Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Advanced Management in Humanitarian Action

UM LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course



DEPARTMENT International Relations

DESCRIPTION This study-unit will consist of two simulation exercises running over a total of 4 full days. The first simulation will concern a complex emergency (i.e. a humanitarian crisis in a context of internal or interstate conflict where there are no functioning government structures). Students take the roles of representatives of donor and recipient states, UN agencies, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), national/local NGOs, and the media.

Students will come prepared to play the role assigned to them (having conducted research on the agency and their roles (health experts, technical experts, coordinators, gender specialists etc.) within it. They are presented with a scenario requiring rapid action on their part.

The second simulation will focus on tapping into local resources in longer-term relief work. It will put the students (again playing the role of relief workers) face to face with local actors, establishing needs and locally preferred solutions, building coalitions, tapping into and reinforcing local resources, overcoming resistance and working within the constrains of the existing political situation.

Study-unit Aims:

This study-unit aims to:
- present students with situations similar to those that they are likely to encounter on the ground in cases of humanitarian intervention;
- following the previous point, prepare students to work effectively with local actors on the ground in humanitarian emergency situations;
- highlight the importance of preparation, professionalism, and following international standards in actual deployments in humanitarian emergencies;
- make students understand the political, social, cultural and organizational complexity of emergencies and emergency responses in today's world.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- assess what a deployment on the ground in a humanitarian emergency entails;
- make adequate pre-deployment research about the humanitarian emergency and mission;
- assess the complex practical, organizational and political constraints in which humanitarian aid workers operate and how to navigate them;
- grasp the complexities of the local realities into which an international mission inserts itself and the importance to work with, rather than against, local actors and realities.

2. Skills
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- prepare for field work;
- take into consideration the many and complex variables necessary for a successful humanitarian intervention;
- work with greater sensitivity and political astuteness with a range of actors, from the parents unwilling to let their children undergo a health screening to the head of a intergovernmental agency concerned with the lack of visibility for the agency within the humanitarian mission.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Texts and readings will depend on the particular complex emergency chosen for the simulation (will vary from one year to the next).
Texts and readings will also in part depend on which actor(s) the student(s) are playing: each student is supposed to have done background readings on "his/her" organization/agency/government/media outlet.

For illustrative purposes, if the complex emergency chosen is the famine in Somalia, the literature list would include texts such as:

- Reliefweb Somalia Humanitarian Situation (texts, reports, background material compiled from various sources)
- USAID-DCHA Somalia Complex Emergency Fact Sheet series
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – FAO in emergenices (2020)
- Daniel Maxwell and Peter Hailey (2020). " The Politics of Information and Analysis in Famines and Extreme Emergencies: Synthesis of Findings from Six Case Studies“ Feinstein International Center.

For reference:
- The Sphere Handbook 2018 Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response, 2018 Edition.

ADDITIONAL NOTES Co-Requisite Study-units

As prescribed within MA in Humanitarian Action


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Reflective Diary SEM2 No 50%
Simulation SEM2 No 50%

LECTURER/S Markus Moke


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2023/4. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.