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MSc International Humanitarian Psychosocial Intervention

Course overview

Start date

January 2018

September 2018

Subject area






Distance Learning

Course summary

This ground-breaking MSc course offers online training for people working in humanitarian organisations, wherever they are in the world.

Our distance learning course is aimed at people who are currently, or hope to be, engaged in humanitarian work in any country and who want the skills and knowledge to offer psychosocial support.

This involves helping people to maintain their positive psychological development in the face of challenges – often traumatic – being posed by their social environment.

Once you have completed this course you will be able to support others within your organisation, whether or not you are part of an established human resources department.

As well as ‘helping the helpers’, you will be equipped to offer direct psychosocial guidance to people who have suffered, or who continue to suffer, from the effects of a natural or man-made catastrophe such as famine, flood, epidemic or war.

Contact us

If you have any questions, talk to a member of our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0) 20 8223 3333 or email

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Of its kind in the UK

This course is the only one of its kind in the UK – and one of very few in the world – to offer expertise in psychosocial support by distance learning to humanitarian workers in active locations.

Expertise of highly experienced professionals

You will be drawing upon the expertise of highly experienced professionals who combine their academic work with regular stints in the field. What you learn will be practical and up-to-the-minute.

Leaders in the field

Your course leaders act as consultants to major humanitarian organisations including Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Oxfam and the International Red Cross. Some former students who have completed this course now work for these organisations.

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What we're researching

UEL’s School of Psychology has just been ranked equal first in the country in terms of the impact of its research, beating Oxford and Cambridge.

The recently published Research Excellence Framework is a six-yearly review by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

It rated 43 per cent of our research as ‘internationally excellent’ and a further 25 per cent as ‘world-leading’ – the highest accolade. It added that UEL’s School of Psychology was one of only four in the country whose research had a ‘100 per cent impact’ at the highest level.

Dr Francisco Jose Eiroa-Orosa researches the understanding of psychosocial wellbeing in the context of complex multi-dimensional problems such as addictions, trauma, migration or social change.

Dr Tim Lomas has explored the impact of meditation on men’s wellbeing, using a mixed-methods design comprising narrative interviews, cognitive testing, and EEG measurement.

Dr Christian van Nieuwerburgh is an internationally recognised academic and consultant whose ground-breaking research concerns his specialist area of coaching and mentoring, in which he conducts numerous international collaborations.

Dr Kate Hefferon’s work was the first to link participation in physical activity with post-traumatic growth. She has conducted several evaluation studies on the role of physical activity during and following breast cancer.

Among last year’s publications by Principal Lecturer Donald Ridley, who is a specialist in organisational development in the public sector in the former Soviet Union, are Safety management - the lessons of experience and The unspeakable and the sublime - the relationship between Stalin and Shostakovich.

Over the past few years Dr Aneta Tunariu has delivered psychological interventions in the UK and abroad working with disenfranchised young people to foster the development of positive identities, emotional resourcing and positive future perspectives.

Currently, Dr Tunariu is engaged in projects focusing on individual capacity for growth and resilience as a means of combating the risk of young people adopting radical belief systems.

Making a difference

UEL is one of the UK’s leading modern research universities. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), 17 per cent of our overall research submission was classified as ‘world-leading’ for its quality and impact – almost double our previous REF score. A further 45 per cent of our work was considered ‘internationally excellent’.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:2 Honours

We would normally expect you to have Grade C in GCSE English and Maths. 


(Including European Union)

We accept a range of qualifications from across the world. Please see our country pages for information on specific entry requirements for your country.

Overall IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening (or recognised equivalent).

As an inclusive university we recognise that applicants who have been out of education for some time may not have the formal qualifications usually required for entry to a course. We welcome applications from those who can demonstrate their enthusiasm and commitment to study and have relevant life/work experience that equips them to succeed on the course. We will assess this from the information provided in your application (particularly your personal statement) and may ask you to attend an interview or submit a piece of work to help us decide on your eligibility for the course. Our pre-entry Information Advice and Guidance Team are able to provide further advice on entry requirements and suitability for study.

You can speak to a member of our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0)20 8223 3333, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Alternatively, you can visit our Information, Advice and Guidance centre. Please click here for details.

