MSc Disaster Interventions and Humanitarian Aid

Working in humanitarian aid or disasters? Worried about people and the planet? This course will provide you with the tools to become a skilled practitioner in disaster mitigation, recovery and reconstruction.

Disaster Interventions and Humanitarian Aid

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
  • Start date September 2023
  • Duration MSc full-time: 12 months, MSc part-time: 24 months
  • Mode of study part time, full time
  • Delivery on campus

Overview

There is an increasing global demand for nations, organisations and communities to increase their resilience to potential crises and disasters. Most recently, the Covid-19 pandemic has shown the impact that a global pandemic can have on humanity, the economy, and the environment. Our MSc in Disaster Interventions and Humanitarian Aid is an innovative and unique course that will assist social work practitioners, humanitarian aid workers, health professionals and volunteers to work effectively with victim-survivors of (hu)man-made and/or ‘natural’ disasters. You will acquire the skills to engage with the problems facing those working in disaster interventions, including family reunification, safeguarding children, adults and other vulnerable groups and the rebuilding of sustainable, resilient communities post-disaster. This includes exploring disaster mitigation, preparation and prevention strategies within a community engagement and coproduction framework to create new, long-term responses owned and endorsed by communities.

You will be encouraged to learn from each other and innovate in disaster responses by exploring complex disaster issues in the safety of the classroom using videos, simulations and small group exercises. Your skills will be enhanced further through participation in a field-based learning opportunity involving a period of shadowing practitioners within humanitarian agencies, emergency responders and government departments responsible for deploying emergency personnel. Here, you will learn about agency policy, procedures and practices during disaster events.

Top reasons to study with us

Course objectives

You will:

  • Consider a brief history of modern humanitarianism, humanitarian aid, and explore the linkages to the ‘ideology of compassion', human rights, social justice and social work practice in disaster situations
  • Explore humanitarian laws and organisations, their inception, evolution and roles
  • Examine the concepts and policies that underpin national and international humanitarian aid
  • Develop an in-depth understanding of practice with disaster victim-survivors (including refugees) as recipients of aid, and as actors and agents in disaster interventions
  • Gain cultural understandings and explore specific examples of state and non-governmental organisations and their roles in delivering humanitarian aid, policies and programs in diverse parts of the world, among different groups and settings

Work placements

There will be an observational field-based learning opportunity (FBLO) in the emergency services, voluntary agencies or local authority resilience teams, giving you the chance to shadow practitioners to learn how they deal with the complex dilemmas they face and how policy is used to address these.

This FBLO will give you the opportunity to learn what happens in agencies responsible for emergency responses, and to learn about agency policies, protocols, procedures and the legislation to be observed in emergencies in the UK.

You will be asked to prepare an organisational case study to reflect on what you have learned during your FBLO and to present these learnings back to the study group.

Flexible learning

Our MSc Disaster Interventions and Humanitarian Aid course offers students the flexibility to learn at their own pace, by undertaking specific training through the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Route. Here, there is the possibility of attending up to two modules during the summer - The Social Dimensions of Disasters, and/or the  Disaster Interventions from a Green Social Work Perspective.  Each module is offered in the form of intensive day-long workshops over five days during the early summer. Those taking a Continuing Professional Development Modules (CPD) may choose either to forego the assessed assignment and receive a Certificate of Attendance, or to attend the modules and complete the relevant assignment for each modules to gain 20 credits per module. Students who successfully complete their CPD assignments may also continue their studies with us to gain a Certificate (60 credits) or PG Diploma in Disaster Interventions and Humanitarian Aid (120 credits) or complete all modules including their dissertation to achieve the full Masters qualification (180 credits). 

The Masters course can be taken either full-time or part-time. Those wishing to study part-time should discuss their options with the Course Director.

If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class honours degree at 2.1 and six months of practice experience or equivalent. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

International entry requirements

View the entry requirements for your country.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS Academic or UKVI 6.5 with a minimum of 6.5 in reading and writing and 6.0 in speaking and listening
  • Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) 176 overall with a minimum of 176 in reading and writing and 169 in speaking and listening
  • Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE) 180 overall with a minimum of 180 in reading and writing and 169 in speaking and listening
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 62 overall with a minimum of 62 in reading and writing and 60 in speaking and listening
  • IBT TOEFL 80 overall with a minimum of 19 in reading, 24 in writing, 21 in speaking and 19 in listening
  • IBT TOEFL Special Home Edition Test 80 overall with a minimum of 19 in reading, 24 in writing, 21 in speaking and 19 in listening
  • Trinity ISE II Pass overall with a minimum of Merit in speaking and listening and distinction in reading and writing, ISE III Pass overall and in all sub-skills, ISE IV Pass overall and in all sub-skills
  • Aptis (4 skills) CEFR B2 overall and B2 in all sub-skills
  • LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator - High Pass with a minimum of 152/200 overall including 38 in reading and writing, and 33 in speaking and listening

For more information on ways that you can meet our English language requirements, including options to waive the requirement, please read our information on English language requirements.

