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Freedom of Movement, Refugees, Traffickers, and Smugglers

Investigate the role, reach, and scope of border controls in generating modern forms and means of flight.

401 enrolled on this course

Freedom of Movement, Refugees, Traffickers, and Smugglers

401 enrolled on this course

  • 4 weeks

  • 3 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

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Discover the laws that govern human migration

Where we are born and the borders we’re allowed to cross is a matter of chance. Some people are free to move almost anywhere in the world because of their nationality, while others are in very different situations.

On this course, you’ll examine the complex network of laws and policies that inform human migration in the 21st Century and explore the significant tension between international legal obligations and national sovereignty.

Examine the right to freedom of movement

With tensions between the right to freedom of movement and the sovereign right to control borders, you’ll explore the human right to leave any country and what’s left of it when states strengthen their borders and deter people from arriving in, or leaving, their territories.

You’ll then look at the Refugee Convention, identifying what constitutes a refugee and the protections it provides refugees. With this in mind, you’ll consider the Convention’s overall strengths and weaknesses, especially as it relates to 21st Century migration.

Explore the consequences of deterritorialisation

Today, border controls of the state of destination are often implemented inside the state of origin or on the high seas, far from the borders of destination states. This deterritorialisation prevents travellers from leaving their own country, let alone reaching the border of the country of destination.

Analyse trafficking and smuggling protocols

On this course, you’ll examine the ways in which the anti-trafficking and the anti-smuggling treaties serve to further strengthen border controls and increase the vulnerability of migrants fleeing violence and persecution etc.


  • Week 1

    Border controls and freedom of movement

    • Introduction

      Here you will be introduced to the new four-week course, as well as to the current week.

    • Border controls

      Here we will start to unveil the how and the where of border controls.

    • The right to freedom of movement in international law

      We will investigate the human right to leave any country including one’s own, and the ways it has been limited by border controls.

    • The impact of globalisation on migrant movements

      Here we will see that globalisation is a driver of migration of people in the Global South.

    • Wrap up

      Here you will find some additional resources and a summary of the week.

  • Week 2

    Asylum seekers and refugees

    • Introduction

      You will be introduced to International Refugee Law.

    • Analysis of the protections provided by the Refugee Convention 1951

      Here we will examine the definition of a refugee and consider the key protections accorded by the Refugee Convention to those seeking protection.

    • Relevance of the Refugee Convention in the 21st century

      We will examine Western states’ allegations concerning burden sharing, and consider some of the strengths and weaknesses of the Convention.

    • Wrap up

      Here you will find additional resources, support for your research, a repeat poll and a summary of the week.

  • Week 3

    Deterritorialisation of border controls

    • Introduction

      You will be introduced to the concepts of extra territorial border controls, externalisation and deterritorialisation of border controls.

    • A focus on visas

      Here you will investigate the role that visas play in restricting migration.

    • Focus on interdictions at sea

      Interceptions of vessels carrying migrants across seas are known as interdictions. We shall see that while often described as “saving lives”, the primary purpose is border control.

    • Consequences for migrants of deterritorialisation of border controls

      Here we examine the impact that deterritorialisation has on migrants fleeing and migrants desperate to find work abroad.

    • Assignment: border controls in migration crises

      In this activity you will undertake your own assignment, and reflect on the activity in a Discussion.

    • Wrap up

      Here you will find additional resources, a repeat poll, and a summary of the week.

  • Week 4

    Human trafficking and smuggling of persons

    • Introduction

      You will be introduced to two UN treaties and consider the context for their adoption. This will assist you in assessing some of the claims made about states' claims relating to their fight against smugglers and traffickers.

    • Key provisions of the Trafficking Protocol

      You will see that while law makes a distinction between smuggling and trafficking, it is hard to distinguish the trafficked from the smuggled. You will examine the impact of the treaties on sovereign choices about border controls.

    • Analysis of the Protocols

      Here you will consider scholarly critiques of the Protocols.

    • Wrap up

      Here you will find additional resources, a test, a repeat poll and a summary of the week.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify the role(s) that borders have in the generation of modern forms and means of flight
  • Evaluate some of the shortcomings of the Refugee Convention 1951
  • Explore the right to freedom of movement in the context of modern migration patterns
  • Evaluate the UN anti-smuggling and anti-trafficking regimes and their impact on migrants and migration

Who is the course for?

This course has been designed for anyone looking to develop a critical understanding of migration laws. It will be of specific interest to people working for national and international governmental and non-governmental organisations involved in the field of migration, and also lawyers wanting to deepen their knowledge base.

If you want to further your knowledge, you may be interested in these courses from the same provider. They share a related subject matter and the same overall learning outcomes:

Who will you learn with?

I am Senior Lecturer in Law at Kent Law School, University of Kent. I specialise in International Human Rights Law and International Migration Law.

Who developed the course?

The University of Kent

The University of Kent, the UK’s European university, is one of the country’s most dynamic universities. Established in 1965, it now has 19,850 students studying at its various campuses.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save


For the first two months. Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$129/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 7 Jan 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

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