Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies (MA)

Overview

Gain a prestigious MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies by distance learning

The MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies provides a rigorous theoretical and practical understanding of the field of international refugee law and forced migration.

It is unique in being the only programme of its type offered by distance learning.

The MA degree will enable you to acquire a solid legal, practical and theoretical understanding of refugee protection and forced migration, developing expertise through a choice of elective modules.

You will hone your self-reliance in dealing with - and critiquing - law, policy and practice in the field, and will also learn how to gather, organise and deploy evidence to form balanced judgements and develop policy recommendations.

Programme details

  You study Study period Cost (2016-17)
MA 6 modules (two core, four elective) plus a dissertation 2-5 years £7,720

Benefit from supported online learning

You study this online programme from the comfort of your home computer and access the course content through a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE also gives you access to:

  • Associate Tutors who provide academic guidance throughout your studies;
  • academically rigorous and up-to-date learning materials and resources;
  • online tasks and assessments (‘e-tivities’) for each of the modules;
  • peer-to-peer learning in online discussion forums;
  • access to world-class online library facilities.

Developed by leading academics

The MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies has its foundations in the teaching and research of a leading centre in refugee law, the Refugee Law Initiative (RLI).

The RLI is the leading national academic centre in the United Kingdom dedicated exclusively to International Refugee Law. It is part of the Human Rights Consortium of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study.

The Programme Directors for the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies are Dr David James Cantor, Director of the RLI and a recognised specialist in the field, and Dr Sarah Singer, academic at the RLI and Lecturer in Human Rights Law at the School of Advanced Study.

Each module of the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies is developed and run by specialists in the field. More information about our Module Convenors and Associate Tutors.

Career enhancement

This MA enables you to combine your studies with your ongoing professional and domestic commitments. This programme is designed for those who wish to pursue careers in a range of professional contexts in the refugee, human rights or humanitarian fields.

Potential employers include international agencies, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), governmental bodies and non-governmental organisations.

Your time commitment

Core and elective modules are run in two study sessions (16 weeks) throughout the year, while the dissertation module (30 weeks) is divided into four study sessions. You register for one core module or up to two elective modules per session of study and should expect to devote between 15-20 nominal hours a week to your studies during these periods.

Summary of key dates

Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies
Application deadline 1 September 2016 1 February 2017
Registration deadline 1 October 2016 1 March 2017
Course starts mid-October 2016 mid-March 2017
Examinations take place February 2017 and July 2017 July 2017 and February 2018

Scholarships / Bursaries

Two scholarships are available each year for the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies.

Sadako Ogata Scholarship

For successful applicants beginning their studies in the March student cohort, there is the Sadako Ogata Scholarship. This is available to applicants who are nationals of and resident in low and lower-middle income countries as listed on the World Bank website.

View full details and how to apply on the Sadako Ogata Scholarship page.

Guy S. Goodwin-Gill

The Guy S. Goodwin-Gill Scholarship is for successful applicants beginning their studies in October. This scholarship is open to all, and we particularly welcome applications from candidates who are nationals of and residing in low- and middle-income countries.

View full details and how to apply on The Guy S. Goodwin-Gill Scholarship page.

Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance & Protection

Members of the Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance & Protection (PHAP) will receive bursary of 10% on all fees for this MA programme.

For details of other scholarships that successful applicants may be interested in, such as that offered by the Aga Khan Foundation, please visit the Funding your Study page.

Structure

Structure and Syllabus

MA: 6 modules (two core, four elective) plus a dissertation

The MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies is designed to be studied part-time over a two year period. In the first year it is recommended that you take the programme’s two core modules, whilst in the second year you have the opportunity to develop expertise through a choice of four elective modules. You will have the option of studying elective modules in both the Autumn and Spring study sessions. If you are aiming to complete the programme in 2 years, you should choose 2 elective modules per session. The dissertation is divided into four study sessions and includes the (non-assessed) research methods and methodology course, ‘Researching Refugees’.

Each module of the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies is developed and run by specialists in the field. More information about our Module Convenors and Associate Tutors.

Core and elective module outlines are given below:

Core modules

Protecting Human Rights, Refugees and Displaced Persons in International Law

The core module ‘Protecting Human Rights, Refugees and Displaced Persons in International Law’ provides you – regardless of whether you have a legal background or not - with a firm understanding of the fundamentals of international law in relation to the protection of refugees and human rights. The module provides a basic grounding in the key international law concepts and approach required to work in the refugee field. These are further developed in relation to their application in human rights law and, most importantly, in international refuge law. The use of problem-solving scenarios alongside conceptual questions provides you with an appreciation of how the law is applied in practice.

