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

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Professional Experience Project

Course unit fact file
Unit code HCRI20220
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Full year
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course offers students the opportunity to undertake an individual placement or collaborative work based project with a humanitarian organisation, non-governmental organisation or charity.

There will be two pathways:

1] Students will work cooperatively with a group of (3-6) enquiry-based learners who collaborate on a  ‘real world’ project typically proposed by the external organisation and defined by the organisation’s business needs. A member of the organisation will act as a supervisor/mentor, but the team project is likely to be based predominantly off-site (based at the University) with potential visits onsite (at the organisation).

2] Students will arrange a placement at an external organisation.

The course is supported by a series of lectures and workshops. The students will gain understanding of the complex issues surrounding professional development and collaborative working towards humanitarian action, through researching literature and then developing management strategies that balance practical outcomes and examine critically concepts of humanitarian professionalisation. In preparation for the work-based project, the course will teach students non-academic writing, with a focus on writing for the policy-focused audience and will include an assignment of writing a policy brief.


HCRI20220 this module is only available to students on a IDM&HR degree programme,(please check your programme structure for further details).


The aim of this module is to provide students with an opportunity to:

  • Connect their academic learning with professional experience
  • Make professional networks
  • Receive feedback from a professional body about their employability and advice on how to improve this through varied experiences.

Learning outcomes

  • To foster students’ critical perspective regarding debates on humanitarian professionalisation.
  • To develop collaborative team skills and creative management skills.
  • To develop an understanding of values in the work place and associated leadership styles.
  • To develop critical analysis, reflective and research skills.
  • To develop writing and presentation skills.
  • To develop non-academic writing skills.

Knowledge and understanding

Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The professional humanitarian workplace
  • The agendas and practical priorities of humanitarian organisations
  • The required skills and education to be employable in the humanitarian sector

Intellectual skills

  • Develop a critical understanding of the challenges and opportunities that are faced when working for a professional humanitarian stakeholder
  • A reflection on how this connects to the conceptualisations of humanitarianism gained throughout the degree.


Practical skills

  • Information retrieval – ability independently to gather, sift, synthesise and organise material from various sources (including library, electronic and online resources), and to critically evaluate its significance.
  • Time management – ability to schedule tasks in order of importance.
  • Applying subject knowledge – use of discipline-specific knowledge in everyday situations Research – ability to plan and implement an effective research project.
  • Improving own learning – ability to improve one's own learning through planning, monitoring and critical reflection; to evaluate and adapt strategies for one's learning


Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Develop communication skills for a variety of audiences
  • Work effectively in a team and engage stakeholders
  • 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

Employability skills

The following could be used in the workplace and could be an addition to the CVs of those who have undertaken this module: - Editorial and analytical skills - Evidence-led decision-making - Policy-focused writing - Putting together and maintaining arguments (useful for a marketing/awareness campaign or business case) - Oral and communication skills - especially in terms of comprehending large amounts of information and drawing reasoned conclusions - Meeting deadlines - Working autonomously and in groups

Assessment methods


Assessment Task 



Write a policy brief on a current topic agreed on by the course convenor. 2000 words for each student 50%
Presenting reflecting on professional experience project 10 minutes 0%
Reflective essay 2000 words 50%



Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on assignmentsSummative
Verbal feedback via 1 on 1 meetings with studentsFormative
Verbal and peer feedback on practice group presentationsFormative


Recommended reading

Building Trust in Diverse Teams: The toolkit for emergency response. 2007


James, Eric (2016), The professional humanitarian and the downsides of professionalisation. Disasters, 40(2), 185-206 . 


Fiori, Juliano et al. (2016), The Echo Chamber Results, Management, and the Humanitarian Effectiveness Agenda.


ffrench-Constant, Laura (2014), How To plan, write and communicate an effective Policy Brief: Three Steps to Success.


Amulya, Joy (2011), What is reflective practice? (Center for Reflective Community Practice:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology).


Bolton, Gillie (2014), Reflective practice: writing and professional development (4th ed.; London: SAGE).


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 14
Practical classes & workshops 4
Placement hours
Placement 70
Independent study hours
Independent study 112

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Luke Kelly Unit coordinator

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