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University College Dublin: Humanitarian Action

Institution University College Dublin View institution profile
Department UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science
Telephone +353 1 716 8500
Study type Taught


The MSc Humanitarian Action has evolved over a 25-year period and is distinguished by its inter-disciplinary, inter- sectoral and international nature.

The COVID19 pandemic has impacted societies globally. It has exposed the vulnerabilities and fragility of our existence. Unfortunately, it has emerged at a time when the International Humanitarian System is already challenged to address the effects of other disasters. We are living in an era of unprecedented humanitarian need brought about by climate change, complex political emergencies resulting in conflict, global migration, and protracted conflicts. Before the pandemic emerged, an estimated 72 million people were displaced from their homes due to conflict, an estimated 180 million people were in need of immediate humanitarian assistance, and almost a billion were under-nourished globally. Needless to say, the devastation of COVID19 will vary considerably across societies.

This MSc provides high quality academic education and professional competencies for those working or intending to work in the area of humanitarian action and related areas. The programme aims to provide students with a broad foundation in the area of international humanitarian action, in which both critical thinking and research skills are emphasised. The goal is to deliver high level, committed, interdisciplinary trained personnel who can function with enhanced professionalism in the broad field of humanitarian relief, and are informed by their theoretical insights and humanitarian principles. The programme design integrates professional and research orientation that is intended to bridge the gap between academic research and the humanitarian work-field.

The programme supports students to build suitable networks for research and internships. This masters programme has a long tradition of attracting students from diverse backgrounds with varying degrees of experience in the humanitarian sector and related fields.

This MSc Programme is closely aligned to the UCD Centre for Humanitarian Action (UCD-CHA) and NOHA, both of which are well recognised as key global institutional stakeholders in Humanitarian Studies.

The programme provides a dynamic classroom based learning environment, involving a variety of teaching methods such as lectures, simulations and field-trips. Students have the opportunity to explore specific themes through second trimester specialisations and a minor thesis. The MSc in Humanitarian Action brings together experts from academia and the field to lecture on the different modules.

UCD has delivered graduate programmes in Humanitarian Action since 1998. There are some 600 alumni of the MSc Humanitarian Action holding positions both in the field and at headquarters level around the world. Many of these alumni are employed with the UN, Government, Non-governmental organisations or within academia.

Graduate Roles:

Programme Managers Protection Officers Field/Country Directors Emergency Team Leaders Administrators Researchers Academics Consultants


University College Dublin


Why UCD?
University College Dublin is one of Europe’s leading research-intensive universities. Ranked in the top 1% of institutions worldwide, in the overall 2023 QS World University Rankings, UCD was named 181 in the world. 

UCD, Ireland’s Global University, is Ireland’s largest university. Established in 1854, the university has a student body of over 38,000 students with more than 9,500 international students drawn from 152 countries. UCD is Ireland's leader in graduate education with over 12,000 graduate students; almost a quarter of whom are graduate research students.

Students are attracted to UCD by the strength …

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