Master's Programme in Humanitarian Action and Conflict

60 credits

What is humanitarian action? In what ways are humanitarian emergencies intensified and changed by conflict? What factors define a humanitarian disaster? What laws and moral principles steer humanitarian interventions? If you would like to explore such questions, this one-year programme is a good choice for you. The Master's Programme in Humanitarian Action and Conflict is for those who are interested in humanitarian work both in Europe and the world at large.

Autumn 2023 Autumn 2023, Uppsala, 100%, On-campus, English

Autumn 2024 Autumn 2024, Uppsala, 100%, On-campus, English

Disasters and conflicts have complex consequences for society. A professional approach is needed in order to address them effectively. The Master's Programme in Humanitarian Action and Conflict seeks to give you the competencies and skills necessary to work within different areas of the humanitarian field. You will get both data and methodology relating to conflict situations and peacebuilding activities. The programme is multidisciplinary and helps graduates take on different professional roles such as project manager, conflict analyst or desk officer in non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and governmental organisations.

During the programme, you can expect to:

  • be able to make an independent analysis of problems in the field of humanitarian action and conflict,
  • understand specific perspectives on humanitarian phenomena, including anthropological, geopolitical, legal, public health, managerial and ethical perspectives,
  • be able to communicate advanced knowledge concerning humanitarian action to a non-academic target group in both oral and written form.

Student profile

Our students come from all over the world and from various backgrounds including anthropology, business management, development studies, human rights, international relations, languages, law, medicine, peace and conflict studies, political science, psychology, sociology and theology. Some already work for humanitarian organisations and wish to put an academic frame around their experience. Others have been volunteers, whilst others again are new to the subject. All are united by their desire to make a difference.


The programme leads to the degree of Master of Arts in Theology (60 credits) with International Humanitarian Action as the main field of study.

The programme offers a multidisciplinary education which seeks to teach you as a student core competences for a career in humanitarian action. The overall aim is to train you to develop the analytical and practical skills needed by professional humanitarian workers – for example, an interdisciplinary understanding of emergencies. The programme involves 2 semesters of full-time study.

The first semester begins with an introduction course and continues with 5 core courses - in anthropology, the legal dimensions, management, public health and world politics - to give you a solid foundation in humanitarian action. The core courses are studied and examined one at a time.

In the second semester you will study Conflict and Peacebuilding and write your Master’s thesis. The start of the semester is devoted to preparing for the thesis: you will decide on your thesis topic, receive a supervisor and take part in methodology seminars. You then focus on Conflict and Peacebuilding where you will learn more about conflicts and how they relate to humanitarian action. The second half of that semester is devoted to writing your Master's thesis and ends with a seminar where you will defend your thesis and critique another.

Courses within the programme

Semester 1

  • Introduction to Humanitarian Action, 5 credits
  • Anthropology and Intercultural Aspects of Humanitarian Action, 5 credits
  • Legal Dimensions of Humanitarian Action, 5 credits
  • World Politics and Humanitarian Action, 5 credits
  • Public Health in Humanitarian Action, 5 credits
  • Management, 5 credits

Semester 2

  • Conflict and Peacebuilding, 15 credits
  • Master's Thesis, 15 credits

This is a campus-based, full-time programme, which means you are expected to spend around 40 hours per week on your studies. It is not possible to study this programme part-time or as distance learning.

Swedish academic culture is fairly informal. This means that university lecturers are considered more like partners in students' educational and learning processes. Less time is dedicated to traditional classroom lectures and more to personal reading and individual and group tasks. The aim is to give students a balanced workload between taking part in lectures, reading the assigned course materials, critical consideration of the readings, and group discussions, all of which are important parts of the advanced learning experience. Active participation in class discussions and student interaction outside the classroom is encouraged, giving therefore a substantial amount of responsibility to students in their preparations for their future lives as professionals.

You will write your Master's thesis with guidance from a supervisor and present it at a defence seminar.

The language of instruction is English.

The programme helps you prepare for different roles in the humanitarian field such as:

  • project leader
  • conflict analyst
  • country manager.

in both governmental and non-governmental humanitarian organisations.

Organisations where your skills and knowledge could be of use include:

  • the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and its counterparts
  • Save the Children
  • Red Cross/Red Crescent.

Career support

During your time as a student, UU Careers offers support and guidance. You have the opportunity to take part in a variety of activities and events that will prepare you for your future career.


  • For programme-specific information, please contact:
  • For admissions-related or general information, please contact our applicant support team: