Conflict, Humanitarian Aid and Social Reconstruction

School: School of Government and Society
International Development Department

Modular value: 20 credits

Module convenor: Dr Nicolas Lemay-Hebert

Aim of the Module

The aim of this module is to examine four interconnected issues:

  1. The dynamic nature of conflict and disaster, and its complexities within the current context, taking into account global trends;
  2. The organisational adaptation of international humanitarian, development and political agencies to protracted political crises;
  3. The analysis of these developments in relation to ideas on conflict transformation, crisis management and social reconstruction;
  4. The specific role and skills required by agencies engaged in humanitarian aid and social reconstruction.

The module brings together the study of health issues and social sciences, looking at issues of resilience, disaster responsiveness and institutional collaboration.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will:

  • Be able to identify critical issues relating to conflict, humanitarian aid and social reconstruction.
  • Have deepened their understanding of the nature of conflict and political instability in the contemporary world.
  • Be able to critically assess the evolving role of the international institutions and governments involved in managing humanitarian aid, conflict resolution and social reconstruction activities in war affected countries, or countries recovering from war.
  • Have developed problem solving skills for third party intervention

Teaching and learning approach

This module focuses on the practical application of humanitarian aid in the current context. It will draw on practical, participatory and experiential methodologies. It is essential that all students taking this module commit to attend all the sessions.

The module features contributions from the organisation Responding To Conflict, a Birmingham-based NGO with extensive experience in post-conflict environments and takes a practice-based approach to learning. A simulation will take place in weeks 5-7 (one full day – to be confirmed), designed to simulate a complex humanitarian emergency that involves issues of cultural sensitivities, war and disaster responsiveness, and forced migration. Teams will have to find ways to solve dynamic problems.

Topics covered include:

NB: These may change but an accurate overview will be available form induction week 24

  • Changing nature of conflict, peace and social reconstruction: keep concepts
  • Evolution and history of humanitarian aid
  • Global health challenges and social reconstruction (participation from Birmingham’s medical school)
  • Health in humanitarian emergencies (case study of Haiti)
  • Simulation
  • Peace and social reconstruction: Geography of intervention
  • Current challenges in the changing relationship between aid and social reconstruction
  • Dynamics of reconstruction: identity, power, culture, human rights and gender


The assessment for the module will consist of:

  • One 4,000-word essay, worth 100% of the mark.

Related courses:

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.