MA Humanitarianism and Conflict Response / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Citizen Participation, Accountability and Advocacy in Disasters

Course unit fact file
Unit code HCRI63322
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
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit aims to:

  • Equip students with the theoretical understanding of the notions of social change and status quo in the wake of disasters;
  • Develop a critical understanding of the interplay between participation, accountability and advocacy in disaster preparedness and recovery;
  • Develop a critical understanding of the causes, contexts and consequences of participatory and accountability movements in post-disaster scenarios;
  • Interrogate the theories of change, tools and tactics deployed by various actors to shape post-disaster decision-making and reforms; ·
  • Understand the barriers to bottom-up and citizen-driven advocacy efforts in post-disaster context;
  • Draw link between course concepts and real-world disaster advocacy and activism.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand the interplay between participation, accountability and advocacy in disaster preparedness and recovery;
  • Through empirical evidence, develop a critical understanding of the political potential that underpins various forms of participatory and accountability movements in disaster and post-disaster contexts;
  • Deepen critical understanding of the barriers to or pitfalls of rights-based and advocacy efforts and how they shape state-societal relations in response to and recovery from disasters

Intellectual skills

  • Ability to critically engage with theoretical literature on the interplay between participation, accountability and advocacy in disaster preparedness and recovery;
  • Develop critical understanding of academic, activist and non-profit scholarship surrounding various principles and practices of post-disaster advocacy;
  • Consolidate research skills to examine a range of possibilities and challenges facing advocacy actors in post-disaster contexts.

Practical skills

  • Develop an understanding of various forms of practical tools, techniques and techniques of post-disaster advocacy and accountability, including those related to new media and social media platforms;
  • Use theoretical tools and empirical insights to produce evidence-based, post-disaster activism;
  • Demonstrate independent and collaborative thinking through essay-writing and group work.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Develop communication skills for a variety of advocacy audiences;
  • Work effectively in a team;
  • Develop analytical skills and the ability to articulate ideas verbally and in writing;
  • Develop confidence articulating ideas and opinions during group discussions.

Employability skills

· Prepare students for a career in investigative research and advocacy sector; · Equip students with skills for coalition building, policy reforms and activism.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 25%
Written assignment (inc essay) 75%

Feedback methods

Feedback method Formative or Summative
  • Oral feedback on individual essay
  • Written feedback on advocacy brief
  • Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hour or by making an appointment



Recommended reading

1. Curato, N. (2019). Democracy in a time of misery: From spectacular tragedies to deliberative action. Oxford University Press.

2. Dhungana, N. (2020). Doing civil society-driven social accountability in a disaster context: Evidence from post-earthquake Nepal. Politics and Governance, 8(4), 395-406.

3. Dreze, J., & Sen, A. (1990). Hunger and public action. Clarendon Press.

4. Fortun, K. (2009). Advocacy after Bhopal. University of Chicago Press.

5. Hilhorst, D. (2002). Being good at doing good? Quality and accountability of humanitarian NGOs. Disasters, 26(3), 193-212.

6. Remes, J. A. (2015). Disaster citizenship: Survivors, solidarity, and power in the progressive era. University of Illinois Press.

7. Schuller, M., & Morales, P. (Eds.). (2012). Tectonic shifts: Haiti since the earthquake. Kumarian Press.

8. Xu, B. (2017). The politics of compassion: The Sichuan earthquake and civic engagement in China. Stanford University Press.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nimesh Dhungana Unit coordinator

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