Syllabus for Public Health in Humanitarian Action

Public Health in Humanitarian Action

A revised version of the syllabus is available.


  • 5 credits
  • Course code: 5RT986
  • Education cycle: Second cycle
  • Main field(s) of study and in-depth level: _
  • 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 Public Health in Humanitarian Action is only available to students admitted to the Master Programme in International Humanitarian Action and 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 this course are to provide an introduction to public health in humanitarian action and present the most common health problems among displaced populations as well as to provide examples of interventions and promote awareness of international standards and international organisations working in the field. After successful completion of the module, students are expected to have:

  • an ability to identify the most common public health problems in disasters, their determinants and origin, with special reference to the role of gender and vulnerable groups;
  • a capacity to analyse public health risks;
  • a basic understanding of different systems and actors and their roles and responsibilities for the delivery of humanitarian action, including international standards and guidelines;
  • specialised skills to conceptualise, interpret and critically analyse complex humanitarian crises and interventions on the basis of a variety of sources, generating new interdisciplinary expertise to help solve complex humanitarian problems;
  • a thorough understanding of personal security risks in humanitarian fieldwork and possible techniques and strategies to reduce the impact of external stressors;
  • 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;
  • an 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;
  • a highly specialised knowledge and critical understanding of the impact of various humanitarian action interventions on the needs and rights of crisis-affected people and their interaction with interests of relevant actors in a certain professional regional context;
  • specialised problem-solving skills combining interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of the range of needs and capabilities of crisis-affected people in a certain regional context toward relevant, evidence-based solutions for effective response.


The course covers the concepts of public health in general and public health problems in different disasters; food, famine and nutritional interventions; vulnerable groups; public health response, including general health services, child health, communicable diseases, reproductive health and gender based violence; and water, sanitation and health promotion.


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.


The course is taught and examined through lectures, seminars, individual assignments, and group work.

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.

Syllabus Revisions

Reading list

Reading list

Applies from: week 25, 2019

Some titles may be available electronically through the University library.

Compendium consisting of articles and copies of chapters from books dealing with the field.