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Entry requirements

A minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent). We welcome applications from academically strong individuals from a wide variety of fields and backgrounds. Candidates with a lower class degree but with degree-relevant work experience may be considered.

Months of entry

April, October

Course content

How and where is humanitarian aid given, and how does it interact with the political and military complexities of emergency contexts? How have critiques of humanitarian aid, including from recipients, impacted on humanitarian action? How does South-to-South assistance in emergencies change, challenge or complement the concepts and practice of humanitarianism?

This is an online degree that engages critically with the history, politics and practice of humanitarian action. Students take the core module, followed by a selection of elective modules and a final dissertation.

Why study MSc Humanitarian Action at SOAS?

  • This online degree has been developed to meet the needs of people working, or hoping to work, in international agencies, humanitarian organisations, and NGOs.
  • The online format enables students to study for a MSc degree alongside work, caring or other commitments.
  • The degree brings together a cohort of students from around the world into online discussions, led by a specialist seminar tutor.
  • It builds upon the strengths of the Department of Development Studies in areas of violence, aid and security.
  • The degree draws on research and professional experience from colleagues across SOAS, a university with an international reputation for its work on Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

What will you study

The core module for the MSc Humanitarian Action has three parts: it starts with the groundwork in humanitarian principles and architecture, and then presents the critiques and voices from the Global South. It deals with practice and the contradictory contexts for humanitarian work, exploring the politics of security decisions, Responsibility to Protect, witness and asylum. This part presents the opportunity to examine and assess competing priorities in situations of multi-layered insecurity.

This module draws on a range of literatures, including the academic work on humanitarianism, publications, data sets and relevant websites from NGOs, humanitarian thinktanks and UN bodies. It also includes blogs, crowd-sourced data and journals from the Global South. The module challenges the conventional tropes of North to South assistance by examining how agents within the Global South have responded to humanitarian disaster, and also how humanitarianism has been transformed with the establishment of operations in Europe to assist refugees and other destitute people migrating across the Mediterranean.

Analytical and empirical depth will be provided through a series of case studies (Calais, Sri Lanka, Syria, for example) that examine the practicalities and institutional learning in famines and complex emergencies. The module presents processes and mechanisms of institutional learning as well as the persistence of some challenges in approach and delivery.

Who should apply?

We welcome applications from those who have worked in the field of development and/or conflict. We also encourage those without relevant work experience who can demonstrate a strong interest in humanitarianism and have a strong first degree, to apply.

Information for international students

For details, including English language requirements, please see SOAS website

Fees and funding

For details of postgraduate fees, please see SOAS website

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    part time
    24 months
    • Online learningis available for this qualification
    flexible
    24 months
    • Online learningis available for this qualification

Assessment

AssessmentWhat kind of work will I be doing? (proportionally)
Written coursework / continuous assessment70
five written online assessments (‘etivities’*)30

Course contact details

Name
Development Studies
Email
devsol-studentsupport@soas.ac.uk
Phone
+44(0)20 7898 4246