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Forced Migration


Admission requirements

Students should have taken either a 100-level course in International Development or World Politics. For other cases, please contact the instructor before registration.


Forced Migration will focus on the study of causes and consequences that result from involuntary migration movements. The goal is to understand different types of migration, to engage critically with the literature and with the concept of ‘forced migration’ as the distinction between forced and voluntary migration is not always clear. After an introduction to the main migration theories, the course will analyse a number of categories, such as refugees, internal displacement, environmental displacement, development displacement, but also draw upon several types of (voluntary) migration. Forced migration does not operate in isolation; therefore, the course will draw links to other policy areas, such as demography, security, trade, development and aid, among others.

The course will examine the different interests of stakeholders relating to forced migration in order to understand how varying preferences of actors often lead to suboptimal outcomes in this field. In addition, the course will discuss the role and responsibilities of institutions (national, international and non-governmental) and talk about some policy solutions for forced migration.

To do so, the course will focus on addressing these issues by considering theoretical approaches and applying them to empirical cases. It will draw on a multidisciplinary literature, ranging from comparative politics, international relations, development, demography, to migration studies. Students will apply concepts and theoretical frameworks in class discussion, presentations, individual research projects and take-home exam essays.

Course objectives

By the end of the course students will

  • Understand the concept of forced migration, the challenges and policy approaches.

  • Understand different types of forced migration and the relevant literature.

  • Show knowledge of the following topics: refugees, internal displacement, environmental displacement, development displacement, the role and responsibilities of institutions (be it national, international or non-governmental).

  • Appreciate the merits of different approaches and methods.

  • Apply learned concepts and relevant literature to working on their own research project.

  • Report on their findings orally and in written form.


Please see the LUC website:

Mode of instruction

The course is taught through two two-hour seminars. It will include both short lectures and class discussions of the readings and key aspects of the topics. The books Forced Migration and Global Politics and Development-Induced Displacement: Problems, Policies and People will be the main readings, but will be supplemented by other relevant books and journal articles. The formal readings and lectures are complemented by classroom discussions, which encourage active participation and help students to articulate ideas. Students will apply the learned concepts by writing a research report and presenting in different forms in class.

Assessment method

  1. Interactive engagement with course material: assessed through In-class participation (15% of final grade): Ongoing Weeks 1 – 7
  2. Understanding of course content: assessed through Presentation/s (15% of final grade): Weeks 1-7
  3. Expression of holistic understanding of the course: assessed through Individual research project (3,000 words; 40% of final grade):Short outline due Week 4 (Monday), Final report due Week 7 (Friday, 25 May 2012)
  4. Individual engagement with course readings: assessed through Individual take-home exam essays (3,000 words; 30% of final grade):Week 8 (Friday, 1 June 2012)


This course is supported by a blackboard site.

Reading list

Betts, A. (2009), Forced Migration and Global Politics, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

De Wet, C. (2005), Development-Induced Displacement: Problems, Policies and People, Oxford: Berghahn.

Brettell, C. and Hollifield, J., eds (2010), Migration Theory: Talking across Disciplines (2nd ed.), New York: Routledge.

Loescher, G., Betts, A. and Milner, J. (2008), UNHCR: The Politics and Practice of Refugee Protection into the Twenty-First Century, Abingdon: Routledge.


This course is only open for LUC The Hague students.

Contact information

Dr. Lucie Cerna,

Weekly Overview

Weekly overview:

Week 1: What is forced migration?

Week 2: Overview of main migration theories

Week 3: Refugees

Week 4: Conflict-induced internal displacement

Week 5: Environmental displacement

Week 6: Development induced displacement

Week 7: Institutional roles and responsibilities

Week 8: Reading week