Semester 01 of the diploma program consists of 12 credits comprised of 3 core courses (9 credits), and 1 elective course (3 credits). At this level, field-oriented and applied aspects of disaster management are emphasized. In Semester 02, students are required to complete another 12 credits comprised of 2 core courses (6 credits), 1 elective course (3 credits) and 1 special study (3 credits). At this level, a wider choice of electives is offered to take into account advancement of knowledge of the students. A greater emphasis on theoretical aspects is given in comparison to the previous semester. If the program is extended to a master's degree, a student is required to complete another 12 credits comprised of 1 core courses (3 credits), 1 elective course (3 credits) and a dissertation (6 credits) under the supervision of a suitable advisor. At the master's level, the student obtains a solid grasp of both theoretical and field-oriented aspects of the subject, as well as develops capacity for independent thinking. For students who are assessed to require them, non-credit preparatory courses are provided.
The contents of the course are comprised of three main components: lectures/seminars, field studies and individual student projects. A panel of experts from various disciplines presents lectures and conduct seminars. Field visits are arranged to relevant disaster-prone areas and disaster management projects. Each student undertakes special study projects during semesters 02 under the guidance of a relevant tutor, to be presented and submitted as terminal assignments.
The course contents relate to three main aspects:
1. Pre-disaster preparedness and vulnerability reduction.
2. Post-disaster response, relief and rehabilitation.
3. Disaster mitigation and long-term development (Pre-disaster + Post-disaster).
These aspects are presented and reviewed from the perspectives of various disciplines in the form of core courses, electives and individual student projects. Because this program runs in Bangladesh, which is a particularly disaster-prone region, most of the course contents are based on experience and information relating to this context. A wide variety of case studies on disasters and disaster management particularly from Bangladesh comprises the course contents.
At the diploma level, for each 15-week semester there is 12 contact hours per week @ 3 hours per day for 4 days a week. Classes are held in the evening for the convenience of active professionals for whom this course is primarily targeted. Possibility for part-time enrollment might also be considered. For students undertaking dissertation at the master's level, the schedule consists of personal tutorials with supervisor, attending core courses and working outside class.
The following list shows courses that are offered. Course numbers and descriptions are provided in the next section.
Core Courses (Each course carries 3 credits and is compulsory)
1. Fundamentals of Disaster Risk Management
2. Disaster Preparedness, Response and Recovery Strategies
3. Community Based Approaches to Disaster Risk Management
4. Tools and Techniques in Disaster Risk Management
5. Organizational and Policy Context of Disaster Risk Management
6. Research and Analytical Methods (for Masters students only)
Elective Courses (Each course carries 3 credits and at least 2 elective courses must be completed. A student may focus on a specific field of interest by selecting the relevant elective courses)
7. Emergency Response and Humanitarian Assistance
8. Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development
9. Risk Communication, Training and Public Awareness
10. Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation
11. Urbanization and Disasters
12. Built Environment in Disaster-Prone Areas
13. Disaster and Disaster Management Practices in Bangladesh
14. Special Study (3 credits)
15. Dissertation (6 credits; for Masters students)
All students continuing to the master's level are required to complete a dissertation (maximum 20,000 words, minimum 15,000 words) on a topic related to disaster management and agreed with their supervisor(s). The core course 'Research and Analytical Methods’ have to be taken during this stage to supplement dissertation writing skills and techniques. The dissertation have to be presented and defended at a committee composed of at least two faculty members and one external examiner.
Most of the lectures and seminars extensively utilize multi-media facilities and seek to promote self-reflection, peer-group discussion and interaction with tutors. Unless where required specifically, one-way delivery mode is not followed; student participation is given high priority. Nonetheless, because of the variety of courses offered within the program, a corresponding level of diversity is followed in the teaching methods, utilizing methods such as lectures, discussions, debating, role playing, case studies, workshops, individual projects, teamwork, research and analysis. Tutors of particular courses select teaching methods appropriate to each course and its objectives. However, because this course is principally field-oriented, a significant proportion of learning takes place outside the classroom during field visits. The outcome of the course should be transferable skills that can be applied in practice.
Faculty and Contacts
There is adequate expertise from diverse disciplines in Bangladesh on various specific subject areas within the disaster field and this is the main source of teaching staff. The course is taught, administered and managed by a faculty group from BRAC University and support staff from BRAC and BRAC University, assisted by part-time guest lecturers who are experts in different fields related to disaster management. Specialist faculties from other universities and from other countries are enlisted. In line with the student composition and course contents, teaching staff are gathered from a range of disciplines. In some courses with explicit multi-disciplinary contents, a team comprised of tutors from different disciplines teaches.
The following criteria is followed in admission of students to the course:
- Minimum a 3-year bachelor degree. Candidates with a bachelor degree of lesser duration are also accepted if they have completed a relevant diploma or certificate course.
- Minimum 2nd division in SSC, HSC and minimum 2nd class or at least 2.00 CGPA in bachelor degree. Alternatively, O-level in five subjects and A-level in two subjects with a GPA of at least 2.0, according to BRAC University scale: A=5, B=4, C=3, D=2 and E=1; only one E is acceptable.
- Qualifying in a 100-mark admission test consisting of written test (80%) and interview (20%).
- Exception to the above admission requirements can be made in special cases for students with long practical experience in disaster management with approval of the Academic Council.
The following requirements have to be fulfilled in accordance with each level of the course:
- For the diploma, completion of 5 core courses, 2 elective courses and 1 special study, totaling to 24 credits.
- At the master’s level, completion of 6 core courses, 3 elective courses, 1 special study and a dissertation, totaling to 36 credits.
- Minimum CGPA of 2.0 in credit courses and a satisfactory (S) grade in dissertation.
- Agreeable behavior and conduct throughout the duration of the course.