Complex man-made crises, conflicts, violence and unrest have become a major concern for the international community. Designing interventions in these extremely volatile contexts requires specific knowledge and skills that would enable involved professionals to minimize negative impacts and maximize opportunities for positive and sustainable changes.

Built on the expertise of UNITAR and Oxford Brookes University (OBU), the Master in Humanitarian Action and Peacebuilding explores the interactions between these two fields, by linking theory with practice and applied knowledge. The programme envisages online lectures, discussions with key practitioners, experience sharing, and critical reflections - all within the framework of an action research-based approach. The aim of the programme is to enhance reflective practices by combining the art of conflict-sensitive approaches to humanitarian and peacebuilding programming with the appreciation of the wider context in which these interventions unfold.

The programme is designed for practitioners working in the fields of humanitarian action and peacebuilding, though is also open to personnel working in related fields (such as military and police officers deployed or about to be deployed in field operations, civil servants – including diplomats – in charge of humanitarian affairs, academics teaching humanitarian affairs, journalists, etc.) who seek to develop a more holistic understanding of critical issues related to humanitarian action and peacebuilding. Finally, the programme addresses practitioners working within other professional sectors, interested in exploring opportunities in the fields of humanitarian action and peacebuilding.

Main topics covered by the Master in Humanitarian Action and Peacebuilding include: 

  • Contexts of humanitarian action and peacebuilding;
  • Theories and practices related to the different dimensions of humanitarian action and peacebuilding – with a specific focus on protection actions;
  • Methods and tools (for mapping, assessment, management, etc.) needed by practitioners working in the fields of humanitarian action and peacebuilding to address current and emerging challenges.


UNITAR – Oxford Brookes University: The Role of Humanitarian Action and Peacebuilding in Pandemics and Other Global Transversal Issues

June 24th, 2021 (GMT+1) 3 PM BST

Register Here



A distinctive student-centered, multidisciplinary approach, in which the workplace is used as the main learning environment.

UNITAR and OBU have developed an extensive expertise in the delivery of online programmes. Using the Internet as a medium, students, practitioners and scholars are brought together in a unique virtual learning environment designed to valorize experiential and collaborative learning.

Distinctive features of the Master include:

  • Full online delivery, allowing for a flexible schedule designed to fit the specific needs of full-time working professionals;
  • Student-centered approach, in which the learner and the learning experience at the core of the programme;
  • Leading-edge insights into prevailing theories and practices;
  • Lifelong learning approach, in which the workplace is used as the main learning environment;
  • Multi-cultural pedagogy, particularly attentive at the diversity of paradigms, perceptions and intellectual traditions;
  • Multi-disciplinary approach.


The programme is constituted of three core modules; three issue-based modules as well as a research skills module as preparation for the dissertation.

The three core modules are:

  • From Conflict Sensitivity to Conflict Transformation
  • Culture Sensitivity in Conflict and Post-Conflict Settings
  • Leadership, Team and Self-management in Conflict Settings

Post-Graduate Certificate in Humanitarian Action and Peacebuilding is also offered for those not wishing to undertake the full MA. It consists of the three core modules only.

The three issue-based modules are:

  • Humanitarian and Peacebuilding Programmes in Urban Conflicts
  • Protection of Civilians in Conflict and Post-conflict Settings
  • Post-Conflict Stabilisation and Recovery

Note that one of the six modules could be replaced by an independent study, should you wish to investigate a specific issue in depth. Each of these six modules is accessible to associated students and can be studied individually.

The research component is constituted of:

  • Research Methods and Dissertation/Practice-based Final Work

The dissertation is a large piece of work that enables you to explore an issue or theme in depth. The dissertation is a self-driven work, where the supervisor plays the role of advisor, supporter and questioner.


The average duration of the Master Diploma is 30 months (minimum duration: 2 years; maximum duration: 5 years). Alternatively, students can opt to take a Post-Graduate Certificate in Humanitarian Action and Peacebuilding, which can be completed in 12 months on average (maximum duration: 2 years).

