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Displacement, healthcare and humanitarian action


This module explores the impact of forced migration on the health of the victims of conflict, and considers healthcare provision and other humanitarian action in emergency situations.

Topics covered

  • The provision of public health services in complex humanitarian emergency situations
  • The health impact of conflict and displacement
  • Specific health issues in relation to displaced populations, including mental health issues, reproductive health issues, nutritional health issues and certain non-communicable and communicable diseases.
  • Evolving institutional approaches to providing aid to displaced populations
  • The provision of healthcare in camp and open settings and for mobile populations.

Learning outcomes

This module provides you with an advanced critical understanding of the key concepts, theories and debates concerning refugee health. You will learn to critically appraise current policy and practical approaches to refugee healthcare provision and develop, advance and defend healthcare-based arguments.


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.

Module team

James Smith module tutor for SAS

Dr James Smith - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

James is a British physician with degrees in Global Health and Development, Medical Anthropology, and International Humanitarian Affairs. He maintains an honorary research fellowship with the Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

He works as Humanitarian Affairs Advisor for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and has worked for MSF’s Research Unit on Humanitarian Stakes and Practices (UREPH) in Geneva, as an advisor with MSF OCBA’s Patient Safety and Dignity Initiative, and as a researcher with MSF’s Access Campaign. His interests include humanitarian ethics, evidence-based humanitarian response, the intersection between migration and humanitarian action, policing and state violence, and aspects of global health governance.

Member institution: School of Advanced Study
Thea de Gruchy tutor

Thea de Gruchy - Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies

Thea de Gruchy is a researcher at the African Centre for Migration and Society (ACMS), Wits University. She has been researching and writing about migration and health since 2015, graduating with her PhD (Wits) in 2020. She is currently a research co-ordinator for the Disrupting the cycle of gendered violence and poor mental health among migrants in precarious situations (GEMMS) global health research group.

Member institution: School of Advanced Study