The M.A. in Humanitarian Action provides students with the necessary knowledge and skills to critically analyse humanitarian action, and work effectively in the humanitarian and development fields. The multidisciplinary Master’s degree combines theoretical and analytical knowledge and skills with a more hands-on approach. Courses are taught by a combination of in-house experts and experienced guest lecturers.
In an interdependent world, a humanitarian crisis in one area of the globe often has consequences in neighbouring countries as well as further afield, including increased refugee flows, heightened insecurity and trans-border problems, foreign intervention etc. With global warming and the increasing fragility of a number of states across the world—to name but a couple of factors—the incidence of humanitarian crises has grown in the last decades. The trend is not likely to change in the years ahead: if anything, the number of humanitarian crises is set to increase further. As a consequence, humanitarian assistance—both assistance provided by governments and multilateral institutions and aid offered by private organisations and initiatives—has grown in importance over the last decades and will likely continue to do so.
The M.A. programme in Humanitarian Action is intended for individuals working in, or aspiring to work in, humanitarian agencies, multilateral aid institutions, NGOs and private foundations, government agencies, large corporations with in-house development/outreach work, and think tanks and research centres focusing on humanitarian and development cooperation.
Download our M.A. Humanitarian Action brochure
Interested in individual course pertaining on a specific aspect of humanitarian action as part of your professional development? See the Department’s Continuous Professional Development Courses (more info available soon).
The Masters programme approaches humanitarian and development action from both a practical and an analytical perspective. Students develop the necessary knowledge and skills to critically analyse humanitarian action, and work effectively in the humanitarian and development field. Candidates for the M.A. in Humanitarian Action will gain a comprehensive understanding of:
- The variety of humanitarian and more long-term responses to crises across the globe
- How such responses are shaped and what consequences they have
- The institutional and legal framework for humanitarian action
- Medical and public health aspects of humanitarian action
- Media and humanitarian action
- Governance and humanitarian action
- Problems and challenges with contemporary humanitarian action
- In-depth knowledge of several sub-fields of humanitarian and development cooperation (depending on the student’s choice of specialisation)
The M.A. also offers the possibility of placements for those students who wish to gain hands-on experience of what working in the humanitarian and development fields entails.
The programme is intended for individuals working in, or aspiring to work in, humanitarian agencies, multilateral aid institutions, NGOs and private foundations, government agencies, large corporations with in-house development/outreach work, and think tanks and research centres focusing on humanitarian and development cooperation.
The M.A. enables students to develop a range of skills, including:
- The ability to analyse critically humanitarian and development action, how it is framed, structured, and delivered
- The ability to plan, programme, implement, and evaluate effectively humanitarian and/or development interventions
- The ability to navigate among the numerous players involved in humanitarian and development assistance
- Confident oral presentation skills on the topics covered
- Analytical writing in the area of humanitarian and development cooperation
Delivery and Duration
- The programme of a total of 90 ECTS credits can be followed fulltime or part time.
- The full-time programme extends over 3 semesters. Teaching is concentrated in semesters one and two of the course, whereas semester three is devoted to completing an M.A. dissertation.
Additional information about the full-time programme can be found online.
- Part time students will do the same course and dissertation work, but over six semesters.
Additional information about the part-time programme can be found online.
- Part time students in particular should be aware that the 5 ECTS Simulation Exercises study unit will, because of the very nature of the learning method, be held as a series of full-day exercises.
- All teaching is in English
*Current programme. Actual programme may vary.
Fernando Almansa, Ph.D. Humanitarian Consultant specializing in strategic management of international organisations and complex humanitarian programmes
Arsalan Alsinawi, Ph.D.(Nijmegen), Lecturer, University of Malta
Joseph Bock, Ph.D. (American University, Washington, D.C), Founding director, Masters of Science in Global Health Program at the Eck Institute for Global Health at the University of Notre Dame Visiting Fulbright Scholar
Isabelle Calleja Ragonesi, Ph.D.(Lond.), Head of Department, University of Malta
Anna Khakee, Ph.D. (Graduate Institute, Geneva), Senior Lecturer, University of Malta
Markus Moke, Ph.D. (Bochum), Director of the Joint European Master's Programme in International Humanitarian Action (NOHA) at the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict (IFHV) at the Ruhr-University Bochum
Maria Pisani, Ph.D. (Malta), Coordinator and Lecturer, University of Malta
Marika Podda Connor, MSc Trancutural Health (Middlesex University London), Migrant Health Unit & National Immunisation Service Coordinator, Department of Primary Health Care, Malta
Carmen Sammut, Ph.D. (Goldsmiths), Senior Lecturer, University of Malta
Alex Sceberras Trigona, LLD(Malta), MA (Oxford),Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senior Visiting Lecturer, University of Malta
Denis Vella Baldacchino, M.D. (Malta), EMDM (European Master Disaster Medicine) (Free University Brussels/Novara University) M.Sc. Public Health (Malta), Director Coordination Health Care Services
The M.A. programme also welcomes a large number of guest lecturers from Malta and abroad every year.
1) A recognised degree as deemed relevant by the Faculty Board of Arts.
Given the multidisciplinary character of humanitarian work, students are expected to hold a first degree second class or equivalent, in any subject considered to be relevant by the Admissions Committee.
2) English Language Proficiency.
Applicants who have not studied in Malta are required to present an internationally recognised English Language Proficiency Certificate at the required level. Further information about English Language Requirements is available online.
For further details, see By-Laws of 2009 in terms of the General Regulations for University Postgraduate Awards, 2008 for the Degree of Master of Arts under the auspices of the Faculty of Arts.
EUR 3,900 for the full M.A. degree for full-time and part-time students. The fee can be paid per semester (3 x EUR 1,300 for full-time students, 6 x EUR 650 for part time students). Non-European Union students pay EUR 10,200 for the full M.A. degree.
Further information about course fees is available online.
Prospective students may apply online.
Prospective International Applicants requesting information regarding the Admissions Process and Entry Requirements may fill in the online enquiry form available online.
FAQs & More Information
- What is the application procedure?
Students may apply online. Applications are handled centrally at the university level, and any technical query regarding application procedures, forms, etc. should be addressed directly to the Admissions & Records Office, Office of the Registrar.
- When is the deadline for application?
Information about deadlines can be found online.
- Can I apply even if I do not have a background in International Relations?
Yes. Given that humanitarian action is a multifaceted endeavour, we encourage people with a variety of backgrounds to apply, provided that they comply with the Admissions Requirements.
- Are scholarships available for studying at MA level?
The Department of International Relations does not have any funding or scholarships available. For any scholarships or funding available through the university, please check directly with the Students Advisory Services.
- When are lectures and seminars for part time students held?
Part time option teaching is from 5 pm onwards. The only exceptions are:
(a) Simulations Exercises module (semester 4 for part time students), which due to the character of the course is taught as a block, i.e. full days for 3-4 days and
(b) Security and Ethics in Humanitarian Action which is taught as a one-week block by a lecturer from abroad. Teaching will start in the early afternoon for that particular week.
- Which weekday evenings are part time lectures and seminars held?
This differs from semester to semester and year to year and is determined a few weeks before the start of the academic year.
- How heavy is the workload for part time students?
The part time workload is not exactly the same for all semesters; in the first year, it is slightly heavier than in the second. This means that there will be teaching two to four evenings a week the first year, and two evenings the second year.
For more information on the programme:
Contact the Course Coordinator Dr Anna Khakee