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MA Humanitarianism and Conflict Response

Course Description

This multidisciplinary degree course focuses on response to crises originating from both conflict-zones and natural disasters. Bringing together the study of medicine and humanities, the course provides an inclusive approach that mirrors the reality of aid operations and informs the reflexive processes of both analytical and applied disciplines. Students will be able to draw synergies from an exceptionally wide breadth of disciplinary traditions and research expertise.

Course aims

1. Provide critical insights into competing perspectives on how Humanitarianism and Conflict Responses can be understood, analysed and explained - from both an historiographic and contemporary viewpoint.

2. Develop analytical skills in critically evaluating the idea of humanitarianism and the ways that responses to conflict are organised, justified and implemented. This includes competency in developing a reasoned argument, critically considering data sources and defending different approaches.

3. Develop skills in gathering, organising and using evidence and information from a wide variety of sources. This will be complemented by guidance on how best to manage workloads and obtain research materials.

4. Enable students to apply research skills to a relevant research area.


Students should be able to show a critical understanding of :

1. Key issues and debates in Humanitarianism and Conflict Response, familiarity with different theoretical approaches, practical problems and an appreciation of the diversity of policies at international and national levels.

2. Both the range of social science topics associated with Humanitarianism and Conflict Response and the normative and historiographic assumptions which underpin these issues.

3. The analytical and policy literature concerning the related issues of the causes of conflict, reconstruction, ethics and international governance structures and institutions, the role and perspectives of the state, multilateral and bilateral agencies, international and domestic NGOs and other civil institutions.

4. A detailed and extensive understanding of a specific conceptual and/or policy-related area of Humanitarianism and Conflict Response, of the implications and limitations of research findings on this subject; and of how to produce an original piece of academic research, all through their dissertation.

Special features

HCRI at The University of Manchester is inspired by the need to conduct rigorous research and to support postgraduate training on the impact and outcomes of contemporary and historical crises. Directed by Dr Rony Brauman (former President of MSF France, Associate Professor at L'Institut d'Études Politiques, Paris, and Director of Research at the MSF Foundation, Paris), HCRI is widely recognised as being a leading international research institute focusing on the study of humanitarianism, conflict response and peacebuilding.

Our work is driven by a desire to inform and support policy and decision makers, to optimise joint working between partner organisations, and to foster increased understanding and debate within the field. Bringing together the disciplines of medicine and the humanities (including international relations and political science) to achieve these goals, HCRI aims to facilitate improvements in crisis response on a global scale whilst providing a centre of excellence for all concerned with emergencies, conflicts and peace. In offering a range of postgraduate courses we embrace this opportunity to develop a scholarly and professional agenda for humanitarians and peacebuilders around the world.

Course content for year 1

Course units may include:

- Humanitarianism and conflict response:

- Emergency humanitarian assistance
- Fundamentals of epidemiology
- Humanitarian responses to crises:
case studies

- The history of humanitarian aid
- Research & evaluation methods
- Global health
- The Arab revolts and post-revolutionary
state formation

- Anthropology of violence
- Performance in theory and practice
- The ethics of killing
- Ethics in world politics
- Conflict analysis
- Democracy: theory & practice
- Reconstruction and development
- Global governance

Visit the MA Humanitarianism and Conflict Response page on the University of Manchester website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Katy Lee

MA bursary award winner kindly supported by The Newby Trust

After completing an undergraduate degree in International Relations at the University of St Andrews, I spent a year working for a local branch of an international NGO in Rwanda (Prison Fellowship Rwanda) and at their headquarters in Washington DC (Prison Fellowship International).

Following this I felt that the MA offered by HCRI would allow me the opportunity to learn better how to support not only this organisation, which remains close to my heart, but also to others in the future. HCRI in particular seemed the ideal place to bridge my academic grounding with my on-the-ground experience as it offered both a practical and challenging course.

Whilst my expectations when starting this course were undoubtedly high it would be safe to say they have been exceeded. The staff have been incredibly approachable and friendly, and the classes, demanding and motivating. Most inspirational of all have been the speakers on the course who are not only leading experts in their fields, but also have some amazing stories to tell. I feel privileged to listen to and learn from these individuals.

I hope to be able to put this year of academia towards starting a career in international development, and in particular post-conflict peace-building. This qualification should certainly help me in beginning this new and exciting journey.


Entry Requirements

An Upper Second Class Bachelor's degree or the overseas equivalent although each application is judged on its own merits and exceptions to this entry requirement may be made.

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