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Examining Humanitarianism - HEA00095M

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  • Department: Health Sciences
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Janaka Saranasuriya Jayawickrama
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2024-25

Module aims

This module introduces the tone of the MSc and presents the current policies, practices and politics of humanitarianism. The module examines the history of humanitarianism whilst linking it with contemporary arguments for and against humanitarian interventions. The students will receive the opportunity to debate and discuss various humanitarian concepts from the mainstream as well as alternative theories from different cultural and community perspectives. This module provides the theoretical foundation on the current debate and discourse on humanitarianism. This allows the students to establish their theoretical and academic understanding of the subject that allows them to understand the policy and practice that are taught in the following modules.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

  • Students will critically examine the nature of humanitarianism today and understand the different mechanisms to respond to humanitarian needs locally and globally.
  • Students will understand the global politics that affect humanitarian policy and practice.
  • Students will critically engage with the past, present and potential future of the humanitarian discourse.

Academic and graduate skills

Upon completion of this module, students will:

  • Development of critical analysis skills to understand academic concepts, policy frameworks and practical implementations of humanitarian affairs.
  • Understand mechanisms and approaches to go between policy and practice of humanitarian debate.
  • Decision making in complex political emergencies and humanitarian contexts.

Module content

This module will provide the opportunity for students to critically engage with humanitarian concepts and develop their own understanding of humanitarian interventions at both global and local levels.


Task Length % of module mark
3000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
3000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Written feedback will be provided on the standard proforma within the timescale specified in the programme handbook

Indicative reading

Joanne Rose, Phil O'Keefe , Janaka Jayawickrama & Geoff O'Brien (2013) The challenge of humanitarian aid: an overview, Environmental Hazards, 12:1, 74-92.

Anderson, M.B. (1999) Do no harm: how aid can support peace or war. Boulder, USA.

Danida (1996) The international response to conflict and genocide: lessons from the Rwanda experience. Various authors. Danida, Copenhagen.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.