SHE Level 3
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code M3N325723
Module Leader Claire MacRae
School Glasgow School for Business and Society
Subject Risk
  • A (September start)

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 Development of the Risk Discourse 2 Major theoretical directions including: scientific, environmental and economic. 3 Sociological approaches to the discourse including: risk society, cultural theory and governmentality. 4 Perception of risk 5 Risk Communication, trust and the role of the media 6 Relationship between risk perception, 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 Terrorism Risk Food Risk Obesity Pensions

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students 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 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 presentations. 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. (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) 44.00
Seminars (FT) 12.00
Lectures (FT) 24.00
Independent Learning (FT) 120.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Course Work 02 n/a 50.00 35% Report 2500 words Week 12
Course Work 01 n/a 50.00 35% Essay 2500 words Week 7