DV462      Half Unit
Forced Migration and Refugees

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Myfanwy James


This course is available on the MSc in Development Management, MSc in Development Management (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Development Studies, MSc in Economic Policy for International Development, MSc in Gender (Rights and Human Rights), MSc in Gender, Development and Globalisation, MSc in Gender, Peace and Security, 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 International Migration and Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

First priority is given to students on the MSc International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies and MSc in International Migration and Public Policy, then International Development (ID) and joint ID MSc programmes and then students external to ID.  At each stage course places will be allocated by random selection according to the priorities detailed above.


Course content

The course explores forced migration with a particular focus on the lived experiences of refugees.  The first lectures critically explore the relationship between violent conflict, environmental change, and forced migration. We question notions of mono-causality in favour of more complex and dynamic understandings of displacement.

The next section examines legal and institutional responses to forced displacement. We explore the role of the UN organisation with a specific mandate for refugee protection and relief, the UNHCR, as well as the issue of international refugee ‘burden sharing.’  We consider the intersection between human rights and refugee law, and examine how and why displacement can become securitised.

The final section turns to differing approaches to the study of refugees’ own lived experiences in flight and exile. We examine the variety of experiences of displacement - from refugee camps to self -settlement in towns and cities.  The course examines the significance of gender and its intersection with other complex identities in experiences and analyses of displacement.  The final section looks at the limitations of recent policy approaches aimed at ‘solving’ protracted refugee situations, including ‘push to repatriate’ and the types of challenges faced by returnees.


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

The teaching strategy is diverse and innovative: using both conventional discussions as well as a variety of small group exercises. These will feed directly into a formative piece of work related to the summative assessment.

The course is accompanied by a film club which explores the representation and lived experiences of refugees.  Normally, 5 films are shown and discussed during the Winter Term.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will co-produce seminar presentation. Students produce a formative essay of 1000 words by week 8 of WT.   Normally students will produce their formative essay within two weeks of presenting in seminar on that topic.

Indicative reading

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. Roger Zetter & James Morrissey, ‘The Environment-Mobility Nexus: Reconceptualizing the Links between Environmental Stress, (Im)mobility, and Power’ 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.342-354.

3. Marjoke A. Oosterom. (2016) Internal Displacement, the Camp and the Construction of Citizenship: Perspectives from Northern Uganda. Journal of Refugee Studies 29:3, pages 363- 387.

4. Michael Barnett, ‘Humanitarianism, Paternalism and the UNHCR’ in in Alex Betts and Gil Loescher (Eds) Refugees in International Relations (OUP: Oxford, 2013) pp 105-132.

5. Lewis Turner (2015) Explaining the (Non-)Encampment of Syrian Refugees: Security, Class and the Labour Market in Lebanon and Jordan, Mediterranean Politics, 20:3, 386-404, DOI: 10.1080/13629395.2015.1078125


Take-home assessment (100%) in the ST.

The exam paper will be released in week 11 of the WT. The course is assessed through the submission of two 2100-word essays by Tuesday of week 1 of the ST.

Exam papers will comprise a section with questions drawn from specific weeks and another section with questions that engage themes from multiple weeks. Students are expected to address one question from both sections.


Student performance results

(2019/20 - 2021/22 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 26.3
Merit 70.1
Pass 3.6
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: International Development

Total students 2022/23: 119

Average class size 2022/23: 17

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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