SHE Level 4
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MHN311764
Module Leader Dawn Anderson
School Glasgow School for Business and Society
Subject Risk
  • A (September start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

M1N320908 - Society & Risk M1N320440 - Introductory Risk Management

Summary of Content

The first part of this module examines the evolution of the public discourse on risk, discusses relevant background theories and frameworks, and evaluates major theoretical debates. The second part of the module discusses theoretical aspects of how decisions on risk are made within societal processes and examines in practice how these are applied in various risk areas.


Over the twelve weeks the students will examine the following. 1. The Risk Discourse. 2. Background Theories and Frameworks. 3. Major Theoretical Directions. 4. Perception of Risk 5. Risk Communication An application of the above to a number of major societal risks. The actual risks encountered may alter by topical events, but may include: Nuclear Risk Environmental Risk Natural Risk Terrorism Risk Education Risk Food Risk Health Risk

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module the student should be able to:1. Critically assess the principal factors which have led to the acceptance of risk as an element of political and social discourse.2. Compare and contrast major macro-political and macro- sociological theories on societal risk.3. Critically evaluate the merits or otherwise of recent theoretical approaches to societal risk.4. Evaluate the psychological and sociological factors that influence the public perception of risk, including the role of the media.5. Critically assess the institutional and regulatory contexts in which major risks are communicated and managed.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The Lectures and Seminars will be supported by a programme of directed reading and structured exercises. In addition some guest speakers will be used to enhance the knowledge base of the students. Lectures, seminars and tutorials are interactive and some are student led. The teaching strategy encourages the students to question and debate the issues under investigation and to critically analyse the issue of societal risk.

Indicative Reading

Core Texts: Lupton, D. (1999) Risk, Routledge: London (Weeks 1-6) Breakwell, G. (2007) The Psychology of Risk, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge (Weeks 7-12) Recommended Reading: Adams, J (1995), Risk, UCL Press: London Bennett, P. & Calman, C. (2001), Risk Communication & Public Health, Oxford University Press Blaikie, P.M (2003), At Risk: natural hazards, people's vulnerability, and disasters, Routledge: London Covello, V. T. (1983), The Analysis of Actual Versus Perceived Risk, Plenum Press: New York Cvetkovich G., & Lofstedt, R.E., (1999) Social Trust and the Management of Risk, Earthscan: London Ford, B.J. (1996), BSE:The Facts:Mad cow Disease and the Risk to Mankind, Corgi: London Handmer, J & Penning-Russell, E. (1990) Hazards and the Communication of Risk, Gower Technical: Aldershot HMSO (1998), The Tolerability of Risk from Nuclear Power Stations, HMSO: London Johnson, B.B. & Covello, V.T. (1987), The Social and Cultural Construction of Risk, Kluwer Academic Publishers Lofstedt, R. & Frewer, L. (1998) The Earthscan Reader in Risk and Modern Society, Earthscan: London Renn, O. (2008) Risk Governance, Earthscan: London Shubik, M (1991), Risk, Organisations and Society, Kluwer Academic Publishers: Boston Slovic, P (2000) Perception of Risk, Earthcan: London Strydom, P. (2001), Risk, Environment and Society, Open University Press: Buckingham Taylor-Gooby, P. & Zinn, J. (2006) Risk in Social Science, Oxford University Press: Oxford Van Zwanenberg, P & Millstone, E. (2005), BSE: risk, science and governance, Oxford University Press, Oxford Waterstone (Ed), (1992), Risk and Society: The Interaction of Science, Technology and Public Policy, Kluwer Academic Publishers Zinn, J.O. (2008) Social Theories of Risk and Uncertainty An Introduction, Blackwell Publishing:Oxford Journals (Available Electronically): Risk, Decision & Policy Journal of Risk Research Environmental Risk Risk Management: An International Journal International Journal of Risk, Security and Crime Prevention Foresight: Journal of Risk Management Health Risk and Society

Transferrable Skills

The students will develop a knowledge of how to identify information needs and an ability to apply such skills. Critical analytical and evaluative skills will be encouraged through coursework and communication and decision-making skills will be acquired aided by seminars and discussion groups.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Assessment (FT) 50.00
Independent Learning (FT) 75.00
Directed Learning 39.00
Seminars (FT) 12.00
Lectures (FT) 24.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Coursework 0.00 50.00 n/a Report approx. 2500 words
Coursework 0.00 50.00 n/a Essay approx. 2500 words