Risk Management and Public Participation

Subject GEOG90020 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 29-Feb-2016 to 29-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 11-Mar-2016
Census Date 31-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-May-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 36 hours
Total Time Commitment:

170 total time commitment

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Dr Brian Cook



Subject Overview:

This subject will provide students with the skills needed to examine, analyse, and report on risk management and public participation. The subject addresses the primary challenge of risk management, which involves determining what stakeholders want, analysing how they interpret risks, and understanding how their knowledge(s) shapes their behaviour. Added to this very complex topic is the question of how government can attempt to reshape that behaviour.

The subject will be available to social and physical scientists whose interests and/or research involve risk, vulnerability, adaptation, and resilience. It will be particularly appealing to students interested in how research can inform governance.

For further detail please see:


Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this subject students will:

  • understand and be able to compare a range of risk theories;
  • be able to apply numerous methods designed to elicit and assess perceptions relating to risk;
  • be familiar with different risk framings, included the debate over expert-lay knowledge;
  • be able to synthesise risk perception data;
  • be aware of the complicated process of risk communication and management (i.e. government-stakeholder interactions);
  • understand approaches to risk management or to public resistance to risk management.

1. Book Review (20% of final grade): in the second week of class, students will be required to review one of 4 classic risk texts. This 900 word review will provide students with a foundation in risk management and/or public participation – should students wish to propose alternate texts they must be given approval from the coordinator. The guidelines for the book review will follow those common to academic journals (details in class and on the LMS). In the week following return of marked book reviews, we will discuss and debate the relevance of the books (and the associated arguments or concepts) to the subject.

2. Discussion Participation (worth 20% of final grade): each week, each student will contribute to a tutorial discussion. They will be responsible for reading the assigned text, and for developing a question for the group. Students will be assessed for the quality of their question, its connection to the theme and subject, and for their contribution to discussions following questions from other students.

3. Short essay (worth 20% of the final grade): Approximately at the mid-term, students will produce a short essay on an assigned topic (900 words). In ‘bullet point form’, this document will show how students would prepare and plan for their final exam essay; it will show their argument, rationale, and sources.

4. Final Take Home Essay (worth 40% of the final grade): This 1800 word final assessment will explore a risk management and public participation topic. It will require concise, clear writing and analysis. Students will have the option of using their empirical research (i.e., from their Masters work) should they wish. Topic and methodology will be chosen by the student, but in consultation and subject to the approval of the subject coordinator. This will be due following the SWOT vac.

All submissions subject to late penalties of 10% per day.

Prescribed Texts:

Readings and materials will be posted online through the LMS, though students will be responsible for the book for the review.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students will develop skills relating to:

  • qualitative research methods and analysis, particularly those associated with public participation;
  • critical thinking, having to engage with complex socio-ecological problems;
  • writing and presentation skills, including academic and government-oriented policy writing;
  • risk and environmental governance, including the expert-lay, public-government relationships.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Climate Change
Environmental Science
Integrated Water Catchment Management
Integrated Water Catchment Management
Master of Science (Ecosystem Science) - Discipline Elective subjects
Tailored Specialisation
Tailored Specialisation
Waste Management

Download PDF version.