In this course, particular attention is given to consideration of the current global refugee and forced migration situation and the rights and responsibilities of all the key actors involved.

Though often facing similar challenges to survival, forcibly uprooted people face particular challenges, and are in certain circumstances legally entitled to assistance. We consider the patterns of forced migration and the various theories that explain forced migration, examining the economic, political and social determinants of the situations of refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced people, victims of war, famine or persecution, or economic or environmental refugees. We consider the perceptions of these movements, as portrayed in the mass media and the consequences of these underlying movements, and we examine the impact of contemporary conflicts, the significance of environmental damage and the consequences of persecution around the world. We examine the institutional and legal framework associated with the rights of refugees and focus on the policies and practices of key actors – collectively referred to as the ‘humanitarian regime’ – in order to critically examine whether, in light of today’s challenges, the current set up is ‘fit for purpose’.


Learning outcomes

The candidate shall be able to…


  • Gain an understanding of the academic study of forced migration and refugee studies as part of the discipline of international relations.
  • Develop a detailed empirical understanding of today´s refugee movements.
  • Understand the various debates regarding the causes and consequences of forced migration.
  • Develop a critical awareness of the legal regime associated with refugee movements.


  • Distinguish between the various ´push ´and ´pull´ factors determining forced migration movements.
  • Critically engage with the ethical and political challenges associated with refugee movements including the public policy challenges associated with managing migration.
  • Understand the legal and social responsibilities of states.
  • Develop an understanding of the ethical, political, economic and security challenges associated with forced migration.


  • Understand the scope and consequences of the global nature of today´s refugee movements.
  • Develop an understanding of the role played by key actors in the refugee regime including international organisations, NGOs and states.
  • Develop an understanding of some of the methodological challenges associated with the subject of migration and refugee studies.
  • Develop an awareness of the ethical controversies, and understand the political sensitivities associated with the pros and cons of migratory flows.




  • Policy brief/short essay; memo 800 words (pass/fail)
  • Compulsory participation in discussions in the digital classroom.


  • Take home exam (individual essay); memo: 2000 words (+/- 10 % excluding front page and reference list) (60 % of the grade, grading system A – F)
  • 3 hour written exam (40 % of the grade, grading system A – F)