Course Title: Humanitarian Intervention in an Age of Crisis

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Humanitarian Intervention in an Age of Crisis

Credit Points: 12.00

Important Information:

In 2023 this course is titled 'Humanitarian Intervention and Security in an Age of Crisis'.
From 2024 this course will be titled 'Humanitarian Intervention in an Age of Crisis'.


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies

Face-to-Face or Internet

Sem 2 2019,
Sem 1 2021,
Sem 1 2023

Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Damian Grenfell

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3462

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: 37.05.32A

Course Coordinator Availability: by appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

Military-Humanitarian interventions have become an integral part of the post-cold war global landscape. Situated at the intersection of demands for humanitarian assistance, security, human rights and development, an understanding of the international architecture of interventions and how they play out on the ground has become essential knowledge for those working across a range of global actors including state agencies, NGOs, development networks, community organisations and social movements. In this course you will examine different forms and definitions of intervention, exploring in particular ’Humanitarian Interventions’ undertaken via a composition of military forces, humanitarian and relief agencies, agencies of the United Nations,  peace and development actors as well as media. Drawing on historical precedents you will examine the key debates and case examples of humanitarian interventions as a way to understand the evolving nature of interventions as well as their likely trajectory over the coming decades. This is done by examining how basic societal changes created through technological change in combination with global crises—health pandemics, climate change, warfare—affect in fundamental ways how humanitarian interventions are undertaken.  A building awareness of key concepts will allow you to determine what does and does not constitute a humanitarian intervention, what is its relationship to international law, the character of peacekeeping missions, as well as consider key questions of gender, doctrines such as Responsibility to Protect (R2P), genocide as well as state-building. Discussions of professional practice in the context of working in interventions, as well as ethics, will be a key dimension in this course.  A range of contemporary case studies will be drawn on from around the world, assisting you to make connections between the theory and practice of humanitarian interventions.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development


Course Learning Outcomes 

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:  

  1. Evaluate and appraise theoretical and practical frameworks that relate to humanitarian intervention  
  2. Critically examine the linkages between political, economic and military dimensions of interventions  
  3. Delineate and determine what are the indicators in various local, regional, and global conflicts that may or may not lead to intervention  
  4. Analyse the political and ethical causes and consequences of interventions, including the role of international organisations and related protocols.   
  5. Determine the contemporary significance of different case studies that illustrate the rationale of humanitarian interventions  

Overview of Learning Activities

You will be engaged in learning that involves face to face and/or online activities such as lectures and workshops. The workshops will be activity-based, including role plays, scenarios, debates and class presentations Workshop activities will intersect with the course readings. 

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems.  

A list of recommended learning resources will be provided by your lecturer, including books, journal articles and web-based resources. You will also be expected to seek further resources relevant to the focus of your own learning.  

There are services available to support your learning through the University Library. The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help as well as a range of study support services. For further information, please visit the Library page on the RMIT University website and the myRMIT student portal.

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes. 

Assessment Tasks 

Task 1: Short Writing Assessment 10%, CLO 1,2, (500 words) 

Task 2: Written Assessment (essay form), 30%, CLO 2,3,4,5 (1,500 words)  

Task 3: Scenario based exercise (short presentation, participation and reflection in class or online): 30% CLO 1,2,3,4,5 

Task 4: Written report 30%, CLO 1,2,3,4,5 (1500 words)  

Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks. 

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more. 

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions.