Humanitarian Action in the 21st century: An introduction – University of Copenhagen

Global Health > Studies > Summer courses > Humanitarian Action

Humanitarian Action in the 21st century: An introduction

The humanitarian landscape is changing, challenging past decades of humanitarian action. Closing the gap between population needs and humanitarian response requires new approaches, new paradigms.

This summer course will provide you with an introduction to the theories and practices of humanitarian action in a global perspective: its historical and legal foundations, the international system in place to support it, different typologies of humanitarian crises, challenges and trends, as well as possible career paths in the field.

The course encourages critical reflection on humanitarian action and lessons learnt from contemporary humanitarian crises by providing participants with an overview of the historical, conceptual as well as operational aspects of humanitarian intervention.

Course objectives

At the end of the course participants should be able to:

  • Describe the Nordic and international actors, organizations and systems in the field of humanitarian action;
  • Analyse and discuss the various typologies of disasters and humanitarian responses (including wars, natural hazards, complex emergencies);
  • Understand, evaluate and critique different types of humanitarian intervention (e.g. feeding programs, cluster surveys, programme design, advocacy efforts, etc.);
  • Critically examine the paradoxes and dilemmas of the changing humanitarian landscape through multiple perspectives and academic disciplines
  • Build and sustain professional relationships and networks

Combination of online and campus learning

The first two weeks are part-time online distance learning and introduces learning resources, participants and facilitators to foster interaction and dialogue. The next two weeks on campus include a range of interactive learning- as well as social activities: facilitator-led presentations and self-assessment exercises, on-line fora, real-life case studies, role-play, student wikis to support the learning process, and site visits with high-level experts and practitioners.

International collaboration

The course is offered in collaboration with the NOHA network, which consists of ten international universities that are working to further professionalisation in international humanitarian action.

The course is offered in English.

Credits and exam

Credits: 5 ECTS

Written assignment

Marking scale: pass/fail


This Masters level course is open to final-year Bachelors students.

Application procedures

The online application form will be available on this web page 22 January 2018. The application deadline is 1 April 2018.

Tuition fee

Participants exempted from payment:

Students from Danish universities will not be charged any tuition fee provided that the course is accepted as part of their MSc programme. Danish students must provide a pre-approval of credit transfer upon application.

Students enrolled in certain programmes at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, UCPH, do not need a pre-approval of credit transfer. Please study the overview of study programmes, where preapproval of summer course is not required.

Exchange students from the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences', UCPH, partner universities can participate in this course free of charge, if they have been nominated by their home university. The course must be an integrated part of their study programme.

Fee paying participants:

All other participants (students, working professionals, etc.) must pay tuition fee according to the information below.

EU/EEA citizens 4,000 DKK
Non-EU/EEA citizens 6,250 DKK

The fee covers participation in the course. It does not cover travel, accommodation and living expenses during the course. Full payment of course fees must be transferred in May 2018. Payment details will be forwarded upon acceptance.

For information on living costs and costs of accommodation please refer to UCPH website for international students.

Refund policy

You can only get a refund of your tuition fee, if you cancel at least two month prior to the beginning of the course including e-learning modules.

Contact information

Course responsible: Tania Dræbel

Course administration: Marie Vermund

Additional information

Accommodation: Please note that the summer courses are non-residential. Participants are responsible for finding and funding accommodation during their stay in Copenhagen.

You can use different online portals to search for accommodation, such as:

Copenhagen has an international airport, and the city centre can be reached within 30 minutes. If you want additional information read Arriving in Copenhagen.

For more details about the courses please read the course descriptions for in UCPH's course database.

For more information about Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen.

If you are looking for a more extensive programme or professional courses within humanitarian action or disaster management, then please visit the website of the Master of Disaster Management.

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