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Flood risk and flood management

Flooded River Severn, Worcester, UK. November 2012

Flooded River Severn, Worcester, UK. November 2012

Flood risk and flood management

Flood risk and flood management are popular issues in the geography curriculum. Regular news stories about flooding in the UK make this a topical issue – one to which many students can relate. From a teaching and learning perspective, flooding offers several important opportunities because, in order to make sense of these issues, students need to:

  • understand processes within the physical environment
  • analyse evidence that describes the risk
  • evaluate the various impacts of different flood management schemes
  • be able to justify their decisions on the best way to respond to the issue of flooding.

Each of the reformed GCSE qualifications in England and Wales expects learners to have considered at least one strategy for river management. There is also an expectation that learners understand the causes, effects and response to a weather hazard. Each of the reformed A level qualifications expects learners to understand the movement of water through the drainage basin and to be able to evaluate the ways in which people manage the coastline. Flood risk and flood management are, therefore, firmly embedded in the current 14-19 curriculum.

The Environment Agency (EA) has a strategic overview of all sources of flooding and coastal erosion (rivers, the sea, groundwater, reservoirs and surface water). This means they advise on and bring together the planning and management of these risks. The EA is responsible for the delivery of these activities on main rivers and the coast, regulating reservoir safety, and working in partnership with the Met Office to provide flood forecasts and warnings. The EA manages flooding for rivers and the sea and is a delivery partner on the other sources of risk that others manage.

The EA is also responsible for forecasting and mapping flood and coastal erosion risks, providing warnings, advising on development in the floodplain, building and keeping defences in good order and taking part in emergency planning and response. It manages central government grants for capital projects carried out by all risk management authorities.

In undertaking its role the EA agency has responsibility for:

  • providing effective flood warnings to those living at risk of river and coastal flooding
  • maintaining 7100 km of river, coastal and tidal raised defences and 22,600 individual structures
  • assets worth in excess of £20billion.


These GA resources, produced in conjunction with the Environment Agency, address a number of flood-related issues in the context of river and coastal environments. The resources focus on:

  • causes of flooding
  • effects of flooding
  • responses to flooding.

The Environment Agency adopts five different intervention strategies in response to flooding and these resources consider each of these.

There are nine resources within this unit Some focus on GCSE others on A level. Each provides an audit against the requirements of individual specifications; notes for teachers and suggested activities for learners.

The resources make use of a range of Environment Agency documents and case studies as well as providing links to other organisations who are engaged with flood management. They are designed to help students:

  • make sense of the physical geography and its interaction with the human environment
  • analyse quantitative evidence and develop numeracy skills
  • analyse qualitative evidence and develop skills such as coding and text analysis
  • think critically, evaluate issues and justify their decisions.

We hope you enjoy using these resources. If you wish to provide feedback you can do so via this very short survey.


Lessons menu

Flooding 1: Causes of river floods
Flooding 2: Investigating the effects of river floods
Flooding 3: Response to floods: Oxford Case Study
Flooding 4: Managing the upper drainage basin
Flooding 5: Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS)
Flooding 6: Managing river floods – exploring the role of the Environment Agency
Flooding 7: Coastal flooding at Chiswell
Flooding 8: Managed realignment
Flooding 9: The role of the Environment Agency in coastal management and the development of shoreline management plans

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