MSc International Disaster Management

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Young People in Conflicts and Displacement (20-21 Centuries)

Course unit fact file
Unit code HCRI60511
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Humanitarian Conflict Response Institute
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course introduces students to a global history of children in modern situations of war and displacement. Drawing on specific case studies, it puts into perspective current issues that are at the forefront of public and policy debates (war on children in Syria and Yemen, child soldiers in Myanmar and South-Sudan, refugee youths in Western Europe, army recruitment of adolescents in the UK, etc.). As part of our discussions, we will address how history and humanities more generally can help humanitarian practitioners to be better prepared to work in complex environments.


  • Deepen critical reasoning, intellectual curiosity, and critical engagement with the humanitarian sector past and present
  • Strengthen written and oral communication skills
  • Engage critically with a wide range of academic and field-oriented literature
  • Reflect on the long-term influence of the past on public debates, policy frameworks, and humanitarian action and particularly child protection
  • Understand the wider usefulness of humanities and social science for the humanitarian sector, especially in matters involving children and young people

Knowledge and understanding

  •  Gain a global understanding and historical overview of the experiences of children in war and displacement
  • Learn about specific case studies
  • Identify the evolutions of legal, practical, and cultural understandings of childhood and child’s protection
  • Grasp the challenges of conducting historical and social research with children

Intellectual skills

  •  Critically engage with a wide range of disciplines and materials
  • Familiarise yourself with many different geographical and chronological settings
  • Develop a critical understanding of the methodological challenges of history writing and their relevance beyond the discipline.
  • Further develop awareness of current humanitarian issues around children in war and displacement and their longer histories

Practical skills

  • Gain a strong understanding of policy brief writing
  • Demonstrate analytical and debating skills with peers and tutor
  • Demonstrate efficiency and creativity in writing
  • Show effective use of library resources and search engine to gather information

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Interpretation and argumentation (written and oral)
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Project and time management
  • Cultural and ethical awareness

Employability skills

¿ Analytical and intellectual skills (written and oral) ¿ Communication and Presentation skills ¿ Interpersonal skills ¿ Research skills ¿ Meeting deadlines ¿ Working autonomously and in groups

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 40%
Written assignment (inc essay) 60%
Policy brief 40%
Essay Proposal 0%
Essay 60%
Short summary identifying the key takeaways of each class 0%


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on assignments


Written feedback on research proposal


Informal guidance during seminars


Peer review and oral feedback in class


1-to-1 feedback during office hours



Recommended reading

  • Davey Eleanor. HPG Policy Brief: Humanitarian history in a complex world (London: Overseas Development Institute, 2014).
  • Davin Anna. ‘What is a child?’ in Anthony Fletcher and Stephen Hussey (eds), Childhood in Question: Children, Parents and the State (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999), 15-36.
  • Honwana Alcinda. ‘Children's Involvement in War: Historical and Social Contexts’, The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth, 1:1, (2008), 139-149.
  • Kushner Tony. ‘Truly, madly, deeply … nostalgically? Britain’s on–off love affair with refugees, past and present’, Patterns of Prejudice, 52:2-3 (2018), 172-194.
  • Oh Arissa. ‘From War Waif to Ideal Immigrant: The Cold War Transformation of the Korean Orphan’, Journal of American Ethnic History, 31:4 (2012), 34-55.
  • Pignot Manon. ‘Drawing the Great War: Children's Representations of War and Violence in France, Russia, and Germany' in Mischa Honek and James Marten (eds). War and Childhood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 170-188.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 130

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Antoine Burgard Unit coordinator

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