JJUS00001U Disaster Law and Policy

Volume 2013/2014

The objective of the course is to provide students with a basic understanding of the central legal and political issues surrounding contemporary disaster management. The issues will range from case-based national law and policy-issues to globally shared challenges.

The course is divided in four overall sections, each consisting of three elements, and an exam. The four sections are:

The first section of the course covers contemporary disaster research. The aim is to provide an overall understanding of what a disaster is, and to develop some basic theoretical concepts to approach disasters. This part of the course will draw on historical, cultural, and sociological texts.

After introducing general disaster theory, the course will progress to discuss the legal implications in regulating disasters. This will include discussions on the role of law in planning for, preventing, and recovering from disasters; and not least discussion on the, for law, central question of responsibility for disaster.

Disasters know no borders. Thus, they are almost per definition international occurrences. This section sets out to discuss how international law deals with cross-border disaster response. It focuses on providing an overview of the complicated issues arising when international and national, public and private as well as religious and secular actors need to interact.

The final section of the course takes departure in our ability to learn from disasters, and the politico-legal sphere enabling us to initiate reforms. It will touch upon legal reforms as a scientific object, and introduce the field of “risk regulation”.

The course will also contain an overall introduction session regarding course-work, modus, schedule, and exam. This information will also be available on the course-website, and supplemented with online chat-sessions with the course leader available outside the scheduled collective sessions.


Learning Outcome

The student should be able to:

- Define a disaster
- Describe the main trajectories in contemporary disaster research
- Explain the role of law in modern disaster management

- Interpret basic legal texts on disasters
- Understand and paraphrase the main challenges of disaster response
- Identify consequences of different (legal) approaches to disasters
- Identify suitable paper-themes within the scope of disaster law and policy
- Apply disaster concepts and theories to a legal context

- Identify and analyze legal questions related to disaster management
- Develop individual research question(s) within the curriculum
- Present a paper
- Provide qualified feedback co-students research design and –questions

A collection of book chapters, articles, documentaries, short video-introductions, and extracts of reports will be made available in digital form. An information specialist will be attached to the course to assist the students in identifying relevant literature and cases. All texts, except around 100 pages, will be suggested readings. The students are expected to develop their own curriculum on no more than 500 pages.

Primary legal material (relevant conventions, legislation, and case law) will, to the widest extent possible, be made available on the Absalon web-page.

The course will develop all competences for the KA legal education, but in particular:
- Legal research of international sources
- Make qualified legal decisions and critically reflect over cases.
- To be able to identify and discuss legal and societal problems in a national as well as an international context
- Specialized legal knowledge of a legal discipline
- To critically reflect on law's role in society
- Independently plan, control and manage complex work processes
- Advise on legal issues, whilst considering political, ethical and moral concerns
- Discuss legal issues in a larger international context
- Communicate and formulate her/his knowledge and arguments professionally and linguistically correct in English
- Carry out legal analysis in a systematic, critically and independently manner
-To develop students' ability to draw upon perspectives and results from social sciences in the analysis of legal problems
Students must have a very good command of English and a relevant BA-degree or equivalent educational background.
The course is online-based. Thus, there are no requirements to physical presence, however, parts of the course will require active online participation and online presence.

The course will be based on case-based participatory-learning principles, focusing on student-driven discussions, presentations and -activism.
Workload are expected to be 55 hours weekly.

Hardware requirements: PC or Mac (we do not recommend tablet/smartphone), headset with microphone, webcam and a DSL-connection with at least 8 Mbps download/512Kbps upload(we do not recommend mobile-internet).

All of the above may be subject to change without notice.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 15
  • Project work
  • 40
  • Total
  • 55
Type of assessment
Project exam.
Students will be assessed based on an 8-page paper (4000 words) focusing on a self-chosen subject reflecting the course-work (two students may join forces and write up a 6000 word paper). The paper should make use contemporary literature not exceeding 500 pages, either inside or outside the scope of the suggested readings. The paper will be presented in a publicly announced disaster law and policy internet-based conference. Besides the students, one keynote-speaker will be invited to present a paper. Every paper presentation (10 minute, in case two students have written a paper together, they will present separately) will be assigned an opponent that will be given 10 minutes to question and qualify the paper.
The paper (60 %), the paper presentation (20 %), and the students’ ability to present qualified criticism to other papers (20 %) will amount to a grade, decided by the course-leader on a 7-point grading scale. The conference will be recorded (making it possible to go back to re-asses students’ performance).
Exam registration requirements
After each section of the course a compulsory (evaluation) element follows. The four elements draw on the lessons learned and aims to contribute to the participants’ ability to pass the exam.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period
The exam is on 14 August (paper deadline: 4 August 12.00 CET)
Reexamation is on 27 August (paper deadline: 25 August 12.00 CET)