DEVT 2103 - Humanitarian, Emergency and Risk Communication

North Terrace Campus - Summer - 2023

Globally, governments have committed to adopt the United Nations Hyogo Framework (UNISDR 2008), which promotes: (i) making disaster risk reduction a priority; (ii) improving risk information and early warning; (iii) building a culture of safety and resilience; (iv) reducing risks in key sectors such as education and health; and (v) strengthening preparedness for response. Communication is an integral part of any emergency or humanitarian response. The importance of effective and timely communication is particularly high where the situation may be rapidly evolving and the need for information is high. Effective communication enables vulnerable populations to take informed decisions to mitigate the effects of threats and take protective and preventive action. This intensive practical course will guide students through the development of a country specific communication strategy designed to address a humanitarian or emergency situation. It encourages practical skills development in the areas of humanitarian and emergency communication design including: the risk communication cycle, risk research, communication planning, implementation, situational awareness, message design, accountability to disaster affected populations, humanitarian journalism, advocacy and evaluation.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code DEVT 2103
    Course Humanitarian, Emergency and Risk Communication
    Coordinating Unit Anthropology and Development Studies
    Term Summer
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 15 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Assessment Group Work, Humanitarian, Emergency and Risk Communication Design Exercise
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Professor Andrew Skuse

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On successful completion of this course students will be able to (add or subtract rows as required to accommodate the number of Learning Outcomes in the course):

    1. In-depth knowledge of humanitarian, emergency and risk communication practice;
    2. Build practical experience of applying core communication tools and methods to real-world problems;
    3. Develop knowledge of humanitarian, emergency and risk communication design and management processes;
    4. Develop and apply critical thinking skills to communication problems;
    5. Develop skills in communication, collaborative enquiry and problem solving
    6. Foster an awareness of ethical, social, and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.

    1, 2, 3

    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.

    1, 4

    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.

    5, 6

    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.

    3, 4, 5, 6

    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.

    5, 6

    Attribute 6: Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural competency

    Graduates have an understanding of, and respect for, Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander values, culture and knowledge.


    Attribute 7: Digital capabilities

    Graduates are well prepared for living, learning and working in a digital society.


    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

    5, 6
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    UNICEF (2015) Communication for HUmanitarian Action Toolkit (CHAT), UNICEF NYHQ

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Using contextual data and a series of humanitarian, emergency and risk communication design templates students will work in small groups during the course to undertake a series of key learning tasks that contribnute to their overall grade, but also their practical skills development. They will work up elements of a group communication design that will be presented to the rest of the seminar during SDG session. This work will be complemented and reinforced during a two session communications design role play utilising an emergency scenario.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.
    1 x 3-hour workshop (or equivalent) per week 36 hours per semester
    6 hours reading per week 72 hours per semester
    2 hours research per week 24 hours per semester
    2 hours assignment preparation per week 24 hours per semester
    TOTAL WORKLOAD 156 hours per semester
    Learning Activities Summary

    1. Introduction to humanitarian, emergency and risk communication? Definitions, concepts and types of risk
    2. Risk scearios, the risk communication cycle and accountability Risk scenarios
    3. Situational Awareness and Finding out Fast
    4. Communicating with Communities: Effective channels for emergency preparedness and risk reduction; Identifying participant groups - risk and equality
    5. Group Work Session
    6. Risk Reduction and Emergency Messaging
    7. Humanitarian Journalism, Advocacy and Risk Events
    8. New Communication Technologies, risk reduction and emergencies
    9. Risk/Emergency communication checklists and standard operating procedures Developing a simple M&E framework for risk communication
    10. Risk Event Role-play Exercise
    11. Risk Event Role-play Exercise
    12. Individual Communication Design Work
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Group Work - 30%

    Humanitarian, Emergency and Risk Communication Design Exercise - 70%

    Assessment Detail
    Group Work - 30%
    A series of short group exercises will require completion during the course. Work will be undertaken both in class and out of class. These include: (i) the development of an analysis of a risk event (5%); (ii) identification of key participant groups and risks faced (5%); (iii) development of an assessment of a communications context; (iv) the development of a risk communication message strategy (5%); (vi) development of an advocacy strategy (5%) and (vi) development of a simple evaluation framework (5%).

    Humanitarian, Emergency and Risk Communication Design Exercise - 70%
    All students will submit a communication design document utilising a technical template and instructions that will be posted to MyUni at an appropriate time. Word Length: 3,500
    Online through MyUni. 
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.