Humanitarianism in Theory and Practice (018IRSID)

30 credits, Level 6

Spring teaching

This module is historically grounded, critically minded and practically oriented. It offers you the opportunity to:

  • understand and critically assess the politics and history of humanitarianism as a concept and practice
  • put into practice their critical awareness when addressing case studies of humanitarian emergencies and issues
  • engage with humanitarians working in the field in a variety of ways.

The module decentres the ‘classic’ story of humanitarianism as a wholly altruistic impetus. Rather, humanitarianism is situated within the history of industrialisation, colonialism and militarism as well as the politics of gender, class and race. We will explore how humanitarian organisations operate domestically as well as internationally, and question what this means for our understanding of humanitarianism.


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: