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The University of Southampton

PAIR6052 Policy Making in a world of Catastrophic Risks

Module Overview

In a world facing increasing catastrophic risks - climate change, pandemics, AI, how should policy makers better prepare for these increasingly likely events? Catastrophic risks pose significant security challenges, some of them are very different to what we have had to deal with in the past. Why do some governments and countries appear better equipped and prepared than others? What new approaches and policies do we need to deal with these growing uncertainties? The module will take a broad interdisciplinary approach to examining these issues - using insights from latest research in decision making, behavioural science, actions under uncertainty, trans national cooperation, and others. Part of the syllabus will be devoted to studying how simulations might help and in designing a simulation decision game.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The main catastrophic global risks and their potential consequences
  • The security implications of these consequences
  • The most effective policy responses
  • The role of simulations in improving decision making
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Analyse major risks and apply to real world situations
  • Develop new policies to address catastrophic risks
  • Display effective team working skills, particularly for developing interdisciplinary solutions
  • Create and develop relevant simulations


Catastrophic risks - what are they, what challenges and threats do they present? A comparative analysis of how different institutions and countries are preparing for catastrophic risks. A multidisciplinary analysis of the most effective tools and approaches available. Development of a decision simulation game to improve policy decision making.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, seminars, team working

Independent Study90
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

There will be a written based assessment and an assessment of the simulation game.


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 70%
Practical 30%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:


Core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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