Disaster Relief Operations (ITLS6007)


Large scale, sudden onset disasters strike with little or no warning. In their wake they leave shattered infrastructure, collapsed services and traumatised populations, while the number of dead, injured and homeless often reaches staggering proportions. Humanitarian aid organisations, such as the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders or Oxfam, to name just a few, are usually amongst the first responders, but depend on extremely agile supply chains to support their worldwide operations. Successful disaster relief missions are characterised by the ability of professionals to cope with time pressure, high uncertainty and unusual restrictions. This unit is designed as an introduction to the coordination and management of humanitarian aid and emergency response logistics. Case studies of real events, such as the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake provide the framework for analysis and research, while discussion of operational factors, simulations, workshops and group exercises offer students an interactive learning environment.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


6 x 3.5 hr lectures, 6 x 3.5 hr workshops.


Individual essay (25%), presentation (25%), final exam (50%)


Christopher M and Tatham P (2011) Humanitarian Logistics
Tomasini R and Van Wassenhove L (2009) Humanitarian Logistics
Kovacs G and Spens K (2012) Relief Supply Chain Management for Disasters

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules



Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.