• Offered by School of Sociology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Sociology
  • Areas of interest Sociology

This course examines both ‘natural’ and ‘anthropogenic’ risks, hazards and disasters, and the relationships between the two.  It explores social conflict over how we calculate and manage risks and hazards and the impacts of risk and disaster events on communities. The course will examine what can be learnt about risks – such as those associated with climate – from actual disaster events including cyclones, tsunamis, nuclear power station failures, airline crashes, coal mine explosions and mass deaths in sporting stadia. The course will look at how these disasters have been explained and the ways in which society attempts to apportion blame, very often to individuals. It will evaluate the arguments made by sociologists that risk managers systematically underestimate the likelihood of unusual events because of failures to understand the connections between natural and socio-technical systems. It will show that in almost all circumstances there are organisational failures involved, particularly failures to collect and act on warning signs. The course will also show how the organisational perspective developed in the course can be used to explain other phenomena such as corporate crime and deaths in custody.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

i) Explain, from a sociological perspective, the cause of risk and disaster events.

ii) Utilise sociological theory and evidence to explore the implications of risk and disaster events for people and communities.

iii) Critically analyse policy and other responses to risks and disasters.

Indicative Assessment

i) Essay of 1,500 words on key concepts covered in the course (30%) [LO 1]

ii) Research essay of 3,500 words in which students analyse the causes and outcomes of a contemporary disaster. (70%) [LO 1 - 3]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


There will be one two hour lecture and one one hour tutorial every week. Students will be expected to undertake 6 hours independent learning each week.

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 12 units of 1000 level ANU courses; or permission of the convenor

Prescribed Texts

Hopkins, A. 2005. Safety, Culture and Risk. CCH: Sydney.

Gunter, V. and Kroll-Smith, S. 2007. Volatile Places: A Sociology of Communities and Environmental Controversies. Pine Forge Press: Thousand Oaks, CA.




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $2604
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2015 $3576
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9897 18 Jul 2016 29 Jul 2016 31 Aug 2016 28 Oct 2016 In Person N/A

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