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Queen Elizabeth House, home of ODID and the RSC © RSC
Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford

Course structure for In-Person Summer School

Our Methodology

The International 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, requiring participants to prepare for and then engage in the School’s activities.

The Curriculum 

The Summer School runs over six days in Oxford.

On the first day, participants begin their studies by reflecting on how we conceptualise forced migration, considering its political, legal, and anthropological framings. We will use a case-study to bring out the usefulness and power of different approaches.

We turn on the second day to discuss and debate the moral foundations of the refugee regime, asking why societies should offer asylum to forced migrants. Three different justifications are offered: the humanitarian, the reparative, and the legitimacy of the state system.

On the third day, participants are given a robust grounding in international refugee law. The focus is on the definition of a refugee in the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 and in regional instruments, agreements, and systems. We will also consider the rights of refugees, and barriers to those rights’ enjoyment without discrimination.

On the fourth day, participants will delve into the ethics and politics of humanitarianism. We will consider a range of questions, including whether it is possible for humanitarian actors to be neutral in conflict, or whether the withdrawal of assistance to those in need can ever be justified.  

On the fifth day, participants will be able to pursue their own interests by selecting two optional modules on topics including: colonialism’s impact on current refugee predicaments, the psycho-social support of refugees, the protection of victims of trafficking by international law, and the revival of citizenship stripping in the Global North. The day will conclude with a panel discussion on the future of refugee protection involving a range of experts from academia, activism, and the UN.

Each day of the School will have a session in small tutor groups. These meetings will anchor the School, providing a space for questions and reflection. In these sessions, we will also explore and discuss arguments relating to a theme relevant to contemporary refugee protection, preparing participants for a lively debate, held between groups, that will take place on the sixth day.  

Finally, participants will be able to broaden and deepen their knowledge of forced migration through a series of extra-curricular events which will be complemented by informal social gatherings.

The Teaching

To ensure that participants are able to make the most of their time in Oxford, we will provide a wealth of learning materials to engage with, including pre-recorded lectures and carefully selected readings. You will have access to all these materials for two weeks before each School starts and for two weeks after it ends. This will enable you to prepare for, revisit and implement your learning. Each day of the School will involve the discussion, in small groups, of the readings and a selection of case-studies and problem questions.

Tutors and Guest Lecturers are drawn both from the Refugee Studies Centre and from outside institutions and organisations, including UNHCR. They include research staff, activists, academics and professionals from several disciplines and practices, including anthropology, politics, law, psychology, international relations, and history. Some of these experts will also have lived experience of forced migration.

The Participants

Around 40 participants from a wealth of different backgrounds and perspectives, and from all over the world, will study together in Oxford.

Indicative daily stucture

Each participant will start the day by watching a pre-recorded lecture and completing preparatory readings. Mid-morning, we meet together and begin the in-person teaching. This consists of small group seminars, live lectures, and whole group discussions. The day ends at around 5pm in tutor groups.

While the timetable varies, each day participants can expect to receive:

  • Preparatory materials, consisting of at least one pre-recorded lecture and accessible readings.
  • Two small group, discussion-based seminars.
  • One live lecture or whole-group discussion.
  • One tutor group meeting.
  • A range of further readings and resources.

The course will be supported by the University of Oxford’s virtual learning environment: CANVAS.

Accommodation and Meals

Accommodation is included in the course fee and participants will be staying at the nearby Wadham College. Your room will be accessible from the Sunday before the course (2 July) and check out from the accommodation will be on the morning of the final Sunday of each course (9 July).

Breakfast is included on all days, as well as three lunches throughout the week. There will also be a farewell dinner on the final Saturday of the course.

Participants will need to arrange their own travel and entry documents, as well as all other meals and pay for any other subsistence costs.