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Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute

Featured course units

Explore some of our highlight optional course units, available as part of your study.

Filming History

Students produce a documentary film on a subject relevant to their interests and programme of study. Along the way, they gain new skills in different aspects of film practice, pre-production, production and postproduction.

Below is an example of a student film produced as part of the module. Produced and directed by Dr Shameela Islam-Zulfiqar.

Filming History (30 credits)

Course code: SALC61132

Featured project

Shameela studied the Filming History course unit at HCRI in 2015 and produced an excellent video about Syrian Refugees. Produced and directed by Dr Shameela Islam-Zulfiqar and Co-Produced by Shamas RI, this short film provides a fascinating insight to life on Bute Island after the arrival of 15 Syrian refugee families. These people were some of the first UK Government 'approved' resettlement families to arrive in December of 2015. The film was aimed at capturing the human cost of families ripped apart by war and conflict- the mental scars are quite often much deeper than physical ones. 

This course offers the unique opportunity to enhance historical research skills and training at Masters level, transforming history into the medium of documentary production. The course is framed by the concept of documentary practice as a tool of historical research, and students will engage with the debate of how to put history into film through their own practice. The course is an intensive 13 weeks (plus additional hours filming and editing) in which practical training in pre and post-production film making is provided. Students will become familiar with cameras and sound, editing, interviews, writing film treatments and proposals, visual storyboarding, and other aspects of documentary practice. Students will become familiar with the grammar of documentary film as a technique, as well as issues of copyright and ethical filmmaking.

Module aims

  • Documentary film as a practice and a research tool
  • Problematising academic issues in the construction of history as a filmic practice
  • Problem-solving and self-reflexive practices of putting history into the filmic medium.
  • Media skills, such as interview techniques, and introduce students to the technical skills of documentary film production and editing.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding:

  • Enhanced knowledge of documentary practice and film techniques and formulas.
  • Ability to understand issues in putting history into practice and practice-based research, and capacity to apply theory to practice.
  • Introduce students to pre and post production techniques eg camera skills and editing skills.
  • Storyboarding and Writing/Presenting a Treatment .

Intellectual skills:

  • Understand the academic debates about history and film, and the debate about how to put history into filmic practice.
  • Develop research skills in locating film archives and visual sources.
  • Develop a sophisticated understanding of documentary filmic history.
  • Summarise and critique the different techniques, methodologies and theories that historians have used to interpret films.

Practical skills:

  • Research, Direction and Production of a 10-12 minute film.
  • Develop a technical understanding and practical capacity in the grammar and structure of filmmaking. Research skills in IP/Copyright/Music and archive clearance skills.
  • Develop interview skills with subjects.
  • Team work as a film crew.
  • Demonstrate enhanced essay writing skills specific to the study of practice as research and the self-reflexive mode specific to reporting on practice-based research.

Transferable skills and personal qualities:

  • Media and film training, film editing.
  • Enhanced communication skills (oral and written), as well as on and off camera inter-personal skills with interviewing subjects and members of the film crew.
  • Develop effective networking skills with practitioners in non-academic institutions (e.g. professional filmmakers such as Michael Wood; film archivists such as at NWFA).
  • Problem solving.
  • Organise own learning through self-management and work to deadlines.

See the full course description for more detailed information.

Humanitarianism in Practice

Students from the MSc Humanitarian and Conflict Response course visit Uganda for ten days to explore and apply theories and practices learnt in the classrooms to understand humanitarianism in action.

Humanitarianism in Practice (30 credits)

Course code: SALC60061

Module aims

The course unit aims to give students fieldwork experience of humanitarianism in action in global health, disaster and post-conflict settings. The course unit provides an alternative to "development tourism" by teaching students the necessary skills to develop a small scale research project to conduct in country.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding:

  • Gain knowledge of the landscape for humanitarian interventions in post-conflict and disaster settings and the challenges humanitarians experience in practice.
  • They will also be able to apply theoretical knowledge to practical situations and critically assess the theories in practice.
  • By the end of this course students will be able to demonstrate a clear understanding of the issues, challenges and contexts which humanitarians experience.

