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SOCI3060 – When Disaster Strikes

2020 – Session 1, Weekday attendance, North Ryde

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, any references to assessment tasks and on-campus delivery may no longer be up-to-date on this page.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts on staff and students

General Information

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Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit convenor and teaching staff
Peter Rogers
Credit points Credit points
Prerequisites Prerequisites
130cp at 1000 level or above
Corequisites Corequisites
Co-badged status Co-badged status
Unit description Unit description

These are uncertain times, but how do we deal with them? Given the increased frequency and severity of crises this is a key concern for us all. Floods, fires, epidemics, wars, riots, corruption, pollution, terror attacks (real and imagined); be it sudden shocks or slow stressors we are constantly required to be vigilant, for danger is everywhere. But why? Is the world truly so dangerous? How do we study and research this; how do we secure the world and make it a safer place. This unit breaks down these questions and provides insight into the study of disasters through the study of resilience. In this unit we question the use and utility of these concepts and explore the tools now used for governing these uncertain times.

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at https://students.mq.edu.au/important-dates

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • ULO1: develop and understand both the theories about and and research into both disasters and resilience
  • ULO2: plan, design and conduct a team-based research project in collaboration with others
  • ULO4: describe, analyse, synthesise and reflect upon information from diverse disciplines and data sources
  • ULO3: evaluate and justify both individual and group performance through active participation and continuous learning
  • ULO5: evaluate the impact of different types of disaster events on our society and culture, including but not limited to: how we prepare for, respond to, recover from and become resilient towards diverse types of disruption and disaster

Assessment Tasks

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Assessment details are no longer provided here as a result of changes due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Students should consult iLearn for revised unit information.

Find out more about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and potential impacts on staff and students

General Assessment Information


The Major essay requires students to pick one topic area from (a) Risk, (b) Disaster or (c) Resilience and one disaster event from the following list:

  • Bhopal - Gas Leak (India, 1984)
  • New York - Twin Towers Terror Attack & Building Collapse (USA. 2001)
  • Indian Ocean - Earthquake and Tsunami (Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand. 2004)
  • Black Saturday - Bushfires (Victoria, Australia. 2009)
  • Christchurch - Earthquake (New Zealand. 2011)
  • Fukushima Daiichi - Tidal Wave and Nuclear Leak (Japan. 2011)
  • London & Manchester - Police Shooting & Riots (United Kingdom, 2011)

They will then write an essay explaining (a) the core concepts of the theory, (b) the application of this theory by researchers, related specifically to the disaster event chosen from the above list.


  1. If a student would like to explore a different event they must seek approval from the unit convenor. All alternative topics must be approved by the unit convenor
  2. Students cannot pick either the same topic or the same disaster event as covered by their group project. Breach of this requirement may result in a fail for your final mark.
  3. Students must use the Harvard referencing system for this essay.
  4. The bibliography or reference list does not have to be included in the final word count of your essay
  5. There is a 10% leeway for word count applied to your Major Essay. i.e. if the max word count is 2500 the max total is 2750 (excluding reference list).



The assessment policy requires that "at least 50% of group work assessment shall be allocated to individual performance". To comply with this policy the group project is divided into 3 components - two group components and an individual component. These grades are then combined to give students a final mark for the group project assessment.:

  • Group component 1. PROJECT PROPOSAL = 10% of GROUP PROJECT final mark
  • Individual Component. COLLABORATION WIKI = 50% of GROUP PROJECT final mark
  • Group Component 2. FINAL PRESENTATION = 40% of GROUP PROJECT final mark 


  1. The groups will usually be allocated in week 3, but no later than week 5. This varies depending on unit enrollments each year.
  2. The submission deadline for each component of the GROUP PROJECT will be listed in iLearn. Make sure to check your deadlines and manage your time carefully. Time management will be important for this unit, so if you are unsure how to plan ahead seek help early.
  3. Each individual student is expected to make a minimum of 1 significant contribution to the group wiki every week of term (this includes the mid-session interval). Details of what kind of contributions will gain you good marks will be discussed in lectures. Please review the lecture recordings carefully to make sure you do not miss this important information.
  4. The wiki is the focus of your group work. Everything you do must be recorded in the wiki. If we (the unit teaching staff) can't see it (i.e. in the wiki) you cannot get marks for it. 



There is no 'active participation' component of assessment in this unit. Students who complete the learning activities according to instructions (be they on campus or online) have historically achieved better grades than those who do not. The choice and responsibility, however, are entirely yours. See ATTENDANCE / COMPLETION OF ACTIVITIES in the Delivery and Resources section below for more details.

Delivery and Resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

Any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19.

Please check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status


Managing expectations is important. Students will benefit from the practice of time management through planning ahead. This helps to ensure they meet the requirements of study.

This unit is worth 10 credit points which equates to 150 hours of work; therefore, you should expect to commit an average of 12 hours of your time per week to this unit including all scheduled (e.g. lectures, tutorials/online activities = 3 hours per week on average) and unscheduled activities (e.g. reading, tutorial preparation, online activity preparation = 6 hours per week on average) as well as preparing and executing the assessment tasks (e.g. updating the group wiki space each week, writing your essay, presenting your project = 3 hours per week on average).

Workload will fluctuate somewhat throughout term, with more time required for assessment around deadline dates, so it is important to plan ahead. If you are concerned about your time management practices seek advice from academic staff early in the session. Further support and training is also available in the library and from student support services.



The lectures in this unit are pre-recorded and available on echo.  

Powerpoint slides are not provided in this unit. Academic research has proven that instructor-provided slides had no impact on class attendance and have an adverse impact on course performance for students using these slides in their note-taking process:

"While the present study found few educational benefits from the deployment of [PPT] slides, it did confirm the long-established effect of class attendance. Thus, students may need to worry less about whether their instructors are providing IP slides to a class and instead worry more about simply going to that class." (Worthington & Levassuer, 2015: 21) [read the full study here]

Instead of downloading PPT slides, you can review the echo recording. If you have a learning disability and require assistance please contact the disability support team and help will be provided.



There are no compulsory on campus sessions for this unit for fully online/external students.

There is also no 'active participation' component of assessment in this unit. Students who complete the learning activities according to instructions (be they on campus or online) have historically achieve better grades than those who do not. The choice and responsibility are entirely yours.

Discussion activities will be provided for online students every week. You will find these tasks in General Discussion Board, in iLearn. Fully online/external students are invited to contribute to these discussions in lieu of attending a tutorial on campus.

Fully online/external students are invited, but not required, to attend the on campus discussion groups in week 11 and 12. These will be recorded and monitored and students are invited to ask questions through the live lecture recording chat. Academic staff will monitor this and attempt to answer those questions each week - if not during the live recording then through the discussion board and online activities.



Leganto will be used as the main resource for your reading list. 

Check the Leganto block in iLearn for links to your weekly reading. Due to copyright restrictions beyond our control not all readings will be available on Leganto for the entire term. It is important to download and access your readings in a planned and timely manner. This is even more important if students choose not to or cannot afford to buy multiple textbooks.



Full details and links to the policies and procedures at MQ are included in this unit guide, under the heading 'policies and procedures'.

General questions about the unit not covered in this unit guide can be posted to the appropriate thread in iLearn for 'general enquiries'. If you need to speak to a member of academic staff about any aspect of the unit content or unit assessment you may do so by email or by appointment (email the unit convenor for a date and time).

For administrative matters (such as enrolment or tech support) please check the askmq FAQs and student support services.

Unit Schedule

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

The unit schedule/topics and any references to on-campus delivery below may no longer be relevant due to COVID-19. Please consult iLearn for latest details, and check here for updated delivery information: https://ask.mq.edu.au/account/pub/display/unit_status

See iLearn

Policies and Procedures

Macquarie University policies and procedures are accessible from Policy Central (https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policy-central). Students should be aware of the following policies in particular with regard to Learning and Teaching:

Students seeking more policy resources can visit the Student Policy Gateway (https://students.mq.edu.au/support/study/student-policy-gateway). It is your one-stop-shop for the key policies you need to know about throughout your undergraduate student journey.

If you would like to see all the policies relevant to Learning and Teaching visit Policy Central (https://staff.mq.edu.au/work/strategy-planning-and-governance/university-policies-and-procedures/policy-central).

Student Code of Conduct

Macquarie University students have a responsibility to be familiar with the Student Code of Conduct: https://students.mq.edu.au/study/getting-started/student-conduct​


Results published on platform other than eStudent, (eg. iLearn, Coursera etc.) or released directly by your Unit Convenor, are not confirmed as they are subject to final approval by the University. Once approved, final results will be sent to your student email address and will be made available in eStudent. For more information visit ask.mq.edu.au or if you are a Global MBA student contact globalmba.support@mq.edu.au

Student Support

Macquarie University provides a range of support services for students. For details, visit http://students.mq.edu.au/support/

Learning Skills

Learning Skills (mq.edu.au/learningskills) provides academic writing resources and study strategies to help you improve your marks and take control of your study.

The Library provides online and face to face support to help you find and use relevant information resources. 

Student Enquiry Service

For all student enquiries, visit Student Connect at ask.mq.edu.au

If you are a Global MBA student contact globalmba.support@mq.edu.au

Equity Support

Students with a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Service who can provide appropriate help with any issues that arise during their studies.

IT Help

For help with University computer systems and technology, visit http://www.mq.edu.au/about_us/offices_and_units/information_technology/help/

When using the University's IT, you must adhere to the Acceptable Use of IT Resources Policy. The policy applies to all who connect to the MQ network including students.