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Health in Humanitarian Crisis MHVHHC

The objective of the course is to equip the students with concepts and perspectives in assessing and analyzing health needs in humanitarian crisis.

Humanitarian crises due to global, national and local disease outbreaks, natural disasters, conflicts and other social and political instability are critical threats to health, both physical, psychological and social.  Both slow and sudden crises cause vulnerability and fragility globally. The growing impact of crises on health and public health systems and local communities has generated a need for professionals who are able to understand and respond adequately to the complexity in these crises.  The complexity of crisis affects all sectors of the society also the living condition of all groups, particular vulnerable groups including people with disabilities; rehabilitation systems; the school system and work opportunities. The civil sectors resources are also challenged, and this may contribute to increased inequality and exclusions mechanism in the broad practice of inclusive citizenship.

The course is based on a comprehensive understanding of health according to WHO definition. Further, the course is based on resilience approach, building on the resources of the individual, social networks and local community, considered the specific cultural context.  The right to fully experience both civil, political and social citizenship rights is emphasized.

The course is conducted digital. 

Course description for study year 2022-2023

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  • Global health perspective and humanitarian crisis
  • Theories of development and democracy strengthening   
  • Characteristics of humanitarian crisis and health consequences
  • Health challenges and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Determinants of health, and health systems anchored in specific political, socio-economic, cultural and epidemiological settings during humanitarian crisis
  • Resilience theory and methods.
  • Methods in community work/community building, participatory action research with the communities to understand theories of justice to strengthening inclusive and activist's citizenship practices.
  • Ethical principles, human rights and main legal framework in humanitarian crisis
  • Global partners in health: Global health architecture and governance, and the roles and interplay of transnational, governmental and nongovernmental organizations.
  • The course is divided in two parts, part I; an online theoretical part and part II is the practical part where the students will conduct field work (interview, observation, visits etc) or literature review either in Norway or in collaborating international institutions.  The student will have to organize their field work in Norway by themselves contacting relevant actors. Field work with collaborating international institutions will be organized by UiS and VID.
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 candidate:

  • Has advanced knowledge in the field of global health as a multidisciplinary and multisectoral field during humanitarian crisis.
  • Can analyze central characteristics of humanitarian crisis.
  • Can apply knowledge about health needs in humanitarian crisis and knows how health needs can be examined in terms of resilience and inclusive citizenship practices.
  • Has advanced knowledge about determinants of health, and health systems anchored in specific political, socio-economic, cultural and epidemiological settings during humanitarian crisis.
  • Has thorough knowledge about the Sustainable Development Goals related to major health challenges in humanitarian crisis and the goals importance for national priority setting.


The candidate:

  • Can apply a resilience and citizenship perspective and relevant theories assessing health needs to case studies in humanitarian crisis.  
  • Can design a plan of action responding to specific health needs on various levels, either from individual, community and/or transnational perspectives.
  • Can analyze strategies for health recovery during humanitarian crisis in specific political, socio-economic, cultural and epidemiological settings.

General Competence:

The candidate:

  • Can apply relevant knowledge and skills related to analyzing and responding to health needs in humanitarian crisis in various settings.
  • Can communicate and discuss health strategies in humanitarian crisis.  
  • Can analyze relevant academical and professional health related ethical issues and be able to use main legal instruments that are the basis for decision making in humanitarian crisis.
Required prerequisite knowledge
Form of assessment Weight Duration Marks Aid
Individual home exam 1/1 Letter grades

• Individual home exam (assessing, analyzing and outline responses to specific health needs on various levels, either from the individual, community and/ or transnational perspectives.) 3000 words +/- 10%

Coursework requirements
Discussion paper

1500 words +/- 10% , passed / failed.   The paper can be delivered individually or by a group (2-3 persons) .

Discussion paper must be passed before the student can take the home exam. 

Course teacher(s)
Study Program Director: Nina Egeland
Study Program Director: Margareth Kristoffersen
Course coordinator: Ingrid Tjoflåt
Method of work

Theoretical part I: Online lectures, group work and self-study.

Practical part II: "Field work" or literature review, case studies 


Note: If only a few students are registered, the course may be cancelled. 

Open for

The course is optional and relevant for students at the Master degree programs in Health Sciences and Master degree program in Public Health Nursing at the Faculty of Health Sciences, students with a health background at the Master degree program in Societal safety , University of Stavanger, and for students at the Master’ degree programs in Citizenship and Co-operation within public health and rehabilitation, Master in Community Development and Social Innovation, students with a health and social background at the Master in Intercultural Work at VID specialized University. 

The course will also be available for external students with a health and social Bachelor degree.

Course assessment
Student evaluation of the subject will be carried out in accordance with the University of Stavanger  evaluation system. 
The syllabus can be found in Leganto