Global Humanitarian Studies BSc

London, Bloomsbury
Global Humanitarian Studies BSc (2024)

The BSc programme aims to educate and train future generations of humanitarian leaders in the theory and practice of humanitarian action. This multidisciplinary programme will equip you with the knowledge, critical, analytical and research skills and core competencies grounded in practice to anticipate evolving and emerging humanitarian threats and manage widening vulnerability and crisis response.

UK students International students
Study mode
3 academic years
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
Programme starts
September 2025
Application deadline
29 Jan 2025
UCAS course code

Entry requirements

No specific subjects. At least two A level subjects should be taken from UCL's list of preferred A level subjects.
English Language and Mathematics at grade C or 4.

Contextual offer information

Contextual offers are typically one to two grades lower than the standard offer. Grade and subject requirements for contextual offers for this programme will be published in Summer 2024.

A total of 17 points in three higher level subjects, with no higher level score below 5.

Contextual offer

Contextual offers are typically one to two grade boundaries (equivalent to A levels) lower than the standard offer. IB Diploma grade and subject requirements for contextual offers for this programme will be published in Summer 2024.

UK applicants qualifications

For entry requirements with other UK qualifications accepted by UCL, choose your qualification from the list below:

Equivalent qualification

Pass in Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 30 credits at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit in the Level 3 units.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma (RQF - teaching from 2016) with Distinction, Distinction, Distinction.

Pass at grades D3, D3, M1 in three principal subjects.

AAB at Advanced Highers (or AA at Advanced Higher and BBB at Higher)

Not acceptable for entrance to this programme.

Not acceptable for entrance to this programme.

Successful completion of the WBQ Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate plus 2 GCE A levels at grades AAB.

International applications

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

Access and widening participation

UCL is committed to widening access to higher education. If you are eligible for Access UCL you do not need to do anything in addition to the standard UCAS application. Your application will be automatically flagged when we receive it.

Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates

The Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates (UPC) prepare international students for a UCL undergraduate degree who don’t have the qualifications to enter directly. These intensive one-year foundation courses are taught on our central London campus.

Typical UPC students will be high achievers in a 12-year school system which does not meet the standard required for direct entry to UCL.

For more information see:

English language requirements

The English language level for this programme is: Level 2

Information about the evidence required, acceptable qualifications and test providers can be found on our English language requirements page.

A variety of English language programmes are offered at the UCL Centre for Languages & International Education.

Course overview

Each year of the programme comprises 75 credits of compulsory modules (five 15 credit modules in years one and two or three 15 credit modules and one 30 credit module in year three) and 45 credits of optional modules.

You will take a compulsory central core of humanitarian studies running through all three years. This core includes both researcher-led academic subjects and core competencies. You will cover a broad range of subject areas including understanding and analysis of humanitarian crises, conflict, disaster, migration, trapped populations and immobility natural hazards and climate risks, water security and sustainability, health and wellbeing impacts, gender and intersectionality, humanitarian policy, law and aid economics, emergency and crisis response, humanitarian technology, logistics, communication and negotiation, violence, intersectionality and marginalisation, geospatial data analysis, quantitative and qualitative research methods, and ethical, historical and political contexts.

You can select a specialism to follow through three years, which will provide both breadth and depth according to your interests, from a range of specialism areas such as digital science, management science, global health, and anthropology and social science. 

You can complement your specialism with optional modules offered by the department that have been specifically designed to increase your knowledge of the humanitarian sector through topics such as migration law, international relations, water security, microeconomics and technology for humanitarian action. Please note the balance of optional modules will depend on your chosen specialism(s) and any requisites or space restrictions.

In the third year, you will undertake an independent research project. This may be associated with your preferred specialism or the core humanitarian studies. UCL has extensive links to the sector and to practitioners and researchers who may support students in their research projects.

What this course will give you

You will study a breadth of subjects such as: Humanitarian crisis response; Conflict and migration; Supply chains and logistics; Aid economics; Climate change impacts; Natural hazards; Water security and sustainability; Geospatial science; Gendered and social disaster vulnerability; Health emergencies; Violence, intersectionality and marginalisation, Public and international policy; Anthropology and Social Science; Humanitarian data science; Programme management; and Legal framework.

The Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction leads the BSc Global Humanitarian Studies and the Humanitarian Institute, with key partners: UCL School of Management, Departments of Anthropology and Statistical Science, Institute for Global Health, Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, and Social Research Institute of the Institute of Education.

Staff have extensive humanitarian experience and bring this real-world expertise into their research and teaching through case studies, scenario activities and other forms of applied learning. You will learn how to write policy briefs, reports, and present them to different audiences.

Teaching and learning

In each year of your degree you will take a number of individual modules, normally valued at 15 or 30 credits, adding up to a total of 120 credits for the year. Modules are assessed in the academic year in which they are taken. The balance of compulsory and optional modules varies from programme to programme and year to year. A 30-credit module is considered equivalent to 15 credits in the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS).

Upon successful completion of 360 credits, you will be awarded a BSc (Hons) in Global Humanitarian Studies.


Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability is subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Your learning

You will learn through a balance of lectures, seminars, tutorials, computer practicals, problem-based learning with group and peer learning (group work), policy and visual analysis, student presentations, fieldwork (involving quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods approaches) and independent reading and research to action. Teaching involves delivery by leading researchers, practitioners and policy-makers. 

You will learn quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods approaches in short field work in the UK, embedded in taught modules. These include fundamentals of conducting social surveys and making environmental measurements. Many students will pursue third-year research projects that may include a field component, in the UK or internationally.

Alternative means of learning will always be available for field components.

We will help facilitate an optional four-week summer placement in the UK or internationally between the second and third years to help you connect your academic learning with skills in the humanitarian workplace. We have an extensive network of inter- and non-governmental organisations, consultancies and enterprises we can connect you with, backed by dedicated professional services support.

The BSc is based on the UCL standard 150 study hours per module for eight modules, making a total of 1200 study hours per year. For a typical taught module you will spend about 20 hours in lectures, 20 hours in practicals, seminars, tutorials or directed fieldwork, and the remainder in assessments and independent study.

In your final year, one quarter of your time will be spent on your independent research project, including personal supervision, preparation of a research proposal, literature review, data collection and analysis, poster presentation and preparation of your project report.


You will be assessed by a mix of practical exercises, essays, reports, oral presentations, posters, written examinations, visual outputs, group work, peer review and a final-year project report, designed to equip you with relevant skills needed for careers in the humanitarian sector.

Detailed module descriptions are available on the department website: Global Humanitarian Studies BSc.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble. Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

The foundation of your career

Humanitarian organisations and employers have emphasised the need to professionalise the sector. The core skills taught in the degree programme are based on a framework developed through ongoing consultation with global and national employers in the humanitarian sector, including inter- and non-governmental organisations, international consultancies and humanitarian enterprises.

We will help you prepare for your career through dedicated careers support and training, opportunities to meet employers and industry contacts, and networking events. We also hold regular events and workshops with expert speakers from across the sector.


As well as in-depth subject knowledge, you will develop skills in key areas required for a career in the humanitarian sector. These include the principles, evidence base, analysis and assessment for humanitarian action; qualitative and quantitative research methods; strategic planning and project management; communication, negotiation and presentation skills; understanding security and ethics; leadership and team working.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £9,250
Tuition fees (2024/25) £25,900

The fees indicated are for undergraduate entry in the 2024/25 academic year. The UK fees shown are for the first year of the programme at UCL only. Fees for future years may be subject to an inflationary increase. The Overseas fees shown are the fees that will be charged to 2024/25 entrants for each year of study on the programme, unless otherwise indicated below.

Full details of UCL's tuition fees, tuition fee policy and potential increases to fees can be found on the UCL Students website.

Additional costs

UCL IRDR covers all local travel costs for first- and second-year field trips. You may need to contribute to third-year projects if you choose one that involve overseas fieldwork. For instance, a return airfare to Asia may cost £1000. However, you will be able to choose projects with no overseas travel, for instance where work overseas on projects (e.g. social surveys) can be done by contracted local surveyors without the need for you to visit. A discretionary fund will be made available to assist access.

A guide including rough estimates for these and other living expenses is included on the UCL Fees and funding pages. If you are concerned by potential additional costs for books, equipment, etc., please get in touch with the relevant departmental contact (details given on this page).

Funding your studies

UCL IRDR often has scholarships available for students. See the department website for more information and application instructions.

Various funding options are available, including student loans, scholarships and bursaries. UK students whose household income falls below a certain level may also be eligible for a non-repayable bursary or for certain scholarships. Please see the Fees and funding pages for more details.


The Scholarships and Funding website lists scholarships and funding schemes available to UCL students. These may be open to all students, or restricted to specific nationalities, regions or academic department.

Next steps

Your application

The unique breadth of the degree programme means that we recruit students across the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, geography, mathematics, business studies, economics and computing. Diverse and international student recruitment strengthens the programme. We are looking for applicants prepared for critical enquiry, interested in global societal issues, but keen to develop core competences for leadership in the humanitarian sector which include the knowledge, application and marriage of key technical skills from across the science, technology and humanities fields.

How to apply

Application for admission should be made through UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). Applicants currently at school or college will be provided with advice on the process; however, applicants who have left school or who are based outside the United Kingdom may obtain information directly from UCAS.


For further information on UCL's selection process see: How we assess your application.

Most applicants are invited to attend a UCL open day or a virtual open day. Our campus-based open days include a student-led discussion, a tour of UCL, a chance to talk with researchers and practitioners and watch sample lectures illustrating the breadth of topics covered in the programme. Offer holders are invited to our bi-annual UCL Humanitarian Summit, humanitarian masterclasses and our conference series based around the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These events are designed to give you a taste of the programme before you start. When we assess your application we would like to learn why you want to study in the humanitarian field and where you would like to go professionally with your degree. Applicants with a different prior learning but with relevant professional experience, will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.