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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh Futures Institute : Edinburgh Futures Institute

Postgraduate Course: Migration and Forced Displacement in a Digital Age (fusion online) (EFIE11051)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh Futures Institute CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course explores how digitization, data, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) impact the lives and livelihoods of migrants and refugees today. The course blends a wider global perspective on this theme with close-up, practical, case studies and a challenge-based learning strategy (e.g. cases of refugees and migrants finding work online, being counted, and navigating the risks of ICT that makes people visible).

Students will work collaboratively to understand micro- and macro-level dynamics that shape migrants and refugees' digital lives today, while also being challenged to innovate practical solutions to problems (e.g. platforms that help rather than prevent refugees and migrants find work).
Course description This course offers students an intensive deep dive into the digital lives and livelihoods of migrants and refugees, exploring aspects such as digital work and e-commerce, digital data, and ICT-enabled education. The course takes an approach that blends macro-level analysis with challenge-based case studies and collaborative peer work.

Phase one is fully online and allows students to work in groups to each find answers to a specific challenge posed by the course conveners. They include themes such as:

(1) How have refugees used smartphones to meet specific challenges of their situation?
(2) How can refugees work online?
(3) What is the data that is used to support but also control refugees?

This phase will culminate in each group producing a video presentation on a specific challenge. Phase two is the 'integration and exposure' phase. It is over an intensive two-day period and includes interactive lectures introducing the key themes, as well as a chance to develop the responses to the first phase's challenges through engagement with a wide range of practitioners who have had to face these challenges in practice. The final phase is the development and writing of a short individual policy paper related to the general challenge.

Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI) - Online Fusion Course Delivery Information:

The Edinburgh Futures Institute will teach this course in a way that enables online and on-campus students to study together. This approach (our 'fusion' teaching model) offers students flexible and inclusive ways to study, and the ability to choose whether to be on-campus or online at the level of the individual course. It also opens up ways for diverse groups of students to study together regardless of geographical location. To enable this, the course will use technologies to record and live-stream student and staff participation during their teaching and learning activities. Students should note that their interactions may be recorded and live-streamed. There will, however, be options to control whether or not your video and audio are enabled.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.

As part of your course, you will need access to a personal computing device. Unless otherwise stated activities will be web browser based and as a minimum we recommend a device with a physical keyboard and screen that can access the internet.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  4
Course Start Semester 1
Course Start Date 18/09/2023
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 6, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 12, Online Activities 20, Other Study Hours 8, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 52 )
Additional Information (Learning and Teaching) Other Study: Scheduled Group-work Hours (hybrid online/on-campus) - 8
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Summative Assessment:

The course will be assessed by means of the following components:

1) Group Presentation (30%)

This is a team-based analysis of a given challenge, using course material and data gathered from desk-research by the group. It is submitted before the intensive part of the course. The output will be prepared as a pre-recorded video presentation (max. 15 minutes run-time) and relevant guidance on how to compile such a group video will be provided.

The group mark will be assessed based on their ability to integrate knowledge and research findings into a clear presentation, and their ability to think critically about course readings and other materials. Moreover, assessment will take into account the overall quality of the answers provided in response to the challenge, presentation skills, and teamwork skills (i.e. equal and fair distribution of workload and presentation tasks - all group members will receive the same mark).

2) Individual Policy Paper (70%)

This will be an individual policy paper that builds on the insights gained from the course. The paper will be related to the theme of the initial group work but offers an opportunity to apply a stronger focus that is of interest to the individual student. The format is in the style of a policy brief at a length of around 1,500-2,000 words. The paper will be due three weeks from the end of the workshop.

Formative Assessment:

Each course within Edinburgh Futures Institute includes the opportunity for you to participate in a formative feedback exercise or event which will help you prepare for your summative assessment. The formative assessment does not contribute to your overall course mark.

Live light-touch formative feedback will be given during online contributions in phase one of the course, as well as the group work during the 2-day intensive period.
Feedback Feedback on the formative assessment may be provided in various formats, for example, to include written, oral, video, face-to-face, whole class, or individual. The course organiser will decide which format is most appropriate in relation to the nature of the assessment.

