PhD Humanitarianism and Conflict Response: The University of Manchester

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PhD Humanitarianism and Conflict Response: The University of Manchester, Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, Manchester, United Kingdom
Humanities and Arts
Course Language(s) 
48 Months Full-Time
+44 (0)161 306 1259
+44 (0)161 275 5989


Course description

The ways in which States, NGOs and individuals respond to conflict has become a particularly salient issue since the end of the Cold War. The global aid industry has experienced the dual pressures of rapid growth, accompanied by a significant expansion in the roles it is expected to fulfil and range of tasks it has tried to perform. This, combined with a considerable rise in the number of nation-states (and thus bilateral actors), governmental organisations and NGOs, has resulted in a fragmented geopolitical system in which there is little policy coherence and even less clarity of action. Decision-makers are therefore no longer able to interact exclusively with the diplomats, senior civil servants and international leaders who constituted the contours of global governance of yesteryear, but must instead entertain inputs from a diverse set of stakeholders.

Educational programmes looking at the ways in which these actors respond to conflict-affected contexts are still comparatively scarce. Unlike the better established fields of peace studies, conflict theory and war strategy, important work is required before governments, policy makers and citizens involved in organising humanitarian and other responses to conflict-affected contexts, are able to discern and incorporate academic research into functional outcomes. Without such inputs, there is, in an increasingly interdependent and information-rich world, an imminent danger that those seeking to intervene in conflict-affected contexts will merely replicate the errors of previous generations.

This structured PhD is inspired by the need to conduct rigorous, in-depth research and analysis on the impact and outcomes of contemporary and historical crises. It is driven by a desire to inform and support policy and decision makers (inc. WHO, FO) and to optimise joint working between partner organisations, and to foster increased accountability within a knowledge-gathering framework. They will offer a flexible approach to the provision of teaching, to cater for the current needs of the aid industry and prepare the next generation of crisis response researchers and practitioners; the programme will seek to engage directly with people affected by situations of ongoing conflicts and crises. This PhD therefore reflects the need for structured forms of professional development and dynamic knowledge practices that function effectively across multiple academic and non-academic contexts. Action research and reflective practice-inspired pedagogy can respond to and influence the complex, unpredictable and shifting social, political and cultural contexts within which professional practitioners operate. The PhD will introduce students to a range of dynamic and challenging concepts and methods with which to reflect critically and constructively on their current professional experience/context. This pedagogical approach enables students' professional context to become a primary research resource.

Entry requirements

Academic entry qualification overview:

A Master's degree in Humanitarian and Conflict Response, History, Politics, Anthropology, Medicine or related subject, or a Master in a related subject plus appropriate professional accreditation or experience or a Bachelor's degree (1 st or 2:1) plus additional appropriate professional accreditation or experience.

Candidates without a Masters degree must demonstrate evidence of a competent level of professional experience equivalent to at least 48 months continuous employment.

English language:

Students whose first language is not English are required to take either the IELTS or TOEFL test. On the IELTS test applicants are normally expected to score a minimum of 7.0 overall; on the TOEFL test a minimum score of 600 (paper test) or 250 (computer test) is expected.

Other entry requirements:

Evidence of a competent level of professional expertise in one or more contexts relevant to Humanitarian and Conflict Response (for example, Aid work, humanitarian logistic, peace keeping, emergency medicine in war zones, health, community work, international development).

Professional experience must be equivalent to at least 36 months continuous employment. This base in professional practice will form the context for the candidate's practice-based research.

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