Application Information

The programme is open to all candidates who fulfil at least one of the following conditions:

  • Hold an approved undergraduate honours degree (or equivalent) at the '1st’ or ‘upper second class' (i.e. a ‘2:1’) in a relevant discipline, and preferably some prior experience in the field of humanitarian action and peacebuilding or related fields;
  • Hold a relevant recognized diploma and/or certified professional training and 3 to 5 years of experience in the field of humanitarian action and peacebuilding or related fields;
  • Have a substantial and proven field experience of minimum 10 years in humanitarian action, peacebuilding and related fields.

English Language

If the first language of a student is not English, he/she must prove his/her English-language competency by providing evidence of an IELTS level of 6.5 or a recognized equivalent. (See http://www.brookes.ac.uk/international/how-to-apply/english-language-requirements/ for guidance )

In exceptional circumstances, where applicants can show that they have qualifications or experience or both that demonstrate that they have knowledge and capabilities equivalent to those possessed by holders of the qualifications listed above, they may be admitted with a dispensation from the requirement to possess those qualifications.

Admission with Credits

Applications will also be considered from potential candidates who wish to seek accreditation for their prior experiential learning or earlier qualifications. Applicants with prior certificated or experiential learning who make the case in writing with appropriate supporting documents may be admitted with exemption from or credit for, up to two-thirds of the credit value of the Brookes Postgraduate award (see programme regulations).

Application Instructions

The Project Managers are available to help students during the application process. Students are encouraged to email the Project Managers at mahap@unitar.org or mahap@brookes.ac.uk with any questions.

All applicants are required to apply online through the UK Pass. Students must complete all required fields and uploads prior to submission. More information on the application process is available at: http://architecture.brookes.ac.uk/research/cendep.

Application Deadlines

  • To be considered for the Fall term: 15 August
  • To be considered for the Spring term: 15 December

Applications received after the final deadline are evaluated case by case on a rolling basis.

Tuition Fees

2019-2021 distance learning fees:

  • September 2019 & January 2020 entry: £9,020 over 2 years
  • September 2020 & January 2021 entry: £9,200 over 2 years

Fees are the same for UK/EU nationals and international students, and are paid over 2 years in 6 instalments. For more information, please contact us at mahap@unitar.org.

What Our Students Say

"All of UNITAR’s Master's programmes are inspired by humanistic vision of learning and development. A deep respect for human life and human dignity, equal rights, social justice, cultural diversity, international solidarity, and a shared responsibility for a sustainable future that leaves no one behind."


Orsolya Bader, International Telecommunication Union, Switzerland

“The best thing is that literally everything I learn, I can directly apply in my profession as country director for an NGO in Iraq. And the knowledge that is not directly relevant to me, I pass to my colleagues. I feel that my input in a discussion is relevant and accurate, more than before, it makes me also less insecure as a young professional.”

Esther Grisnich, Country Director, ZOA, Iraq 

“I am very happy with the course structure and delivery strategies that enable full-time professionals like me to balance work and studies. The HAP course allows students to blend sector theories with their practical work experience and adds value to their work in the humanitarian aid space. The facilitators are veterans with wide demonstrated experience in their respective themes, and they are patient and cooperative with students. Thanks to the HAP team, glad to learn from you all.”

Nishu Chaudhary, Manager-Health & Social, IPE Global Private Limited, Ethiopia

“The Humanitarian Action and Peacebuilding Master program has brought useful literature to my work. Furthermore, exchanging ideas and experiences with HAP fellow students and professors have questioned the way I perceived project strategies and methodologies. Lessons and tools learned have spread throughout the organization, reaching not only co-workers and partners but even the served communities. With a new and broader perspective on the faced issues, we have been able to extend the reach. The Humanitarian Action and Peacebuilding Master course have not only boosted my confidence but reassert my convictions of the impact that locally based NGOs’ have.

Angelo Gianturco Coletta, NGO professional

Frequently Asked Questions

If you did not find the information you were searching for, try consulting our FAQ page.


To apply, click here and follow the instructions.

Should you need any guidance or additional information, please contact us at:

United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)
Division for Peace
Avenue de la Paix 7 bis, CH-1202, 2 Geneva, Switzerland

Oxford Brookes University
Centre for Development and Emergency Practice
School of Architecture
Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment
Headington Campus, Gipsy Lane
Oxford, OX30BP
E-mail: mahap@brookes.ac.uk
Website: http://architecture.brookes.ac.uk/research/cendep


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