Humanitarianism in Theory and Practice (018IRS)

30 credits, Level 6

Spring teaching

What is humanitarianism?
Who is a humanitarian?
What do they do?

From missionaries in the 19th century, via large international aid organisations, to volunteers travelling to the Mediterranean to help migrants, humanitarianism is a key part of global politics. In this module, you’ll study the development of humanitarianism, its conceptual roots, and how it is practiced by lots of different actors in the 21st Century. We explore:

  • how gender, race and class matter for humanitarian action
  • how it can become militarised
  • how to decolonise aid
  • whether there is a humanitarian crisis in Britain today.


100%: Seminar


30%: Coursework (Essay)
70%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 30 hours of contact time and about 270 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2024/25. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to feedback, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let you know of any material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: