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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.


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 lecturers include:

  • Maher Abdulaziz, Palestinian Syrian Artist and Filmmaker
  • Susan M Akram, Clinical Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law
  • Alexander Betts, Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs, and Director, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford
  • Chaloka Beyani, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and London School of Economics
  • Catherine Briddick, Faculty of Law, University of Oxford
  • David Cantor, Director of the Refugee Law Initiative, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London
  • Dawn Chatty, Professor of Anthropology and Forced Migration and former Director, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford
  • Cathryn Costello, Andrew W Mellon Associate Professor in International Human Rights and Refugee Law, University of Oxford
  • Heaven Crawley, Professor of International Migration, Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations (CTPSR), Coventry University
  • Jeff Crisp, Former Senior Director for Policy and Advocacy, Refugees International 
  • Philipp Du Cros, Course Director of the MSF Global Health and Humanitarian Medicine Course
  • Madeline Garlick, UNHCR
  • Peter Gatrell, Professor of Economic History, University of Manchester
  • Matthew J Gibney, Elizabeth Colson Professor of Politics and Forced Migration, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford
  • Geoff Gilbert, Professor of Law, University of Essex
  • Guy S Goodwin-Gill, Emeritus Professor of International Refugee Law, All Souls College, University Of Oxford
  • Filippo Grandi, Former Commissioner-General, UNWRA
  • Elspeth Guild, Jean Monnet Professor ad personam, Queen Mary University
  • Anne Hammarstad, University of Kent and the South African Institute of International Affairs
  • Jason Hart, Senior Lecturer, Department of Social & Policy Sciences, University of Bath
  • Kai Htang Lashi, Kachin Relief Fund
  • Dr Lee Jones, Queen Mary, University of London
  • Unni Karunakara, Board of Directors of Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) India and MSF Holland
  • Professor Mary Anne Kenny, School of Law, Murdoch University, Perth Western Australia
  • Khalid Koser, Deputy Director and Academic Dean, Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Hélène Lambert, Professor of International Law, Department of Advanced Legal Studies, University of Westminster
  • Katy Long, University of Edinburgh
  • Maryanne LoughryJesuit Refugee Service
  • Jane McAdam, Scientia Professor of Law, University of New South Wales
  • Dr Kirsten McConnachie, University of Warwick
  • Roula Nasrallah, UNHCR
  • Dr Phil Orchard, University of Queensland and Asia‑Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Sara Pantuliano, Overseas Development Institute
  • Liesbeth Schockaert, Training, Research and Consultancies in Humanitarian Action
  • Tom Scott-Smith, Associate Professor of Refugee Studies and Forced Migration, Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford
  • Leïla Vignal, University of Oxford and University of Rennes-2, France
  • Lorne Waldman, Lawyer
  • Matthew J Walton, University of Oxford
  • Lea Ypi, Professor in Political Theory,  London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Roger Zetter, Emeritus Professor of Refugee Studies, University of Oxford, former RSC Director
  • Reuven Ziegler, Lecturer in Law, University of Reading

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.