Beginning in 2017, St Petersburg University enrols students on the new Master's programme "Hydrological Hazards: From Monitoring to Decision Making". Students will acquire practical experience in applying advanced methods of researching, calculating and forecasting various characteristics of the hydrological hazards and will thus be unrivalled at the labour market: SPbU's new educational programme is unique for our country.

It owes its uniqueness, among other things, to an emphasis made on applied research: students will have an opportunity to acquire knowledge and experience in monitoring, evaluating, forecasting and calculating damage inflicted by ordinary floods, outburst floods caused by spring thawing, mudflows and avalanches. If we take only the first hazard as an example: from 40 to 70 crisis floods occur in Russia annually. According to the Russian Agency on Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Roshydromet), this natural calamity affects about 500 thousand square kilometres of the country's territory, being disastrous for the area of 150 thousand square kilometres. There are about 300 towns and tens of thousands of settlements in this territory. The average damage caused by floods is estimated at about 40 billion rubles per annum.

It is not difficult to imagine the current need in specialists who can make a forecast, calculate damage and apply methods of protecting the population from such disasters. However, there is a catastrophic shortage of such experts, says Galina Pryakhina, Assistant Professor, Head of the SPbU Department of Land Hydrology: "This new Master's programme is unique for Russia. Stand-alone courses of this kind are now taught at Moscow State University and other universities, but there is no systematic training of such specialists there. According to experts, more and more natural disasters related to hydrological hazards occur both in Russia and worldwide. The number of large-scale floods is growing; mudflows occur regularly. Meanwhile, our colleagues studying mudflow processes, avalanches, floods, etc. keep telling us that the human resources issue in hydrometeorology and hydrology is a burning one. There are fewer skilled workers now when they are so much in demand in our country."

It took SPbU over a year to develop the new Master's programme. Support was rendered by the Vladimir Potanin Charitable Foundation. Representatives of employers took part in that, too. Like no one else, they understand what competencies a graduate thereof should acquire. Specialists in various fields, such as hydrologists, oceanologists and meteorologists, will be engaged in teaching.

"In implementing this programme, we are planning to involve leading specialists in these fields. They include Sergei Chernomorets, who works at Moscow University in the Avalanche and Mudflow Laboratory, and Nikolai Kazakov, Director of the Sakhalin Branch of the FEB RAS Institute of Geology, who is one of the leading specialists in the field of avalanches and mudflow processes in Russia. We have also invited Professor Wei from the Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment (IMHE), Chinese Academy of Sciences. He has already given us his consent. Moreover, we have agreed that our students will have internships at a modern mudflow station in China."

The list of other stations and regions for student placement includes an expedition to the Caucasus, where students will be able to observe mudslide consequences, the Khibiny Mountains, where avalanches can be observed in winter, and Sakhalin — SPbU students have been sent there for several years to study mudflows and avalanches.

Detailed information about the main training modules, research areas and programme partners is available here.

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Applications for Master's programmes in 2017 are accepted from 1 March 2017 (online through the official SPbU website) and from 3 July 2017 (in person through the Documents Acceptance Board and by general post) until 20 July 2017.

Entrance examinations to the Master's programmes will be held from 24 July 2017 to 5 August 2017. For more information please visit the SPbU Admissions Committee website.