An introduction to refugee and forced migration studies


This core module provides you with a sound interdisciplinary understanding of the key concepts, theories and debates in refugee and forced migration studies and their relationship to refugee protection policy and practices over the past century.

Topics covered

  • What is ‘forced migration’? What labels are applied to ‘refugees’, ‘IDPs’, ‘asylum seekers’ and ‘illegal migrants’?
  • Early history of the international refugee regime
  • The relationships between different institutions involved in refugee protection and how humanitarian actors respond to complex emergencies
  • The causes and consequences of refugee and forced migration crises
  • Solutions? Resettlement, local integration and repatriation and peace-building.

Learning outcomes

This module provides you with a sound interdisciplinary understanding of the field of forced migration studies and its fundamental debates. You will learn how to create, deploy and defend sound written arguments evaluating key concepts, theories, policies and practices and appraise a range of non-legal sources in the refugee and forced migration field.


Each core module is assessed via a final item of coursework, which comprises 70% of the overall grade, and five online assessments (E-tivities), which make up 30% of the overall grade.

Module team

Nicholas Maple, module convenor

Nicholas Maple - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Nicholas is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. His current work looks at urban displacement and mobility in sub-Saharan Africa. His PhD research focused on Southern Africa, looking at the relationship between refugee camps/settlements and urban displacement of refugees.

He is also the Academic Support Officer for the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies at the University of London. In addition, he is the module convener of the core module RPM020 - An introduction to refugee and forced migration studies, and supervises MA dissertations at the University of London and University of the Witwatersrand.

Nicholas has nearly two years’ experience working in the field as an advocate for organisations such as Asylum Access, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Dr Christina Oelgemoller, module convenor

Dr Christina Oelgemoller - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Christina is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Refugee Law Initiative (RLI) and lecturer in International Relations at Loughborough University. Previously, she was in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex, during which time she was awarded her DPhil.

Her doctoral work is an interdisciplinary study in geography and international relations entitled Migration management: the radical violence of the international politics of migration. In this work, questions were examined about the construction of the ‘illegal migrant’ as a particular political subject, framed in the context of changes in the doctrine formation of international migration since the 1980s on the back of - among other factors - the Indochina refugee crisis. ‘Migration management’ raises important questions about normative violence, governance and ethics.

Christina has a multidisciplinary background, with degrees in social policy, politics and law; intercultural work, human rights and conflict management; and research methods awarded by universities in Germany and the UK. Outside of academia, she has worked for several years in organisations including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) branch office in Berlin and an international NGO in Geneva.

Lucy Hovil

Lucy Hovil - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Lucy has spent 18 years working with local and international civil society on issues of forced displacement and conflict across Sub-Saharan Africa. Areas of experience include forced migration, conflict analysis and conflict sensitivity, access to justice, transitional justice, gender-based violence and qualitative research design. She has extensive work experience with a broad range of governments, non-governmental organisations, academic institutions and donors in order to understand conflict contexts, their impact on local populations and how best policy interventions can improve their effectiveness.

Lucy is currently the Managing Editor of the International Journal of Transitional Justice, a Deployable Civilian Expert for the UK Government’s Stabilisation Unit, and a Senior Research Associate for the International Refugee Rights Initiative. Her book, Refugees, conflict and the search for belonging was published by Palgrave in 2016.

Cory Rodgers, module convenor

Cory Rodgers - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Cory is an anthropologist whose research addresses development-oriented policies targeting mobile and displaced populations in eastern Africa. Focusing on north-western Kenya since 2015, he has conducted long-term fieldwork with Turkana pastoralists as well as refugees and asylum seekers living in the decades-old Kakuma camps.

He is currently researching the emergence of the Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement, which is being implemented as one of Kenya’s pledges under the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework. His doctoral project at Oxford’s Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology was an ethnographic study of the development encounter in Turkana, focusing on deepening stratification between a pastoralist majority and a growing urban class.

Jasmin Fritzsche-El Shewy module tutor RP&FMS SAS

Jasmin Fritzsche-El Shewy - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Jasmin is a PhD candidate in International Development Studies at the Ruhr-University Bochum and a Visiting PhD student at the University of Warwick. In her doctoral research, she focuses particularly on the notion of exceptionalism, international protection and the secondary forced displacement of Palestinian refugees.

Previously, Jasmin worked as a research fellow with the German-Arab Joint Research, Training and Networking Programme: From responsibility to protect to responsibility to assist: Conflict, reconstruction, and sustainable development in the Middle East at Ruhr University Bochum / Lebanese American University and as a legal adviser and researcher in Egypt.

In 2017 she was a Visiting Study Fellow at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, and 2013-14 a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies at the American University in Cairo. She holds an MSc in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Zoë Jordan RPFMS tutor

Zoë Jordan - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Zoë is a researcher at the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP), Oxford Brookes University. She works on forced migration and humanitarian response, primarily in protracted urban contexts.
She has recently completed a PhD looking at humanitarianism and household-level refugee hosting relationships in Jordan, focusing on the experiences of young Sudanese men. In her current work, she is looking at young people’s trajectories between education and employment in the context of protracted displacement in Jordan and Lebanon.

She teaches on the core module An Introduction to refugee and forced migration studies on the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, and on the MA Humanitarian Practice and Peacebuilding and the MA Development and Emergency Practice programmes at Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP). She has several years’ experience working in humanitarian response in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Jordan.