Public Safety Studies - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Public Safety Studies


* Currently not offered in 2015

Welcome to New Zealand's only University that offers Public Safety Studies. Our flagship qualification in this discipline is the Graduate Certificate in Public Safety which can be done with either an endorsement in Emergency Management or Search & Rescue. The aim of these qualifications is to build upon existing operational management courses and develop the academic writing and research skills of practitioners to encourage an evidence based approach to public safety. Many of our students seek a formal university qualification that they can study part-time and by distance, often useful for their credibility as instructors, operational advisors/commanders, policy analysts and expert witnesses.

The University of Canterbury is New Zealand's second oldest university, is ranked in the top 3% of universities world-wide, has over 14,000 students and the first university in New Zealand to recieve a 5-Star ranking under the QS Stars System. We are the only University in the world to offer a named graduate qualification in Search & Rescue, we even have our own campus rescue team that is trained in urban search and rescue, swiftwater and rope rescue.

For both endorsements, the first course (PUBS301) is the only part that requires attendance at a block course (for NZ based students, International students are welcome but not required to attend) and is less than a week in duration, with pre- and post-course activities. Remaining courses are generally done by distance (except some special topics) through online, self paced activities, and supported by technologies such as Adobe Connect, ECHO 360 and Skype™. Each course generally lasts for 12 weeks and typically requires 12-15 hours of study each week.

There is plenty of support, especially if you are new to university study including Skype and in some countries (including the USA) a toll free number that puts you in touch with faculty and academic advisors (during normal NZ business hours), as well as a massive online library (e-books) and journal collection.

Upon completion of this qualification, you may be eligible to enter post-graduate programmes, including a Masters degree at the University of Canterbury or other institutions.

With seasoned pracademics (academics that are also practitioners), your learning experience will be second to none. Solid in research, tempered with the reality of front line operations.

We look forward to you studying with us.

Steve Glassey
Director - Public Safety Studies
Centre for Risk, Resilience & Renewal

Office +6433642911


Mode Online distance study (some with block course/s)
Duration 1-2 years part-time
Entry Bachelors/Baccalaureate degree or equivalent professional experience*
Language English. Minimum of IELTS 6.0 required for entry.
Credit 60 points (four 15-point courses)
Study Load 12-15 hours per week, per course.
Intakes February 2015 (Semester 1), July 2015 (Semester 2)
Enrolments open 7 October 2014
Cost Refer to our FAQs for fee information**
Graduate options Progress to Masters level study at UC or one of our partner universities.

* Professional experience applications are made under a Special Admission and require the applicant to provide a CV, references and supporting documentation. Typically, this is five years (full time equivalent) of active public safety experience (volunteer or career).

Emergency Management

Graduate Certificate in Public Safety (Emergency Management)

Following the devastating Christchurch earthquake in 2011, the University of Canterbury has become an international focal point for researching disaster management. The University itself has a world class operational and academic emergency management programme, reflected in it being awarded the Emergency Management Academy of New Zealand Organisation of the Year in 2008 and the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Oceania Council Industry Preparedness Award in 2009. We are New Zealand’s largest University for hazard and disaster management postgraduate education for both master’s and doctoral degrees.

The new Graduate Certificate in Public Safety (Emergency Management) provides an opportunity for emergency management professionals to explore the research and best practices to create safe, sustainable and resilient communities.

This programme is customised so that you as an emergency management professional can develop your academic writing and research competencies, whilst adding to the international body of knowledge relating to the profession. Upon completion of this qualification, you may be eligible to enter a Masters degree (Hazard & Disaster Management) at the University of Canterbury or one of our partner institutions. It also has practically oriented assessment activities that are aligned to assist meeting the requirements of the IAEM Certified Emergency Manager or Associate Emergency Manager credentials.

Many of our faculty are IAEM Certified Emergency Managers (CEM) with significant professional and international experience, so you can be assured your learning is being facilitated by real world pracademics (practitioners that are also academics).

Click here to download the qualification brochure.

Search & Rescue

Graduate Certificate in Public Safety (Search & Rescue)

The world's first graduate qualification in search and rescue

To meet the growing needs of serach and rescue practitioners world wide, the the Centre for Risk, Resilience & Renewal (UCR3) at the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) has established the world’s first graduate certificate that focuses on search and rescue.

The Graduate Certificate in Public Safety (Search & Rescue) is a university level qualification that you as an advanced search and rescue practitioner can take part-time over one to two years, through completing four courses.

This programme is customised so that you as an advanced search and rescue practitioner can develop your academic writing and research competences, whilst adding to the international body of knowledge relating to search and rescue. You will have the flexibility to explore an area of search and rescue that is of most interest, such as swifftwater, rope, structural collapse, marine, wilderness, cave, mine... really any discipline of search and rescue, as you will develop skills to source and critically examine literature for that discipline and create evidence based doctrine.

This qualification does not replace the numerous national SAR training programmes that focus on operational certirfication. The Graduate Certificate is not an operational qualification, it is an academic qualification giving you the acdaemic skills and credibility that is expected of advanced practitioners.

For many of our students, this unique programme provides them the skills to be able to create evidence based solutions for search and rescue; as well as having a formal university qualification to support their work as expert witnesses, consultants or instructors.

Click here to download the qualification brochure.

Student Profiles

Join Dave Greenberg, one of New Zealand's most well known search and rescue pracitioners in studying the world's first graduate qualification named in search and rescue.

Learn more about Dave and why after over 3,500 rescue missions on the Wellington based Westpac Rescue Helicopter he is choosing to get back into University study with us.




2015 Special Topics

We are pleased to announce the below special topics for 2015, open to both SAR and EM endorsements.

All the above papers are 15 points with the exception of PUBS310 which is 30 points. These course are subject to change and cancellation if there is insufficient enrolments.

More information on PUBS courses available from the course directory.

Frequently Asked Questions

Visit our FAQs for information on equivalency, fees, enrolment, support and other common questions.

Supporting Organisations

Proposed Masters in Public Safety

The University of Canterbury is proposing to offer a new online Masters in Public Safety with majors available in either Search and Rescue or Strategic Emergency Management to be available from 2016, as a follow on programme for those who have completed the new Graduate Certificate in Public Safety (Search & Rescue).

Click here for more information.

2015 New Zealand PUBS301 Block Course

Our tentative dates for the 2015 PUBS301 Block course for students residing in New Zealand is:

Monday 9th to Thurday 12th March 2015, University of Canterbury, Christchurch.

The course is open to international students should they wish to attend also.

An optional academic skills workshop will also be held on Friday 13th March which is highly recommended for those new to University study. This will cover academic writing, library systems, academic databases and referencing.


Steve Glassey
Director - Public Safety Studies
Centre for Risk, Resilience & Renewal
University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Skype: publicsafetynz (diverts to office DDI so you can call us from anywhere)
International DDI: +6433693557
NZ Only Free phone 0800 GO UCR3
USA Only Free Phone 1-888-217-7930

  • Postal
    Centre for Risk, Resilience & Renewal
    University of Canterbury
    Private Bag 4800
    Christchurch 8140
    New Zealand
  • Physical
    Level 3, Room 304
    Department of Geological Sciences
    Von Haast Building
    Ilam Campus
  • Email
    0800 GO-UCR3 (46 8273)
    International +64 3642911
  • Emergency Management
    Emergency Event on Campus: 6111
    Emergency Services: 111
    Security: 0800 823 637
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