Postgraduate course

War, violence, peace and health

  • ECTS credits3
  • Teaching semesterSpring
  • Course codeINTH340
  • Number of semesters1
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Resources

Level of Study

Master and PhD

Teaching semester


This course is not planned for spring 2017.

Place of Instruction

Centre for International Health

Objectives and Content

This is a two-weeks course. The students must complete five online Medical Peace Work courses, www.medicalpeacework.org, (number 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 - estimated to require five days of work) before they attend the five days with face-to-face teaching and group work.

Items 1-7 will be covered by both the online courses and the face-to-face sessions. Item 8 will be covered only in the face-to-face sessions.

1) Basic concepts: peace, health, conflict, violence, war

    • Terminology
    • Types of violence
    • The link between peace and health
    • Violence as a public health problem
  1. Structural violence
    • Definitions, examples
    • Health inequity & Social determinants of health
    • Strategies to reduce structural violence
  1. Underlying causes of violent conflict
    • Conflict analysis
  1. Consequences of war and violent conflict, direct and indirect
    • Somatic
      • Health consequences of different weapon types
  • Mental
  • Social and structural, incl. effect on the health system
    1. The role of health personnel in prevention of violence
      • Addressing underlying causes
      • Non-violent and intercultural communication
      • Disarmament
    1. Rehabilitation and reconciliation
      • Trauma healing and psychosocial rehabilitation
      • Community rehabilitation and reconciliation
    1. Human rights and international humanitarian law
      • Essential principles
      • Medical neutrality
      • Definition and types of torture and their health consequences
      • Health professions' ethical codes of conduct
        • Roles and dilemmas of health professionals in military operations
        • Possible unintended negative effects of health assistance in conflict settings.
    1. Refugee and migration challenges
      • Terminology
      • Relevant international laws
      • Health and social needs of refugees and migrants
      • Principles in organising refugee camps
      • Prevention of gender-based violence in refugee camps

    Learning Outcomes

    At the end of the module, the students should be able to:

    1. Summarize how peace and health are related and justify why violence poses a public health problem
    2. Debate the term structural violence, give examples of structural violence, and propose strategies that may alleviate structural violence
    3. Critically question the causes of some specific violent conflicts
    4. Describe common somatic and mental health effects of violent conflict and war, and appraise how violent conflicts, war and weapons affect society as a whole and the health sector specifically
    5. Debate the principles of violence prevention and how health personnel may contribute to violence prevention
    6. Describe principles of psychosocial and community rehabilitation and debate the appropriateness of psychological interventions in these processes
    7. Debate the main legal principles protecting civilians in times of peace and war; analyze situations in which health workers risk violating human rights and their professional ethical codes; appraise possible unintended negative effects of health assistance in conflict settings; and propose how health professionals may document, prevent alleviate the use and effects of human rights abuse and torture.
    8. Evaluate the health and social needs of refugees and internally displaced persons and describe how these may be met

    Required Previous Knowledge

    Good working knowledge of English (TOEFL score of at least 550 points paper-based or 213 points computer-based, or an equivalent approved test). Students admitted to a Master's Degree Programme may join this course (e.g. tropEd network).

    Access to the Course

    Master students (including TropEd) and PhD-candidates; medical students from the University of Bergen.

    Teaching Methods and Extent of Organized Teaching

    Interactive presentations by lecturers,group discussions and presentations, role play, films, self-study (papers and on-line courses).

    The five electronic Medical Peace Work courses provide necessary background information to follow the lectures and group work.

    Forms of Assessment

    Online multiple choice tests for the five online courses should be completed prior to the face-to-face teaching week. When each of these courses is completed, the student can download a certificate. Copies of the five certificates must be handed in before the exam. The mark will be based on a 2-hour written exam.

    Grading Scale

    ECTS credits A-E (F=Fail)

    Course Coordinator

    Professor Ingvild Fossgard Sandøy (Ingvild.Sandoy@uib.no)


    Contact Information

    Centre for International Health

    E-mail: studie@igs.uib.no

    Tel: 55 58 85 69