Undergraduate prospectus 2022


Global Humanitarian Studies BSc

The BSc aims to educate and train future generations of humanitarian leaders in the theory and practice of humanitarian action. Unique in the UK, it will equip you with the knowledge that cuts across disciplines, 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.

Covid-19 programme updates

For the most up-to-date advice and information concerning UCL's response to the coronavirus outbreak please go to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) information pages. There is a Frequently Asked Questions section for prospective students and schools.

Key Information

Programme starts

September 2021
UCAS code
Full-time: 3 years
Application deadline
29 January 2021
London, Bloomsbury

Entry requirements

A Levels

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 5.

Contextual offer

BBB (more about contextual offers)
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 5.

IB Diploma

A score of 16 points in three higher level subjects, with no score lower than 5.

Contextual offer

32 (more about contextual offers)
A total of 15 points in three higher level subjects, with no score below 5.

UK applicants qualifications

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

Equivalent qualification

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

Pass in Access to HE Diploma with a minimum of 28 credits awarded with Merit in the Level 3 units.

D3,M1,M1 in three Cambridge Pre-U Principal Subjects

ABB at Advanced Highers (or AB at Advanced Higher and BBB at Higher)

Successful completion of the WBQ Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate plus 2 GCE A-Levels at grades ABB.

International applications

In addition to A level and International Baccalaureate, UCL considers a wide range of international qualifications for entry to its undergraduate degree programmes.

Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates

UCL Undergraduate Preparatory Certificates (UPCs) are intensive one-year foundation courses for international students of high academic potential who are aiming to gain access to undergraduate degree programmes at UCL and other top UK universities.

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: www.ucl.ac.uk/upc.

English language requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency. Information about the evidence required, acceptable qualifications and test providers can be found on our English language requirements page.

The English language level for this programme is: Standard

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

Degree benefits

  • You will study a breadth of subjects: Social justice; Conflict and migration; Humanitarian crisis response; Strategic planning and logistics; Aid economics; Climate change impacts; Natural hazards; Health emergencies; Public policy; Anthropology and Social Science; Humanitarian data science; Project management.

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

  • This provides an exciting environment for you to engage both across UCL and through our extensive external links.

  • You will join our active seminar series on international development, specialised masterclasses, high-profile public meetings and networking events, with senior policymakers, UN managers and frontline workers. 

Degree structure

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).

You will take a compulsory central core of humanitarian studies (50% of the programme) 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, natural hazards and climate risks, humanitarian policy and aid economics, emergency and crisis response, communication and negotiation, quantitative and qualitative research methods, and ethical, historical and political contexts.

You will select up to two optional pathways (25% each) to follow through three years, which provide both breadth and depth according to your interests, from: Digital Science; Management Science
; Global Health
; Anthropology and Social Science.

Digital Science includes humanitarian data science, statistics, digital science and computer programming, risk quantification and digital health. Management Science includes organisational and project management, organisational behaviour, decision making and leadership for the complex interconnected world of the future. Global Health includes global health policy, disease and poverty, conflict and health and maternal and child health, to give you an understanding of global health, challenge concepts of development and health, and interact critically and flexibly with healthcare professionals. Anthropology and Social Science includes social anthropology, culture and identities, inequality, social networks and resilience, and the anthropology of war and society, to deepen your understanding and provide the tools for shaping future policy and practice. 

There is also some flexibility for you to take other modules known as ‘electives’ from other pathways or which may be available across UCL, for instance in international development and human rights, subject to availability and timetabling. 

In the third year, you will undertake a major independent research project. This may be associated with your Pathway 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. 

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.

Core or compulsory module(s)

Global History of Humanitarianism; Humanitarian Crisis Response; Climate and Natural Hazard Risks; Social and Geospatial Data Analysis

Optional modules

You will take optional modules from up to two chosen pathways.

Digital Science – you can choose two modules from: Introduction to Probability and Statistics; Logic, Computation and Language Theory; Technology for Humanitarian Studies

Management Science – Understanding Management; Communication and Behaviour in Organisations

Global Health – Global Health Policy (counts double)

Anthropology and Social Science – Introductory Social Anthropology 1A and 1B, Key Concepts and Debates in Humanitarianism, Practice and Analysis of Humanitarian Action

Optional modules in Humanitarian Affairs – Key Concepts and Debates in Humanitarianism, Practice and Analysis of Humanitarian Action

Core or compulsory module(s)

Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Conflict and Migration; Humanitarian Planning and Logistics; Humanitarian Policy (Group Project); Humanitarian Research Methods

Optional modules

You will take optional modules from your two chosen pathways.

Digital Science – you can choose two modules from: Further Probability and Statistics; Algorithms, Logic and Structure; Humanitarian Data Science

Management Science – Managerial Accounting for Decision Making; Business in a Competitive Environment

Global Health – Health, Poverty and Development; Global Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases

Anthropology and Social Science – you can choose two from: Introduction to Theoretical Perspectives in Social Anthropology and Material Culture; Population Studies; Social Inequality and Mobility

Core or compulsory module(s)

Humanitarian and Aid Economics; Gender, Disaster and Conflict; Independent Humanitarian Research Project (counts double)

Optional modules

You will take optional modules from your two chosen pathways.

Digital Science – Decision and Risk; Digital Health: Epidemics and Emergencies in the Era of Big Data

Management Science – Strategic Project Management; One advanced Management elective

Global Health – Conflict, Humanitarianism and Health; Global, Maternal and Child Health

Anthropology and Social Science – you can choose two from: Anthropology of War; Thinking through Identities; Political Sociology; Social Networks

Your learning

You will learn through a balance of lectures, seminars, tutorials, problem-based learning with group and peer learning (group projects), policy briefings, student presentations, fieldwork (involving quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods approaches) and independent reading and research. Teaching is delivered by leading researchers, practitioners and policy-makers. 

You will learn quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods approaches in short field programmes 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 include substantial field components, 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 and 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 independent study.

In your final year, one third 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 dissertation.


You will be assessed by a mix of practical exercises, reports, presentations, written examinations, group work, peer review and a final-year dissertation, 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 & Wellbeing team.


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.

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

We can support your career through our annual Careers and Opportunities Fair, which offers expert and targeted advice, and hosts stalls from a range of employers in the sector. We hold regular networking events, including an alumni/student mixer and public meetings, and run workshops on entrepreneurship for humanitarian action.

UCL is committed to helping you get the best start after graduation. Read more about how UCL Careers and UCL Innovation and Enterprise can help you find employment or learn about entrepreneurship.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

The fees indicated are for undergraduate entry in the 2021/22 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 2021/22 entrants for each year of study on the programme, unless otherwise indicated below.

UK students
£9,250 (2021/22)
Overseas students
£21,600 (2021/22)

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 accommodation and 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 £800. 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).


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.

UCL IRDR will award two fee-reduction scholarships for international students. Scholarship values will be £9,000, paid towards tuition fees. Application deadline is 26 April 2021. See application instructions on the IRDR website.

Departmental scholarships

Funding opportunities relevant to the department may appear in this section when they are available. Please check carefully or confirm with the programme contact to ensure they apply to this degree programme.

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.

Application and 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.

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.

Application deadline: 29 January 2021


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.

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 take sample lectures illustrating the different pathways in the programme.

Offer holders are invited to the annual UCL Humanitarian Summit, Humanitarian Masterclasses and our conference series based around the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and join our online discussion forum, providing students opportunities to connect with international educators, researchers and practitioners.

For further information on UCL's selection process see: Selection of students.

UCL is regulated by the Office for Students.

Page last modified on 5 August 2021