MA Humanitarianism and Conflict Response / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Humanitarian Education

Course unit fact file
Unit code HCRI50010
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Humanitarian Conflict Response Institute
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course explores who are humanitarians and more specifically, humanitarian educators and what is humanitarian education in a globalised world. This course will take an in-depth study of historical and current approaches to learning about these concepts—such as the Global Dimension, Service-Learning, Peace Education, Human Rights Education, and the International Federation of the Red Cross’ approach to humanitarian principles—in order to analytically critique common themes.  Discussions will also include the role of ‘voice’ and ‘empowerment’ amongst youth as well as how to be a ‘humanitarian educator’ in the classroom, field, while working with young people or through role-modelling.


This course aims to:

  • Introduce students to key theoretical and historical concepts that have shaped humanitarianism
  • Reflect on shifts amongst educational approaches to learning about humanitarian topics
  • Engage critically with the concept of humanitarians as educators
  • Develop critical analytical and research skills


Indicative syllabus - Topics that will be covered throughout this course include:
•    Humanitarian principles & education
•    Education in the humanitarian sphere – Sustainable Development Goals & the Education Cluster
Who are humanitarian educators?
•    Brief history of humanitarianism 
•    What does it mean to be a humanitarian educator?
•    The role of globalisation and living in a connected world
Young people and humanitarianism
•    Student voice/empowerment/agency
•    Young people and humanitarian engagement
Theoretical Approaches to learning about humanitarian topics
•    Global dimension, service-learning
•    Peace education and human rights education
•    Interdisciplinary lens for learning and analysis
Humanitarian Organisations supporting learning
•    Motivations of humanitarian actors
•    Approaches to teaching controversial issues
•    Operationalising the humanitarian principles
•    Critically exploring the relationship with organisations
The role of empathy in humanitarian learning
•    Critical analysis of how empathy is used when discussing humanitarian issues
•    Finding the empathetic balance
Barriers and Challenges to Engagement
•    Compassion fatigue
•    Maturity of your audience
•    Teaching topics which your audience may have directly experienced 
Being a humanitarian educator in your space
•    Benefits and challenges of being a humanitarian educator
•    Expanding the learning space

Teaching and learning methods

Online Lecture
The online lectures are designed to introduce students to the concept of humanitarian education and who are humanitarian educators. Each week will focus on different theme first introducing students to the concepts of humanitarianism and the spheres in which humanitarians work. The content of the lectures has been designed to encourage scaffolding of higher-level learning and building upon content from the previous weeks encouraging greater student analysis and critical thinking throughout.
These lectures are presented entirely through the eLearning platform allowing students to attend virtually from anywhere in the world. The methods of learning include, short video lectures; guided reading documents; the use of multimedia and audio/visual aids all of which are designed to encourage students to think of the topic from multiple perspectives and immerse them in the subject. The online lectures are flexible enough that students may choose to break their learning down in to shorter sessions to encourage adaptability with full time work commitments. The short video lectures will have notes available for students to utilise for a fully inclusive learning environment.

Discussion Boards
The purpose of the online discussion boards is to provide students with the opportunity to engage with their peers and tutor in a virtual seminar. In this environment they are encouraged to work towards the learning outcomes of the course by: reflecting on the lecture content, responding and critically engaging with weekly set questions; exploring their own relevant personal experiences with regards to the content; posing their own questions for their peers; and ultimately supporting one another in gaining a more profound understanding of the course material. Opinions and open debate are encouraged when supported with sound academic reasoning, sources and maintaining collegiality. Discussion boards are facilitated by the lecturer and a teaching assistant who are both focused on: expanding the discussion; constructively challenging students to enhance their analytical and critical thinking skills; ensuring academic rigour and accuracy; and to provide ongoing formative feedback on their analysis and academic writing skills.

Knowledge and understanding


  • Gain a global understanding and historical overview of approaches to educating young people in humanitarian topics
  • Identify and appraise the role of voice when working or researching with young people
  • Distinguish between humanitarian organisations and their approaches to engaging with young people
  • Formulate individual meaning for humanitarian learning
  • Evaluate current approaches to humanitarian learning and critique their effectiveness

Intellectual skills


  • Problem posing – ability to frame problems in search of a solution
  • Synthesis and analysis of approaches to learning humanitarian topics
  • Critical reflection and evaluation on personal engagement with global issues
  • Expression – ability to make a reasoned argument for a particular point of view

Practical skills


  • Demonstrate analytical skills through discussion forums
  • Present material in a clear coherent manner, with appropriate level of literacy, in various forms
  • Use sufficient and relevant research at this level and to acknowledge sources using an appropriate referencing system
  • Demonstrate continued ability in study skills, such as the ability to summarise arguments, critically appraise them and apply the theory to challenges and dilemmas while teaching humanitarian issues
  • Show effective use of library resources and search engine to gather information

Transferable skills and personal qualities


  • Computer literacy- ability to use word processing, presentation software and the internet to clearly communicate ideas
  • Teamwork – recognising and identifying views of others and working constructively with them
  • Applying subject knowledge to everyday situations
  • Willingness to update knowledge—understand the need for life-long learning
  • Improving one’s own learning through planning, monitoring, critical reflection, evaluation and adaptation.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Self-management; capacity for self-appraisal; reflection and time management
Project management
Time management; meeting deadlines; ability to schedule tasks in order of importance
Ability to plan and implement an effective research project.
Independence; capacity for self-discipline, motivation and diligence

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 10%
Written assignment (inc essay) 90%

Feedback methods

Collation of feedback will be via a Unit Survey, either using the University’s standard software or building the course’s own survey.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 16
Tutorials 8
Independent study hours
Independent study 126

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Amanda Mccorkindale Unit coordinator

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