Disease, Disaster and Resilience

The details
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 02 July 2021
08 June 2020


Requisites for this module
GV420, GV422


GV420, GV422

Key module for


Module description

The module explores how disease and disaster affect society and the state, and how states and societies can respond and be resilient. We look at the economic, social, psychological and political implications and responses to disease and disaster from an inter-disciplinary perspective.

We also examine how states build capacity, and the importance of state -societal, and interpersonal trust. In doing so, we also look at the changing definitions of human security.

Module aims

1.To develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the conceptual and methodological issues associated with the study of disease and disaster.
2.To provide the opportunity for students to learn about existing research on disease and disaster, and offer an overview of the key concepts along with an introduction to competing theories on human security and state capacity.
3.To develop and promote students’ general analytical skills and capacities to undertake subsequent academic study and for employment, personal development and participation.
4.To maintain an intellectual environment that is exciting and challenging, fostering students' capacities for study and dialogue and maintaining high standards of teaching and learning.
5. To enhance students’ skills in teamwork, technical skills, research techniques, critical thinking and writing.

More specifically, the course aims to help students:
To understand the impact of disease and disaster on the state and society
To be knowledgeable about diseases and disasters
To understand the interrelation of diseases, disasters and human security
To understand the effects of diseases on political and economic stability
To understand the role of international actors in cooperation on fighting diseases and disasters.
To understand the implications of disease and disaster on mental health.
To contrast the experience of different regimes, states, economies and societies and dealing with disasters.
To understand how to be resilient in the wake of a crisis at a societal and psychological level.
To understand the impact of globalization on disease and disaster

Module learning outcomes

1. To show evidence of the development of students’ skills in teamwork, technical presentations, research techniques, writing and critical thinking.
2. To demonstrate an in-depth understanding of how disease and disaster impact state and society
3. To demonstrate the ability to understand and critically analyse the main findings of disaster and disease research
4. To develop a comprehensive understanding of sources of information for studying disease and disaster from an inter-disciplinary perspective
5. To develop comprehensive knowledge of the main theoretical and empirical concepts in human security, disease, disaster, economic development, political stability, state and societal capacity and state and societal trust
6. To critically evaluate, both orally and in writing, developments, issues and debates in human security, disease and disaster and state capacity

Module information

Week 2: Human Security
What do we mean by human security?
This week is mostly an introductory week, but the seminar will explore the changing conceptions of security and what role disease and disaster play in security frameworks.

Week 3: Infectious diseases
What are the big diseases that threaten humanity? What are the ways in infectious diseases stretch the state? This week provides a summary of the various human diseases that undermine development in countries, with particular focus on AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, known as the big three. Neglected tropical diseases will also be explored as will water washed, water borne and water based diseases. This week investigates the effects of epidemic health crises on development and the state. Other viral infectious diseases such as COVID-19, SARS and Ebola also introduced.

Week 4: Natural disasters and adverse environments
The seminar explains the major environmental issues that states face, such as extreme weather patterns, poor soil quality, unpredictable rainfall, adverse terrain, natural disasters (floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons, and fires) and resource abundance or scarcity. This week explores the effects of these environmental challenges on development and the state.

Week 5: Global contributors to disease and disaster
This week examines the global contributors to disease and disaster such as climate change and looks more specifically at the challenges posed by increased movement of people. Overall this week provides an overview of the exigencies brought about by globalization to open markets, goods and services, leaving countries more vulnerable to disease and disaster.
Impact of Disease and Natural Disaster

Week 6: Economic impact of disease and disasters, Part I.
This week explores the global economic and macro-economic consequences of diseases and disaster, with a special focus on the impact of COVID-19. This week will look at how it impacts growing inequalities and poverty.

Week 7: Economic impact of disease and disasters, Part II
This week explores how disease and disaster affect local economies and businesses, with a special focus on COVID-19.

Week 8: Societal impact of disease and disasters
This week examines how societies are impacted by disaster in disease, including looking at how it may impact state-society relations, interpersonal trust, crime, domestic violence and civil society. COVID-19 will be specifically looked at.

