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Internal displacement in law and policy: war and beyond


​​This module explores the concepts, debates, law and policy framing internal displacement and ‘internally displaced persons’ (IDPs) as a distinct topic of humanitarian concern.

Topics covered

  • What is meant by the term ‘internally displaced person’ (IDP) and the movement towards conceptualising IDPs as a legal category in its own right
  • The development of international standards relating specifically to IDPs, and how these have been used by governments around the world to develop laws and policies for IDP protection at the national level
  • How IDP protection is approached by international organisations, including UN agencies
  • How general human rights standards, the laws of war and international criminal law are relevant to the issue of forced displacement in wartime
  • The framework of land, housing and property (LHP) rights developed as a means to resolve the situation of forced displacement
  • Present challenges in the field of IDP protection, including development-induced displacement, disaster and climate-induced displacement, and how IDP protection interacts with international refugee law.

Learning outcomes

The module seeks to impart a solid critical understanding of the main legal/policy frameworks relating to IDPs and internal displacement , as well as their future potential. You will learn how to develop, deploy and defend sound legal and policy arguments, and evaluate concepts, laws and debates concerning internal displacement and IDPs.


This elective module is assessed via a 4,000-word research essay, which comprises 70% of the overall grade, and three online assessments (E-tivities), which make up 30% of the overall grade.

Module team

Dr Brid Ni Ghrainne, module convenor

Dr Bríd Ní Ghráinne - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Dr Bríd Ní Ghráinne is a lecturer at the School of Law, University of Sheffield where she teaches international law, human rights law, and the law of forced migration. Bríd completed her doctorate in 2014 at St. Antony's College, University of Oxford. Her research focused on the relationship between the protection of Internally Displaced Persons and International Refugee Law and was supervised by Professor Guy S. Goodwin-Gill. Bríd also holds an LLM cum laude in Public International Law from Universiteit Leiden, the Netherlands, and a BCL (International) from the National University of Ireland, Galway. Previously, she worked as a legal researcher in the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.