Study this programme anywhere in the world and receive a fully accredited University of London degree

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Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies


This MA is the only programme of its type to be offered by distance learning, and has quickly become one of the largest programmes on forced migration anywhere in the world.

The programme provides a solid legal, practical and theoretical understanding of refugee protection and forced migration.

You will become more independent in managing and critiquing law, policy and practice, and also in gathering, organising and deploying evidence to form balanced judgements and develop policy recommendations.

Video: Refugee Protection an overview
This MA is the only programme of its type to be offered by distance learning.

This programme comprises six modules (two core, four elective) and a dissertation component which includes the research methodology course, ‘Researching Refugees’.

Programme details

MA: two core modules, four elective modules and one dissertation component.

View Modules

March 2019 intake

Application deadline 1 February 2019
Registration deadline 1 March 2019

October 2019 intake

Application deadline1 September 2019
Registration deadline1 October 2019

The programme is available online and is fully supported by a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), as well as study materials and help from academic staff. It allows you to study anywhere in the world and fit your studies around your other commitments.

Study materials

You receive individual module subject guides, assessment activities and digitised readings. The two primary texts for the core modules are books, which will be useful reference points throughout your studies.

For each module, you will be able to discuss your work with fellow students and tutors. Supplementary information is provided via podcasts and videos from leading academics.

You can also benefit from research materials created by the Refugee Law Initiative, such as its Working Paper Series and podcasts from public events.

Online support

When you register, we will give you access to your Student Portal. You can then access your University of London email account and other key resources:

  • The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) enables access to course materials, resources, and forums to discuss course material and work collaboratively with others. Tutors are available to answer queries and promote discussion during the study year through the VLE.
  • The Online Library provides access to over 100 million academic electronic items comprising E-books, E-journals, conference proceedings, etc. In addition, students can request items which are not held in the library via the library's Inter-Library loans service with the British Library.

  • Senate House Library provides free reference access for all registered distance and flexible learning students.

Time commitment

This MA is designed to be studied over two years by taking the two core modules in the first year and four elective modules (two per session) in the second year, alongside the dissertation component.

Each study session lasts 16 weeks and the dissertation component accounts for 12 weeks per year. We recommend that you study for 15-20 hours per week during this time.


  • Core modules: a seen open-book examination (70% overall grade) and five online assessments known as E-tivities (30% overall grade).
  • Elective modules: three E-tivities (30% overall grade) and one coursework item of 3,000-4,000 words (70% overall grade).

The dissertation is assessed in two parts: the research methods course and research proposal (15% overall grade) and the dissertation thesis (85% overall grade).

Examinations are held twice a year (usually February and July) at exam centres located all around the world.

More about exams.

What qualifications do you need?

You need an undergraduate degree (e.g. bachelor) that is comparable to a UK upper second class honours degree. You can still apply without this, and we will consider each application on its merits.

English Language requirements

You need a high standard of English to study this programme. You will meet our language requirements if you have achieved the following within the past three years:

  • (IELTS) International English Language Testing System - overall score of at least 7.0 with at least 6 in reading and writing.

Tests from other providers will be considered on an individual basis. Even if you have not formally met these requirements, the University may still consider other evidence.

Computer requirements

We set minimum basic computer requirements because your study resources are accessed via the Student Portal and it is vital that you can access this regularly. For this degree, you will also need Adobe Flash Player to view video material and a media player (such as VLC) to play video files.

More about computer requirements.

The fees below apply if you begin during the 2019-2020 session and are subject to annual review.

MA (Full)

£ 8,400

Core module

£ 1,690

Elective module

£ 845

Dissertation, part 1

£ 845

Dissertation, part 2

£ 845

Exam resit fee

£ 240

Dissertation re-submission fee£ 240
Dissertation second deferral fee£ 240

Disclaimer: Currency conversion tool.

Additional Costs

You will also need to budget for exam centre fees, which are paid directly to the venues where you sit your exams.

How to pay your fees.

This MA is designed for anyone who wishes to pursue careers in a range of professional contexts in the refugee, human rights or humanitarian fields. By combining your studies with your existing commitments, you will be able to maintain your career momentum.

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.

What do employers think of our graduates?

In some countries, qualifications earned by distance and flexible learning may not be recognised by certain authorities or regulators for the purposes of public sector employment or further study. We advise you to explore the local recognition status before you register, even if you plan to receive support from a local teaching institution.

The School of Advanced Study unites nine specialist humanities and social science research Institutes at 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.

The Refugee Law Initiative (RLI) is the leading national academic centre in the United Kingdom dedicated to International Refugee Law. It was founded in 2010 and is based at the School of Advanced Study. Its portfolio includes research, teaching, networking and collaboration, and a diverse programme of public events.

The RLI faculty possess substantial experience in postgraduate course development and teaching, including the MA in Understanding and Securing Human Rights and short courses in the field of refugee protection.

Academic leaders

David James Cantor, Professor of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. Director of the RLI and a recognised specialist in the field of refugee protection and forced migration studies. His research addresses the practical protection of refugees and other displaced persons, particularly during situations of armed conflict. His interests include refugee law, human rights law, and the international law of armed conflict. In 2016, David was appointed Senior Advisor to the UNHCR Americas.

Dr Sarah Singer, is Senior Lecturer in Refugee Law at School of Advanced Study, University of London. She is Managing Editor of the International Community Law Review journal and teaches the law component of the MA in Understanding and Securing Human Rights. Sarah's research interests are refugee law and policy, human rights and migration. She has published broadly on the topic of asylum seekers and migrants suspected of serious criminality.

Without the cost of moving to London, studying for your University of London degree anywhere in the world represents excellent value for money. However, there are additional sources of support depending on where you live and how you choose to study.


Commonwealth Scholarships are available for applicants in the following countries [applications are closed until next year]

  • Kenya
  • Rwanda
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia

The Sadako Ogata Scholarship is for students beginning in March who are natives of and reside in low and lower-middle income countries (as designated by the World Bank).

The Guy S. Goodwin-Gill Scholarship is available to all students beginning in October. We particularly welcome applications from natives and residents of low- and middle-income countries.


New registrants who are members of the Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance & Protection (PHAP) can receive a bursary of 10% on all fees for this programme.

More on funding your study.

Can I get sponsored?

If you're employed, your employer may be willing to cover part/all of the programme fees if you can make a compelling case as to how this programme will boost your contribution to the workplace.

Our courses are ideal for employers because they get to retain you as an employee and benefit from your learning from the moment you begin.

How can I get sponsored by my employer?

Hear from our graduates

Sylvester Chapotera

"The content is particularly designed to deliver a sound interdisciplinary understanding of the field of forced migration studies and its fundamental debates."

We are no longer in an era where protection is exclusively about law or policy

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