HCRI recognise PGT Outstanding Dissertation Award winners 2020

All of the students who’ve completed their Masters, during the added challenges and unpredictability of a global pandemic, should be extremely proud of themselves. Within HCRI, this year’s dissertations highlight not just the breadth of topics within each course, but the dedication, passion and adaptability of every student who’s worked to the highest standards, despite adversity.

As tradition, HCRI honour the students with the highest dissertation mark for Global Health MSc, International Disaster Management MSc, and Humanitarianism and Conflict Response MA respectively. Below, the 2020 award winners offer a summary of their brilliant final dissertations, along with their plans for the future.

Kate Mills, Highest dissertation mark for Global Health MSc

Kate MillsMy dissertation explored gender-based disparities within health impacts of human-induced climate change, aiming to address significant gaps in the literature. Focused on the uniquely vulnerable Melanesian sub-region of the Pacific, this research employed a combination of primary and secondary methods to understand the perceptions and knowledge of the linkages between climate change and women’s health. Six key linkages were identified, covering gendered social constructs, women in agriculture, nutrition and NCDs, vulnerable sub-groups, extreme climate events, and communicable diseases. A stronger understanding of these linkages is essential to enhance commitment, coordination and advocacy for integrating health, gender and climate change in targeted programming across Melanesia.

This course was a great opportunity to explore an important gap in the literature, and I look forward to applying the skills I have learned to my work in health research and programmes. 

Charlotte Bennemann, Highest dissertation mark for International Disaster Management MSc

Charlotte BennemannIn my dissertation, I examined how the efforts of the climate change and disaster management sectors could be aligned within the context of development by focusing on the shared concept of vulnerability. While both communities agree on the necessity of alignment to tackle their intertwined challenges, most approaches focus on terminology or conceptual similarities and propose the integration of one sector into the other. The relevance of the development sector is often neglected. I identified the reduction of vulnerability as the shared goal of the three sectors and developed the focal-systemic approach, which is a conceptual framework to align the efforts of the climate change and disaster management community within development.

On reflection, I particularly enjoyed the course’s interdisciplinary nature, which not only included the content but also the diverse background of staff and students. Going back to working with the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), I plan to work on cross-sectoral approaches of sustainable resource management as part of disaster management addressing linked challenges such as resource scarcity, food insecurity, conflict, climate change and now COVID-19.

Anna Llewellyn, Highest dissertation mark for Humanitarianism and Conflict Response MA

 Anna LlewellynMy dissertation explored the contemporary relationship between humanitarian video games and their pedagogical/educational potential. I focused on a specific mobile game, Bury me, my Love, to investigate whether video games give voice to refugees and refugee issues and whether this can be utilised and developed to facilitate further learning. First creating a 2-part theoretical framework from the literature, I then applied this directly to the empirical evidence gathered during an interview with the game’s developer and data from an online questionnaire completed by people who had previously played the game. Video games are an untapped resource for creative education and can express and portray complex humanitarian issues to a wide range of people.

On reflection, my favourite part of the MA was the Uganda field trip, where we got the opportunity to meet and learn from a variety of humanitarian actors as well as refugees. I’m currently in French Guiana working as an English language assistant to improve my French which will hopefully open doors as I embark on my humanitarian career!


A final congratulations to Kate, Charlotte, Anna, and all of HCRI’s graduates of 2020 for their fascinating, creative and conscientious dissertations.


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