Owing to increased vulnerability and climatic extremes, we are faced with the rapidly growing impact of disasters worldwide. There is an urgent need to incorporate the concepts of disaster risk management into planning, sustainable development and environmental impact assessment. Disaster risk management requires the assessment of risk, which is a multidisciplinary endeavour.
The course explains how to conduct a risk assessment using spatial information on hazards, elements at risk and vulnerability with the aid of GIS and remote sensing, and how this information can be used in risk management, with a focus on urban areas.
This course is designed for all those who have to carry out risk assessment and require knowledge and skills in using a GIS to handle the necessary the procedures, such as professionals working in governmental and non-governmental organizations, planners, engineers, architects, geographers, environmental specialists and university teachers. Some basic background in GIS is desirable, although not strictly necessary as the course follows a step-by-step approach that enables participants to rapidly acquire the basic skills in handling GIS software.
The course will guide participants through the entire process of risk assessment, on the basis of a case study of a city exposed to multiple hazards. At the end of this course, you will be able to:
- understand the concepts of hazard assessment, elements-at-risk mapping, vulnerability assessment and risk assessment
- formulate the spatial data requirements for risk assessment
- use GIS to generate an elements-at-risk database
- apply various methods for vulnerability assessment
- generate risk maps using qualitative and quantitative methods
- understand how risk assessment is used in risk reduction and disaster preparedness.
The course is composed of a number of sessions. Each session has a PowerPoint presentation and a document introducing the session topic. Each session also has exercises and assignments, including maps or materials to be handed in. The course is based on a study load of one module of three weeks (5 ECTs), which is offered in online form over a period of six weeks. Below is a summary of the sessions and detailed content.
00: Getting started
Set up Blackboard account; install ILWIS software; get to know the tutors and fellow students
01: Introduction to risk assessment
Introduction to disaster risk management and risk assessment
Generation of a hazard profile using disaster databases; introduction to ILWIS and the RiskCity dataset; learn the various hazard problems by evaluating high-resolution images
02: Obtaining spatial data for risk assessment
Presentation of data requirements for the various types of hazards; sources of spatial data
Defining spatial data requirements for risk assessment; iInternet search for information on risk assessment; acquiring free and low-cost data; generating 3D image data using Google Earth; stereo image interpretation
03: Hazard Assessment
Hazard types; main concepts of hazard assessment; frequency-magnitude relationships
Frequency assessment; selection of hazard assessment example (flooding, landslides, earthquakes, technological hazards, volcanic hazards, etc.)
04: Elements-at-risk assessment
Types of elements at risk; classification of buildings, infrastructure, lifelines, critical facilities; population information; collection of elements-at-risk information
Generating an elements-at-risk database from scratch; generating an elements-at-risk database using available data (building footprint map, census data and LiDAR)
05: Vulnerability assessment
Types of vulnerability; social vulnerability; physical vulnerability; methods of vulnerability assessment; participatory GIS; spatial multi criteria evaluation
Defining vulnerability curves; spatial multicriteria evaluation for vulnerability assessment
06: Risk assessment
Loss estimation models; HAZUS; qualitative risk assessment; QRA; basics of flood risk, seismic risk, landslide and technological risk assessment
Creating risk curves; selection of risk assessment method: flooding, earthquakes, landslides, technological hazards.
07: Risk management
Risk evaluation; risk governance; risk communication; cost-benefit analysis; using risk information for emergency planning; spatial planning, and environmental impact assessment
Multi-hazard risk assessment for buildings; assessing economic losses; cost-benefit analysis
08: Final project and examination
The course has been designed over a long period of time and has been tested many times in different countries. It is based on a course book with assignments and an exercise book with GIS exercises. Active interaction with lecturers and fellow students takes place via internet. The general approach of the course is task-based learning that blends theory and practice. The study load is 20 to 24 hours per week.
Upon successful completion of this course you will receive a Certificate which will include the name of the course.
Along with your Certificate you will receive a Course Record providing all the subjects studied as part of the course. It states: the course code, subject, ECTS credits, exam date, location and the mark awarded.
If you decide to follow a full Postgraduate or Master's course at ITC, and after approval of the Examination Board, you will be exempted from the course(s) you followed successfully as an online course.
Academic level and background
Applicants for an online course 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.
The faculty accepts transcripts, degrees and diplomas in the following languages: Dutch, English, German, French and Spanish. It is at the discretion of the faculty to require additional English translations of all documents in other languages as well.
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 recognized test results are accepted.
TOEFL Paper-based Test (PBT)
TOEFL Internet-based Test
British Council / IELTS
C2 Proficiency / C1 Advanced
Online English tests during COVID-19
We acknowledge the difficulties experienced worldwide in taking the compulsory language test, due to the Covid-19 situation. An alternative English test can be the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition test (online test). This test is accepted by UT and is available everywhere that TOEFL iBT testing is normally available, with the exception of Mainland China and Iran.
Please note that the only online English language test that is accepted at UT is the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition. Other online English language tests (i.e. IELTS Indicator test, Cambridge online test, etc.) will not be accepted(!).
To follow online education you must have basic computer experience, regular access to internet, and e-mail. For some courses, additional computer skills are required (see description of specific course).
Technical requirements online education and assessment
For online education, we formulated guidelines to guarantee optimal performance. For online oral exams and proctoring during online assessments, the webcam and headset requirements need to be met.
GIS and remote sensing
Most online courses, except for the introductory course, require knowledge of, and skills in, working with GIS and/or digital image processing of remotely sensed data.
Candidates are asked to provide proof of identity during the registration process.
Since the computer is used for both the practical exercises and the communication via the internet you are expected to have a computer capable of running ILWIS (standard PC or laptop is OK) and an internet connection. The course is made for the Open Source GIS software ILWIS (Integrated Land and Water Information Systems. We will use email and skype for individual communication and a discussion board in Canvas for group communication. There is also a Chat function in Canvas.
All course material can be downloaded from Canvas, our educational system. Besides ILWIS you will work with MS Excel and Word.
The study load is at least 20-24 hours per week. You have to make choices in tasks and offered links and background study materials in order not to make too many study hours. Try to construct your own simple anaglyph glasses for stereo viewing in one of the exercises.
This online course is based on a module of one of ITC's degree courses. Successful completion will lead to exemption for that course in the degree course.
The course is developed by a group of people. Coordination is by: