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Before Crisis: vulnerability, risk management and preparedness


Admission requirements

Course for students enrolled in master program Crisis and Security Management.

  • Students must be enrolled in the CSM Master program

  • At least 8 students must enroll for the course to take place

  • A maximum of 30 students can participate - admitted on a first come, first serve basis


How do organisations and societies attempt to prevent crises, disasters and catastrophes? Nowadays, crisis management is not just about managing crisis. It involves and relates to a vast array of policies dedicated to preventing catastrophes from happening, and to preparing for them should they happen. Crisis prevention and mitigation, risk management, vulnerability or risk reduction, preparedness feature in the toolbox of crisis managers, or in other domains of public policies. What each of these concepts/tools exactly aim to prevent? What are the differences between prevention, mitigation, preparedness? How do each of these relate to crisis management? What are the relations between risk, vulnerability and crisis? How does vulnerability contribute to disasters? What actions are taken to reduce risks and vulnerabilities? How to prepare for, and mitigate the possible effects of a disasters?
The course aims to engage students in thinking about the various processes that lead to crises, and the policies and actions that seek to prevent and mitigate them. The course adopts an interactive design, combining discussions of theories and cases. It aims to explain the different concepts and approaches to these sets of policies ‘before crisis’. During the course, students will examine cases from various contexts. They will learn to apply these theoretical insights to these cases, and to formulate policy recommendations to prevent and prepare for crisis.

Course objectives

  1. Students are able to understand the various concepts of risk, vulnerability, prevention, mitigation, and preparedness;
  2. Students are able to identify and discuss the main theories explaining the causes of crises and disasters;
  3. Students are able to identify the different policies and approaches used to prevent and prepare for crisis and disasters, and the main actors and tools responsible for these.
  4. Students are able to apply these theories and concepts to specific empirical cases. Students are able to identify in real-life cases how dynamics of risk and vulnerability lead to disasters, and how policies seek to tame these risks and vulnerabilities. They are able to discuss the efficiency and pitfalls of each kind of policy (risk management, vulnerability reduction, preparedness), and how they contribute to crisis management.


On the right-hand side of the programme front page of the E-guide you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Blackboard.

Mode of instruction

This course consists of seven lectures.

Participation in lectures, discussions and exercises is required in order to obtain a grade. One lecture may be missed.

Course Load

Total study load 140 hours

  • contact hours: 21;

  • self-study hours: reading, preparing lectures, assignments, etc.: 119.

Assessment method

Students need to hand in:

  • 1 mid-term assignment (25% of final grade)

  • 1 paper proposal (15% of final grade)

  • 1 final paper (60% of final grade)

Compensation rule: Only assessments with the weight lower than 30% are compensable. This means that one does not have to pass an assessment if it weighs less than 30% in order to pass the course, if the average of all assessments combined is at least a 5.5. In addition, assignments with less than 30% are not resitable, meaning that if one failed an assessment of less than 30%, one is not allowed to redo it. The resit takes the same form.


The corresponding Blackboard course will be available one week in advance

Reading list

To be announced on blackboard.


Register for every course and workgroup via uSis. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results. Registration in uSis is possible from four weeks before the start of the course.

Also register for every course in Blackboard. Important information about the course is posted there.


All communication should be directed to dr. Lydie Cabane. Please send your email to: