Global Humanitarian Studies BSc

University College London
United Kingdom
  • Duration
    Full time: 3 years
  • Type
    University programme
  • Level


The BSc aims to educate and train future generations of humanitarian leaders in the theory and practice of humanitarian action. This multidisciplinary programme will equip you with the knowledge, critical, analytical and research skills and core competencies grounded in practice to anticipate evolving and emerging humanitarian threats and manage widening vulnerability and crisis response.

UCAS code:



Full-time: 3 years


London, Bloomsbury

Applications should be made through UCAS. For detailed information about fees, funding, modules and entry requirements, please visit the programme website.

Degree benefits

  • You will study a breadth of subjects: Social justice; Conflict and migration; Humanitarian crisis response; Strategic planning and logistics; Aid economics; Climate change impacts; Natural hazards; Health emergencies; Public policy; Anthropology and Social Science; Humanitarian data science; Project management.
  • The Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction leads the BSc Global Humanitarian Studies and the Humanitarian Institute, with key partners: Institute for Global Health, Institute of Education, School of Management, Departments of Anthropology and Statistical Science.
  • Staff have extensive humanitarian experience and bring this real-world expertise into their research and teaching through case studies, scenario activities and other forms of applied learning. You will learn how to write policy briefs, reports, and present to different audiences.
  • We will help facilitate an optional four-week summer placement, in the UK or internationally, between the second and third years to help you connect your academic learning with skills in the humanitarian workplace.

Degree structure

You will take a compulsory central core of humanitarian studies running through all three years. This core includes both researcher-led academic subjects and core competencies. You will cover a broad range of subject areas including understanding and analysis of humanitarian crises, conflict, disaster, migration, natural hazards and climate risks, humanitarian policy, law and aid economics, emergency and crisis response, communication and negotiation, quantitative and qualitative research methods, and ethical, historical and political contexts.

You will select optional specialist modules to follow through three years, which provide both breadth and depth according to your interests, from: Digital Science; Management Science; Global Health; Anthropology and Social Science.

Digital Science includes humanitarian data science, statistics, digital science and computer programming, risk quantification and digital health. Management Science includes organisational and project management, organisational behaviour, decision making and leadership for the complex interconnected world of the future. Global Health includes global health policy, disease and poverty, conflict and health and maternal and child health, to give you an understanding of global health, challenge concepts of development and health, and interact critically and flexibly with healthcare professionals. Anthropology and Social Science includes social anthropology, culture and identities, inequality, social networks and resilience, and the anthropology of war and society, to deepen your understanding and provide the tools for shaping future policy and practice. 

In the third year, you will undertake a major independent research project. This may be associated with your specialist modules or the core humanitarian studies. UCL has extensive links to the sector and to practitioners and researchers who may support students in their research projects. 

Your learning

You will learn through a balance of lectures, seminars, tutorials, problem-based learning with group and peer learning (group projects), policy briefings, student presentations, fieldwork (involving quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods approaches) and independent reading and research. Teaching is delivered by leading researchers, practitioners and policy-makers. 

You will learn quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods approaches in short field programmes in the UK, embedded in taught modules. These include fundamentals of conducting social surveys and making environmental measurements. Many students will pursue third-year research projects that include substantial field components, in the UK or internationally.

Alternative means of learning will always be available for field components.

We will help facilitate an optional four-week summer placement, in the UK or internationally, between the second and third years to help you connect your academic learning with skills in the humanitarian workplace. We have an extensive network of inter- and non-governmental organisations, consultancies and enterprises we can connect you with and backed by dedicated professional services support.

The BSc is based on the UCL standard 150 study hours per module for eight modules, making a total of 1200 study hours per year. For a typical taught module you will spend about 20 hours in lectures, 20 hours in practicals, seminars, tutorials or directed fieldwork, and the remainder in independent study.

In your final year, one third of your time will be spent on your independent research project, including personal supervision, preparation of a research proposal, literature review, data collection and analysis, poster presentation and preparation of your dissertation.


As well as in-depth subject knowledge, you will develop skills in key areas required for a career in the humanitarian sector. These include the principles, evidence base, analysis and assessment for humanitarian action; qualitative and quantitative research methods; strategic planning and project management; communication, negotiation and presentation skills; understanding security and ethics; leadership and team working.

Humanitarian organisations and employers have emphasised the need to professionalise the sector. The core skills taught in the degree programme are based on a framework developed through on-going consultation with global and national employers in the humanitarian sector, including inter- and non-governmental organisations, international consultancies and humanitarian enterprises.

We will support your career through our annual Careers and Opportunities Fair, which offers expert and targeted advice, and hosts stalls from a range of employers in the sector. We hold regular networking events, including an alumni/student mixer and public meetings, and run workshops on entrepreneurship for humanitarian action.

Further information

If you would like more information about the programme visit the programme website or email

This program is related to