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Join our award-winning programme in refugee protection studies

Dr Sarah Singer, Programme Director for the University of London’s MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies, spoke to us about the current challenges faced by refugee communities and how our master’s programme provides a strong foundation for building a career in this field.

Written by Dr Sarah Singer |

Refugees
The MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies was awarded the prestigious Roger Mills Prize for Innovation in Learning and Teaching in 2019.

In today’s world, refugees are never far from global news. A staggering 79 million people are currently displaced from their homes on account of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations. Of these, approximately 25 million are refugees, which means they have been forced to leave their home country for these reasons in search of safety elsewhere.

While a large percentage of the world’s refugees hail from a relatively small number of countries, the refugee issue is a truly global phenomena: refugees come from, and are hosted in, countries across the globe.

A far larger number of people are displaced within their own country (internally displaced), or displaced for reasons which go beyond persecution and conflict, including drought, hunger, environmental disasters and the effects of climate change.

With such enormous numbers of people on the move in search of safety and security come ever-greater challenges to national and global systems designed to protect and support such persons. Indeed, while a large percentage of the world’s refugees hail from a relatively small number of countries, the refugee issue is a truly global phenomena: refugees come from, and are hosted in, countries across the globe. In this context, it becomes ever more important to further our understanding of and explore ways of addressing the situation of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. It is in this sense that the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies is so important and relevant today.

A great proportion of our students are actively working in the refugee field while they study. The part-time distance-learning format of the programme enables them to combine their studies with work and other commitments.

The MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies is the longest-running postgraduate programme on refugee protection and forced migration delivered by distance and online learning. Run by the University of London’s Refugee Law Initiative, one of the leading research institutions working on refugee protection and forced migration studies, this award-winning programme currently has over 240 students studying in over 60 countries all over the world including sub-Saharan and North Africa, North America, Europe, South and East Asia and Australasia. A great proportion of our students are actively working in the refugee field while they study. The part-time distance-learning format of the programme enables them to combine their studies with work and other commitments. It also provides unique opportunities for students to directly apply their learning to their everyday work, and engage with and learn from other students based in different contexts across the globe. At the same time, one of the real strengths of the programme is that all components of the programme are delivered by experts in the field, from around the world.

The master’s programme aims to provide students with a solid understanding of law, policy and theoretical approaches in the refugee and forced migration field, and to develop their critical and analytical skills, enabling them to build transferable skills which can be used for future research progression and / or employment.

We are continually updating our programme content to be responsive to current issues in refugee protection, including global and regional developments in refugee law and policy, the impact of hazards such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and challenges such as disaster and climate-induced displacement.

The programme includes two core modules. These provide students with a firm understanding of the fundamentals of international law in relation to the protection of refugees and human rights, and a sound interdisciplinary understanding of the key concepts, theories and debates in refugee and forced migration studies. After the core modules, students choose four elective modules from a wide range of topics. Here, they can gain in-depth knowledge on a particular geographical region (for example Europe, or Africa and Latin America) or thematic issue (for example internal displacement, statelessness, gender and sexual orientation and healthcare). The innovative module ‘Securing Refugee Protection in Practice’ includes unique practice-focused content and is designed to build students’ understanding of the work of a range of agencies involved in protecting refugees and displaced persons, and to help students develop transferable practical skills, such as advocacy and fundraising, that are important in working for such agencies. 

We are continually updating our programme content to be responsive to current issues in refugee protection, including global and regional developments in refugee law and policy, the impact of hazards such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and challenges such as disaster and climate-induced displacement.

Alongside these core and elective modules, the programme has a strong focus on developing student research. This is done during the dissertation component of the MA, in which students develop their own piece of research on a topic of their choice in the refugee field. To support this component of the programme, students are provided rigorous training in research methods through the compulsory ‘Researching Refugees’ course, and receive dedicated support throughout their dissertation research and writing via an individually assigned dissertation supervisor.

As the most established programme on forced migration by distance and online learning, the MA in Refugee Protection benefits from a wealth of expertise both in the field of refugee protection and in delivering a high-quality educational experience by distance-learning.

The programme is designed for anyone who wishes to pursue or advance their career in a range of professional contexts in the refugee, human rights or humanitarian fields. Graduates of the programme have gone on to work for international organisations such as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), international and local NGOs, academic research centres and government ministries. A number of our graduates have also gone on to pursue PhD study in the forced migration or related fields.

As the most established programme on forced migration by distance and online learning, the MA in Refugee Protection benefits from a wealth of expertise both in the field of refugee protection and in delivering a high-quality educational experience by distance-learning. The programme draws on the Refugee Law Initiative’s wide network of leading experts in the refugee field to deliver all components of the programme, and combines rigorous learning with a format which can be adjusted to suit students’ individual experiences. This programme consistently scores some of the highest student satisfaction ratings in the biannual student experience survey, and in 2019 was awarded the prestigious Roger Mills Prize for Innovation in Learning and Teaching.

Find out more about the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies.