International Humanitarian Emergencies (SAM560)

The course is a specialization in crisis management, with particular emphasis on prevention and response based on the so-called DRR concept. The course will be especially useful for students wishing to learn about prevention and response in humanitarian emergencies and/or prepare for assignments in international humanitarian crises and disasters. In addition to students in societal safety and risk governance, the course may be useful to those studying management, economics, health and social studies, human rights and sustainable development. The course is taught in English. If only Norwegian-speaking students, the course will be taught in Norwegian.

Course description for study year 2024-2025. Please note that changes may occur.


Course code




Credits (ECTS)


Semester tution start


Number of semesters


Exam semester


Language of instruction

English, Norwegian


The main focus of the course will be on prevention and response in humanitarian crises, and the different roles and responsibilities in such operations. Theories in crisis management and disaster risk reduction form the basis for the course. Particular focus will be given to the following:

  • Characteristics of international humanitarian disasters and complex emergencies (challenges, actors and operational space)
  • The need to see prevention, response and reconstruction in context
  • The International and the Norwegian response system's functioning and organization, with particular emphasis on the UN system's roles and responsibilities
  • The situation and roles of different groups and actors in major humanitarian crises
  • Adverse consequences of relief, and what one can do to reduce these
  • Political and security aspects of international humanitarian emergencies
  • The transition from emergency to reconstruction

There must be at least 5 registered students for the course to be held in a scheduled semester.

Learning outcome

Upon completion of this course, the student shall have acquired the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competencies:


The student should have knowledge of:

  • Central characteristics of international humanitarian crises, including complex emergencies
  • How the national and international humanitarian response system works and how it is organised
  • Responsibilities in relation to preventing, preparing for and managing humanitarian crises with a particular emphasis on prevention and response based on the DRR approach
  • Particular challenges that staff working in such crises may encounter
  • Dilemmas in relation to a humanitarian response
  • The relationship between emergency aid and development in disaster risk reduction


The student should be able to:

  • Analyse international humanitarian crises
  • Assess relevant prevention and response, as well as various types of intervention
  • Consider crisis management in conjunction with responsibilities and governance

General competencies:

The student should:

  • Be generally competent in relation to international humanitarian crises, including complex emergencies
  • Be competent with regard to challenges and dilemmas that are encountered in the areas of prevention and response
  • Be able to give a broad overview of different frameworks for disaster risk reduction, responsibilities and governance, and also particular challenges and dilemmas within international humanitarian crises

Required prerequisite knowledge


Recommended prerequisites

Knowledge of general risk and crisis management theories


Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Home exam 1/1 30 Hours Letter grades

Coursework requirements

Written group work, UN's web-based course on security for humanitarian field workers, Case study oppgave

Group assignment (three to four students per group) must be passed.

Case study assignments must be completed.

UN's web-based course on security for humanitarian field workers. The course normally takes 3-4 hours and a course certificate is provided upon completion.

Course teacher(s)

Course coordinator:

Kristin Sørung Scharffscher

Course coordinator:

Joel Tyler Alba

Head of Department:

Tore Markeset

Method of work

Lectures, group work, case studies and student presentations. Students will study examples of the subject that they have chosen themselves from international humanitarian crises and use these in their written assignments.

Overlapping courses

Course Reduction (SP)
International humanitarian emergencies (MSA270_1) 10

Open for

The course is only open to students who have been accepted for the University of Stavanger's regular master's programme (excluding the UiS' EVU [Etter- og videreutdanning - further education and continuing education courses). The course is also open to exchange students attending UiS.

Course assessment

There must be an early dialogue between the course supervisor, the student union representative and the students. The purpose is feedback from the students for changes and adjustments in the course for the current semester.In addition, a digital subject evaluation must be carried out at least every three years. Its purpose is to gather the students experiences with the course.


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