• Class Number 4137
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • AsPr Bina D'Costa
    • AsPr Bina D'Costa
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/02/2019
  • Class End Date 31/05/2019
  • Census Date 31/03/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
SELT Survey Results



Humanitarianism is a prominent powerful, though often vexed issue in world politics today. Debate on the role of humanitarianism in world politics often vacillates between belief in its capacity to transform the international system and frustration and disillusionment with its perceived failure to do so. In examining the role of humanitarianism in world politics, this course seeks to disaggregate these debates, revealing key themes, trends and questions in the evolution of the concepts and practices of humanitarianism. Central amongst these are the themes of assistance and protection that are often viewed as at the very heart of humanitarianism, along with advocacy and temoinage.

The course first examines the historical evolution and global diffusion of humanitarian concepts and practices. In this we encounter ideas such as the humanitarian imperative and humanitarian space, as well as discuss the genesis of movements that have been central to the globalisation of humanitarian practices, such as the ICRC.

In the second section of the course we look in detail at the concepts and practices of international humanitarian assistance, considering in particular some of the dilemmas and paradoxes of assistance.

In the third section of the course we explore the concepts and practices of humanitarian intervention. We critically examine the evolving relationship between humanitarian intervention and the concept of sovereignty; the emergence of the idea of a ‘responsibility to protect' and the extent to which this can and is being implemented.

Finally we examine the extent to which conceptions of humanitarian obligations have come to underpin state building projects states that have been identified as ‘failed' or ‘failing'.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Students by the end of the course will have developed both practical and theoretical insight into the evolution of contemporary discourses and practices of humanitarianism. They will have examined formulation, implementation and subsequent assessment of international humanitarian assistance. They will have grappled with the fundamental problems of how to assist, who to assist and when to assist, as well as learnt of the political pressures that shape where we assist. In addition, they will have critically examined the development of both the norms and practices of humanitarian intervention, placing these in the context of broader debates about sovereignty and protection in world politics.



Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Week 1: Humanitarianism in world politics: questions, issues, approaches
2 Week 2: A genealogy of humanitarianism (I): The origins of humanitarianism as a global project
3 Week 3: A genealogy of humanitarianism (II): The globalisation of humanitarianism
4 Week 4: A genealogy of humanitarianism (III): The institutionalisation of global humanitarianism
5 Week 5: Humanitarianism and the Politics of Culture
6 Week 6: Humanitarianism and the Politics of International Law
7 Teaching Break - 8-23 April
8 Week 7: Humanitarianism and the Politics of Disaster
9 Week 8: Humanitarianism and the Politics of Complex Emergency
10 Week 9: Humanitarianism and the Politics of Gender
11 Week 10: Humanitarianism and the Politics of Displacement
12 Week 11: Humanitarian and the Politics of Intervention: From Humanitarian Intervention to the Responsibility to Protect
13 Week 12: Humanitarianism and Politics of Stabilization and Statebuilding: Civ-Mil Relations

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Participation, Presentation (max 7 minutes) and Summary of a week's required readings- max 500 words 20 % 31/05/2019 02/06/2019 1
Research Essay Plan -500 words 10 % 24/03/2019 04/04/2019 2, 3
Research Essay 40 % 24/04/2019 09/05/2019 1,2,3
Review 30 % 06/06/2019 04/07/2019 1,2,3,4

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 31/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 02/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1

Participation, Presentation (max 7 minutes) and Summary of a week's required readings- max 500 words

The objective of this exercise is to allow you to engage thoroughly and critically with the course and its' materials.

It is important to participate in the class discussions and learn collectively.

Presentation: You are required to select one week's topic from the required reading sets for one seminar. You should provide a summary of the key points, and a commentary on the key themes and/or arguments. This should be presented to the class during your selected week's seminar.

Review of Readings: In addition to submitting your review to me for confidential assessment, I would like you to post these on a dedicated Discussion Forum on the HWP Course Wattle site prior to that week's class.This will provide a collective resource of commentaries on the topic and the core readings for the class as a whole, and provide you with an opportunity to discuss your interpretations of the course readings.

The principal goal of this assessment is to assist you in developing your skills in analyzing and synthesizing materials;and enhancing your capacity to communicate complex ideas concisely and clearly. It also provides an avenue for developing shared knowledge within the class and providing on a platform for ongoing discussion of key themes, issues and debates as these emerge in course materials.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 24/03/2019
Return of Assessment: 04/04/2019
Learning Outcomes: 2, 3

Research Essay Plan -500 words

This initial plan will be provisional and might consist of the following:

Introduction: Address the question, show why it's interesting and how the essay will answer it. Develop an overall mission statement

Main Body: Build your argument. Put your groups of ideas in a sequence to make a persuasive argument. One main point in each paragraph. Spend time to make sure progression of ideas is logical.

(example: Format WEED – What, Evidence, Example, Do)

Conclusion: Summarise your arguments and evidence, and show how they answer the original question.

As you research and develop your understanding of the topic, your ideas will likely change, and your key answers may change with them. Try to see your essay plan as something that evolves as you engage further with your topic.

A good plan will make it much easier to write a good essay. Invest the time in making a plan that works.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 24/04/2019
Return of Assessment: 09/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

Research Essay

(max 3,500 words)

This essay will allow you to explore some of the key challenges and dilemmas faced in contemporary humanitarianism. In addition to allowing you to explore some of the empirical aspects of humanitarianism in detail, the aim of the research essay is to provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their scholarship, their capacity to pursue guided independent research and to assimilate and evaluate material presented in their reading and in seminars. It further allows them to develop their skills in constructing and substantiating a position on particular issues.

… A list of questions will be posted on the course Wattle site. You may devise a question of your choice that relates to course themes. Please consult me if you wish to do this so that I can help you articulate the question and approve it. 

Assessment Task 4

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 06/06/2019
Return of Assessment: 04/07/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4


(max 1500 words)

For this review I would like you to analyse a particular humanitarian crisis applying knowledge, insights or observations you have drawn from this course. You should first select a humanitarian crisis or emergency, the choice of crisis is yours. You should first briefly describe the emergency and the responses to it. I would like you to then analyse the crisis drawing on knowledge or insights developed through this course. This should include commenting upon the nature of the crisis and its fundamental causes, and the nature of the response and its effectiveness. Finally I would like you to consider what insights your analysis provides you with for thinking about the role of humanitarianism in world politics.

The aim of the review is to provide students with an opportunity to review and consolidate their thinking on key issues and questions we have addressed in the course through the exploration of a case study of their choosing. It will allow students to demonstrate their familiarity with, and understanding of the themes, concepts and issues addressed in seminars and readings. It will also allow students to demonstrate their capacity to not only assimilate and evaluate the information and ideas presented in these materials, butalso to apply these to a particular case study. 

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

No submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date will be permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
AsPr Bina D'Costa

Research Interests

AsPr Bina D'Costa

AsPr Bina D'Costa

Research Interests

AsPr Bina D'Costa

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions