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

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Practical Approaches to Researching Disasters and Conflict

Course unit fact file
Unit code HCRI30111
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This module enables students to explore some key concepts in relation to humanitarian provision, disaster management and peace and conflict in context. It combines theories and concepts with questions of sensitive research methods and knowledge production. The module contains a compulsory research element abroad in the form of field visits and lectures. The research element is designed to allow students to use, in a safe and guided space, the research methodologies that they have discussed in class and apply explore theoretical ideas in a real-world context. The research element encourages research responsibility and analytical skills for future humanitarian professionals.


HCRI30111 is available only to International Disaster Management & Humanitarian Response and iBSc Global Health students.


· To ground these key concepts in a real-world context; · To interrogate key concepts and theories related to the ethics and practicalities of conducting research related to conflict and disasters; · To reflect on positionality with regard to research; · To consider the nature of power and agency in relation to research; · To engage critically with relevant literature on research methods; · To engage actively in research activities; either online or face-to-face.

Teaching and learning methods

The supplementary methods used in the provision of teaching and learning on this course unit should be identified here. In addition to 11 lectures, students will spend 10 days on a research visit abroad (likely India). During this time, they will receive presentations and attend workshops with different actors, be expected to engage with the urban environment to produce an assessment, and attend daily academic tutorials/debriefs with the course leaders. Student must attend at least 10 out of 11 lectures in the UK. Otherwise they will not be allowed to take part in the research visit and cannot complete the course unit. Students are encouraged to take part in pre-departure discussion board activities.

Knowledge and understanding

· Understanding how knowledge is produced and shaped by researchers · Understanding how key concepts play out in a real-world context · Demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of specific aspects of disasters, conflict and humanitarianism of the fieldtrip city · Understanding how the city shapes and produces realties · Understand the challenges of conducting primary research in fragile environments

Intellectual skills

· Show an awareness of the ways in which the geographical location affects our understanding and response to processes of humanitarian response, disaster management and conflict · Relate secondary sources (articles, books etc.) to the study of the actual humanitarian or disaster situation · Reflect critically on the process of researching societies and humanitarian issues

Practical skills

· Team-working skills · Inter-cultural competences · Networking opportunities with NGOs and policy makers · Logistics and planning skills

Transferable skills and personal qualities

For guidance on Transferable skills, please see: · Ability to interact and effectively communicate with various actors (donor agencies, policy makers, fellow professionals and lay communities) at various levels (local, district, national international) · Team working skills especially: leadership skills; ability to organise self and others to accomplish tasks; sharing knowledge and managing differences

Employability skills

- The development of research skills - research design, methodology, data collection and analysis - an area which is severely lacking in humanitarian organisations
- Students will develop an ability to understand how academic work relates to practice and interrogate the practice of humanitarian assistance, disaster management and conflict response - Awareness of the value judgements and other social norms communicated through the interventions of different actors in fragile environments - Awareness of the connections between academia and practice in international development and humanitarian response

Assessment methods

Assessment Task

Formative or Summative


Written Research Plan



Research Portfolio



Research Presentation



Feedback methods

Feedback Method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback

All summative assessments and on the formative Research Plan

Oral feedback in lectures on project development


Additional feedback available verbally in office hours



Recommended reading

Methods and Field research

C. Lekha Sriram et al eds., Surviving field research: Working in violent and difficult situations (London: Routledge 2009).

R. Chambers, Whose reality counts? Putting the last first (London: Intermediate Technology 1997). Available in library as high demand book.

G. Millar. An ethnographic approach to peacebuilding – Understanding local experiences in transitional states. (New York: Routledge, 2014).

Coe, N.m., and Smyth, F.M., (2010), Students as Tour Guides: Innovation in Fieldwork Assessment, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, Vol. 34(1)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Larissa Fast Unit coordinator
Birte Vogel Unit coordinator

Return to course details