BSc International Disaster Management & Humanitarian Response

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Living Interventions

Unit code HCRI30412
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Humanitarian Conflict Response Institute
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


In this course, students will investigate the lived experiences of international interventions, broadly defined. It provides students with the theoretical and conceptual tools for analysing interventions from a variety of different viewpoints. It asks students to think critically and creatively about the types of knowledge produced in, for and about interventions and to consider how these different knowledges both reflect and shape the realities of interventions. It draws on examples and case studies from a wide range of different kinds of intervention – including colonial, development, humanitarian and military – that have taken place in a variety of countries. Students are encouraged to develop their knowledge of both general trends, and specific interventions. The course also seeks to critically examine and contest dominant discourses about intervention, drawing on feminist, postcolonial and poststructural theories and approaches. 


This is an optional unit for students in level 3 of BSc International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response


  • To interrogate key concepts and theories in analysing intervention, especially those drawn from feminist and postcolonial approaches
  • To consider interventions from the diverse set of perspectives of those who experience them
  • To consider the nature of power and agency in the production of knowledge about interventions
  • Develop critical thinking and research skills through the production of an original research paper

Knowledge and understanding

  • To develop a good understanding of key feminist and postcolonial theoretical approaches to studying interventions
  • Develop a critical understanding of actors involved in international interventions
  • To critically discuss issues of race, gender, religion, class and identity in interventions
  • To explore different type of knowledge and to be able to consider their value to understanding interventions
  • To be able to apply the theoretical skills to critically examining specific interventions

Intellectual skills

  • Contribute to an informed, balanced dialogue on these issues through contributions in lectures and seminars
  • To be able to analyse and compare different actors agency in intervention situations
  • To reflect on your own positionality with regard to research on interventions.
  • To engage critically with relevant literature
  • Develop critical thinking and research skills through the production of an original research paper

Practical skills

  • Develop an understanding of how different people experience interventions
  • To evaluate different kinds of sources of knowledge  (visual, literature, memoir, reports, etc) and judge their relevance and contribution to understanding complex human interactions in situations of power asymmetry.
  • Demonstrate analytical and debating skills with peers and tutors
  • Show effective use of library resources drawing relevant literature, and seeking out information through the use of virtual sources to underpin learning and gathering information for written work.
  • To design an independent research project, including developing a research question

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Develop communication skills for a variety of audiences
  • Work effectively in a team
  • Develop, plan and achieve individual research outcomes
  • Develop analytical skills and the ability to articulate ideas verbally and in writing
  • Develop confidence articulating ideas and opinions during group discussions

Assessment methods

Presentation 0%
Source  Review 30%
Essay 70%


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback

All summative assessments

Oral feedback on presentations


Additional feedback available verbally in office hours

F & S


Recommended reading

Doty, Roxanne Lynn (1996) Imperial Encounters. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota


Pratt, Mary Louise (1992) Imperial Eyes: Travel Writings and Transculturation. London: Routledge.


Kindersley, Nicki. “Southern Sudanese Narratives of Displacement, and the Ambiguity of ‘Voice.’” History in Africa 42 (2015): 203–37. doi:10.1017/hia.2015.3.


 Lewis, D, D Rodgers, and M Woolcock. “The Fiction of Development: Literary Representation as a Source of Authoritative Knowledge.” The Journal of Development Studies 44, no. 2 (2008): 198–216.


Malkki, Liisa H. “Speechless Emissaries: Refugees, Humanitarianism, and Dehistoricization.” Cultural Anthropology 11, no. 3 (August 1996): 377–404. doi:10.1525/can.1996.11.3.02a00050.


Chouliaraki, Lilie. “From War Memoirs to Milblogs: Language Change in the Witnessing of War, 1914–2014.” Discourse & Society 25, no. October 2006 (2014): 600–618. doi:10.1177/0957926514536830.


Bake, Julika, and Michaela Zöhrer. “Telling the Stories of Others: Claims of Authenticity in Human Rights Reporting and Comics Journalism.” Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding 11, no. 1 (2017): 81–97. doi:10.1080/17502977.2016.1272903.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Roisin Read Unit coordinator

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