Skip to main content

Forced Migration, Refugees and International Relations

Module titleForced Migration, Refugees and International Relations
Module codePOL3088
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Professor Mick Dumper (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

There are nearly 32 million refugees, internally displaced and stateless people in the world today. They matter because they are people in need of protection but also because their situation both reflects and is a cause of further regional instability.

In this module you will examine the various phases of the refugee crisis, the international frameworks and the solutions that are being pursued. The emphasis will be to ensure that you have an understanding of the differing perspectives – that of the refugee, that of the key international actors and that of the donor community and humanitarian agencies. Some seminars will take the form of simulated refugee crises and provide an opportunity to engage with different case studies. No pre-requisites, co-requisites or previous experience is required.

Module aims - intentions of the module

1) To familiarise you with the key issues and main developments in the international refugee regime and the impact upon the states and people involved.

2) To introduce you to the literature on forced migration and demonstrate how different and contradictory policies are proposed and implemented.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. demonstrate a detailed knowledge of key issues in contemporary forced migration studies;
  • 2. demonstrate a critical understanding of the actors, dynamics and trends in the management of refugees and displaced people;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. find, use and analyse secondary and primary data relevant to specific issues in politics
  • 4. place contemporary political issues in larger contexts;
  • 5. deploy critical arguments in analysing political issues and evaluating sources;

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. work independently and in a group, including the presentation of material for group discussion;
  • 7. demonstrate analytical skills and the ability to digest, select and organise material;
  • 8. demonstrate writing skills including the ability to produce well organised and coherent essays to a deadline, practice in articulating and defending positions on tutorial topics;
  • 9. work independently, within a limited time frame, and without access to external sources, to complete a specified task.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • The international refugee regime: emergence and evolution
  • Refugee status determination: interviews
  • Refugees and International Relations
  • The international refugee regime: the role of UNHCR
  • The international refugee regime: international cooperation problems
  • International refugee law
  • The EU dimension: the Common European Asylum System
  • Durable solutions (1): repatriation
  • Durable Solutions (2): resettlement and local integration
  • Biopolitics and refugees
  • Impact of new technologies of information and communication (NTIC)
  • The Palestinian refugees and UNRWA
  • Peacebuilding, state-building, transitional justice and reparations
  • Internally displaced persons (IDPs)
  • Environmental displacement
  • Gender and forced migration
  • The Syrian refugee crisis in the Middle East
  • The local dimension of refugee hosting
  • Protracted refugee situations and historical injustices

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity1414 hours of lectures (20 x 30 minutes lectures & 2 x 2 hours guest lectures)
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity3030 hours of seminars (20 x 90 minutes seminars) including discussion of set readings, small and large group discussions, individual student presentations, role-playing exercises and audio-visual documentaries
Guided Independent Study156Preparing for and completing coursework
Guided Independent Study100Reading for seminars


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Individual Presentations10 minutes1-6Oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay 1303,000 words1-5, 7-8Written feedback
Essay 2303,000 words1-5, 7-8Written feedback
Essay 3404,000 words1-5, 7-8Written feedback


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay 1Essay (3,000 words)1-5, 7-8 August/September re-assessment period
Essay 2 Essay (3,000 words)1-5, 7-8 August/September re-assessment period
Essay 3 Essay (4,000 words)1-5, 7-8 August/September re-assessment period


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Betts, A. and G. Loescher (eds.) (2011) Refugees in International Relations (Oxford University Press).

Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E., G. Loescher, K. Long and N. Sigona (eds.) (2014) The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (Oxford University Press).

Agamben, G. (1998) Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Stanford University Press).

Agier, M. (2008) On the Margins of the World: The Refugee Experience Today (Polity Press).

Agier, M. (2011) Managing the Undesirables: Refugee Camps and Humanitarian Government (Polity Press).

Barnett, M. (2011) Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism (Cornell University Press).

Black, R. and K. Koser (eds.) (1999) The End of Refugee Cycle? Refugee Repatriation and Reconstruction (Berghahn).

Chatty, D. (2010) Displacement and Dispossession in the Modern Middle East (Cambridge University Press).

Dumper, M. (ed.) (2006) Palestinian Refugee Repatriation: Global Perspectives (Routledge).

Dumper, M. (2007) The Future for Palestinian Refugees: Toward Equity and Peace (Lynne Rienner).

Goodwin-Gill, G. and J. McAdam (2007) The Refugee in International Law (3rd ed.) (Oxford University Press).

Haddad, E. (2008) The Refugee in International Society: Between Sovereigns (Cambridge University Press).

Hammerstad, A. (2014) The Rise and Decline of a Global Security Actor: UNHCR, Refugee Protection, and Security (Oxford University Press).

Hyndman, J. (2000) Managing Displacement: Refugees and the Politics of Humanitarianism (Minnesota University Press).

Larking, E. (2014) Refugees and the Myth of Human Rights: Life outside the Pale of the Law (Ashgate).

Lemke, T. (2011) Biopolitics: An Advanced Introduction (New York University Press).

Loescher, G. (1993) Beyond Charity: International Cooperation and the Global Refugee Crisis (Oxford University Press).

Marfleet, P. (2006) Refugees in a Global Era (Palgrave Macmillan).

Marrus, M. (1985) The Unwanted: European Refugees in the Twentieth Century (Oxford University Press)

Nyers, P. (2006) Rethinking Refugees: Beyond State of Emergency (Routledge).

Steiner, N., M. Gibney and G. Loescher (eds.) (2003) Problems of Protection: The UNHCR, Refugees and Human Rights in the 21st Century (Routledge).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

UNHCR (1997) The State of the World’s Refugees: A Humanitarian Agenda (Oxford University Press). Available online at:

UNHCR (2000) The State of the World’s Refugees: Fifty Years of Humanitarian Action (Oxford University Press). Available online at:

UNHCR (2005) Refugee Status Determination: Identifying Who is a Refugee (UNHCR). Available online at:

UNHCR (2010) Handbook for the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons (UNHCR). Available online at:

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Refugees, forced migration, international relations

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date