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Refugee Studies Centre International Online Schools in Forced Migration

12-16 July 2021 and 20-24 September 2021 


This year, for the first time ever, Oxford University’s renowned International Summer School in Forced Migration is going online! To meet growing international demand for the course and to remain available in the midst of the current pandemic, the school will be held twice online this year, once in July and once in September. Join us and a diverse group of participants from around the world as we take some of the best features of the Summer School and offer them in a new, financially accessible and shortened format.

The Refugee Studies Centre has always set the highest academic and pedagogic standards in all its research and teaching. The new Online School will offer a programme of study that is theoretically rigorous, empirically informed, and participatory. Participants will have early access to pre-recorded lectures and readings which will be followed by live online seminars and discussions. The School’s engaging academic content will be complemented by a range of social and networking opportunities for participants.

Flyer for download

About the School

The Online School offers an intensive, interdisciplinary and participative approach to the study of forced migration. It enables people working with refugees and other forced migrants to reflect critically on the forces and institutions that dominate the worlds of displaced people. The course combines Oxford’s tradition of academic excellence with a stimulating discussion-based method of teaching, learning and reflection. The Online School will cover subjects including: Conceptualising Forced Migration, The Moral Foundations of Refugeehood, International Law and Refugee Protection, and Future Directions in International Displacement, as well as a choice of optional modules. All the sessions will be run and organised by experts in the field of forced migration studies.

Participants - who is the School for?

The Online School is principally designed for policymakers and practitioners working on refugee protection and related issues, normally with several (usually at least five) years of work experience. Participants typically include staff of the main refugee, migration and humanitarian international organisations; staff from refugee, human rights and humanitarian NGOs, and government officials working on refugee protection and related issues. Those from refugee backgrounds who work for refugee advocacy and community groups are particularly welcome.

Participants may also include academics and postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers working directly on refugee and forced migration issues; practicing lawyers and advocates working in refugee and human rights law pertaining to forced migrants; journalists, commentators and activists working on refugee protection and the human rights of forced migrants. 

You can read participants' comments on previous years' in-person Schools here.

Online School tutors

The success of Online School has always been built on the quality of its teaching and lecturing staff. 

As always, the School will be anchored by its academic tutors. The tutors for the 2021 Online Schools will be:

Dr Catherine Briddick (Martin James Departmental Lecturer in Gender and Forced Migration, RSC) 

Professor Matthew Gibney (Director of the Refugee Studies Centre & Elizabeth Colson Professor of Politics and Forced Migration)

Professor Tom Scott-Smith (Associate Professor of Refugee Studies and Forced Migration, RSC)

The 2021 School will also feature a diverse range of speakers from academia and international organisations. 

Dates and deadlines

*We are no longer accepting applications for the July or the September School.*

July School

Takes place Monday 12 July to Friday 16 July 2021

Closing date for applications: 28 May 2021

Closing date for receipt of course fees: 11 June 2021

September School

Takes place Monday 20 September to Friday 24 September 2021

Closing date for applications: 12 August 2021 *Please note that bursary applications will not be reviewed until after this date*

Closing date for receipt of course fees: 27 August 2021


The 2021 fee is £450.

This covers access to online materials, videos and content, access to live classes, break-out sessions and the Online School’s extra-curricular events.

We are delighted to offer five, fully funded places for each Online School to refugees. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.


Applications are now closed. Instructions for payment of the course fee will be sent with your offer of a place. Your place will be confirmed once payment has been received. Offers are made on a first-come-first-served basis to suitably qualified and experienced applicants. Each school has a maximum of 50 spaces.

*NB. The online form uses Wufoo (a subsidiary of SurveyMonkey Inc.). Wufoo processes data outside of the European Economic Area. Please only submit any personal data which you are happy to have processed in this way, and in accordance with Wufoo’s privacy policy applicable to participants (available here: ). If you prefer not to use Wufoo for registering for this event, you may respond directly to:

We occasionally experience technical difficulties with the online form. If you have experienced any problems submitting the form, please contact us on If you have submitted the online form but not heard from us within 7 days, please contact us.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have:

  • substantial experience in working with, or on issues related to, refugees or other forced migrants;
  • a first degree;
  • proficiency in the English language. As a guide, foreign-language English speakers should be able to obtain a score of 7:00 in ELTS/IELTS or 570 in TOEFL.*

*Please note that if your first language is not English, or if your first language is English but you are not a national of the UK, Ireland or a majority English-speaking country recognised by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI), you must supply suitable evidence that you have reached the relevant higher or standard level before any offer of a place can be confirmed. The requirement to provide English language test scores may be waived in cases where you have successfully completed or are currently completing a degree-level or postgraduate course that is: full-time, at least nine months long, undertaken at a recognised institution where the medium of instruction and assessment throughout the course is entirely in English.

Testimonials from former participants

The Refugee Studies Centre’s Summer School provides a great opportunity for practitioners to take time out to reflect on some of the theoretical and operational challenges involved in responding to forced displacement. As an alumna almost 20 years ago, I’ve experienced first-hand the benefits of learning from the RSC’s world-class expertise on these issues. I have returned to the RSC Summer School to lecture several times, and have always been met by a fantastic atmosphere and engaging participants. Whether as an introduction to displacement or simply a refresher to seasoned professionals, this comes highly recommended! Sara Pantuliano (Managing Director, Overseas Development Institute), Summer School 2000

The Summer School exceeded my expectations in every respect. Excellent speakers and academic input combined with opportunity to network with participants from across the globe made for both an enjoyable learning environment and a deeper understanding of the law and challenges around forced migration.  John Vine CBE QPM (Former Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration UK), Summer School 2013

Participants are the wealth of the Summer School. The diversity and expertise are just stunning. I have even met people who work in the same field back in my own country for the first time at the Summer School… you can tap into crisis, conflict contexts, refugees gathering perspectives from the field, the UN, law experts and policy makers with multiple insights, reflections and understandings. Abed El-Ayi (UNDP), Summer School 2016

I strongly believe that my participation in the Summer School will have a direct impact on my work and improve the quality of my interventions through my current functions within UNHCR. This course has deepened my understanding of law, best practices, and the development and history of the conceptualization and response to forced migration across the world. This will allow me to improve my advocacy and contribute to improving the design of protection strategies, policy and guidance in light of the ongoing crisis in Syria and the refugees’ dim local integration prospects in Lebanon. I am planning to share this knowledge through trainings to protection staff, partners, and authorities. Stephanie El Rayess (UNHCR), Summer School 2017


For all enquiries, please contact:

Refugee Studies Centre
Oxford Department of International Development
University of Oxford
3 Mansfield Road
Oxford, OX1 3TB, UK

Tel: +44 (0)1865 281728 / 281720