• Class Number 3905
  • Term Code 3430
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Cecilia Jacob
    • Dr Cecilia Jacob
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 19/02/2024
  • Class End Date 24/05/2024
  • Census Date 05/04/2024
  • Last Date to Enrol 26/02/2024
SELT Survey Results

When large-scale human suffering occurs, does the international community have a responsibility to assist? Who exactly should take action? What principles should guide these actors? What is the role of law and politics in humanitarian action? This course examines international responses to human suffering caused by armed conflict, mass atrocities and complex humanitarian disasters to address these questions. We look at the history and development of law and institutions that shape contemporary international humanitarian action. We consider the changing global security context in which humanitarian action takes place, and examine the actors involved in humanitarian action, from non-state, to state and multilateral actors. The course will provide students with an in-depth understanding of the concepts, politics and practice of humanitarianism, and with skills to analyse current trends and developments in this important area of international politics.  

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Understand the key conceptual, theoretical and and political debates relevant to humanitarianism as a field of study and practice.
  2. A deep knowledge of the historical evolution of the legal frameworks and organizations that shape contemporary humanitarian practice.
  3. Ability to apply various theoretical and analytical approaches to important humanitarian issues in global politics.
  4. Strong ability to communicate ideas and arguments related to the subject matter effectively through written and verbal expression.

Aall available online through the ANU Library Catalogue):

Michael Barnett. 2011. Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Michael Barnett and Janice Stein. 2012. Sacred Aid: Faith and Humanitarianism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Didier Fassin. 2012. Humanitarian Reason: A Moral History of the Present. Berkeley: University of California Press. 

Mark Swatek-Evenstein. 2020. A History of Humanitarian Intervention. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

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). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction: The Concept of Humanitarianism
2 The Origins of the Humanitarian Project: Historical Overview
3 Humanitarian Organisations: International, Regional and Civil Society Organisations
4 The Humanization of International Law
5 The Use of Force: Just War and Humanitarian Intervention Annotated Bibliography (10%)
6  Peacekeeping and the Protection of Civilians
7 Pandemics, Natural Disasters and Climate-Induced Humanitarian Crises
8 Forced Migration and the International Refugee Regime Major Essay Due (40%)
9 China and the International Humanitarian Order
10 Prevention is better than cure: the dilemmas and practice of prevention
11 The Future of War: Technology, Artificial Intelligence and Humanitarian Ethics
12 Humanitarian Futures: Challenges to the International Humanitarian Order Take-Home Exam (30%)

Tutorial Registration

Through Wattle

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Participation in lecture discussions and tutorials 10 % * * 1,4
Group Tutorial Presentations 10 % * * 1,2,3,4
Annotated Bibliography 10 % 18/03/2024 29/03/2024 1,2,3,4
Major research essay 40 % 22/04/2024 06/05/2023 1,2,3,4
Final Exam 30 % 23/05/2024 06/06/2024 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 Integrity 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 Academic Skills website. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

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: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,4

Participation in lecture discussions and tutorials

Full attendance to lectures and tutorials, and active engagement in class discussion is required for full participation grades. As this course is a seminar based class, students must come prepared by completing the assigned weekly readings in advance and ready to discuss readings and lecture content. Writing down questions and ideas as you read will help you come to lectures and tutorials fully prepared, and will ensure that the seminars are collaborative, lively and engaging.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Group Tutorial Presentations

From Weeks 3 to 11, students will present in small groups on the topic and readings for the week. Groups will be assigned during the tutorial in Week 2. Group presentations should be no longer than 20 minutes and may include audio and visual materials, handouts, etc.

Presentations should provide a very concise summary of the key themes and/or arguments of the readings in just a few minutes by way of introduction. However, you should assume that everyone has read the assigned readings. The presentation should use the themes/debates from the text as a prompt to stimulate a deep and critical engagement with the topic of the lecture and readings for the week. The presentation should invite a lively and engaging discussion or debate that helps the class to grapple with the key themes, arguments and challenges raised. For example, you may want to test ideas from the readings on a current humanitarian crisis or actor, you may want to set up a class debate, or you may be inspired by the readings to develop a creative output to present to the class such as a short film or documentary. You have flexibility to decide on the format and medium of the presentation, but it should be designed in a way that invites your peers into the discussion and to engage with your ideas.

The objective of this exercise is to allow you to work collaboratively with your group, and to engage thoroughly and critically with course materials. It will assist you in developing your skills in analysing and synthesizing materials, while enhancing your capacity to communicate complex ideas concisely and clearly.

Your group will be assessed on creativity, depth of understanding of the themes in the texts, quality of analysis and ability to engage the class. The contribution of each team member should be evident in the presentation.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 18/03/2024
Return of Assessment: 29/03/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Annotated Bibliography

Students will be provided with a list of questions for the major essay at the start of semester.

For the Annotated bibliography, students should prepare a bibliography with ten references for their essay. Bibliographic references should be annotated with a brief research note, that includes a short summary of the reference and explains the analytical relevance for the essay.

The bibliography will be graded on the basis of the relevance of the sources for the selected essay, and the quality of the annotation. This purpose of this assessment is to develop students research skills and analytical thinking by encouraging them to source and organise research materials in a logical and effective manner.

Use Chicago author-date style for the bibliography.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 22/04/2024
Return of Assessment: 06/05/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Major research essay

In this 2,000 word essay (due week 8, 40%), you will explore some of the key challenges and dilemmas faced by contemporary humanitarianism. Your essay must be analytical in nature and integrate knowledge derived from the seminars, assigned readings and additional research. When possible, you should use relevant case studies to illustrate your argument. 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 you with an opportunity to demonstrate your scholarship, your capacity to pursue guided independent research and to assimilate and evaluate material presented in your readings and during seminars. It further allows you to develop your skills in constructing and substantiating a position on particular issues.

A list of questions will be posted on the course Wattle site at the start of semester.

All references should be included in a separate bibliography at the end of the essay (not included in the wordcount). Use Chicago author-date style for referencing and bibliography.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 23/05/2024
Return of Assessment: 06/06/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Final Exam

The final exam (30%) will be scheduled during the ANU Examination Period, date, time and location to be advised later in semester.

The final exam is a two hour, closed book exam. It will assess students' knowledge and understanding of the full course content. Questions are divided in 3 parts and will require students to demonstrate understanding of the historical, theoretical, and empirical aspects of humanitarianism. Students should demonstrate the ability to provide analytical and reasoned arguments in response to the questions.


Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

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

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

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted 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).

Dr Cecilia Jacob

Research Interests

Dr Cecilia Jacob

Monday 10:00 11:00
By Appointment
Dr Cecilia Jacob

Research Interests

Dr Cecilia Jacob

Monday 10:00 11:00
By Appointment

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