An Introduction to Refugee and Forced Migration Studies

The core module ‘An Introduction to Refugee and Forced Migration Studies’ provides you – regardless of your previous academic background – with a sound interdisciplinary understanding of the field of forced migration studies and its fundamental debates. Through the use of case studies it provides you with a strong sense of the empirical dimensions and characteristics of refugee and other forced migration flows and policy responses at the international level. This module draws on concepts and debates from the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, international relations, politics and history as methods for framing the empirical phenomenon of forced migration from the perspective of the social sciences and humanities. The majority of the sessions examine the relevant thematic topic in relation to case studies of a range of refugee movements or populations drawn from around the world whilst also allowing you to draw on your own knowledge of specific refugee contexts.

Dissertation

The dissertation is a key part of the MA programme, and builds your independent research skills through two components. The first is through your completion of a non-assessed ‘Researching Refugees’ taught component on qualitative research methods. The second is through your undertaking a process of planning and writing a dissertation thesis on a topic of your choice that is related to the overall theme of the MA programme, i.e. refugee protection and forced migration.

The ‘Researching Refugees’ taught component provides students with a strong grounding in qualitative research methods as applied to the refugee context. The topics that are covered over the two year period include: ethnographic research; interviews and focus groups; data analysis; historical sources, archives and oral histories; research ethics in the context of refugees; fieldwork challenges in refugee contexts; and practical research design in refugee/forced migration contexts.

The dissertation thesis component requires the student build upon the knowledge of research methodology acquired through the taught component in order to undertake independent research on a topic of their choice in the refugee/forced migration field. Once approved, the MA programme staff will endeavour to provide a specialist in the topic chosen by the student to supervise his/her dissertation research.

Autumn study session

Elective modules

Asylum Law in Europe: Towards Regional Harmonisation of International Protection

This module explores the pertinent legal frameworks for the protection of refugees and other externally-displaced persons in the European context. The module seeks to impart a solid critical understanding of a number of topics, including: asylum trends within Europe and displacement on its borders; the process of attempting to develop a harmonised asylum system within the European Union (EU) and the external implications; the asylum-related rules created by the EU; the role of pertinent EU institutions, particularly the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and Frontex; and how the Council of Europe human rights system approaches the question of asylum, and the inter-relationship with the EU system.

Asylum and Refugees in Africa and Latin America: Alternative Models for Refugee Protection

This module explores the pertinent regional frameworks and approaches for responding to refugee movements in Africa and Latin America. The module draws attention to the strong similarities between the African and Latin American contexts in terms both of the nature of refugee problems and the regional responses adopted, and seeks to impart a solid critical understanding of a number of topics, including: the proud history of regional and constitutional forms of asylum in the post-colonial era in the continents of Latin America and Africa; the broad dynamics of refugee movements in the two continents; the Organization of African Unity/African Union system for protection of refugees; the 1984 Cartagena Declaration on Refugees as the basis for regional protection in the Latin American context; and the role of human rights institutions in addressing displacement in Africa and the Americas.

Internal Displacement in Law and Policy: War and Beyond

This module explores the concept of the internally displaced person (IDP) – which has emerged in the past twenty years - and how this has been framed by law and policy. The module focuses on IDPs in conflict contexts before moving on to consider other forms of internal displacement. The module seeks to impart a solid critical understanding of a number of topics, including: an introduction to international humanitarian law (IHL); the rules relating to forcible displacement, transfer and deportation in IHL and human rights law; international criminal law and the criminalisation of forced displacement; domestic law and policy on IDPs – the case of Colombia; the law relating to transitional justice and internal displacement; and persons displaced by disasters and environmental change.

Gender, Sexual Identity and Age in the Refugee Context

This module explores forced migration and refugee protection from the standpoint of certain categories of forced migrants whose situation demands special protection. The module focuses on issues of gender and sexual identity in the refugee context before moving on to consider how age is also a factor relevant to understanding – and protecting – refugees and other forced migrants. The module seeks to impart a solid critical understanding of a number of topics, including: feminist, gender and critical theory and its application to the refugee field; jurisprudence and policy pertaining to refugee women – case studies of FGM and domestic violence as grounds for refugee status; jurisprudence and policy pertaining to sexual identity; jurisprudence and policy pertaining to child refugees; and jurisprudence and policy pertaining to disability and refugees.

