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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

Kat Eghdamian, module convenor

Kat Eghdamian - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Kat Eghdamian is a specialist researcher and consultant on refugees and forced migration, religion, and minority rights issues. Her current research examines the relationship between religious identity and experiences of international displacement, with a focus on religious minorities among Syrian refugee populations across the Middle East and Europe.

Currently a PhD candidate (ESRC Scholar) at University College London (UCL), Kat is also a Fellow at the Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain at the University of Groningen and a Research Associate for the Centre on Religion and Global Affairs. She holds postgraduate degrees from the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Oxford.

Nicholas Maple, module convenor

Nicholas Maple - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Nicholas Maple is a PhD candidate at the Refugee Law Initiative, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, under the supervision of Dr David Cantor. His PhD research examines reception policies in southern Africa and how they interact with the international refugee regime and its core norms, with a particular focus on freedom of movement. He has just completed a nine month affiliation at the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS) at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and a four-month affiliation at the Southern African Institute for Policy and Research (SAIPAR) in Lusaka, Zambia. He is the Academic Support Officer for the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies and also teaches on the core module RPM020 An introduction to refugee and forced migration studies.

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 UNHCR. He has worked as a researcher at the Refugee Law Initiative, completed consultancy work for organisations such as Chatham House and had work published by UNHCR.

Dr Christina Oelgemoller, module convenor

Dr Christina Oelgemoller - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Christina Oelgemoller is currently a Lecturer in International Relations at Loughborough University. Prior to this she was in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex, during which time Christina 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 are asked 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 both Germany and the UK. Outside of academia she has worked for several years in organisations including the UNHCR Branch Office in Berlin and an International NGO in Geneva.

Christina’s research is driven by questions about statecraft, democracy and ethics, around two specific areas of research interest: constructions of political subjectivity and equality (with a focus on international migrants/forced migration), and doctrine formation in international multilateralism and diplomacy (with a focus on post-conflict reconstruction and missing persons).

Lucy Hovil

Lucy Hovil - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Lucy has spent that past seventeen 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. During the course of her work, she has had extensive experience of working 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.

Jasmine Fritzsche

Jasmin Fritzsche - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Jasmin Fritzsche-El Shewy is a PhD Candidate in International Development Studies at the Institute of Development Research and Development Policy at Ruhr-University Bochum and a Research Fellow in 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” (Ruhr-University Bochum/ Lebanese American University). 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 legal advisor and researcher in Egypt. She was a Visiting Study Fellow at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford in 2017 and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies at the American University in Cairo in 2013/14. She holds an MSc in Human Rights from the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London.