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Disasters, climate change and displacement


The module focuses upon human displacement, migration and (im)mobility in the context of disasters, climate change and environmental degradation.

The module seeks to impart a solid critical understanding of the concepts and conceptualisations of different forms of human (im)mobility in such contexts, and critical appraisal and application of relevant law/policy frameworks including: international refugee and human rights law; national and international law and policy on migration and internal displacement, and; recent global initiatives to address human displacement and migration.

Topics covered

  • Disasters are not natural
  • Human mobility and immobility
  • The limits and potential of refugee and human rights law
  • Migration frameworks to the rescue?
  • Protection at home: mitigating cross-border displacement
  • Global initiatives, policy frameworks and new frontiers.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, you will be expected to be able to:

  • Recognise and appraise concepts and conceptualisations of natural hazards, disasters, climate change and environmental degradation, and how they impact on people’s circumstances and living conditions
  • Describe and evaluate the main legal/policy frameworks relating to displacement and (im)mobility in the context of disasters, climate change and environmental degradation
  • Use these concepts, laws and policy frameworks to assess a range of factual case studies based on complex contemporary scenarios
  • Develop sound legal and policy arguments, evaluating these concepts, challenges and law/policy frameworks, reflecting on them and modifying them as appropriate based on the constructive feedback of your tutor and peers.


This elective module is assessed via a 4,000-word research essay, which comprises 70% of the overall grade, and three online assessments (E-tivities), which make up 30% of the overall grade.

Ana Mosneaga module tutor SAS

Ana Mosneaga - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Ana is a migration and displacement specialist currently working as Lecturer of international relations at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan. Previously she served as an expert and coordinator for research, policy development and advocacy programmes in international organisations, NGOs, academia and private sector. She also obtained first-hand insight into the making of international agreements, most recently by being actively involved in discussions on the Global Compact on Refugees.

Ana researches how diverse population movements are to be managed, and the implications that relevant policy and practice carry for the lives of migrants and refugees. She has analysed a wide variety of migration phenomena, which were often under-researched at that time: ranging from internal displacement after the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan, to the management of international students’ status transition to foreign workers in the EU. Her current research focuses on disaster displacement and how it features in international policy processes.

Member institution: School of Advanced Study
Beatriz Sánchez-Mojica Module tutor SAS

Dr Beatriz Eugenia Sánchez-Mojica - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Beatriz is a lawyer and has a PhD in Human Rights. She is an expert in International Human Rights Law and forced migration issues. Her work, as academic and consultant, critically analyses the ability of International Law to enhance protection in a globalized world. Her research is particularly focused on vulnerable populations, such as refugees, internal displaced persons, people uprooted due to disasters and climate change, as well as victims of armed conflict.

She has taught law in various universities in both Colombia and Spain and was a consultant on forced migration issues for International Organization for Migration (OIM), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (AECID).

Currently, she teaches at IE University Law Faculty and at Universidad Pontificia de Comillas. She is also a fellow researcher at Instituto de Estudios Sobre Conflictos y Acción Humanitaria (IECAH). She also coordinates the Latin American Network on Internally Displaced Persons (LANID).

Member institution: School of Advanced Study
Erica Bower

Erica Bower - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Erica Bower is a specialist in climate change and human mobility. She is currently a PhD Candidate at Stanford University, where her research focuses on the governance and outcomes of community-wide planned relocations as a climate change adaptation strategy and a measure to avert displacement. She is a member of the Advisory Committee for the Platform on Disaster Displacement, and an Affiliate of the Kaldor Center for International Refugee Law.

She previously worked on climate change and disaster displacement in the Protection Policy and Legal Advice section of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She has also conducted research on climate-mobility themes for a range of organizations, including National Geographic, OxFam, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), and the Nansen Initiative. She holds an MSc in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies from Oxford, and a BA in Human Rights and Sustainable Development from Columbia.

Member institution: School of Advanced Study