Spring study session

Elective modules

Securing Refugee Protection in Practice

This module explores the context within which the protection of refugees and other displaced persons take place. It builds on the legal and empirical understandings of the roles of key protection actors developed through the core modules in order to consider how these may best be influenced and building your’ skills in the relevant areas. The module focuses on developing a firm appreciation of the factors that influence how protection actors – such as States and UNHCR – behave and the practical strategies through which such behaviour may be influenced. The module seeks to impart a solid critical understanding of a number of topics, including: key theories of norm adherence and normative change in the field of human rights and refugee protection; critical insight into lobbying, media, campaigning and monitoring work in the refugee field; different strategies for managing project cycle, drafting legal and policy interventions and carrying out fundraising.

Advanced International Refugee Law

This module explores cutting-edge debates within the field of international refugee law. It aims to deepen your knowledge of the big cross-cutting issues whilst avoiding undue focus on specific regions. The module seeks to impart a solid critical understanding of a number of topics, including: the historical development of international refugee law and the institutions mandated to safeguard it; procedural standards and their application to the refugee status determination (RSD) process, including accelerated procedures; mass influx and temporary protection; detention and encampment of asylum-seekers; whether ‘war refugees’ are really refugees and the role of international humanitarian law; interception at sea, Haitian interdictions and the Pacific solution; and climate change refugees.

Statelessness, Nationality and the Protection of Stateless Persons

This module explores the international law relating to statelessness and stateless persons and its development over the past sixty years. The module seeks to impart a solid critical understanding of a number of topics, including: the concept and implications of nationality in international law; the empirical roots and scope of the problem of statelessness across the world; the definition of stateless person contained in the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, and its conceptual connections with the refugee concept; the push towards elimination of statelessness in the framework of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness; regional approaches to statelessness; the role of human rights standards in relation to statelessness; the expanding mandate of UNHCR in respect of Stateless Persons; and national laws and policies relating to statelessness.

Displacement, Healthcare and Humanitarian Action

This module explores the impact of forced migration on the health of the victims and considers healthcare provision and other humanitarian action in emergency situations. The module focuses principally on the provision of healthcare and other humanitarian services to refugees, considering both camp and non-camp scenarios, before turning to briefly consider the relevance of these understandings in the context of forced internal displacement. The module seeks to impart a solid critical understanding of a number of topics, including: the impact of forced migration on physical and psychological health and well-being; malnutrition, disease and other health issues in refugee populations; healthcare provision for refugees in camp and non-camp scenarios; planning for housing, food, water and sanitation for refugees in camp scenarios and complex emergencies; psychological health of refugees and service provision; the relationship between health, healthcare provision and human rights; and the role of international actors engaged in healthcare provision.

  • Not all elective modules will necessarily be offered each year.
Study materials

How you study

Distance learning is much more flexible than traditional face-to-face teaching. It allows you to study whenever and wherever is convenient to you, and to fit your studies in around professional or personal commitments. You can study wherever you live in the world - if you move country with your job, for example, you can still continue with your studies.

Studying by distance learning requires you to be highly motivated, disciplined, and able to master complex problems independently. Many students do find self-directed study to be challenging, but the outcome is incredibly rewarding.

Study materials

Most of your study materials are provided electronically through the Virtual Learning Environment (Moodle). These include individual module handbooks, assessment activities and digitised readings. For each module there will be online tasks to complete and opportunities to discuss your work with your fellow students and your tutors. Additional expert tuition is provided in each module via podcasts and videos from leading academics in the field.

A sample of the study materials provided for one of the core modules, Protecting human rights, refugees and displaced persons in international law, is available to download [PDF 12pgs 1Mb]. It contains details on essential and further readings, questions for discussion and examples of discussion forums.

You will also receive a book at the start of the programme, which will constitute the primary text for core module one and will prove a useful reference point throughout your studies.

Library

All registered students have free access to the University of London’s excellent online library, which currently has a collection of over 6 million electronic items (ejournals and ebooks). 

What is a typical programme of study?

Taught modules run in two 16-week sessions per year, from October to February and March to July. The dissertation is divided into four study periods, totaling 30 weeks. Two of these study periods include the research methods and methodology course ‘Researching Refugees’, which will help you plan and develop your independent research project.

