Singapore University of Social Sciences

Understanding Vulnerability

Understanding Vulnerability (SCO119)


“Understanding Vulnerability” is a course that will help students understand and identify different types of vulnerabilities, their causes and how they have evolved over time. It will make connections between individual and system vulnerabilities, which include the demographics of disadvantaged visible/invisible populations according to the human condition, the precarity created by the gig economy, those who are affected due to climate change, and organizations and countries which may have or create potential fault lines in society or which are exposed to territorial conflicts. This course thus outlines what being socially conscious means through the connections with many areas covered in SUSS core courses. Furthermore, it introduces students to the social network perspective to arrive at valid evaluations of individual or system vulnerabilities and to reflect on global efforts to address world issues – by identifying different types of networks, interpreting the by identifying different types of networks, interpreting the strength of these networks and understanding how small changes can have impact on the whole network.

Level: 1
Credit Units: 2.5
Presentation Pattern: -


  • What is vulnerability?
  • Key terms of understanding vulnerability in the individual and system levels
  • Characteristics, stereotypes and discrimination of vulnerable populations
  • Social, economic and psychological contexts of invisible vulnerable groups
  • System vulnerabilities (e.g. vulnerabilities of the city infrastructure to external threats such s terrorist attack; vulnerabilities of financial systems)
  • Cyber-attack, digital defence, and Cyber NSF scheme for National Service

Learning Outcome

  • Define key concepts related to vulnerability.
  • Describe the characteristics of vulnerable individuals, groups, organizations or societies.
  • Interpret individual and system vulnerability with the perspective of social networks.
  • Identify the key features of vulnerable groups with different social and cultural settings
  • Demonstrate the networks of vulnerable groups in the contexts of social issues in Singapore or across countries.
  • Illustrate how a resilient infrastructure network can recover from an attack.
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