Week 9: Psychological impacts of disease and disaster
This week explores the trauma and mental health concerns during and in the aftermath of disease and disaster. The week's discussion focuses on the challenges faced by the public on a personal level, from grief, to loss of work or loss of one's home, to disruptions in access to health care and medications for chronic conditions and uncertainty regarding employment and school for one's children.

Week 10: Political impact of disease and disaster
This week examines the political impact of disease and disaster. In what instances do politicians, regimes and governments fall apart? In what conditions is democracy strengthened? Why is it common that crises lead to democratic backsliding? The seminar goes over the political implications of crises and what typical patterns emerge?

Week 11: Reading week and assignments due (take home test and paper due)
Response and Resilience

Week 16: What is the state?
What do we mean by the state? This week will provide an overview of what role the state plays in providing: public health care system, environmental management, engineering, urban planning, education, nutrition, agriculture, sanitation. The seminar then explores how states can build capacity (such as effective institutions for public health and water management) to handle these challenges posed by diseases. The key success stories are highlighted to illustrate what states can do to reduce the prevalence and alleviate the adverse effects of disease.

Week 17: Political resilience, part I
Democracies, Dictatorship and disease
Are democracies better than authoritarian regimes at managing crises posed by disease and natural disaster? This seminar explores the questions about authoritarian exceptionalism and investigates how regimes react to these crises? The seminar covers the work by authoritarian regimes to conceal valuable information that is critical to dealing with a crisis early on and demonstrates how personalist regimes are particularly ineffective and dangerous in dealing with crises.

Week 18: Political resilience part II
Populism, disease and disaster
Disease and disaster management often necessitates technical and scientific expertise, something that populist leaders eschew. This week explores how populist leaders have responded to these crises compared to technocratic counterparts.

Week 19: Economic resilience part I
This week looks at what governments can do prevent economic collapse during a crisis, including looking at how to avert spiralling unemployment, inequality and negative economic growth.

Week 20: Economic resilience part II
This week looks at what industries are often hard hit by a crisis, but also how industries and businesses are able to bounce back and survive crisis conditions.
Poster due

Week 21: Societal resilience
This week looks at the societal response to disease and disaster, and how societies with high levels of trust can respond effectively.

Week 22: Psychological resilience
This week looks at the psychological response to a crisis and how individuals can be more resilient in dealing with extraordinary situations.

Week 23: International cooperation
This week looks at the role of states in cooperating to respond to a crisis. In many cases diseases, and even some natural disasters know no borders, requiring cooperation at a global scale to help other countries deal effectively with a crisis. This week looks at successful cases of international cooperation and also at the challenges of cooperating.

Week 24: World Health Organization and International Response
This week looks at the role of international institutions in managing a response to a crisis and some of their limitations in containment, mitigation and coordination. This week also looks at the role of vaccines, medication and how international organizations and NGOs can deliver services that are vital to ensuring public health.

Week 25: Reading week and assignments due (take home test and paper)

Learning and teaching methods

1 hour pre-recorded lecture and a 50 minute online seminar per week. Students will be given prepared content ahead of time in the style of a flipped classroom so that they are able to use the seminar/class to discuss key concepts in depth. This gives students more flexibility with how they want to consume information provided by the lecture and gives them a chance to follow up with discussions. The teaching is designed to help students gain breadth and more in depth understanding of the intersection of disease, disaster, the state, and society.



Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   PowerPoint Presentation    10% 
Coursework   Blog 1    22.5% 
Coursework   Take Home Essay Test 1    17.5% 
Coursework   Poster (PDF)    10% 
Coursework   Blog 2    22.5% 
Coursework   Take Home Essay Test 2    17.5% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Natasha Lindstaedt, email: nezrow@essex.ac.uk.
Professor Natasha Lindstaedt
Prof N Lindstaedt nezrow@essex.ac.uk Module Administrator Lewis Olley govquery@essex.ac.uk



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.