The MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies is the longest-running postgraduate programme on refugee protection and forced migration delivered by distance and online learning. This award-winning programme currently has over 240 students studying in over 60 countries all over the world including sub-Saharan and North Africa, North America, Europe, South and East Asia and Australasia. 

It enables students to acquire a rigorous legal, practical and theoretical understanding of refugee protection and forced migration, whilst developing expertise through a choice of elective modules. It is designed and run by the academic staff and wide network of experts at the Refugee Law Initiative and delivered through the renowned University of London International Programmes which has over 54,000 students in every corner of the globe studying on more than 180 different courses.

Students hone self-reliance in using and critiquing law, policy and practice in the field, and learn how to gather, organise and deploy evidence to form balanced judgements and develop policy recommendations. They complete methodological training in researching refugees and have the opportunity to develop practical field skills in advocacy, campaigning and fund-raising.

Programme Content

Core modules are:

  • Protecting Human Rights, Refugees and Displaced Persons in International Law
  • An Introduction to Refugee and Forced Migration Studies
  • Dissertation, including Researching Refugees taught component

The cutting-edge elective modules include:

  • Securing Refugee Protection in Practice
  • Asylum Law in Europe: Towards Regional Harmonisation of International Protection
  • Asylum and Refugees in Africa and Latin America: Refugee Protection in the Global South
  • Advanced International Refugee Law
  • Internal Displacement in Law and Policy: War and Beyond
  • Statelessness, Nationality and the Protection of Stateless Persons
  • Gender, Sexual Identity and Age in the Refugee Context
  • Displacement, Healthcare and Humanitarian Action
  • Disasters, Climate Change and Displacement

Each module of the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies is developed and run by specialists in the field. View the video below for an overview of studying on the programme, with Programme Director Dr Sarah Singer.

MA RPFMS Overview with Programme Director

Who is it for?

The programme is designed for anyone who wishes to pursue or advance their career in a range of professional contexts in the refugee, human rights or humanitarian fields. Graduates of the programme have gone on to work for international organisations such as the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), international and local NGOs, academic research centres and government ministries. A number of our graduates have also gone on to pursue PhD study in the forced migration or related fields. 

Find out more about studying on the programme from our graduates Sylvester Chapotera and Vlora Shemsidini.

Distance Learning

The MA is unique in that it is the first ever postgraduate course on refugees to be offered by distance-learning. Students study this online programme part-time, from the comfort of a home computer and access the course content through a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

  • The distance-learning format has various benefits.
  • Students can flexibly combine postgraduate study with ongoing professional and personal commitments. No requirement to travel to London or even be online at set times.
  • Students are able to connect with an engaged and experienced cohort of fellow students all across the world, including students currently working in different capacities in the field
  • Students are taught by tutors who are leading experts and/or subject specialists currently working in academic and practitioner institutions across the globe
  • Students have maximum flexibility in choosing to enter the programme in one of two annual in-takes (October and March)

As the most established programme on forced migration by distance and online learning, the MA in Refugee Protection benefits from a wealth of expertise both in the field of refugee protection and in delivering a high-quality educational experience by distance-learning. The programme draws on the Refugee Law Initiative’s wide network of leading experts in the refugee field to deliver all components of the programme, and combines rigorous learning with a format which can be adjusted to suit students’ individual experiences. This programme consistently scores some of the highest student satisfaction ratings in the biannual student experience survey, and in 2019 was awarded the prestigious Roger Mills Prize for Innovation in Learning and Teaching.

View a selection of our students research here.


The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) Bursary is available for the MA Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies programme only for students/applicants who register from the 2022/23 academic year onwards.

New registrants who are members of the Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance & Protection (PHAP) can receive a bursary of 10% on all fees for this programme.

Current Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) employees can receive a 10% bursary that can be applied against registration, examination entry fees and module fees.

New registrants who are current UNHCR employees can receive a 10% bursary that can be applied against the module fees for the programme.

More on funding your study.


Aziz Foundation Scholarship Programme

Enabled by the generous support of the Aziz Foundation, the University of London is pleased to announce up to four Master’s scholarships for the 2023-24 academic year at the School of Advanced Study (SAS). These scholarships will be awarded to exceptional students who are active in British Muslim communities and keen to build bridges with all parts of British society.

Scholarships for the 2023/24 academic year will cover tuition fees only for one year for full-time students or for two years for part-time students, regardless of the length of the programme. Applications are open to students who are continuing on eligible programmes as well as new students registering for the first time in 2023/24.


Students must have received an offer of a place for, or already studying on, the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies, among others. Through this scholarship programme, the University and the Aziz Foundation wish to widen access to individuals from social groupings who have been historically under-represented within higher education.

The University invites applications from candidates who:

  • are eligible for Home Fees status [Students with an international fee profile will not be eligible];
  • have received an offer of a place on one of the above eligible programmes or are about to enter Year 2 or Year 3 of one of the eligible programmes;
  • are demonstrably active in British Muslim communities;
  • can demonstrate a long-term commitment to community/societal development and how the programme will increase their effectiveness in one of the following areas relating to British Muslims: effective advocacy and enhancement of public perception; community service; or social development.
How to apply

Candidates must apply directly to the University of London for a place on one of the eligible programmes and secure a conditional or unconditional offer. Continuing students must have successfully registered for their programme and be on course to progress to Year 2 or Year 3 of their chosen course of study.

Candidates must complete the Aziz Foundation scholarships application form, dependent on the selected programme. Where indicated on the form, candidates should demonstrate how they meet the criteria for the Aziz Foundation scholarships and how they would use the scholarship in their future work.


The closing date for receipt of applications is 9th June 2023, 5pm BST.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited to a short dialogue with representatives from the University of London and the Aziz Foundation, to discuss the candidate’s application and any further information the candidate believes would support their application.

The dialogues will be conducted electronically via telephone or digital platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc. A timeframe for these dialogues will be confirmed with shortlisted candidates, but they are anticipated to take place in late June/early July 2023.

The University selection panel will assess candidates’ applications based on information provided on scholarship application forms and the information they provide in their dialogues. A representative from the Aziz Foundation will review applications in order to participate in the dialogue.

The Aziz Foundation welcomes informal enquiries from candidates considering an application. Enquiries should be made to scholarships@azizfoundation.org.uk.

More Information

To apply, please click on the MA in Refugee Protection at the University of London tab below. You can also download our prospectus.