What you'll study

GC7907 Psychological aspects of humanitarian intervention (30 credit - Core)  

GC7908 Assessing,Planning and Intervening during and after disaster and conflict (30 credit - Core) 

GC7909 Influencing and facilitating ‘Capacity Building’ (30 credit - Option) 
GC7910 Individual Group and Organisational support for IDPs and Refugees (30 credit - Option) 

GC7905 Research 1 (30 credit - Core) 

GC7906 Research 2 (30 credit - Core) 

How you'll be assessed

We will assess each module individually and, except for the last two research modules, it may be an essay, a reflective critique of a piece of consultation or a portfolio including methods and critiques of the ways students facilitate their own and others' wellbeing and resilience. For the Research 1 module students will need to submit a research proposal and for Research 2, a draft journal article based on the research undertaken.

Course specification

How you'll learn

You will have support throughout the course from your contact with the course lecturers as well as your colleagues. Although the course is delivered by distance learning, you will still feel very much part of our community.

Almost all our students are working in the field and you can stay in contact with each other through our online forum - an important means of sharing ideas and experiences.

Learning materials such as readings, slides and recorded lectures will be uploaded, so you can listen or watch whenever you have time.

Your two full-time lecturers are highly experienced in both the theory and practice of this subject. They are also flexible and generous with their time and available to students online.

Course Leader Dr Francisco Jose Eiroa-Orosa is a regular consultant for a range of organisations, including Medécins San Frontières (MSF). Last year, alongside 500 MSF staff members, he spent a month in the Central African Republic, where the population has suffered from the recent war.

Principal Lecturer Donald Ridley has recently been working as a consultant for an organisation designing vocational training schemes in the Caucasus following the recent conflict there.

This course is ideal for you whether you are working for a small organisation without a specialised psychosocial unit or you are already in HR doing general tasks but want to specialise in psychosocial support.

Or you might be working in a medical department and want to add another element to your portfolio.

“We have a student in South Sudan and one in Nigeria right now,” says Dr Eiroa-Orosa. “It’s important for them to know that we will be here for them when they need us.

“One of our students last year had to put off his dissertation because he was having to work in his organisation as the Chief Psychological Support Officer within the Ebola crisis operation.”

What you'll learn

This MSc course introduces you to different types of intervention and the skills to put them into practice.

These include engagement, development of trust, facilitation, enabling and the identification of a process by which information can be accessed, shared and evaluated.

You will learn how to consult with other members of your team, offering them appropriate psychosocial support and stress management strategies.

You will also be given the skills to develop psychosocial support programmes within the organisation, perhaps through its HR department.

The course includes key modules on how to offer mental support to beneficiaries outside the organisation – that is, people who have suffered directly from natural or man-made disasters.

The MSc can be completed in a year full-time or two to three years part-time, and involves passing six modules.

These include the two conceptual core modules – Psychological Aspects of Humanitarian Intervention, and Assessing, Planning and Intervening During and After Disaster and Conflict.

Optional modules include Influencing and Facilitating ‘Capacity’ Building, and Individual Group and Organisational support for IDPs and Refugees. You will also complete two core modules involving research and a dissertation.

Your future career

This course offers very specific, applied training. And, as the UK’s only MSc in the subject, it will give you the opportunity to go on and study for a PhD.

We also offer intermediate awards The PG Diploma requires you to pass the two conceptual core modules, plus two optional modules.

The PG Certificate requires a pass in the two conceptual core modules, and the University Certificate asks for a pass in any module other than those relating to research methods and the dissertation.

On completion of the course, you may go on to build or further a career in a humanitarian aid agency in the UK or overseas, or within a public health or social services setting with a psychosocial focus.

The course takes into account the time limitations and practical difficulties the field of psychosocial support can entail. It will cover the changing demands of different phases of aid offered – relief, transition, development and consolidation.

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Our international team travel overseas regularly to meet prospective students and attend recruitment fairs. Our academics also give regular lectures overseas and are happy to speak to prospective students. In addition, we have a large worldwide network of advisors who can provide guidance and support with applying to study at the University of East London.

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