DV462      Half Unit
Forced Migration and Refugees

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Stuart Gordon


This course is available on the MSc in Conflict Studies, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Gender, Development and Globalisation, MSc in Health and International Development, MSc in Human Rights, MSc in Inequalities and Social Science, MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies, MSc in International Migration and Public Policy and MSc in Women, Peace and Security. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The first section deals with the global governance of forced migration and in particular the two UN organisations with specific mandates for Refugee protection and relief, the UNHCR and UNRWA. Utilising the work of authors such as Roger Zetter, James Morrissey, Christopher Dowell and Sarah Lischer the second part of the course then critically evaluates the ways in which the drivers of forced migration are identified whilst simultaneously problematizing notions of mono-causality in favour of more complex and dynamic understandings of the reasons which may underpin individual, familial and collective experiences of forced displacement or immobility.  The third section explores the tensions between the international community’s interest in fixing refugee populations in camps and refugees’ own practices (often irregular) of self -settlement in towns and cities.  It then proceeds to trace the development of an international protection regime for internally displaced populations that have not yet crossed a border and the protection gaps that remain.  The fourth section brings to the fore the agency of refugees and explores differing approaches to the study of refugees’ own lived experiences in flight and exile.   In particular we look at the significance of age, generation, gender and disability in narratives and analyses of displacement.  We will spend an entire week looking at gendered experiences of exile and displacement looking at the multiple ways in which processes of and responses to forced migration influence gender identities, roles and relations. The final section looks at the linkage between international society and global order – in particular examining the relationship between the nation state, borders, refugees and citizenship. We turn attention to how we might ‘solve’ displacement and the limitations in the current approaches. It begins by looking at why refugee return has dominated international attempts to solve crises, the problems that have arisen from this ‘push to repatriate’ and the types of challenges faced by returnees.


20 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.

The students will participate in small group exercises both prior to seminars and during.   These will feed directly into a formative piece of work related to the summative research proposal and the final essay.   Students will work within small study groups to develop the formative work and will then work individually on the summative tasks. For example, an average week will involve the following:

1. Joint formative presentation by a study group (4 students) in seminar – this will follow a list of themes supplied to the students in advance.

2. The study  team then lead small group work in the seminar - with these teams each comprising one of the 4 original presenters and a small number of non-presenting students (up to 3). These will work through a series of structured small group exercises related to the initial presentation.  The results are discussed in seminar plenary.

3. The presenting team is debriefed later during additional office hours. Video capture is used.

4. The members of the presenting team then work individually on the related research proposal.  A draft of this counts as summative work but advice is sought from the mentor..

5. Finally a summative essay on an aspect of that week’s topic (set by the course convenor) is set.

Formative coursework

Students will co-produce seminar presenations with a supporting information brief for fellow students.   Students will be allocated in groups of 4 to these presentations.  Presentations will be filmed and the team debriefed by tutors during office hours - using both the recording and the student information briefs.  

Indicative reading

First Lecture key readings

  1. Sarah Kenyon Lischer, ‘Conflict and Crisis Induced Displacement’ in Elena Fiddian- Qasmiyeh, Gil Loescher, Katy Long and Nando Sigona (Eds) The Oxford Handbook of Refugees and Forced Migration Studies (OUP: Oxford, 2014) pp 317-329.
  2. Adhikari, Prakash. "Conflict-Induced Displacement, Understanding the Causes of Flight." (2011). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/pols_etds/3 at http://scholar.google.co.uk/scholar_url?url=https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi%3Farticle%3D1002%26context%3Dpols_etds&hl=en&sa=X&scisig=AAGBfm1fJ8FBqx8NdyNUNOIP0KV4ji5MzQ&nossl=1&oi=scholarr
  3. Justin Schon, ‘Motivation and opportunity for conflict-induced migration: An analysis of Syrian migration timing’ at justinschon.com/resources/JPR_forthcoming_main%20text.pdf
  4. Williams, N.E., Ghimire, D.J., Axinn, W.G. et al. AMicro-Level Event-Centered Approach to Investigating Armed Conflict and Population Responses Demography (2012) 49: 1521. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13524-012-0134-8      
  5. Anna Knoll and Lidet Tadesse Shiferaw, ‘Tackling the triggers of violence-induced displacement: the contribution of the African peace and security architecture and African governance architecture’
  6. European Centre for Development Policy Management September 2018 Discussion Paper No. 228 at www.ecdpm.org/dp228

Additional readings Lecture 1

  1. David James Cantor, The New Wave: Forced Displacement Caused by Organized Crime in Central America and Mexico, Refugee Survey Quarterly, Volume 33, Issue 3, September 2014, Pages 34–68, https://doi.org/10.1093/rsq/hdu008
  2. Sarah Kenyon Lischer,Security and Displacement in Iraq: Responding to the Forced Migration Crisis International Security 2008 33:2, 95-119
  3. Gineste, C., & Savun, B. (2019). Introducing POSVAR: A dataset on refugee-related violence. Journal of Peace Research, 56(1), 134–145. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022343318811440
  4. Fisk, K. (2019). Camp settlement and communal conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. Journal of Peace Research, 56(1), 58–72. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022343318814588
  5. Rüegger, S. (2019). Refugees, ethnic power relations, and civil conflict in the country of asylum. Journal of Peace Research, 56(1), 42–57. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022343318812935
  6. Rüegger, Seraina and Heidrun Bohnet. 2018. The Ethnicity of Refugees (ER): A New Dataset for Understanding Flight Patterns. Conflict Management and Peace Science. 35(1):65-88.
  7. Bohnet, H., Cottier, F., & Hug, S. (2018). Conflict-induced IDPs and the spread of conflict. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 62, 691–716.
  8. Bohra-Mishra, P., & Massey, D. S. (2011). Individual decisions to migrate during civil conflict. Demography, 48, 401–424.
  9. Khawaja, M., Assaf, S., & Yamout, R. (2010). Predictors of displacement behaviour during the 2006 Lebanon war. Global Public Health, 6(5), 488–504

Further readings for subsequent lectures will be released prior to the start of the course


Take home exam (100%) in the ST.

Students will produce 2 x 2000 word essays during a 72 hour take home exam sat in the early part of the ST. Students unable to commit to this are not to enrol in the course.

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2018/19: Unavailable

Average class size 2018/19: Unavailable

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication