University of Malta

Masters in Humanitarian Action
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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.

The programme is unique to the Mediterranean region: it is offered entirely in English and harnesses expertise from the academic, NGO, IO and government sectors. It has a strong regional focus and enables students to specialize in regionally relevant issues such as displacement/migration and disaster preparedness.

The Department of International Relations is a member of NOHA, the main European network of universities striving to enhance professionalism in the humanitarian sector. It is also actively involved in EUPRHA and EUHAP, both EU-supported, pan-European efforts to provide a concerted educational response to new trends in the humanitarian sector. It is a founding member of the UNESCO UNITWIN Network in Humanitarian Engineering and Computing, a multi-stakeholder partnership of educational specialists, NGOs and industrial partners to foster the free flow of information, and effective practice, around Humanitarian Engineering and Computing.  


Download our M.A. Humanitarian Action brochure


Check out our alumni's Testimonials 


Some useful information regarding Scholarships 

Interested in an individual course pertaining to a specific aspect of humanitarian action as part of your professional development?  See the Department’s Continuous Professional Development Courses. 

More Information

Objectives Delivery & Duration
Academic Programme Extra Curricular Opportunities
Teaching Faculty Admission Requirements
Tuition Fee Apply Online
FAQs Testimonials


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 and ethical implications they have
  • The institutional and legal framework for humanitarian action
  • Medical and public health aspects of humanitarian action
  • Human security and migration in the context of humanitarian action
  • Media and humanitarian action
  • Anthropology and humanitarian action
  • Management and evaluation in 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, International and national NGOs, international institutions, government agencies and think tanks/research centres.

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


Academic Programme

Semester 1 

  • Legal Dimensions of Humanitarian Action - IRL5051
  • Governance and Policy Making: The International Context - IRL5052
  • Management in Humanitarian Action - IRL5053
  • Anthropology and Intercultural Aspects of Humanitarian Action - IRL5065
  • World Politics in Humanitarian Action - IRL5066
  • Public Health in the Humanitarian Action Context - IRL5068

Semester 2

  • Refugee Law and Statelessness: Practical Aspects - IRL5006
  • Advanced Management in Humanitarian Action - IRL5054
  • Applied Ethics in Humanitarian Action - IRL5055
  • Methodology and Research Methods in Humanitarian Studies - IRL5061
  • Human Security, Forced Migration and Humanitarian Action - IRL5064
  • Migration and Migration Control - IRL5070

Semester 3

*Current programme. Actual programme may vary. 

Teaching Faculty

Fernando Almansa, Ph.D. Humanitarian Consultant specializing in strategic management of international organisations and complex humanitarian programmes

Isabelle Calleja Ragonesi, Ph.D.(Lond.), Senior Lecturer, University of Malta

Neil Falzon, B.A., LL.D., M.A.(Human Rights & Democratisation), Visiting Assistant Lecturer, University of Malta 

Bram Jansen PhD (Wageningen). Universitair docent, Wageningen University & Research centre 

Sharon Kassahun PhD (UIBK) Senior Visiting Lecturer, University of Malta

Anna Khakee, Ph.D. (Graduate Institute, Geneva), Senior Lecturer, University of Malta

Derek Lutterbeck, Ph. D. (Warwick), Deputy Director (MEDAC), Senior Lecturer (MEDAC) 

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), Lecturer, University of 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

Tanya Melillo Fenech, MD Msc (HSM), Dip (HSM), Head of Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Unit, Visiting Lecturer, Health Services Management, University of Malta

The M.A. programme also welcomes a large number of guest lecturers from Malta and abroad every year.


Former Faculty 

Arsalan Alshinawi, 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

Marika Podda Connor, MSc Trancutural Health (Middlesex University London), Migrant Health Unit & National Immunisation Service Coordinator, Department of Primary Health Care, Malta. Visiting Lecturer 2012-13

Paul Roe, Ph.D. (aberystwyth). Associate Professor, Central European University 

Maria Schembri, M.A. Creativity and Innovation (Malta), Managing Director 

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


Admission Requirements

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.

3) Further details.

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.


Tuition Fee

Further information about course fees is available online.

Apply 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

  1. 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.
  2. When is the deadline for application?
    Information about deadlines can be found online.
  3. Can I apply even if I do not have a background in International Relations?
    Yes. Given that humanitarian action is a multifaceted endeavour, we strongly encourage people with a variety of backgrounds to apply, provided that they comply with the Admissions Requirements.
  4. Are scholarships or other economic incentives available for studying at MA level?
    The Department of International Relations does not have any funding or scholarships available for students directly. For any scholarships or funding available through the university, please follow this link. Alternatively, please check directly with the Students Advisory Services. The Government of Malta, for the fourth consecutive year, is offering a scholarship for Palestinian students for post graduate studies in humanitarian action and cultural heritage at the University of Malta. Additionally, the Government of Malta is offering a scholarship for a Tunisian student for the MA in Humanitarian Action for the third consecutive year. Further information about all scholarships advertised by the Government of Malta is available online. For information regarding existing tax incentives and deductions for university studies, including at MA level, please click here. For further information regarding this scheme, please contact the Tax Department directly. 
    Additionally, all students of the Department of International Relations who pay taxes in Malta (or whose parents pay taxes in Malta) are eligible to apply for the Government of Malta's 'Get Qualified' Incentive, whether they are Maltese nationals or non-Maltese nationals. The scope of this incentive is to support the personal development of individuals who aim to achieve qualifications and certifications required by industry. The incentive is applicable to students following a course of studies leading to a certification, diploma, degree or post-graduate degree courses. On successful completion, the student will benefit from a tax credit, hence recovering part of the costs incurred. The tax credit granted to successful students will be of 70% of the eligible costs yet the maximum value of tax credits will be capped in relation to the MQF level of the qualification as specified below: 
  5. 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) Applied Ethics in Humanitarian Action and Anthropology in Humanitarian Action which are taught as one-week blocks by lecturers from abroad. Teaching will start in the afternoon for those two particular weeks.
  6. 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.

For more information on the programme:

Contact the Course Coordinator Dr Anna Khakee or the NOHA Coordinator Joe Debono.

BA International Relations Timetables 2018/9

Timetables for the BA in IR Course

MA in Humanitarian Action Timetable 2018/9
MA in HA Timetables for 2018/9 Semester 1

Conference: Religion & Humanitarian Action
Friday 7th December 2018
Aula Magna, University of Malta Valletta Campus.

Erasmus+ student mobility programme – second call
Erasmus+ student mobility programme – second call

Disability and Mass Displacement: Intersections and Interventions for Humanitarian Action
Symposium on Disability and Mass Displacement at the Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa

Get Qualified (Tax Credit) Incentive
New Eligibility Criteria

Undergraduate Semester 1 & 2 Timetables

BA General and Honours International Relations Timetables 

Erasmus+ Second Call for Studies - Semester 2
A second call for Erasmus+ Studies 2017/18 for semester 2 has been launched. 

Scholarships to Study in Malta
Deadline: 30 June

Last Updated: 15 March 2018

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