For an October intake student, a typical study programme would be:

October intake

Year 1: October - February

Core module 1: Protecting Human Rights, Refugees and Displaced Persons in International Law (16 weeks)

February - March

RPM400 Dissertation study period (4 weeks)

March - July

Core module 2: An Introduction to Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (16 weeks)

July - October

RPM400 Dissertation study period, including submission of research proposal (10 weeks)

Year 2: October - February

2 elective modules (16 weeks)

February - March

RPM500 Dissertation study period (4 weeks)

March - July

2 elective modules (16 weeks)

July - October

Dissertation write up period and submission of dissertation (12 weeks)

For a March intake student, a typical study programme would be:

March intake

Year 1: March – July

Core module 2: An Introduction to Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (16 weeks)

July – October

RPM400 Dissertation study period (10 weeks)

October – February

Core module 1: Protecting Human Rights, Refugees and Displaced Persons in International Law (16 weeks)

February – March

RPM400 Dissertation study period, including submission of research proposal (4 weeks)

Year 2: March - July

2 elective modules (16 weeks)

July - October

RPM500 Dissertation study period (10 weeks)

October - February

2 elective modules (16 weeks)

February - March

Dissertation write up period and submission of dissertation (6 weeks)

 

Fees

Fees

The fees below refer to the 2016-2017 academic year only. Fees are subject to annual review.

Either whole fee
MA£ 7,720
OR Modular fees
Core Module (per module)£ 1,544
Dissertation Part 1 £ 772
Elective Module (per module)£ 772
Dissertation Part 2 £ 772
Other fees (where applicable)
Examination resit fee / Dissertation resubmission fee£ 220
ConvertGBP x 1

Disclaimer: the currency conversion tool is provided to you for convenience only and does not constitute an endorsement or approval by the University of London; the exchange rates are provided dynamically via a third-party source, consequently, the University of London International Programmes is not responsible for their accuracy.

Other costs

In addition to the fees payable to the University, you should also budget for the fee charged by your local examination centre to cover its costs. Examination centre fees are not included within the fees set out above. This fee will vary from centre to centre and you should contact your proposed examination centre(s) for details of their fees to factor them in to the overall cost of completing the programme. You can find contact details for all our examination centres here.

When to pay

Fees may be paid in one of two ways:

  • Either pay the total fee on registration by making a single payment, this covers all module fees.
  • Or, if you prefer to spread out your payments, pay the fee for each module you want to take in the first year and then in following years pay the fee for the next modules.

How to pay

All University fees must be paid in pounds sterling (GBP). The University accepts:

  • Western Union - Quick Pay.
  • Credit/debit card (Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Electron, JCB).
  • Sterling banker's draft/cheque.
  • International money/postal order.

Note

The University reserves the right to amend previously announced fees, if necessary.

Assessment

Assessment

Each core module is assessed via a final seen open-book examination, which comprises 70% of the overall grade, and four online assessments (E-tivities), which make up 30% of the overall grade.

Elective modules are assessed via two E-tivities (30%) and the submission of a piece of coursework of 3000-4000 words, depending on the module.

The Dissertation is assessed in two parts. Submission of a research proposal will count towards 15% of the overall dissertation mark and 85% will be made up by the submission of the dissertation thesis. The Dissertation modules include completion of the research methods and methodology course ‘Researching Refugees’ (non-assessed).

You do not have to come to London to take your examinations. Examinations are held twice a year in exam centres around the world as well as in London.

Requirements

Academic Requirements

An undergraduate degree (e.g. bachelor) which is considered at least comparable to a UK upper second class honours degree, in a social science related subject, from an institution acceptable to the University.

If you do not meet the entrance requirements you may still apply. Each application will be considered on an individual basis by the Programme Director.

Work experience

There is no minimum work experience requirement for entry to this programme.

Language Requirements

For awards at FHEQ level 7, students must provide satisfactory evidence showing that they have passed within the previous three years a test of proficiency in English at the following minimum level:

  • IELTS with an overall score of at least 7.0, and a score of at least 6.0 in the Reading and Writing sub-tests.

Tests of English proficiency from other providers will be considered on an individual basis.

Where an applicant does not meet the prescribed English language proficiency requirements but believes that they can demonstrate the requisite proficiency for admission the University may, at its discretion, consider the application.