Intellectual skills:

  • Critically interrogate the literature related to humanitarian practice.
  • Develop a critical understanding of the way theory influences humanitarian interventions, practices and outcomes.
  • Compare and contrast humanitarian practices in Uganda and draw lessons for future humanitarian efforts.
  • Critically reflect on positionality, perspective, and reflexivity as a researcher.

Practical skills:

  • Develop, execute and deliver a research project of humanitarianism in practice.
  • Develop coherent research proposals related to a humanitarian context and will be able to write detailed academic reports emerging from their own research.
  • Interrogate the ethics of research work in the humanitarian field and apply them to practice.
  • Apply research skills to a real context and conduct research in an international humanitarian setting.

Transferable skills and personal qualities:

  • Develop communication skills for a variety of audiences.
  • Work effectively in a team and engage stakeholders.
  • Develop, plan and achieve individual research outcomes.

Blog posts

"The students were asked to challenge themselves about who they were as humanitarians."
Jessica Hawkins, Lecturer in Humanitarian Studies.

"I found visiting Gihembe an enjoyable and informative experience. It has altered my opinion about refugee camps considerably and I look forward to furthering my knowledge.."
Rose Pescod, MSc International Disaster Management.

"Two specific points stood out for me. Firstly, the inclusion of children in the flood preparation and learning (in partnership with Save the Children)…. Secondly, the communities are also working with Save the Children to put evacuation plans in place. This point particularly concerns me."
Thea Soltau, HCRI MA Humanitarianism and Conflict Response.

Work placements

Students undertake a placement of 20 days or more at a cultural organisation in the region supported by a series of lectures/workshops and tutorials on campus. Assessment will be based on documentation, analysis and reflection on the work undertaken.

Work placements (30 credits / 15 credits)

Course code: SALC70300 (30 credits) / SALC70150 (15 credits)* 

*Please note that the 15 credit course unit is only available to taught master's students.

The placement experience

You will spend a minimum of 20 days in a host organisation, obtaining relevant professional experience and having the opportunity to apply learning and skills developed in other units and through directed study.

The course is designed to enable you to develop and evaluate personal transferable skills and attributes within a working environment. It also provides you with the opportunity for close analysis of various professional creative practices and theories, and the acquisition of knowledge and experiences that will support the preparation of assessment tasks for an MA programme. Most importantly, it will help to develop skills for lifelong learning, networking and an awareness of the cultural sector(s). University education is not separate from the ‘real world’ and the placement is part of the process that develops links between the student and the profession in the region and wider economy.

Aims of the placement

  • To provide students with the opportunity to acquire practical experience within the cultural sector and/or use their knowledge and research skills in cultural organisations;
  • To develop further individual transferable skills gained in the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures MA programmes;
  • To develop organisational awareness and build an appreciation of the working environment for cultural professionals;
  • To engage with local employers in the sector through student mentoring, work-based interaction and feedback;
  • To provide material for reflective practice and analysis;
  • To develop career choices;
  • To enable the industry to develop future employees and to demonstrate the career potential that is available.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of professional practices, institutional and policy contexts from direct experience as part of the work placement;
  • Critically evaluate their role in relation to institutional objectives, other roles and professional practices within the placement organisation;
  • Apply methods and approaches learnt in the academic context to professional practice;
  • Respond effectively to objectives set within a professional context, identifying specific challenges and possible solutions;
  • Develop and apply relevant practical skills as appropriate to the placement objectives;
  • Communicate information and ideas effectively in a professional environment;
  • Display planning and decision-making skills in complex and unpredictable situations;
  • Critically evaluate personal performance through monitoring and analytical reflection.

Blog posts from HCRI students

"This experience was invaluable as it allowed me to do something positive and simultaneously develop practical skills bridging the knowledge I have with the requirements of the sector I am planning to work in."

Previous placements and roles

  • EISF (The European Interagency Security Forum)
    Duty of Care Project Research Assistant
    Resource consolidation for humanitarian security risk management
  • Rethink Rebuild Society (The Voice of the Syrian Community of Manchester)
    Campaign Support and Development Worker
  • Retrak
    Researcher: Migration and Children Separated from Families
  • SALVE (Support and Love Via Education)
    Inequality Question Officer
    International Day of the Street Child Officer
  • Syria Relief
    Project Management and Fundraising
  • Trust
    Project Analyst - Syria