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Course content

This online course is for practitioners in humanitarian and peacebuilding field. This course has been designed using the knowledge and expertise of both the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP).

Built on the experiences and expertise developed by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP) at Oxford Brookes University, the MA explores the interactions between humanitarian action and peacebuilding. It links applied knowledge and practice with theory through online lectures, action research, sharing of experiences, discussions with key practitioners, and critical reflection on practices. 

This programme is designed mainly for practitioners working in the fields of humanitarian action and peacebuilding, though it is open also to those working in related fields. It allows you to broaden your perceptions, critically review your role, and develop and refine hard and soft skills needed to work effectively in the fields of humanitarian action and peacebuilding. The programme is also relevant for practitioners working in other fields, interested in exploring new opportunities in conflict transformation.

Why choose this course?

  • Flexible and user-friendly online learning environment allowing you to learn from your workplace
  • Investigating cutting-edge issues in the field of humanitarian action and peacebuilding, proposing innovative tools and reflecting on current field practices
  • Designed and delivered jointly by Oxford Brookes University and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) offering you access to resources and support from both institutions online and in the field through UN missions 
  • Unparalleled support from a team of academic experts and top-ranked practitioners as well as field experts for specific topics
  • Founded on action-research, and on populations and employers' direct needs in humanitarian and peacebuilding programming 
  • Access to a worldwide community of learners. 

This course in detail

This is the first MA aimed at investigating the interactions between humanitarian action and peacebuilding, merging knowledge and know-how developed in both fields to promote better targeted initiatives and comprehensive responses. This MA is also one of the first Masters working on the principle that long-term and sustainable peace can only be built by local and national actors and initiatives. Therefore culture sensitivity, community initiatives and local responses are at the core of the learning process. 

To explore the links between humanitarian action and peacebuilding and learning from field practices, the MA relies on three distinctive features brought together to propose a unique and innovative learning approach: 

  • Based entirely on online delivery to create a web-based learning community, the MA offers a flexible and diverse method based mostly on collaborative work. A large portion of the learning activities are based on discussion and confrontation of ideas and practices to enhance peer to peer learning and discourse. 
  • The workplace is intended to be the main learning environment, to allow learners from all countries to engage with this global community of reflective practitioners. As a result, case studies, action research and hands-on exercises with live and field-based problems, working with communities, practitioners and agencies are an integral part of the programme. 
  • Based on innovative multicultural and multidisciplinary approaches, the MA uses studies and theories from social sciences, peace and conflict studies, humanities, management, political sciences, law, urban planning and architecture. It also merges practice-based knowledge produced by field practitioners and research outputs from practice-oriented scholars. The diversity of learners and lecturers creates a unique opportunity to merge and discuss different cultural paradigms, perceptions and intellectual traditions.

This part-time programme is usually studied over 30 months. However, you are able to take up to 5 years to complete the necessary credits or to finish it in 24 months if you can take time out of work to complete the programme.

It is constituted of three core modules; three issue-based modules as well as a research skills module as preparation for the dissertation.

How this course helps you develop

  • This programme will allow you to strengthen your professional network as you will be working collaboratively with other professionals and experts based in different humanitarian fields of operation.
  • It will allow you to strengthen you digital literacy and distance team-working
  •  It will develop self-reflective approaches and allow you to appraise critically your work environment.  


This course is ideal for a career in the field of humanitarian action, conflict transformation or related fields - such as civil servants or diplomats in charge of humanitarian affairs, academics teaching humanitarian practices, journalists seeking a better understanding of humanitarian issues, or military personnel ready to be deployed in a field of operation where humanitarian actions are taking place.

Visit the Humanitarian Action and Peacebuilding - MA, PGCert page on the Oxford Brookes University website for more details!




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