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Course content

Immediately after a natural disaster a critical need is for safe shelter. The aim of the programme is to develop reflective practitioners who combine understanding of practical and strategic issues of development and emergency practice with an appreciation of the wider political context in which they operate.

This is a programme that combines development, humanitarian practice and the role of the practitioner intervening in post disaster reconstruction.

Why choose this course?

  • This course will provide you with background knowledge to be able to understand and discuss the essential components of shelter response after a disaster. 
  • The decisions made very early on in a shelter programme have far reaching effects and can affect the subsequent success or failure of permanent housing; they can enhance or hinder the building of community resilience and its preparedness in the face of future disasters.
  • The course is equally valid for students with technical as well as non-technical backgrounds. There is no need to have any previous knowledge in building, construction, architecture or engineering. 
  • The course delivery is designed to be flexible to allow you to study if you are working, or between deployments, or want to study in Oxford full time.
  • We have developed good relationships with agencies working in the shelter field, and we occasionally are able to offer students internship possibilities within these organisations. 
  • As a student in Oxford you'll be at the heart of the UK's most successful economic region. In addition to our own excellent libraries and resource centres, you will have access to the world-renowned Bodleian Library, the Bodleian Law Library and the Radcliffe Science Library.

This course in detail

The course is organised on a modular credit system. Modules combine a ratio of taught to self-led study. For example a module of 20 credits approximates to 200 hours of student effort, up to 40 hours of which will be devoted to lectures, seminars or individual tutorials. The remainder of the time is devoted to student-led study. 60 credits are required to complete the PG Cert. Of these the core module accounts for 20 credits, while the extra 40 credits are achieved through a combination of 10 and 20 credit modules. An introduction on the first day of the programme will enable you to make a more informed choice of modules to take. The timetable is structured to minimise the likelihood that two related modules will run at the same time but clashes are not always avoidable.

The Modules on the course are:

  • Disasters, Risk, Vulnerability (20 credits)
  • Working with Conflict (10 credits)
  • The Refugee Experience (20 credits)
  • Critical Enquiry, Development and Emergencies (20 credits)
  • Conflict, Violence and Humanitarianism (20 credits)
  • Human Rights (20 credits)
  • Globalisation (20 credits)
  • Improving Humanitarian Action (10 credits)
  • Programming and Partnerships (10 credits)

Courses run by some of our partners which Brookes credit rates, can be used as credit towards this programme. RedR and IFRC courses are currently credit rated and we are working on similar partnerships. You can be exempted for up to 40 out of the 60 modules if you have taken these courses. Please get in touch with us if you would like further details

In addition to modules the programme organises many optional events, including PhD research seminars within the School of Architecture, student-led seminar series and occasional lectures. As well as the formal teaching content, the high quality of the student experience is an essential aspect of the programme. Students usually keep in touch after the course has ended via alumni links, where job opportunities are often shared. The PG Cert in Shelter after Disaster is offered as a standalone award wherein you take joint modules also available to students attending the Master's degree in Development and Emergency Practice (DEP). The programme has an average of 35-40 students, usually from over 20 countries, with a wide diversity of backgrounds. You will also benefit from interacting with a wider cohort of development and emergency practitioners.

Teaching and learning

Teaching methods on the taught part of the programme are largely class-based. Learning is driven by a mixture of lecturing, one to one and group tutorials, whole group discussion, workshop format, small group work, personal reading, individual written assignments and project design. Wherever possible the programme invites visiting practitioners from humanitarian agencies to contribute to the programme by leading sessions and commenting on student work.

The programme entails hands-on workshops with live problems, sometimes field-based, working with communities, practitioners and development agencies. The emphasis is on action methods and reflection on one’s own role as an activist and practitioner. The objective is to enable students to build both knowledge and skills more suited to the urgency and complexity of people’s changing demands and environmental conditions.

The assessment pattern reflects the programme’s learning outcomes and is intended to demonstrate that graduates possess the skills and knowledge required in practice. Coursework involves a variety of different methods of assessment, including:

  • Essay and report writing
  • Individual and group presentations in class
  • Personal attendance and participation in class
  • Case study reports.

Attendance pattern

There is flexibility in the attendance pattern. The course is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate working people. There is a mix of online, concentrated , independent study and weekly modules which should suit working applicants, or people who want to study between deployments. 


A good number of our former students have found work in the shelter sector and we are building an alumni network to help current students get in contact with organisations who work in the shelter sector.

Visit the PGCert Shelter after Disaster page on the Oxford Brookes University website for more details!




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