MSc in Environmental Hazards and Risks Management


Program Description

The M.Sc. provides skills in risk management, and more particularly in risk modeling, to better predict and manage environmental hazards and risks.

  • Degree: Master of Science (MSc)
  • FI (initial training)
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Location: IMREDD
  • Language: English

The Mediterranean environment combines high population densities, rapid land cover change, and extreme climatic events in an IPCC global climate change hotspot. The region is subject to devastating floods and forest fires in addition to a wide range of ecological hazards. Proximity to the Alps and sea contributes to further expose the population to geohazards, such as mass movements, earthquakes, and coastal flooding/tsunamis. Few areas in the world concentrate as many environmental hazards and risks as in southeast France, so it is an ideal context to learn about risk management.

In the Nice Côte d’Azur area, a multitude of field sites can be investigated to discover monitoring and mitigation strategies that are applicable throughout the world. In addition, there is a wide range of digital data available: high resolution aerial and satellite imagery, Digital Elevation Models, raster and vector GIS databases describing land cover, building units, vegetation, stream networks… The context is therefore also propitious to modeling hazards and risks both spatially and temporally using GIS and remote sensing.

Globally, rapid urban expansion is exposing more people to a range of ecological and natural hazards and risks. Earthquakes, flooding, and other extreme events are affecting more people every year. Terrestrial and ecological habitats are under pressure from pollution and invasive species, and extreme events threaten natural and urban environments throughout the world. Land cover changes, particularly urban growth, can reinforce the negative impacts of climate change and contribute to transforming natural and human environments at unprecedented rates.

Adapted strategies can mitigate some of the impacts of global change. Urban and suburban planning integrate civil engineering and nature-based solutions and appropriate zoning, and the rapid treatment of high-resolution spatial data combined with risk modeling can improve warning systems and save lives. Beyond these strategies, free and open access services have been developed by Europe to support operational actors in risk management (International charter Space & Major disasters, Copernicus program, etc.), and these will be explored in the M.Sc.


Natural and anthropogenic hazards and risks account for hundreds of thousands of deaths and billions of dollars in damage each year in a context of global warming and rapidly evolving land-use change. The goal of this M.Sc. is to acquire skills in risk management, data analysis, and GIS/remote sensing to better predict and mitigate environmental hazards and risks. The M.Sc. is project-oriented and will make extensive use of case studies typical of the Mediterranean zone.

At the completion of the degree, participants will have a comprehensive understanding of risk management components:

  • Planning
  • Mitigation
  • Monitoring
  • Scenario modeling
  • Legislation
  • Warning systems

Program and content

The M.Sc. is largely project-based with lots of hands-on experience using historical and current case studies. It is housed in the Mediterranean Institute for Risks, Environment, and Sustainable Development (IMREDD) of the University Côte d’Azur in Nice, France. Teaching will be carried out by a combination of university professors, researchers, and industry and land management experts.

After a first semester focusing on scientific and methodological fundamentals, all courses will adopt a hazard/risk module approach where students will work on a single risk for 2-3 weeks at a time. The two-year program is structured in the following way:

Semester 1

Theoretical courses

  • Risk management overview
  • Principles of ecology
  • Environmental chemistry
  • Urban systems/planning

Methodological courses

  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Remote sensing
  • Statistics and data analysis
  • Elements of mathematical modeling
  • Computer science basics

Semester 2

  • Risk modules*
  • Earthquakes
  • Agricultural risks
  • Land Use/Cover change
  • Mass movements

Special topics

  • Environmental law
  • Urban systems
  • Climate change
  • Industrial risks

(3-month internship)

Semester 3

Risk modules*

  • Flooding
  • Forest fires
  • Marine ecology

Special topics

  • Management
  • Project management
  • Project proposal writing

Semester 4

6-month internship

* Risk modules begin in the second semester of the first year. The project-oriented modules last about 60-7 hours and adopt the same structure:

  1. Regional and global importance of the risk.
  2. Fundamental processes.
  3. Mitigation strategies with field visits where appropriate.
  4. Data acquisition and treatment.
  5. Historical case study project using GIS/remote sensing modeling tools.

Special topics are treated more concisely and last about a dozen hours.

Tuition fees

4000€ (The tuition fee may vary according to your residence status, namely if you are a resident of an EU country or of a country outside the EU.)



All students with a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in Sciences are eligible to apply. These include degrees in Geography, Earth Sciences, Environmental Science and other sciences for students with a strong academic record.

Applicants from non-anglophone institutions must provide proof of English proficiency.

Selection will be made on the basis of a C.V., academic transcripts, 2 reference letters, and an online interview.

Future careers

  • Higher education/research
  • Environmental management agencies
  • Urban planning and management agencies
  • Environmental/urban consulting
  • National and international level agencies
  • Industry and insurance companies

Last updated Feb 2020

About the School

Université Côte d’Azur is a recently created cluster of higher education establishments on the French Riviera that brings together all the major players in higher education and research in the region. ... Read More

Université Côte d’Azur is a recently created cluster of higher education establishments on the French Riviera that brings together all the major players in higher education and research in the region. Université Côte d’Azur aims to develop a new, 21st-century model for French universities, based on new interactions between disciplines, a new form of coordination between research, teaching, and innovation, and strong partnerships with the private sector and local authorities. In January 2016, Université Côte d’Azur won a prestigious “IDEX” award from the French government for its UCAJEDI project, placing it among the top 10 world-class, comprehensive universities in France. Read less