Note: Some programmes will require greater proficiency in English language; these requirements will be reflected in the relevant programme regulations.

Computer Requirements

You must have regular access to a computer (or mobile device*) with an internet connection to use the University of London International Programmes website and the Student Portal. These are where your programme’s study resources are located. Through the Student Portal you can register as a student, enter exams and use your programme’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The VLE provides you with electronic learning materials, access to the University of London Online Library, networking opportunities, and other resources.

To get the most from your studies, your computer should have at least the following minimum specification: 

  • a web browser (the latest version of Firefox, Chrome or Internet Explorer). This must accept cookies and have JavaScript enabled
  • screen resolution of 1024 x 768 or greater
  • sufficient bandwidth to download documents of at least 2 MB

and the following applications installed:

  • a word processor that reads Microsoft Word format (.doc)
  • Adobe, or other pdf reader.

* Full mobile access is not available for all programmes.

Academic leaders

School of Advanced Study - Academic leadership

The School of Advanced Study unites ten specialist humanities and social science research Institutes at the centre of the University of London. It is the only institution of its kind in the United Kingdom, nationally funded to promote and facilitate research in the humanities and social sciences. Located in Bloomsbury, the School has strong links with the Colleges of the University of London and with the wider national and international research community in each of its disciplines.

The Refugee Law Initiative

The Refugee Law Initiative (RLI) is the leading national academic centre in the United Kingdom dedicated exclusively to International Refugee Law. It was founded in 2010 and is based at the Human Rights Consortium of the School of Advanced Study. Our growth and success is attributed to our commitment to providing a national focal point for leading and promoting research in refugee law through integrating the shared interests of refugee law scholars and practitioners, stimulating collaboration between academics and non-academics, and achieving policy impact at the national and international level.

The RLI’s portfolio includes research, teaching, networking and collaboration as well as a diverse and exciting programme of public events. Many of these are free to the public and provide an excellent opportunity for academics, practitioners and students to engage in discussion and debate on contemporary issues in international protection and refugee law. Our networks of Associates and Doctoral Affiliates bring together individuals from different parts of the world allowing for a global dialogue. These networks are instrumental in providing a wide range of specialists with experience in shaping and delivering academic programmes.

This is complemented by our in house staff who possess substantial experience of postgraduate course development and teaching through such programmes as the MA in Understanding and Securing Human Rights at the School of Advanced Study and our own short courses in the field of refugee protection.

The RLI’s postgraduate distance learning programme not only offers students the opportunity to study on a course designed with both academic and practice orientation but also an environment of networking, connectivity and dialogue. Students will also benefit from research materials created by the RLI such as its Working Paper Series and podcasts from public events.

Each module of the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies is developed and run by specialists in the field. More information about our Module Convenors and Associate Tutors.

Academic leaders

Dr David James Cantor: Director of the RLI

Dr David James Cantor is Director of the RLI and a recognised specialist in the field of refugee protection and forced migration studies. He conducts research on the practical protection of refugees and other displaced persons, particularly during situations of armed conflict. David has a particular interest in refugee law, human rights law and certain areas of the international law of armed conflict. He previously worked for the Refugee Legal Centre and UNHCR.

 

 

Dr Sarah Singer: Programme director

Dr Sarah Singer is an Academic at the Refugee Law Initiative and Lecturer in Human Rights Law at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. She is also Managing Editor of the International Community Law Review (Brill) and teaches the law component of the MA in Understanding and Securing Human Rights at the Human Rights Consortium, School of Advanced Study, University of London. Her current research addresses the challenges posed to national and international public policy by asylum seekers and other migrants who are suspected of serious criminality.

Apply online

Student Profile: Ann Kamunya

Paola Perinetti

Human trafficking and challenges in Kenya
Ann Kamunya, a Sadoko Ogata scholarship holder, tells us how the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration has enlightened her about refugee issues in Kenya

A refugee in a destroyed buildingLondon Connection Q&A: Dr David James Cantor
Dr David James Cantor discusses refugee protection, reasearching in a war zone and effecting policy change.

Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies - An Overview

Learn more about studying for an MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies by distance learning with the University of London International Programmes.

Refugees, Terrorism and Freedom Fighters - Talking points

Dr Sarah Singer, Programme Director for the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies at the University of London, considers how the global 'War on Terror' has affected refugees and asylum seekers by influencing who qualifies for refugee protection under international law.