This course aims to equip participants with the skills required to design a shelter and settlements response in a humanitarian crisis after natural disasters.

This Master level short course in Shelter and Settlements in Emergencies (Natural Disasters) is offered by the  International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in partnership with the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP) at Oxford Brookes University.

This course draws upon IFRC’s experience on shelter and settlements response in a humanitarian crisis after natural disasters at country level.

This course aims to equip participants with the skills required to design a shelter and settlements response in a humanitarian crisis after natural disasters. It will provide participants with an overview of shelter and settlements in emergencies, their relevance in humanitarian programmes and an understanding of the principles and practice of humanitarian shelter response.

At the end of the course, students will have acquired strategic and practical knowledge of shelter and settlements policies, methods, tools and procedures in the humanitarian response system and are prepared to practice these in a sustainable manner from relief to recovery.

  • Demonstrate a depth of knowledge of the main principles, standards, approaches, and the complexity of programming aspects in shelter and settlements in relief.
  • Analyse alternative approaches to different aspects of shelter and settlements response using current humanitarian standards and principles.
  • Synthesise an operational shelter response based on the main principles, standards, approaches, and programming aspects in shelter and settlements in relief.
  • Evaluate with critical awareness successful scenarios in implementing programmes for shelter and settlements in relief, utilizing knowledge from the forefront of the discipline.
  • Ability to apply communication skills effectively and appropriately to a professional standard for different audiences in the field of humanitarian practice.

Course outline

This course covers the following topics will be delivered through the online and face-to-face components:

  • The Humanitarian Reform, the cluster approach and the shelter cluster
  • IFRC mechanisms for emergency response
  • IFRC Emergency finance tools: DREFT and appeals (PEA, EA, REA)
  • Principles of shelter after disaster (emergency and recovery)
  • Difference between relief and recovery, how shelter programmes bridge them
  • Settlements options for displaced and non-displaced population before and after a disaster
  • Needs/damages/capacities assessments for shelter and settlements programmes
  • Implementation emergency shelter response: logistic, relief/distribution and technical support
  • Shelter and settlements programming aspects related with settlements options, site planning, living space, design, construction and environment (shelter chapter, Sphere standards)
  • Planning shelter response: drafting a plan of action, targeting and selection of beneficiaries, monitoring and evaluation of the programme

Period of study

The course has two phases:

  1. First phase: Tutored distance learning: This will take place during a period of five weeks (10 August to 13 September 2020) and participants will study through the online Red Cross Red Crescent e-learning platform. This first phase deals with most of the theoretical basis of the course.
  2. Second phase: A 6-day face to face workshop (26 to 31 October 2020) planned in Sofia (Luzon), Bulgaria although final confirmation will be provided. The face to face workshop is based on a scenario that simulates the deployment to and the design of a shelter response in an evolving emergency.

Practical information

Who can apply?

Individuals working in the humanitarian and shelter sectors for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, United Nations agencies or Non-Governmental Organisations, or Governments, particularly agencies or institutions actively involved in the delivery of humanitarian assistance through shelter and settlements responses at global or country level. The course is also open to individuals seeking to advance their understanding of and expertise in the field of shelter and settlements operations.

How to apply?

Applications must be submitted online. Deadlines close on 19 July 2020.

Language of instruction

The language of instruction is English.

Tuition Award

In memory of Graham Saunders, former Global Shelter Cluster Coordinator, the IFRC will sponsor one participant by covering the course fee (the tuition award will not cover any other cost related with the participation in the face-to-face workshop). Those willing to benefit from this opportunity must indicate so in the online application form. The criteria for selection include number of years of experience, in the humanitarian sector and languages. Nationals from less developed countries and staff or volunteers from the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement will be prioritized.


The fees are 1,800 CHF (Swiss Franc) per participant. It does not include any cost related to accommodation for the face-to-face workshop. The fees are due once you have been accepted on the course.

Award received

Certified Masters-level credit rated course by Oxford Brooks University (10 UK masters level credits- CATS, equivalent to 5 European masters level credits- ECTS)


Course details
Launch date: 26 May 2020
Additional information

Further information can be found on:

National Society