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Natural Hazards and Disaster Risk Reduction

Learn to predict and monitor multi-hazard risk and help reduce our vulnerability to disasters

Master's Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation

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Earthquakes and extreme weather are triggers for disasters in many parts of the world. The effects of climate change and of cities that keep on growing bigger and bigger are also increasingly harmful. Our exposure and vulnerability to landslides, (flash)flooding and other hazards are continuously changing. Would you like to know why and when natural hazards can turn into disasters? Want to play a role in minimizing their impact and reducing disaster risk? Then ITC’s specialization in Natural Hazards and Disaster Risk Reduction is what you are re looking for.

In our specialization courses we deal with natural hazards, vulnerability and disaster risk by combining geo-information technology with an earth science perspective. You will gain insight in methods to analyze, predict and monitor hydro-meteorological and seismic hazard processes. You will study how hazards and risk may change in the future due to global changes. You will also learn how geo-information is used in the evaluation of disaster risk reduction measures, in disaster preparedness planning and in post-disaster damage assessment. For your Master's research you’ll have the option to join forces with ITC’s research group 4D-Earth.


This course is eligible for various scholarships like the ITC Excellence Scholarship and the Orange Knowledge Programme Scholarship.

You must first apply for admission to the course. This will ensure that your application for admission can be processed in time for consideration for the scholarship.

More information about the:

Specialization courses 

See the full programme structure for a complete overview of courses in the Master's Geo-information Science and Earth Observation. 

Introduction to Hazard and Risk (7 credits)

This course will provide a fundamental introduction to natural hazards and the disaster risk concept, as well as the role of geomatics, in particular remote sensing (RS). It builds on the knowledge students gained in the core modules on basic remote sensing (RS) and GIS principles, and expands it. The course aims at creating a knowledge base for the subsequent courses and electives, by enabling the students to develop a solid understanding of the main geohazard types, and all relevant conceptual aspects of disaster risk. In addition students will learn how geoinformation and geomatics tools are uniquely suited to study, monitor and quantify each aspect of risk and disasters. Following an introduction to the main hazard types and their core properties, students will dissect past disaster events to discover the nature and properties of the underlying hazards and vulnerabilities, and learn how in particular RS provides comprehensive and specifically tailored means to gain insights into the risk components for different hazards and environmental settings.  Relevant background information on soils, geology and landuse will also be provided. The course thus prepares students for subsequent hazard modelling courses, as well as courses on risk assessment and management.  Academic skills will be taught together with this course in an integrated manner.

Data-driven hazard modelling (7 credits)

The identification and assessment of natural hazards is a crucial component of disaster risk management. For given elements at risk, the hazard assessment plays a central role in the risk analysis. 

This course will focus on the modelling of natural hazards, with an emphasis on hydro-meteorological hazards (floods, landslides and erosion) and earthquakes. Starting from the relevant natural phenomena and their causes, the main methods and tools to assess the susceptibility and hazard at different scales will be explained. Emphasis will be given to empirical modelling, including both data-driven – statistical  approaches, and knowledge-driven - expert-based - approaches . The collection of data from historical events involving their triggers, and their use as input sources for the empirical modelling and forward prediction of natural hazards will be discussed.

Empirical modelling approaches relevant in the context of risk assessment, with reference to the classification of elements at risk and their physical vulnerability will also be considered.

Physically-based Hazard Modelling (7 credits)

The aim of this course is, starting from the knowledge acquired in previous courses on empirical hazard modelling, to extend the student’s understanding of the physical processes that cause natural hazards, the methods and the physically-based modelling approaches for hazard analysis, to the point at which students are able to use them. As the processes of selected natural hazards, such as flooding, landslides and earthquakes, are explained, the students will be introduced to fundamentals of the underpinning science and engineering. Model data requirements and data collection will be treated, as well as the evaluation of uncertainty of input data on simulation outputs. Modelling principles and assumptions, possibilities and limitations will be discussed with the aim that students can make a proper selection of models for a given situation and critically reflect on the results, in order to support hazard analysis as input to risk management and mitigation. 

Disaster Risk Management (7 credits)

The study of hazard, vulnerabilities and risk assessments is a very multidisciplinary field that requires the development of innovative and integrated solutions to enhance the adaptation of infrastructure and society against extreme events (earthquakes, landslides, flooding, etc.). 

Topics given will pre-dominantly focus on vulnerability and risk assessment, where hazards have been addressed earlier in the curriculum. In order to conduct social and physical vulnerability and qualitative risk assessments, GIS-based methods will be learned and critically evaluated. Additionally, the impact of a changing society and climate change onto vulnerability and risk will explored.

In a studio setting, students will be encouraged to find creative solutions in the use of models, data and concepts taught as well as state-of-the-art literature and consultation of in-house experts. A real case on vulnerability assessment for multiple hazards and risk assessment will be presented. Students plan, manage, discuss and evaluate various aspects themselves in order to come up with a well-motivated risk analysis useful to make society more resilient. The emphasis is on critically reviewing underlying data quality, data choice, system knowledge, uncertainties due to a changing world; all relevant for effective communication, professionally and to a laymen audience.


Master's specialization

This specialization is part of the Master's Geo-information Science and Earth Observation.

Joint Master's

ITC has entered into partnerships with reputable qualified educational institutes for the purpose of providing joint courses in several countries. Under this arrangement, (part of) the programme, leading to a diploma in Geo-information Science and Earth Observation from the University of Twente, can be conducted at the partner institute.

Key information

Top rated programme
CROHO code
Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation
Geo-information Science and Earth Observation
2 years
100% English taught
Application deadline
15 July 2021
non EU/EEA
1 June 2021
15 August 2021
Starting date
1 September 2021
End date
28 July 2023
Tuition fees
Full period 2021 / 2022
full-time, institutional
€ 32.500
Additional costs
Cost of living, full programme
€ 21.275
Insurance, full programme
€ 1.260
Visa, full programme
€ 192