Syllabus for Anthropology and Intercultural Aspects of Humanitarian Action

Antropologi och interkulturella aspekter av humanitärt arbete


  • 5 credits
  • Course code: 5RT957
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: International Humanitarian Action A1N
  • Grading system: Fail, Sufficient, Satisfactory, Good, Very good, Excellent
  • Established: 2019-03-06
  • Established by: The Faculty Board of Theology
  • Applies from: week 25, 2019
  • Entry requirements: The course on Anthropology and Intercultural Aspects of Humanitarian Action is only available to students admitted to the Master Programme in International Humanitarian Action or the Master Programme in Humanitarian Action and Conflict.
  • Responsible department: Department of Theology

Decisions and guidelines

The course is offered within the Master's Programme in International Humanitarian Action, 120 credits and the Master's Programme in Humanitarian Action and Conflict, 60 credits.

Learning outcomes

The aim of this module is to introduce a systematic and holistic understanding of how anthropological theories and methods can contribute to the field of humanitarian action. After successful completion of the module, students should have:

  • an understanding of the importance of local knowledge systems with specific terminologies and sets of contexts;
  • an ability to assess the dynamics of articulation between local, regional and global systems of distribution and appropriation;
  • a capacity to evaluate the possible consequences of various solutions in particular contexts;
  • an ability to serve as mediator and communicator between recipients of humanitarian action and various other specialists;
  • an ability to promote a culturally sensitive approach to humanitarian action that enhances and facilitates local participation;
  • a specialised knowledge and a critical methodological understanding of appropriate research methods and research design for the humanitarian field and for original research in humanitarian studies;
  • justified and applied methodology and scientific methods correctly in an original piece of humanitarian research;
  • studied a research topic in depth, and conducted and completed a medium-length research project largely self-directed;
  • a critical understanding of the humanitarian principles and standards and the problematic nature of the dilemmas involved;
  • demonstrated the ability to formulate adequate and ethically sound recommendations for humanitarian action grounded in the humanitarian principles and values, translating these in innovative, practical terms to policies, strategies and programme management;
  • a highly specialised knowledge and a critical understanding of humanitarian concepts and theories;
    innovative expertise on a particular current theme in humanitarian action with an interdisciplinary understanding in terms of its political, legal, anthropological, public health and management aspects;
  • a highly specialised knowledge of the diversity of actors and stakeholders, their interaction and competition, and a thorough understanding of the importance of coordination between different levels in the humanitarian system;
  • the ability to involve partners and team members in different levels of decision-making and to act in a responsible and accountable manner concerning one's own decisions; the ability to actively contribute to teambuilding, a balanced distribution of work, and the fostering a good atmosphere and cohesion in group projects in an effort to achieve the common goal. 


The content of this module stresses culture and communication as fundamental integrative concepts. It emphasises the importance of ethnographic fieldwork and the understanding of technical and cultural knowledge, and the concomitant of guidelines and ethics. The module presents comparative, gender and interdisciplinary perspectives applied to relevant case studies.


The teaching on this campus course includes both lectures and seminars. Attendance at seminars and at least 75% of lectures is compulsory. Students who miss seminars must compensate for this absence. In general, students who miss more than 25% of lectures must also compensate. However, students who are absent for substantially more than 25% of lectures must instead take part in lectures the next time the course is provided. Participation in all lectures is highly encouraged since the lectures facilitate reading and analysis of the course literature.

Language of instruction: English


Examination is by individual written assignments based on the course literature as well as group presentations of themes relevant to humanitarian action.

Grades: Fail (F), Sufficient (E), Satisfactory (D), Good (C), Very Good (B) and Excellent (A).

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the University's disability coordinator.

Transitional provisions

Students retain the right to be examined on the course according to this syllabus for 3 semesters after their course instance has ended. Normally, instruction will be given according to the latest version of the course syllabus only.

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: week 25, 2019

  • Compendium with various articles and chapters.