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The conceptualisation of forced migration

The course begins by examining and assessing different conceptualisations of forced migration, including legal, anthropological and political approaches.

Causes, patterns and consequences

The course analyses links between forced migration and processes and patterns of globalisation. It considers ways of addressing the tension between a globalised world of free circulation of capital, investment and resources, and the barriers to movement facing refugees and other migrants. Optional modules and evening sessions focus on issues such as internally displaced peoples, Palestinian refugees, human trafficking and smuggling, psychosocial support and refugee health.


Key issues raised by responses to forced migration are examined – responses that involve numerous different organisations and agencies with different and often competing interests and values. The law module considers the 1951 refugee definition and sources of complementary protection, including under EU law and under the African refugee protection system. Emphasis on the institutional dimension of forced migration is continued in the negotiation module, which enables reflection on how to navigate the tensions, through the simulation of a humanitarian crisis.

Festival of Ideas

Participants are given the opportunity to present on their own experience or on key issues, questions or dilemmas they wish to highlight during the optional Saturday Festival of Ideas. As participants bring such a wealth of particular wisdom and experience to the Summer School, we are keen to showcase this knowledge for the mutual benefit of all participants, tutors and members of the Refugee Studies Centre.

Evening and weekend sessions

An optional programme of films and seminars on topics related to forced migration is offered, as well as various social events.

Time off

This is an intensive course, but participants do have time to relax, work on presentations for the Festival of Ideas and sight see during the evenings and for part of the weekend.

Recent tutors and lecturers include:

Dr Maher Abdulaziz, Palestinian Syrian Artist and Filmmaker

Professor Susan M Akram, Clinical Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law

Professor Chris Bertram, Professor in Social and Political Philosophy, University of Bristol

Professor Alexander Betts, Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs, and Director, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford

Dr Chaloka Beyani, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and London School of Economics

Dr Catherine Briddick, Martin James Departmental Lecturer in Gender and Forced Migration, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford

Professor Dawn Chatty, Emerita Professor of Anthropology and Forced Migration and former Director of the Refugee Studies Centre (2011-2014), Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford

Professor Cathryn Costello, Andrew W Mellon Associate Professor in International Human Rights and Refugee Law, University of Oxford

Madeline Garlick, UNHCR

Professor Matthew J Gibney, Elizabeth Colson Professor of Politics and Forced Migration and current Refugee Studies Centre Director, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford

Dr Lee Jones, Queen Mary University of London

Professor Gaim Kibreab, Research Professor and Course Director MSc Refugee Studies,London South Bank University

Professor Chandran Kukathas, Chair in Political Theory; Head of Department of Government, London School of Economics

Dr Maryanne Loughry, Jesuit Refugee Service

Professor Alessandro Monsutti, Chair, Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva

Professor Alison Phipps, Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies, University of Glasgow; UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts

Dr Jason Pobjoy, Blackstone Chambers

Dr Jessica Reinisch, Birkbeck, University of London

Liesbeth Schockaert, Training, Research and Consultancies in Humanitarian Action

Tawona Sithole, University of Glasgow

RSC library collection

The programme provides a course pack of reading materials. Many more documents are available in the University of Oxford’s Social Science Library, which houses the Refugee Studies Centre collection.