BSc International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response and Spanish / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Key Concepts in International Disaster Management and Humanitarian Response

Course unit fact file
Unit code HCRI11021
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course introduces students to the key theoretical concepts that underpin all aspects of international disaster management and humanitarian response. The concepts covered will provide a framework through which to theoretically and critically interrogate the specific processes and practices of disaster management and humanitarian response. The study of international disaster management and humanitarian response is an interdisciplinary endeavour, this course will provide students with the theoretical foundations to engage with the subject matter across a range of disciplines.  


Year 1, semester 1: core on BSc International Disaster Management and Conflict Response


  • To introduce students to key theoretical and historical concepts that have shaped humanitarian responses
  • To reflect on how shifts and changes in these concepts over time and space have had important effects on the practices of humanitarianism and disaster management
  • To foster students’ critical thinking regarding debates and scholarship on humanitarian action
  • To develop critical analytical and research skills

Teaching and learning methods

The principal teaching and learning methods will be the lecture (an interactive experience) and the tutorial. These would be supplemented by guided and independent reading and assignments designed to encourage students to engage with course material in meaningful ways. The module will be Blackboard compliant.

Knowledge and understanding

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Key theoretical concepts which underpin the analysis of humanitarianism, conflict response and international disaster management
  • The practical and operational implications of these concepts and understandings
  • To be able to use these concepts to analyse examples of practice from the field
  • Introductory grasp of the history of these debates in the academic literature

Intellectual skills

  • Navigate complex theoretical debates and relate them to events and issues in practice
  • Compare and contrast narratives originating from different sources
  • Identify different methodologies and/or disciplinary orientations in academic literature
  • Reflect upon current events and actors with reference to a historical perspective

Practical skills

  • Information management skills, requiring evaluation, synthesis, and record-keeping.
  • Research skills, including planning, prioritisation of tasks, identification and location of primary and secondary sources, evaluation of findings.
  • Essay-writing skills related to the analysis of a specific question, construction of arguments, assessment and deployment of evidence, writing style.
  • Participation in seminar discussion and collaborative learning.

Employability skills

1. Editorial and analytical skills 2. Putting together and maintaining arguments (useful for a marketing/awareness campaign or business case) 3. Oral and communication skills - especially in terms of comprehending large amounts of information and drawing reasoned conclusions 4. Meeting deadlines 5. Working autonomously and in groups

Assessment methods

Assessment Task

Formative or Summative 



Source Analysis Summative 1000 words 30%
Essay Plan Formative 1 page 0%
Essay Summative 2000 words 70%

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on assignmentsSummative
Verbal feedback via seminars with studentsFormative


Recommended reading

Heywood, A. (2015) Key Concepts in Politics and International Relations. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Edkins, J and Zehfuss, M. (2008). Global Politics: a New introduction. Abingdon: Routledge.

Barnett, Michael. And Thomas Weiss (2008) Humanitarianism in Question: Politics, Power, Ethics. Cornell University Press.

Moore, Jonathan, ed. Hard Choices: Moral Dilemmas in Humanitarian Intervention (Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 1998).

Donnelly, Jack (2013) Universal Human  Rights in Theory and Practice. Cornell University Press.  


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jessica Hawkins Unit coordinator

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