Institute for Global Health


Conflict, humanitarianism & health

The conflict, humanitarianism and health course provides students with an understanding of violent conflict and its causes and health consequences. It also introduces them to some of the key debates about the humanitarian response to conflict, including its effectiveness, coordination, relationship to development, its regulation by international law, and the role of the other actors such as non-state armed opposition groups. Global power relations and politics provide a backdrop to understanding conflict dynamics while innovations in humanitarian response are discussed and analysed. Students get the opportunity to examine the difficulties of conducting assessments, analysing and understanding health data, and planning and monitoring health interventions in situations of conflict. The course also looks at future conflict scenarios and how the humanitarian system may need to adapt as the methods and means for conducting warfare evolves.

Module Code: GLBH0004

UCL Credits: 15

Module Organisers: Dr Andrew Seal

Please direct queries to the course administration team in the first instance. Undergraduate students should email igh.adminug@ucl.ac.uk Postgraduate students should email igh.adminpg@ucl.ac.uk

Who can study this course?

MSc/PG Dip and iBSc Global Health and Development students, other UCL MSc/PG Dip and undergraduate students and affiliate students.

Admission Requirements

MSc and PG Dip students: Open to all UCL MSc/PG Dip Global Health and Development, and to any UCL MSc/PG Dip students.

Undergraduate students: Open to all iBSc Global Health and Development students, other UCL undergraduate and affiliate students.

Taster students: UK Bachelor's degree in a relevant/allied subject awarded with a 1st or upper 2nd class Honours or an equivalent qualification.  Two academic or professional reference letters.

Short course students: Professional work experience in a relevant area and/or UK Bachelor's degree in a relevant/allied subject awarded with a 1st or 2nd class Honours or an equivalent qualification.

In addition to the above, all students must demonstrate a GOOD standard of English Proficiency with 6.5 in each of the subtests.

Course length 10 weeks 
Course dates 10 January to 21 March 2019
Days and times Thursdays from 14.00 to 18.00



  • Causes and definitions of conflict
  • Conflict and health
  • Measuring effectiveness of humanitarian interventions
  • Human rights
  • Migration
  • Humanitarian dilemmas
  • Reconciliation and justice
  • Future of humanitarianism

Teaching and learning methods

Each week, there are 2.5 hours of teaching, divided into lectures and group discussion of key texts and scenarios. Depending on the timing of your tutorial you will need to be available between 2pm and 6pm on Thursday afternoons (not including reading week).


Undergraduates: 2,500-word essay, 100%.

Postgraduates: Oral exam (15 minute PowerPoint presentation and 15 minutes Q&A), 100%.

Assessment Date

Postgraduate Oral exams: 25, 26, & 27 March 2019.

Selected Reading List

Anderson, M.B. (1999) Do No Harm: How Aid can Support Peace-or War. London, Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Barnett M and Weiss T (2008) (2nd edition). Humanitarianism in Question. Power, Politics and Ethics New York, Cornell University Press.

Cramer C (2006). Civil War Is Not a Stupid Thing: Accounting for Violence in Developing Countries London, C.Hurst.

Howard N, Sondorp E and ter Veen AM (eds). Conflict and Health Maidenhead, Open University Press and McGraw-Hill Education.

Orbinski J (2009). An Imperfect Offering: Humanitarian Action in the Twenty-First Century Toronto, Doubleday.

Terry, F. (2002) Condemned to Repeat? The Paradox of Humanitarian Action. Ithaca NY, Cornell University Press.