First course on shelter after disaster launched by Brookes

Monday, 05 September 2011


The first UK, university-accredited course in Shelter After Disaster is to be introduced by Oxford Brookes University in January 2012. This new Postgraduate Certificate is in response to demand for trained practitioners, and a lack of formal training, in the field of emergency shelter.

The first UK, university-accredited course in Shelter After Disaster is to be introduced by Oxford Brookes University in January 2012.

This new Postgraduate Certificate is in response to demand for trained practitioners, and a lack of formal training, in the field of emergency shelter.

This new 12-week postgraduate certificate (PGCert) is equivalent to one third of a Masters degree and is designed for those involved globally in emergency response, to look at theory and best practice in providing shelter for people in the event of a crisis. The course is based on expertise from the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP) at Oxford Brookes University, which this year celebrates 20 years of its Masters degree course. CENDEP will also draw on experience from external experts and practitioners from organisations across the world.

The programme responds well to the recommendations of the Humanitarian Emergency Response Review, Chaired by Lord Paddy Ashdown in March this year, which called for the Department for International Development (DfID) to find better solutions to providing shelter after disaster.

CENDEP has this year delivered a successful course module in Shelter After Disaster, which is the pilot for the PGCert. A student on the pilot course, Architect Michele Young, commented, 'At present relief workers in shelter tend to be architects, engineers or humanitarians without cross-over. The new course in Shelter After Disaster represents a shift in mindset. About fifty percent of the class are architects and this course provides a humanitarian base and understanding that is essential to providing shelter.'

'Shelter is about more than just providing a place to live and has far reaching implications in terms of people's identity, livelihood and income generation. We need to get it right first time.'

Commented course leader Bill Flinn, 'Relief agencies are currently developing strategies on shelter, based on practical experience, but without the extensive shared-knowledge that exists within the humanitarian field. Students who complete this postgraduate certificate will understand the wider complexities of shelter and will be invaluable both as strategists and practitioners.'

The new Shelter After Disaster PGCert programme offers a combination of compulsory and optional modules, and includes:

  • the theory and practice of shelter after disaster
  • development and emergency practice project cycle management
  • natural disasters, vulnerability and climate change
  • working in conflict settings

Above all the course is rooted in practice. In addition to lectures and discussion on theory, students will take part in practical sessions that demonstrate the importance of good engineering and construction. They will also be invited to undertake fieldwork.

The course is designed for three types of professional:

  • Those with humanitarian experience in the disaster field, who want to learn about shelter
  • Built environment professionals who want to understand about shelter
  • Those with years in the field, who are now learning about the theory and practice of shelter

The course is open to candidates who fulfil one of the following:

  • Hold an undergraduate honours degree in a relevant discipline
  • Hold a relevant recognised diploma or professional qualification in a relevant discipline, such as human rights, development practice, humanitarianism or architecture
  • Have substantial and proven field experience within a relevant area, for example, with a Non Government Organisation

The course is open to students for whom English is a second language provided they can prove a competence in written and spoken English.

More information about the Postgraduate Certificate in Shelter After Disaster offered by Oxford Brookes University and details on how to apply for this course are available on the course website.

The new PGCert in Shelter After Disaster is part of Oxford Brookes University’s wider programme of Workforce Development which offers courses to employers to help meet an identified gap in the UK for higher level skills. The university is currently talking to thousands of employers in the South East region about how to develop their existing workforce with training that provides business-specific solutions.