Migration Policy Making in Times of Hostile Environment (10 credits) URBAN5136

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course explores the relationship between migration policy making and 'hostile environment' - a term used to describe policy and political measures aimed at hardening immigration regimes through intensifying levels of inhospitality, denial of protection and services, and exclusion. This term has been increasingly extended to explore how wider policy and political circumstances affect urban and rural places and people including migrant populations (e.g. Brexit in the UK, European migration crisis, forced displacements in Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, Somalia and Ukraine, China's hukou system, the 2017-21 Donald Trump administration in the US or Viktor Orbán's in Hungary).

The course asks critical questions about how cities and rural regions are shaped by migration and how migration policy making and migrant lives are shaped by hostile environments in the UK and internationally. Alongside more theoretical components delivered via lectures and self-study materials, students will benefit from discussion-based tutorials and practical tasks facilitating the preparation of a policy brief (written assessment).


Classes to run in Semester 2 and delivered in 3-hourly blocks, once per week, over 5 consecutive weeks with a tutorial.

Requirements of Entry


Excluded Courses






Written assignment: a policy brief of maximum 2,500 words on a self-selected topic relevant to the issue of migration and/or hostile environment.

Course Aims

The aims are:

1. An introduction to migration and migration policy making in urban and rural regions.

2. An overview of the impacts of hostile environments on these regions as well as on migrant, indigenous and minoritised communities that live in them. It will do so by drawing on examples in the UK and internationally.

3. The development of a practical skillset to prepare policy briefs concerning issues of migration policy making and/or hostile environment. It will do so by exploring existing policy documents and prompting learners to design new bespoke ones. 

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ critique the relationship between migration policy making and hostile environment at international, national and local levels in various geographical contexts from the public policy perspective  

■ critically appraise the importance of policy-maker involvement and the value of policy communication in migration and hostile environment processes

■ design a policy brief on issues concerning migration and hostile environment policy and practice.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.