SHE Level 4
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code MHN322836
Module Leader Claire MacRae
School Glasgow School for Business and Society
Subject Risk
  • A (September start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

360 credit points at levels 1, 2 and 3 or equivalent in a related/relevant subject area.

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 the relationship between risk perception and risk communication and examines this in a societal risk context.


Development of the Risk Discourse Major theoretical directions including: scientific, environmental and economic. Sociological approaches to the discourse including: risk society, cultural theory and governmentality. Perception of risk Risk Communication, trust and the role of the media Relationship between risk communication and public policy 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 Food Risk Health Risk Pensions

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 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 learning outcomes for this module are based upon lectures which provide students with the essential knowledge of the key topic areas. These are supplemented by tutorials, which allow the application and deeper discussion of these topic areas. Students are required, either individually or in groups, to make a short seminar presentation. This presentation will require them to conduct some independent research of a range of literature sources. GSBS will continue to use the advancement of GCU Learn as a blended learning tool through its teaching and learning as well as through engagement with students. GSBS will ensure that all modules are GCU Learn enabled and with the support of the Learning Technologists at the cutting edge of development of online materials. Academic staff and the Learning Technologists will continue to work together to develop and operate al modules on GCU Learn to ensure student support and information sharing. Students are provided with formative and summative feedback via a variety of mechanisms. Feedback on coursework is provided within 3 working weeks of submission.

Indicative Reading

Core Texts: Lupton, D. (2013) 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 Cvetkovich G., & Lofstedt, R.E., (1999) Social Trust and the Management of Risk, Earthscan: London 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 International Journal of Risk, Security and Crime Prevention Foresight: Journal of Risk Management Health Risk and Society Research Centre: Social Context and Responses to Risk (SCARR) - University of Kent There is a range of research papers available on the SCARR website which you will find useful for your assessment research. <http://www.kent.ac.uk/scarr/>

Transferrable Skills

This module will develop student's ability to apply conceptual theoretical approaches to real life situations and critically evaluate their usefulness in this context. Their analytical skills will be developed as will their research skills through the examination of challenging sociological and psychological theory and literature. Students will also be required to work in groups and do presentations throughout the module.

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Assessment (FT) 44.00
Lectures (FT) 22.00
Seminars (FT) 11.00
Independent Learning (FT) 112.00
Tutorials (FT) 11.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 01 n/a 50.00 n/a Individual essay (3,000 words)
Course Work 02 n/a 50.00 n/a Individual report (3,000 words)