MSc International Disaster Management

Year of entry: 2024

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
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


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:


Who are humanitarian educators?

Young people and humanitarianism

Theoretical Approaches to learning about humanitarian topics

Humanitarian Organisations supporting learning

The role of empathy in humanitarian learning

Barriers and Challenges to Engagement

Being a humanitarian educator in your 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 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

Assessment Task

Formative or Summative


Discussion Board Contributions

Formative and Summative


Essay Outline







Feedback methods

Feedback Method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on assignments


Written feedback on Essay Outline


Informal guidance during seminars


Peer review and oral feedback in class


1-to-1 feedback during office hours

Recommended reading

Brown, E. & Morgan, W. J. (2008) “A Culture of Peace via Global Citizenship Education”, Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice, 20(3), 283-291.

Chismar, D. (1988) “Empathy and sympathy: The important difference”, The Journal of Value Inquiry, 22, 257-266.

Darwall, S. (1998) “Empathy, Sympathy, Care”, Philosophical Studies, 89(2-3), 261-282. 

Davey, E. (2014) HPG Policy Brief: Humanitarian history in a complex world, London: Overseas Development Institute.

Eisenberg, N. & Strayer, J. (1987) Empathy and Its Development, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Fiering, N. (1976) “Irresistible Compassion: An Aspect of Eighteenth-Century Sympathy and Humanitarianism”, Journal of the History of Ideas, 37(2), 195-218.

Fielding, M. (2004) “Transformative approaches to student voice: Theoretical underpinnings, recalcitrant realities”, British Educational Research Journal, 30(2), 295-311. 

Hicks, D. & Holden, C. (2007) Teaching the Global Dimension: Key principles and effective practice, Routledge, New York.

Huddleston, T. & Rowe, D. (2003) “Citizenship and the Role of Language” in Learning to Teach Citizenship in the Secondary School, RoutledgeFalmer, London.

Moeller, S. (1999) Compassion Fatigue: How the media sell, disease, famine, war and death, Routledge, London.

Peterson, J. & MacGinty, R. (eds) The Routledge Companion to Humanitarian Action, Routledge, London.

Richey, L. A. (2018) “Conceptualizing ‘Everyday Humanitarianism’: Ethics, Affects, and Practices of Contemporary Global Helping”, New Political Science, 40(4), 625-639.

Tallon, R. (2012) “Emotion and Agency within NGO Development Education: what is at work and what is at stake in the classroom?”, International Journal of Development Education and Global Learning, 4(2), 5-22.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 110

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Amanda Mccorkindale Unit coordinator

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