Pre-sessional English language courses

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

Course details

This Masters is the first of its kind in the country. It is taught by experienced lecturers and aims to build confident practitioners and humanitarian workers able to intervene effectively in various disasters that are occurring throughout the world, and increasing in frequency and intensity, especially those linked to pandemics, climate change and extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, wildfires and earthquakes.

Modules

The module information below provides an example of the types of course module you may study. The details listed are for the current academic year (September 2022). Modules and start dates are regularly reviewed and may be subject to change in future years.

Course Details

Teaching

The students are treated as adult learners contributing to their own and other students’ learning experiences. Teaching will incorporate a range of techniques including formal lectures, online self-directed study, small group discussion, videos, role plays, debates, case studies, vignettes and simulations alongside formal presentations, directed study, group project work and action learning sets. External guest lecturers will be brought into the classroom via video-conferencing. 

Fieldwork

The Field Based Learning Opportunity provides students with the opportunity to shadow experienced practitioners in emergency and related services and demonstrate their knowledge of the agency within which they are based through an agency study.

Assessment

Each module has its own assessment. These include essays, peer and tutor assessed presentations and assignments.

Classroom hours

Each module has 20 hours of lectures, 5 hours of group tutorials and 5 hours of individual tutorials and 170 hours of student-based learning to total 200 hours.

Key staff

Professor Lena Dominelli is a world expert on disaster interventions and green perspectives in social work. An extensive range of publications in social work, social policy and sociology add to those based on disaster interventions and green social work perspectives.

Dr Sandra Engstrom, an early career researcher, will be the other main lecturer on this course. Sandra has completed research projects based on disaster interventions, and has teaching experience in community work and social work.

Fees and funding

Fees and costs

  2022/23 2023/24
Students from the UK£7,100£7,600
Students from the Republic of Ireland£7,100£7,600
Overseas (non-EU) students£19,145£19,645
European Union students£19,145£19,645

Students from the UK

Course fees

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course.

If you need to extend your period of study or repeat study, you will be liable for additional fees.

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Students from the Republic of Ireland

Course fees

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course.

If you need to extend your period of study or repeat study, you will be liable for additional fees.

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

European Union students

EU Postgraduate Scholarship

Eligible EU students will automatically receive our EU Postgraduate Scholarship, which provides a 40% fee discount on full-time, on-campus postgraduate degrees at the University of Stirling.

Course fees

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course.

If you need to extend your period of study, you will be liable for additional fees.

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Overseas students (non-EU)

We offer a range of funding options for overseas students.

Course fees

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course.

If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for additional fees.

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

This course is eligible for a postgraduate tuition fee loan from one of the UK’s governments. See the section, below, for more details.

Additional costs

There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

Scholarships and funding

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

Scottish students may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for loans of up to £10,000 to cover tuition fees and associated living costs.

English students can apply for a loan of up to £11,570 each year as part of the Postgraduate Masters Loan Scheme.

Welsh students can apply for financial support of up to £18,025 as a combination of grant and loan from Student Finance Wales.

Northern Irish students can apply for a postgraduate tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 from Student Finance NI.

If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

Cost of living

If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

European Union and overseas students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

After you graduate

Graduates from this course are likely to be employed in the voluntary, NGO and statutory sectors concerned with disaster responses and humanitarian aid distribution, locally, nationally and overseas, e.g., the Red Cross, Red Crescent, Oxfam, Save the Children. Also, there are opportunities for employment in the United Nations and its associated agencies such as UNWomen, UNDP, UNICEF, WHO and FAO.

Employability skills

The students successfully completing this program should have enhanced level skills for understanding humanitarian aid and intervening in complex and difficult disaster situations. These include:

  • An in-depth understanding of the history of humanitarian aid and roots of modern humanitarian work and agencies involved in disasters across the globe.
  • The ability to address complex issues and ethical dilemmas arising from humanitarian work in times of crisis and conflicts.
  • The ability to link the range of issues arising from both natural and (hu)man made disasters to disaster interventions across the disaster cycle.
  • Understanding the social construction of social problems and processes leading to social exclusion of individuals, families, groups and communities in humanitarian work.
  • Critical self-reflection, identification of professional development needs, and capacity to organise support in meeting these.
  • Information technology and computer skills to research, analyse and disseminate information relevant to humanitarian work and prepare for humanitarian practice in social work and other related professions.
  • Critical thinking, critical analysis, problem solving and decision-making processes and applying these in planning and delivering humanitarian aid including in refugee camps.
  • Evaluation and monitoring skills for disaster situations.

Companies we work with

There are no commercial companies that are currently involved in the programme, however, the Scottish Government, some local authorities and voluntary agencies offer field-based learning opportunities (FBLO) placements.

What our students said

Samuel Besigwa
Samuel Besigwa
Uganda
MSc Disaster Interventions and Humanitarian Aid
Enrolling for the MSc Disaster Interventions and Humanitarian Aid is the best decision I have made and the most important opportunity in my life. This course has adequately prepared me to intervene in all disaster situations and has introduced me to key humanitarian aid concepts, theories, policies, and legislations.
Read Samuel's story

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