Feedback on both formative and summative in-course assessed work will be provided in time to be of use in subsequent assessments within the course.

Feedback on the summative assessment will be provided in written form via Learn, the University of Edinburgh's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

The feedback in phase one will primarily focus on developing effective and focused presentations (component one being a presentation), the summative feedback will get back to these aspects, but will also be accompanied with more formative feedback (after the presentation and during in-person interactions) on turning the presentations and ideas from the 2-day intensive into actual policy recommendations (the final summative assessment).
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Use desk-based research skills and peer collaboration to innovate solutions for real-world challenges in the wider field of international development and humanitarianism.
  2. Navigate the debates and research directions in the wider field of refugee and migration studies.
  3. Understand digitization and forced displacement intersect in the world today (including the ways in which data and digital technology become both an enabling resource for them and a means of controlling refugees and migrants).
  4. Analyse how migrants and refugee use digital technology and data to improve their livelihoods and deal with the challenges of forced displacement.
  5. Critically assess how current changes in digitization and data affect the experience of migration and wider policies that govern this space.
Reading List
Indicative Reading List:

Essential Readings:

Ager, A. and Strang, 1. 2008. 'Understanding Integration: A Conceptual Framework.' Ed. Erick Cantú-Paz Et Al. Journal of Refugee Studies 21.2: 166191.

Casswell, Jenny. 'The Digital Lives of Refugees: How Displaced Populations Use Mobile Phones and What Gets in the Way,' 2019.

Chacko, E., 2007. From brain drain to brain gain: reverse migration to Bangalore and Hyderabad, India's globalizing high tech cities. GeoJournal, 68(2-3), pp.131-140.

Graham, Mark, Isis Hjorth, and Vili Lehdonvirta. 'Digital Labour and Development: Impacts of Global Digital Labour Platforms and the Gig Economy on Worker Livelihoods.' Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research 23, no. 2 (2017): 102425891668725.

Hackl, Andreas, and ILO. 'Digital Refugee Livelihoods and Decent Work: Towards Inclusion in a Fairer Digital Economy.' Geneva, 2021.

Linda Leung (2018) Technologies of Refuge and Displacement: Rethinking Digital Divides (Lanham, MA: Lexington Books (selected chapters, tbc).

Maitland, Carleen. Digital Lifeline? ICTs for Refugees and Displaced Persons. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2018. (selected chapters, tbc)

Omata, N., 2017. Who takes advantage of mobility? Exploring the nexus between refugees' movement, livelihoods and socioeconomic status in West Africa. African Geographical Review, pp.1-11.

Rushworth, Philip, and Andreas Hackl. 'Writing Code, Decoding Culture: Digital Skills and the Promise of a Fast Lane to Decent Work among Refugees and Migrants in Berlin.' Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 2021.

Recommended Readings:

Arendt, H. We Refugees. Menorah Journal, 31, no. 1 (1943): 69-77 (available here:

Caribou Digital Publishing. 'Digital Lives in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda.' Surrey, 2015.

Donner, Jonathan. 2015. After Access: Inclusion, Development, and a More Mobile Internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Doorn, Niels van, Fabian Ferrari, and Mark Graham. 'Migration and Migrant Labour in the Gig Economy: An Intervention,' 2020.

Faist, T., 2008. Migrants as transnational development agents: an inquiry into the newest round of the migration-development nexus. Population, space and place, 14(1), pp.21-42.

Graham, Mark, Vili Lehdonvirta, Alex Wood, Helena Barnard, and Isis Hjorth. 'Could Online Gig Work Drive Development in Lower-Income Countries?' In The Future of Work in the Global South, edited by Galperin Hernan and Andrea Alarcon, 8-11. Ontario, 2018.

Hackl, A. 'Mobility Equity in a Globalized World: Reducing Inequalities in the Sustainable Development Agenda.' World Development 112 (2018).

ILO. 'World Employment and Social Outlook: The Role of Digital Labour Platforms in Transforming the World of Work.' Geneva, 2021.

Leckie, S. (2009). Climate-related disasters and displacement: Homes for lost homes, lands for lost lands. Population Dynamics and Climate Change, 119.

Marino, Sara. Mediating the Refugee Crisis: Digital Solidarity, Humanitarian Technologies and Border Regimes. Palgrave Macmillan. 2021

Maystadt, J.F. and Verwimp, P., 2014. Winners and losers among a refugee-hosting population. Economic development and cultural change, 62(4), pp.769-809. (feel free to skip the math parts)

Ransan-Cooper, H., Farbotko, C., McNamara, K. E., Thornton, F., & Chevalier, E. (2015). Being (s) framed: The means and ends of framing environmental migrants. Global Environmental Change, 35, 106-115.

Robinson, Laura, Jeremy Schulz, Hopeton S. Dunn, Antonio A. Casilli, Paola Tubaro, Rod Carveth, Wenhong Chen, et al. 'Digital Inequalities 3.0: Emergent Inequalities in the Information Age.' First Monday 25, no. 7 (2020).

Rockefeller Foundation. 'Digital Jobs in Africa: Catalyzing Inclusive Opportunities for Youth,' n.d.

Van Hear, N., O. Bakewell and K. Long. 2012. 'Drivers of Migration', Migrating out of Poverty Research Programme Consortium Working Paper 1, University of Sussex

Wilding, Raelene, and Sandra M Gifford. 'Introduction (Special Issue: Forced Displacement, Refugees and ICTs: Transformations of Place, Power and Social Ties).' Journal of Refugee Studies 26, no. 4 (December 1, 2013): 495-504.

Further Readings:

Achiume ET (2019) Migration as Decolonisation. Stanford Law Review, Vol 71.

Allen, W., Anderson, B., Van Hear, N., Sumption, M., Düvell, F., Hough, J., Rose, L., Humphris, R. and Walker, S., 2017. Who Counts in Crises? The New Geopolitics of International Migration and Refugee Governance. Geopolitics, pp.1-27.

Anderson, B. Traficking and Smuggling in Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E., Loescher, G., Long, K., & Sigona, N. (Eds.). 2014. The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. Oxford: OUP.

Andersson, R., 2016. Europe's failed 'fight' against irregular migration: ethnographic notes on a counterproductive industry. Journal of ethnic and migration studies, 42(7), pp.1055-1075.

Bakewell, O. Encampment and Self-settlement in Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E., Loescher, G., Long, K., & Sigona, N. (Eds.). 2014. The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. Oxford: OUP.

Behrends, Andrea. 2018. 'On categorizing: doing and undoing 'refugees' in the aftermath of large-scale displacement.' Vienna Working Papers in Ethnography (VWPE) 6. Vienna: University of Vienna

Betts, A. and Collier, P., 2017. Refuge: transforming a broken refugee system. Penguin UK. (focus on chapter 9)

Betts, A., 2010. The refugee regime complex. Refugee Survey Quarterly, 29 (1), pp.12-37.

Bose, P., & Lunstrum, E. (2014). Introduction environmentally induced displacement and forced migration. Refuge: Canada's Journal on Refugees, 29(2), 5-10.

Bradley, M. 2008. 'Back to basics: The conditions of just refugee returns'.Journal of Refugee Studies. 21.3: 285-304.

Chapter 38-41 in Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E., Loescher, G., Long, K., & Sigona, N. (Eds.). 2014. The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. Oxford: OUP.

Czaika, M. and De Haas, H., 2013. The effectiveness of immigration policies. Population and Development Review, 39(3), pp.487-508.

