MSc Humanitarian Action (Online)

General

Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Mode of Attendance: Online learning


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 an 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 literature, 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 a 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.

Structure

Students must take 180 credits comprised of one core and three elective modules totalling 120 taught credits, four supporting mini-modules and a 60 credit dissertation.

  • Core modules: A core module is required for the degree programme, so must always be taken and passed before you move on to the next year of your programme.
  • Elective modules: These are designed to help students design their own intellectual journey while maintaining a strong grasp of the fundamentals. Elective modules can be chosen from a list of subjects offered across SOAS' portfolio of programmes.

Dissertation

  • Dissertation in Development Studies

Core module

  • Humanitarian Principles and Practice

Students have to choose a minimum of 30 credits from the Development Studies list below. They can then either select an additional 60 credits from this list or 30 from the Development Studies list and 30 from the Open Options list.

Development Studies

  • Human and Critical Security Studies
  • Understanding Violence, Conflict and Development
  • Critical Insights in Forced Migration
  • Partnerships Beyond Borders: NGOs, Social Movements and Civil Society in Transnational Development
  • The Transnational Politics of Gender and Feminisms in Development

Open Options - Global Diplomacy, International and Environmental

  • Afghanistan: Strategic and Geopolitical Perspectives
  • America and the World: US Foreign Policy
  • Climate Change and Development
  • Digital Diplomacy
  • Diplomatic Systems
  • Economics, Politics and Society in MENA
  • Economics, Politics and Society in South Asia
  • Food Security and Social Protection
  • Foundations of International Law
  • Gender, Conflict and the Middle East
  • Global Citizenship and Advocacy
  • Global Energy and Climate Policy
  • Global International Organisation: United Nations in the World
  • Global Media
  • Global Public Policy
  • India's Foreign and Security Policy
  • International Economics
  • International Security
  • Multinational Enterprises in a Globalising World
  • Muslim Minorities in a Global Context
  • Pakistan: Religion, Politics and Security
  • Political Economy of Violence, Conflict and Development
  • Political History, Culture and Diplomacy in Iran
  • Sports and Diplomacy
  • Strategic Studies
  • Trade Diplomacy
  • Understanding Poverty
  • Understanding Sustainable Development

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session.

Admissions and Applications

You can apply for this course via the online application form.

We aim to assess a complete application and provide a decision within a 5-week time frame. Overseas students who require a Tier 4 visa and wish to join SOAS should bear in mind visa applications can take several weeks, so you should apply as soon as possible.

Consideration of Application

The whole application, including transcript and references, is considered before a decision is reached. You are therefore advised to submit a complete application including references and transcript (where required). An incomplete application will add considerable delays to the decision-making process.

Students will receive an acknowledgement of their application. Each application is carefully considered and although we try and respond as quickly as possible, we do ask that students should expect to receive a response within five weeks of receipt.

Candidates who are available in the United Kingdom may be called for an interview. The absence of academic members of staff (or instance on study leave) may affect the timing of decisions.

Entry Requirements

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

English Language Entry Requirements

You must be able to show that your English is of a high enough standard to successfully engage with and complete your course at SOAS. Please note that we take our English language requirements seriously and failure to meet them exactly may well result in your application to SOAS being rejected. It is not possible to negotiate if your scores are below our required levels, with the expectation that because they are 'close enough' they will be accepted. It is important that you plan appropriately, well in advance, so that your English language test comes in good time and so that you have time to retake the test if necessary. We do not accept reasons of inconvenience or financial hardship for not submitting or retaking an English test.

International students

For EU and International students who need a visa, if unconditional entry scores are achieved we accept qualifications from several countries, as well as a range of international qualifications and tests.

If a Tier 4 entry visa is required then a SELT, such as UKVI IELTS may be needed. For this reason, we recommend all Tier 4 visa students to choose the UKVI IELTS Academic test as the test of first resort.

Last updated Jul 2020

About the School

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues.

SOAS University of London welcomes the brightest minds to study on its central London campus with like-minded individuals who feel passionately about contemporary world issues. Read less
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