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icono de curso

The politics and practice of international humanitarianism


Credits: 4 ECTS

Second semester

Elective Courses




Humanitarian action plays a significant role in international politics, accounting for a growing proportion of international aid budgets, the subject of increasing attention from the UN Security Council, and the practical concern of multiple UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations. In spite of its salience in world politics, scholars of international relations have traditionally paid relatively little attention to humanitarian policy and practice, and students and practitioners of humanitarianism have not drawn significantly on the concepts and theories offered by the field of international relations. This is beginning to change, and the IR literature on humanitarianism is growing exponentially.

The course will provide a rigorous introduction to the major themes and debates in the study of humanitarianism and humanitarian action, and throughout the course, students will be encouraged to apply their existing knowledge of international relations, international security, or international development to the study of humanitarian action.


Each session will combine a lecture, a student presentation, and class discussion.

Assessment details:

  • 1 x 500-word summary and critical reflection on a reading: 20%
  • 1 x presentation in class: 30%
  • 1 x essay (1500-2000 words): 50%

Written work is due one hour before the corresponding class. Late work will not be accepted.

Competences, learning outcomes and teaching activities (PDF)