Gastrow, Claudia, 2017. 'Cement citizens: housing, demolition and political belonging in Luanda, Angola', Citizenship Studies, Vol. 21, No.2, pp. 224-239

Hammar, Amanda, 2014. 'Introduction: Displacement Economies in Africa', in Amanda Hammar (ed), Displacement Economies in Africa: Paradoxes of Crisis and Creativity, London: Zed Books, Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, pp. 3-32

Hammar, Amanda, 2017. 'Urban Displacement and Resettlement in Zimbabwe: Reshaping Property, Authority and Citizenship', African Studies Review, Vol. 60, No. 3, pp. 81-104

Hovil, L. Local Integration. in Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E., Loescher, G., Long, K., & Sigona, N. (Eds.). 2014. The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. Oxford: OUP.

Johanne, Mhlanga, and Muchinako George Alex. "Burdens or Benefits: A Critical Analysis of the Nexus between Refugees and Host Communities in Zimbabwe." Journal of Human Ecology 60, no. 2-3 (2017): 87-95.

Johnson, C. A. (2012). Governing climate displacement: the ethics and politics of human resettlement. Environmental Politics, 21(2), 308-328.

Jones, Jeremy, 2010. '"Nothing is straight in Zimbabwe": the rise of the Kukiya-kiya economy 2000-2008', Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 36, No. 2, pp. 285-99

Jones, W. and Teytelboym, A., 2016. Choices, preferences and priorities in a matching system for refugees. Forced Migration Review, (51), p.80.

Long, K. 2013. 'When refugees stopped being migrants: Movement, labour and humanitarian protection', Migration Studies. 1: 4-26.

Long, Katy. Rethinking Durable Solutions in Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, E., Loescher, G., Long, K., & Sigona, N. (Eds.). 2014. The Oxford Handbook of Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. Oxford: OUP.

Omata, Naohiko, 2017. 'Economic Lives in Bududuram', in Naohiko Omata, The Myth of Self-Reliance: Economic Lives Inside a Liberian Refugee Camp, New York: Berghahn Books, pp. 35 -29

Orjuela, C., 2008. Distant warriors, distant peace workers? Multiple diaspora roles in Sri Lanka's violent conflict. Global Networks, 8(4), pp.436-452.

Souter, J., 2014. Durable Solutions as Reparation for the Unjust Harms of Displacement: Who Owes What to Refugees?. Journal of Refugee Studies, 27(2), pp.171-190.

Weima, Y. (2017). Refugee repatriation and ongoing transnationalisms. Transnational Social Review, 7(1), 113-117.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Knowledge and Understanding:
- A critical understanding of a range of specialised theories, concepts and principles.
- Extensive, detailed and critical knowledge and understanding in one or more specialisms, much of which is at, or informed by, developments at the forefront.
- A critical awareness of current issues in a subject/discipline/sector and one or more specialisms.

Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding:
- Ability to use a significant range of the principal professional skills, techniques, practices and/or materials associated with the subject/discipline/sector.
- Ability to plan and execute a significant project of research, investigation or development.
- Ability to demonstrate originality and/or creativity, including in practice.

Generic Cognitive Skills:
- Development of original and creative responses to problems and issues.
- Capacity to critically review, consolidate and extend knowledge, skills, practices and thinking across disciplines, subjects, and sectors.
- Ability to deal with complex issues and make informed judgements in situations in the absence of complete or consistent data/information.

Communication, ICT, and Numeracy Skills:
- Communication, using appropriate methods, to a range of audiences with different levels of knowledge/expertise.
- Communication with peers, more senior colleagues and specialists.
- Use of a wide range of ICT applications to support and enhance work at this level and adjust features to suit purpose.
- Critical evaluation of a wide range of textual, numerical and graphical data.

Autonomy, Accountability, and Working with Others:
- Responsibility for own work and/or significant responsibility for group work.
- Demonstration of leadership and/or initiative and make an identifiable contribution to change and development and/or new thinking.
- Practice in ways which draw on critical reflection on own and others' roles and responsibilities.
- Management of complex ethical and professional issues and informed judgement on issues not addressed by current professional and/or ethical codes or practices.
KeywordsRefugee,Migrant,Displacement,Livelihoods,Exclusion,Inclusion,Digital Work,Digital Lives
Course organiserMr Andreas Hackl
Tel: (0131 6)51 5357
Course secretaryMr Lawrence East
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