It is well known that Bangladesh is a highly disaster-prone country and particularly in the context of widespread poverty, disasters often assume great proportions; both risk and vulnerability to various disasters are extensive. Some disasters, such as floods and drought, are annual and cause national loss at a regular frequency. Others, such as cyclones and earthquakes, are waiting in the offing, and it is not hard to imagine the destruction that could occur in a severe earthquake in the rapidly growing and densely populated urban areas. There is thus an important need for disaster management in this context where disasters are a part of life.
Therefore, the Postgraduate Programs in Disaster Management comprising of diploma and master's degree programs are being conducted at BRAC University. It runs as a semi-autonomous program within BRAC University with a link under the Department of Architecture. The diploma is a 2-semester course; on completion of another two semesters there is option of obtaining a master's degree by completing a dissertation. Besides, tailor-made theme-based certificate courses (1-5 days) are offered, if requested by any organization.
This postgraduate program targeted at active professionals allows contributing to this nationally significant practice-oriented field. Such a course to supplement profession-based education of graduates of various disciplines also serves to further post-professional qualification and allows career development. Because this course is largely targeted for development organizations, it is relevant within the BRAC organizational framework.
The programs satisfy the need for training staff members of national and international NGOs involved in disaster management. Other sources of students are government departments relating to disaster management.
Because the programs are multi-disciplinary in nature, students are drawn from a broad range of disciplines that produce graduates working in the field of disaster management in various capacities and roles, including the social sciences, public administration, armed forces, law, engineering, architecture, planning, geology, geography and meteorology. Additionally, as the course is practice-oriented, in lieu of academic qualifications, professional and practical experience of prospective students is taken into consideration for admission.
The course conforms to BRAC University's academic system consisting of semesters, courses, credit hours, continuous evaluation and letter grading, given below.
Semesters and Class Schedule
There are three semesters (Spring, Summer, and Fall) in an academic year. There are 15 working weeks in each semester. Class starts in Spring semester commencing in January. The summer semester starts in May, and the Fall semester in September. Classes are held in weekdays in the evening from 6.00 to 9.00 pm.
A student initially enrolling for a diploma or master's degree is required to register for at least 5 credits and maximum 12 credits per semester. To be considered full-time, a student has to register for at least 12 credits per semester. The diploma has to be completed within 3 years and the master's degree has to be completed within 5 years after the original date of admission.
Credit Transfer and Waivers
Credit transfer of courses similar to those of the Master's in Disaster Management (MDM) program of BRAC University from other degree programs of BRAC University or other universities with acceptable academic system and standards may be considered up to 15 credits provided that they consist of B grades. Grade equivalence is subject to approval from BRAC University authority.
Courses for Audit and Credit
Students of the MDM program or other programs and alumni of BRAC University may enroll in one or more courses for audit on payment of 50% tuition and other fees. This facility is open to students of other universities acceptable to BRAC University. The performance of such students is evaluated or graded and they receive a grade 'U'.
Students currently enrolled in other master's programs of BRAC University or in other universities acceptable to BRAC University may enroll as credit students in maximum 10 courses (30 credits) on payment of full tuition and other fees of the university. These facilities are open to BRAC and other development or disaster management organizations, but the candidate must be acceptable in terms of BRAC University standards.
Course Numbering System
Each course is identified by a two-part numbering system. The first part with three alphabets represents the subject area and the second part refers to the level of the course. The postgraduate courses are numbered with the 500 and 600 series and numbers are intended to indicate progressively more complex and in-depth course content and correspondingly increasing aptitude on the part of the students as they proceed within the program.
A 15-week semester is the basis for assigning course numbers. Each credit hour corresponds to a 1-hour class period or contact hour per week. For example, 3 credits mean that there are 3 contact hours per week. In addition, for each course a 90-minute tutorial session is provided to assist a student to overcome any weaknesses, discuss academic problems and to reinforce learning carried out in the class environment.
Student performance throughout the semester is assessed mainly by class tests/ quizzes, assignments, class presentations, mid-term and final examinations. In the diploma program, the quality of an individual student project at each semester contributes significantly to student assessment in addition to the above. At the master's level, performance in the dissertation is principal criterion for student assessment, together with performance in two core courses. Numerical grading followed by any faculty member is required to be converted to letter grades for submission as university records as per the grading system given below.
Grades are recorded as follows:
The following grade notations are not part of the GPA computation:
An 'I' (Incomplete) grade is assigned when a student is unable to complete the course requirements because of unavoidable or unforeseen circumstances. If a student withdraws from a course after the official withdrawal date, then a 'W' (Withdrawn) grade is assigned. If a master's dissertation is assessed as up to BRAC University standards, then a 'S' (Satisfactory) grade is assigned. If a dissertation is assessed as unsatisfactory, then the concerned student will be given the opportunity to repeat or revise it until satisfactory quality is achieved. In such cases, a student will need to register for another semester to complete the dissertation. A 'U' grade simply indicates a student's attendance of a course without reflecting any assessment of performance.
The Grade Point Average (GPA) is computed as follows:
Sum of (Grade Points x Credits)
GPA = ------------------------
Sum of Credits
Students are required to achieve a minimum GPA of 2.0 in each semester. If a student is to proceed to Semester 02, but fails to attain at least 2.0 GPA at Semester 01, (s)he is placed on probation in Semester 02. During this semester, if the student fails to reach a CGPA of 2.0, the university authorities review the student's record and may recommend repeating one or more courses, taking additional courses or even withdrawing from the program. If a student's GPA is below 1.0 in Semester 01, (s)he may be requested to withdraw from the program and re-apply for admission after adequate preparation.