register
Certificate Netherlands 09 Mar 2015 9 weeks 15 EUR 2289 Registration is closed 04 Sep 2014 n.a.


An important element of disaster risk management is the assessment of risk: the overlap in space and time of natural hazards and the vulnerability of communities at risk.

The first part of this course concentrates on the spatio-temporal modelling of natural hazards that are related to hydrological processes (drought, landslides, runoff/erosion, flash floods, river floods). Step-by-step modelling provides insight into hazard processes and allows scenario predictions.

The second part focuses on multi-hazard risk assessment. Spatial information is used to assess vulnerability and elements at risk, and combine this into risk. The RiskCity case study of a city exposed to multiple hazards is used to demonstrate the different procedures for risk assessment.  

Towards the end of the course, small teams of participants carry out a hazard modelling or risk assessment project assignment.

It is possible to combine this course with the certificate course Remote Sensing and GIS for Natural Hazard Assessment.

For whom is the course relevant?

This course is aimed at working professionals and postgraduate students who wish to focus on the process-based modelling of hazards, and on the application of GIS and remote sensing in multi-hazard and risk assessment. Participants should have active working experience in using GIS and remote sensing. The course requires an affinity with landscape processes and willingness to approach risk assessment in a quantitative way.

What will be achieved?

On completion of this course, participants should be able to:

  • apply dynamic modelling concepts and software tools
  • use process-based models correctly and critically
  • use the PCRaster open-source modelling environment at intermediate level 
  • predict better where and how a natural process becomes a hazard
  • generate an elements-at-risk database using GIS
  • apply various approaches to vulnerability assessment
  • generate risk maps using qualitative and quantitative methods
  • understand how a risk assessment could be carried out in their own situation.

What is the course content?

The natural hazard modelling course component starts from a soil-water balance model linked with drought. Next, this model is extended in a step-by-step manner: with groundwater processes leading to slope instability, surface runoff leading to erosion and flash floods, and finally downstream flooding. The overall idea is to teach participants which landscape processes need to be simulated for a particular hazard, which spatio-temporal detail is appropriate, what the influence of data quality is, and how much confidence can be placed in modelling results. Process descriptions will be obtained from existing and proven models.

The risk assessment course component emphasizes the importance of geo-information obtained from hazard modelling and how it can be used for vulnerability assessment and risk analysis. It starts with the development of elements-at-risk geodatabases, including the use of participatory mapping approaches. Next, vulnerability curves are used to express physical vulnerability to flooding, earthquakes and landslides. Spatial multicriteria assessment is used for a more comprehensive vulnerability and risk assessment. Both qualitative and quantitative risk analysis approaches are used to estimate the risk to communities caused by hazards. The information thus obtained from risk assessment can be input into further risk management.

An important part of the course is training participants to solve problems independently. Therefore, the last three weeks of this course are devoted to a challenging hazard modelling/risk assessment project.

Why choose this course?

The combined focus of the two course components provides a unique opportunity to integrate natural hazard modelling into a process of multi-hazard risk assessment. The course has a problem-solving, hands-on approach, using real-world data from many projects.

This Certificate course is also a course block in ITC’s MSc degree and Postgraduate diploma courses in Applied Earth Sciences. Hence this course also provides a good opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with an international group of students and professionals with a shared interest in surface processes, natural hazards and disaster risk management.

Admission requirements

Academic level and background

Applicants for the Certificate programme should have a Bachelor degree or equivalent from a recognised university in a discipline related to the course, preferably combined with working experience in a relevant field.

Some courses in the Certificate programme or separate modules require knowledge of, and skills in, working with GIS and/or digital image processing of remotely sensed data.

Skills in taught or related subjects are a prerequisite for some courses in the Certificate programme or separate modules. Even if the applicant satisfies the overall admission requirements, acceptance is not automatic.

English language

As all courses are given in English, proficiency in the English language is a prerequisite. If you are a national of one of the countries in this list (PDF), you are exempted from an English language test. Please note: the requirements when applying for fellowships may vary according to the regulations of the fellowship provider.

English language tests: minimum requirements

Only internationally recognised test results are accepted.

TOEFL Paper-based Test (PBT) 550
TOEFL Internet-based Test 79-80
British Council / IELTS 6.0
Cambridge CPE/CAE

Computer skills

Applicants lacking computer experience are strongly advised to follow basic courses in their home countries.

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