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2020 Summer School cancelled

The Committee for the RSC’s International Summer School in Forced Migration 2020 has made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s event, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We were very much looking forward to what would have been the Summer School’s 30th anniversary but have decided that the safety of our participants, tutors, speakers and staff must come first.

We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience and disappointment this may cause.


Oxford Department of International Development, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3TB

Wadham College, Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PN

Harris Manchester College, 1 Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3TD

About the Summer School

The Summer 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 world of the displaced. The course combines the very best of Oxford University’s academic excellence with a stimulating and participatory method of critical learning and reflection.

Participants - who is the Summer School for?

The Summer 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. We are particularly keen to include those from a refugee background who work for refugee advocacy and community groups.

Participants 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.

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

Summer School tutors

Our course tutors are fundamental to the success of the Summer School, as highlighted by a former participant:

“We are honoured by your selection of amazing tutors!! Each tutor has been more than generous in sharing his knowledge, his concerns, his lessons learned throughout his outstanding career. They treated us all equally and made sure we were all engaged in the discussion/activities.”

The course tutors for the 2019 Summer School were:

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

Matthew Gibney (Elizabeth Colson Professor of Politics and Forced Migration, RSC)

Maryanne Loughry (Research Professor, Boston College & Associate, Jesuit Refugee Service)

Liesbeth Schockaert (Training, Research and Consultancies in Humanitarian Action)

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

Jeff Crisp (Research Associate, RSC, Former Head, Policy Development & Evaluation, UNHCR)

Course tutors for 2020 TBC.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have:

  • substantial experience in working with, or on issues related to, refugees or other forced migrants;
  • a first degree as a minimum;
  • 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.


The 2020 fee is £3,500.

This covers 13 nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation; all tuition; all course materials, including reading materials; 2 lunches each week plus an additional lunch per tutor group; and a range of social activities including welcome and farewell dinners. Evening and weekend meals are not included in the course fee. Participants will need to meet their own travel costs and arrange any country entry requirements.


Refugee Studies Centre bursaries are available for Summer School candidates who meet all of the following criteria:

  • are nationals of a developing country,
  • are resident in a developing country,
  • and whose work concerns refugees and/or forced migration.

Developing countries are defined as those with low or medium levels of human development as classified by the UNDP – see (countries ranked 117-189). 

Candidates wishing to be considered for bursary support must apply directly via the International Summer School office and not contact the donors. The deadline for a bursary application to the Summer School is 21 February 2020. 

All eligible bursary applicants are required to submit a 500 word bursary statement. Further details can be found on the application form.

Typical bursary funding covers the participation fee (including accommodation), return travel to Oxford in economy class, weekday lunches and a subsistence allowance.

Should additional funding become available details will be provided on this website.


Applications are not currently open. 


Closing date for bursary applications: 21 February 2020

Closing date for all other applications: 30 April 2020.

Official closing date for receipt of course fees: 15 May 2020.

As the Summer School is typically oversubscribed and we cannot guarantee there will still be places available on the official closing date, we recommend that you apply early.


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

Summer School flyer for download (pdf 1.3 MB)