Syllabus for Legal Dimensions of Humanitarian Action

Juridiska dimensioner av humanitärt arbete


  • 5 credits
  • Course code: 5RT982
  • 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 Legal Dimensions 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 ECTS credits and the Master's Programme in Humanitarian Action and Conflict, 60 ECTS credits.

Learning outcomes

The aims of the course are to provide students with a basic understanding of law relevant in humanitarian assistance. After successful completion of the course, students should have:

  • an understanding of the structure of international law;
  • an understanding of the legal context of humanitarian aid operations and interventions and the international mechanisms for the protection of human rights;
  • the ability to describe the legal duties of personnel engaged in humanitarian aid;
  • an ability to analyse various aspects of international humanitarian law which relate to humanitarian aid operations, particularly the protection of civilians;
  • 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;
  • show the ability to take responsibility for specifying clear ethical standards informed by the humanitarian principles, values and professional codes of conduct; the ability to apply the humanitarian principles and standards to dilemmas in complex and insecure contexts in an innovative and strategically correct manner;
  • specialised problem-solving skills to promote the best and safest response in humanitarian emergency contexts in terms of personal and social implications and foreseeable harm by humanitarian interventions;
  • demonstrated the ability to listen to beneficiaries and stakeholders and taking into account their considerations, to communicate humanitarian expertise and research findings in a structured, intelligible way to specialists and non-specialists in a multi-cultural humanitarian setting; the ability to cultivate relations of sensitive respect in terms of cultural and gender diversity and to cooperate in a quest for mutual benefit or compromise. 


The course is focused on rules of international law relevant to international organisations and other actors in their work with humanitarian assistance. In particular, the course is focused on basic human rights and humanitarian law.


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.
The language of instruction is English.


Active participation in all seminars is a requirement of the course. The examination for the course consists of a "take-home essay", papers and group presentations.
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

Reading list valid from Autumn 2018

  • Dixon, Martin Textbook on international law

    6. ed.: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007

    Find in the library


  • Compendia consisting of relevant articles and copies of chapters from books in the field of international law.