DV428 Half Unit
This information is for the 2021/22 session.
Dr Stuart Gordon CON.8.10
This course is compulsory on the MSc in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies. This course is available on the MSc in Anthropology and Development, MSc in Anthropology and Development Management, MSc in Conflict Studies, MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Environment and Development, MSc in Gender, Peace and Security, MSc in Global Politics, MSc in Health and International Development, MSc in Human Rights, MSc in Human Rights and Politics, MSc in Inequalities and Social Science, MSc in International Migration and Public Policy and MSc in Political Economy of Late Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.
Places will be allocated with priority first to MSc International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies students and then to students on International Development and joint-degree programmes followed by MSc Human Rights students. In cases where there are more applicants than spaces then places will be allocated randomly in accordance with the priorities listed above.
This course is very popular and there will almost certainly be much higher demand than there will be spaces available.
The course looks at international, national and local responses to conflict and natural disasters. Building on an analysis of the causes, construction and consequences of humanitarian disasters, this course focuses on humanitarian actors (including aid workers, journalists, medics, government officials, soldiers, politicians and peace negotiators). It considers the principles and the politics of humanitarian action, exploring the overlaps and tensions between practices of humanitarian assistance and humanitarian intervention and how humanitarian institutions shape and are shaped by global governance and state power. It asks how humanitarianism relates to ideas about human rights and justice, and the politics of securitisation. It considers why humanitarian organisations and governments respond to some crises and not to others as well as the critique of humanitarian assistance and the ways in which the UN and NGO communities have sought to professionalise their activities. The course also looks at how recipients of humanitarian aid respond to these programmes, and in some cases subvert or transform them into quite different projects. Case studies will be drawn primarily from Africa, Central and South Asia and Latin America. However, there is also likely to be discussion of ongoing humanitarian emergencies, wherever they are located.
This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars in the MT. Seminars will be at or upwards of 45 minutes duration and lectures will be at or above 60 minutes duration. There will be a Revision Lecture in the MT.
Five or Six 'Voice of Experience' lectures.
Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6.
Students will receive feedback on seminar group presentations and have the option to write a formative essay, not exceeding 1,500 words. Essay topics will relate to seminar discussions and lecture material covered to date. Students will receive an indicative grade and written feedback within four weeks of submission (if submitted on time). Students submit optional formative papers within two weeks of the seminar presentation.
Stuart Gordon and Antonio Donini ‘Romancing Principles and Human Rights - Are Humanitarian Principles Salvageable?’ International Review of the Red Cross / Volume 97 / Issue 897-898 / June 2015, pp 77-109;
M. Barnett, (2011). Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism, Ithaca: Cornell University Press;
M. Barnett, M. Barnett & T. G. Weiss (Eds.), 2008. Humanitarianism in Question Politics Power and Ethics, Ithaca: Cornell University Press;
A. De Waal, 1997. Famine Crimes: Politics and the Disaster Relief Industry in Africa. Oxford:James Currey;
G. Loescher, (2001). The UNHCR and World Politics, Oxford University Press;
D. Rieff, (2002). A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis, Vintage/Random House.
Take-home assessment (100%) in the LT.
The exam paper will be released in week 11 of the Michaelmas Term. The course is assessed through the submission of two 2000-word essays by Tuesday of week 1 of the Lent Term.
Course selection videos
Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.
Student performance results
(2017/18 - 2019/20 combined)
|Classification||% of students|
Important information in response to COVID-19
Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.
Department: International Development
Total students 2020/21: 189
Average class size 2020/21: 14
Controlled access 2020/21: Yes
Value: Half Unit
Personal development skills
- Team working
- Problem solving
- Application of information skills
- Specialist skills