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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Humanitarian Action
Module Code GY215
School 68
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Gerry O'Reilly
Semester 2: Gerry O'Reilly
Autumn: Gerry O'Reilly
Module TeachersGerry O'Reilly
Grania Shanahan
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

Building on the concepts of sustainable development, citizenship and human rights, this course surveys humanitarian action in contexts of development from different geographical and geopolitical perspectives including human vulnerability, and risk of disaster. Humanitarian emergencies can be due to natural (e.g. earthquake, flood), human made (e.g. war, genocide, human rights abuse), and technological (e.g., nuclear and chemical accidents), or complex causes as with combinations of drought and war. The negative impact of such disasters is proportional to the level of development of the population affected. However there are major differences in the type of humanitarian assistance given to these populations often due to geopolitical factors. Ireland and the EU’s role in Humanitarian Action as well as case studies will be discussed. The course is divided into three major parts: (A) Development, Vulnerability and Risks; (B) Geopolitical Perspectives: Humanitarian Disasters and Actions; and (C) Conflict and Post-Conflict: Frameworks and Case Studies.

Learning Outcomes

1. Analyse how relationships between physical environments and human geography intertwine creating processes at various scales - local to global – but within specific development and risk contexts, and how this is related to humanitarian action.
2. Understand, research and use sources and methodologies in the geography of development and disaster management
3. Relate holistic environmental, physical and human geographical perspectives to humanitarian crises and actions
4. Develop analyses of humanitarian aid from geopolitical perspectives and write reports
5. Assess IGOs and NGOs specializing in emergencies such as UNHCR and INEE (Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies)

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture26Attending formal lectures and participating in virtual seminars
Assignment Completion24Report: Planning, research and delivery of report Preparation for quizzes or Project report
Independent Study40Independent reading and research
Independent Study35Exam preparation and private study
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Key geographical concepts and theories
Relating to environment, development, humanitarian action, geopolitics, conflict and peacebuilding from local to international actors and scales

Causes and categories of conflict

Demography, famine and sustainable development

International organizations: governmental and non-governmental and international humanitarian law

The EU and Ireland’s role in humanitarian emergencies

Planning and conducting research on report writing

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Report(s)Report - computer based research on set topic such as UNDP Human Development Index data. Or in lieu, and with approval of module co-ordinator, report including in-field research eg. visit/interview with NGO or similar25%As required
Short Answer QuestionsQuizzes25%As required
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Allen, T. and A. Thomas (eds.): 2004, Poverty and Development into the 21st Century, Oxford University Press,
  • Dodds, K.: 2014, Geopolitics: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, London,
  • Regan, C. (eds.): 2012, 80:20 Development in an Unequal World. Dublin: 80:20 Educating and Acting for a Better World, Ireland and the University of South Africa Press,
  • McGuire, B.: 2014, Global Catastrophes: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, London,
  • O’Reilly, G.: 2014, What is Ireland’s role in relation to international humanitarian crises and disasters? Geographical Viewpoint. 41, pp. 3-17,
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes
AFUAge Friendly University Programme
BAJHBachelor of Arts (BAJH)
BAJPBachelor of Arts (BAJP)
HMSAStudy Abroad (Humanities & Soc Science)
HMSAOStudy Abroad (Humanities & Soc Science)

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