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? 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. If you would like to explore such questions, this one-year programme is a good choice for you.

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

Disasters and conflicts have complex consequences for society and 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.

This is a one-year Master's programme. The first semester is used to give you a solid foundation in humanitarian action. The core courses in the first semester are studied and examined one at a time. To be registered for second-semester courses, you must have earned at least 15 credits in the first semester.

In the second semester, you make initial preparations for the thesis before taking the course Conflict and Peacebuilding when you 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.

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 or country manager, in both governmental and non-governmental organisations. Organisations where your skills and knowledge might be of use are for example the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and its counterparts, Save the Children and Red Cross/Red Crescent.

The Faculty of Theology is a leading centre for the study of different world religions and plays host to the Centre for Multidisciplinary Studies on Racism and the Uppsala Religion and Society Research Centre. The faculty carries out research on, amongst other issues, immigration, racism, welfare and ethics; it also offers a Master's in human rights.

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.