Take action, change the world as you know it. Humanitarian Assistance.

Master of Humanitarian Assistance

The Master of Humanitarian Assistance (MHA) is a mixed delivery mode postgraduate degree offered by Deakin University. The MHA provides students with a unique combination of theory, practice and reflection using cloud based and intensive located modes of learning. This, combined with action-based research and field experience, enables students to be better equipped, effective and highly skilled practitioners in the sector, both in Australia and internationally. Drawing on the organisational partnerships that have evolved through the development of the Graduate Certificate of Humanitarian Leadership Program, students will have access to humanitarian experts, leaders, thinkers and researchers from the humanitarian sphere.

Who should apply for this course?

The course is designed for people interested in building a career in the sector and current humanitarian practitioners who want to deepen their knowledge and enhance their analytical thinking around humanitarian practices and dilemmas.

Why study with Deakin?

The MHA is strategically positioned as the first course of its kind in the Asia Pacific region. It builds a unique platform where humanitarian practitioners and academics can share knowledge and experience with a focus on improving leadership, preparedness and response capacities to national and international emergencies.

Course content

The program draws on a combination of academic and practice knowledge methodologies, with 6 core and a selection of elective units offered. Core units include:

  • The Humanitarian World: An introduction to the history and development of the humanitarian sector
  • Applied Humanitarian Assistance: From Theory to Practice
  • Dynamics and Dilemmas of the Humanitarian Sector
  • Fundamentals of People Management Across the Humanitarian Continuum
  • Disaster Risk Reduction and Management in Humanitarian Contexts
  • Project and Financial Management in Humanitarian Contexts

Academic team

The multiplicity of expertise and experience of Deakin's academic team accumulate many years of field-based experience with a diverse range of humanitarian and development organisations offering students unparalled access to academic and practice excellence.

Phil Connors

Dr Phil Connors

Dr Phil Connors

Phil Connors is Course Director for the Master of Humanitarian Assistance (MHA) and Master of International and Community Development(MICD). Phil is also Academic Director of the Graduate Certificate of Humanitarian Leadership(GCHL). Furthermore Phil is the Course Leader of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) Humanitarian Responses to 21st Century Disasters.

Phil has a background in Community and Participatory Development in Australia and internationally. Phil has more recently been involved in the development of innovative courses in the Humanitarian field built around strong partnerships with sector NGOs. This has culminated in Deakin signing a formal MoU with Save the Children Australia.

Phil has over twenty five years of experience in community development across many contexts and is exploring avenues for integrating community participatory approaches in humanitarian contexts.

Nuran Higgins

Nuran Higgins


Nuran Higgins is a Lecturer in the Master of Humanitarian Assistance and the Graduate Certificate of Humanitarian Leadership with Deakin University. Ms Higgins is also a humanitarian practitioner and has been engaged in the sector for over 15 years starting initially as a Red Cross volunteer. Nuran has worked in field and headquarter positions in various technical, operational management and leadership roles deploying to complex emergencies and protracted conflict settings across Africa, Asia, Pacific and the Middle East.  She is an active member with global emergency response surge rosters with IFRC Field Assessment and Coordination Teams (FACT), United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) and RedR.

In the field, she has worked with the International Federation on Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Australian Red Cross (ARC), CARE Australia, International Rescue Committee (IRC), World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Save the Children International.

Areas of expertise include Humanitarian Policy & Strategy, Women, Peace & Security, Organisational Development, People Management & Humanitarian Leadership, Emergency Health, Surge Management, & Emergency Preparedness. She holds a Master in Public Health and a Degree in International Community Development.

Sophie Perreard

Sophie Perreard

SophieSophie Perreard is a Lecturer in the Master of Humanitarian Assistance in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Sophie is also a Humanitarian Practitioner with over 13 years of INGO experience, both in the field and at headquarters.  Sophie has worked mainly in emergency and post emergency contexts in Africa, Asia, The Caribbean and Middle-East. Before joining Deakin, Sophie worked for Save the Children USA as Deputy Director for Emergency Response, and in various capacities with Doctors without Borders (MSF), the German Cooperation (GTZ), and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). Her areas of expertise include Protection/Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law, Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy and Operations and Program Management.

Sophie has also been a lecturer at Aix-Marseille University, France.  Sophie taught in the areas of humanitarian protection and assistance in Sri Lanka and Darfur. Sophie also teaches and coaches in the Graduate Certificate of Humanitarian Leadership and in training Senior Management Development Programs for Save the Children.

Sophie has a Humanitarian Logistics and Administration Degree from Bioforce Institute, a European Master in Humanitarian Assistance (NOHA) and a Post Graduate degree in Protection-Rule of Law-Human Security from the Aix-Marseille University.

"Strong relationships with academic institutions are a really powerful way for aid organisations like Save the Children to enhance the rigour of work. We are delighted with our relationship with Deakin University and are very supportive of their new Master of Humanitarian Assistance."

Paul Ronalds
CEO, Save the Children Australia

Page custodian: Faculty of Arts & Education
Last updated:

Back to top