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The curriculum

Over three weeks, the course looks at the complex phenomenon of forced migration from a number of different angles. Beginning with reflection on the diverse ways of conceptualising forced migration, the course considers the political, legal and ethical issues associated with contemporary displacement. Individual course modules (which vary from year to year) also tackle a range of other topics, such as Palestine refugees, human smuggling, and humanitarian principles. The bespoke curriculum comprises set lectures, carefully selected readings (with reading time), debates, specially designed case-studies, structured discussions, and simulated negotiations.

Mandatory core modules normally include: 


Conceptualising forced migration: Introduces different approaches to forced migration, in politics, law and anthropology, using diverse regional case studies. The module opens and closes with a lecture providing contrasting disciplinary perspectives on forced migration.

The globalisation of forced migration: Places forced migration in the context of globalisation, and asks big ethical questions about privileging forced over voluntary migration, and when and if border controls are justified. This module culminates in a formal debate between tutor groups.

Asylum policy and international refugee law: Through lectures, case studies and examples, this module provides an overview of international refugee law. Participants choose between two case studies, one examining refugee protection in the African Union, the other in the European Union. You will use primary legal materials to address hypothetical cases, thereby honing your analytical and argumentative skills.

Negotiating institutional responses: A simulation exercise to address refugee rights to return and reparation as part of a peace process, using Timor-Leste as a case study. Participants undertake a day-long negotiation simulation, taking on various assigned institutional roles, and developing a negotiating strategy.

Internally displaced persons: Examined the phenomenon of internal displacement and the development of a global policy response to internal displacement.   

The methodology

The Summer School aims to foster a culture of the reflective practitioner while also practising and developing skills useful in the workplace. The course takes an active learning approach to the transfer of knowledge. Participants engage in reflection–analysis–synthesis–teamwork, via critical engagement with lectures, readings, case studies, interactive exercises and the sharing of insights and experiences. Each participant is allocated to a tutor group, sometimes working in these small groups, at other times in larger groups.

The teaching

Lecturers, tutors and seminar leaders are drawn both from the Refugee Studies Centre and from outside institutions. They include research staff, academics and professionals from a number of disciplines and practices, including anthropology, politics, law, psychology, international relations, and social development.

The participants

Around 70–80 participants from all over the world study together, take part in group activities and produce independent presentations. Participants have the time and space to reflect on their own work and to benefit from the international mix and varied professional experience of other participants.

Language of instruction

All teaching and instructional materials are in English.

A typical day

While there is variation across the course, days often begin with a plenary lecture by a leading international expert, followed by work in tutor groups. This work involves individual reading of handbook material and tutor-led group discussion that culminates in an exercise (e.g., a simulation, debate, or presentation). Evening sessions usually involve less formal sessions and film evenings.