Online ExpertTrack in Politics & Society

Field Ready! Planning for Success in a Conflict Zone

Learn how to best approach working in a complex conflict zone, with International Security expert Dr Aisha Ahmad.

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For businesses, aid agencies, and NGOs alike, working in a complex conflict zone presents a myriad of security and political challenges.

Too often, organisations can find themselves embroiled in local conflicts and derailed from their missions.

On this ExpertTrack, you’ll develop the skills and knowledge to evaluate and assess the challenges and opportunities of working in a complex conflict zone.

Throughout the program, you’ll focus on the Malian conflict as a real-world case study. You’ll also use practical exercises and tools to prepare you for the field but all from the safety of the classroom.

Meet your Expert Educator, International Security expert Dr Aisha Ahmad

You’ll learn with Dr Aisha Ahmad, an International Security expert with a specialisation in civil wars, insurgencies, organized crime, and complex international military interventions.

Across four unique courses, Dr Ahmad will give you the foundations to evaluate conflict-affected regions and plan for both humanitarian aid and business success in them.

Discover the skills to build conflict maps

Before embarking on any activity in a conflict zone, it’s important to assess the environment and plan your operations. The first step of this process is conflict mapping.

You’ll start this ExpertTrack by learning how to create a conflict map that covers the dominant actors and interests in conflict theatre. This will give you the techniques to better understand the roles of each party in a conflict zone, the factors that can lead to conflict, and how different parties may intersect.

Explore the motivations and perspectives of the enemy

Almost nobody thinks they are the ‘bad guy’ in their own story; they think they’re the protagonist in their story instead, and often the victim of injustices caused by others.

The second course will allow you to develop a meaningful understanding of ‘the enemy’ in a conflict zone, in order to better understand and strategize in a contested environment.

Create robust business plans for conflict-affected environments

Missteps in a conflict zone can be incredibly dangerous. Fortunately, there are ways to better prepare and plan for a business, development, or humanitarian project in a conflict zone, even amid uncertainty and instability.

On the final two courses of this ExpertTrack, you’ll delve into business and humanitarian project planning in conflict zones, learning how to assess vulnerabilities in your strategies, prepare contingencies, and then stress test your plans.

Key skills you will learn

  • Empathetic learning
  • Stress testing
  • Contingency planning
  • Business and development planning
  • Evaluating options
  • Considering outcomes
  • Balancing priorities
  • Project planning
  • Risk assessment
  • Risk management
  • Forward planning

Learning outcomes

By the end of the ExpertTrack, you’ll be able to...

  • Investigate what it would mean to embark on a project in a conflict-affect part of the world
  • Evaluate the costs, benefits, opportunities and challenges of pursuing a venture in a complex and conflict-affected part of the world
  • Apply empathetic learning to any project or context
  • Apply the ‘red team’ exercise model to any project or context
  • Stress test ideas before implementation

Experience required

This ExpertTrack is designed for anyone looking to learn about complex conflict zones and how to assess the environments and parties involved.

No previous experience or knowledge is needed to benefit from these four courses.

Getting started

This ExpertTrack is suitable for anyone interested in international security and business, or anyone wanting to learn more about business and humanitarian projects in conflict zones.

It would also be useful for university students studying in areas such as political science, developmental studies, public policy, or international business studies, or those studying at military colleges.

ExpertTrack course overview

  • Course 1

    Explore and map the parties involved in conflicts, their motivations, and the fault lines between them.

    1 peer-graded assignment

    3 weeks

    5 hours per week

  • Course 2

    Learn the skills and techniques to view the different perspectives across a conflict zone, including those of the enemy.

    1 peer-graded assignment

    3 weeks

    5 hours per week

  • Course 3

    Explore how to set up a successful business in a conflict-affected region using red team exercises to stress-test your plans.

    1 peer-graded assignment

    3 weeks

    5 hours per week

  • Course 4

    Learn the nuances of the aid industry in conflict zones and develop the skills to stress test humanitarian aid projects.

    1 peer-graded assignment

    3 weeks

    5 hours per week

Prove you're job ready

Highlight the new, job-relevant skills you’ve gained and supplement existing qualifications with a hard-earned, industry-specific digital certificate – plus one for every course within your ExpertTrack.

  • Learn the latest in your chosen industry or subject.
  • Complete each course and pass assessments.
  • Receive certificates validated by the educating organisation.
  • Impress employers with learning outcomes you can add to your CV.
  • Make your career dreams a reality.

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How ExpertTracks work

Join an ExpertTrack to master new skills in your chosen specialist area. Work through a series of topic-focused courses at your own pace, and pass the final assessment to earn a digital certificate award which proves your expertise.

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Keep learning for $39/month

Pay a monthly subscription fee of $39 for as long as it takes you to complete the ExpertTrack. You can learn at your own pace and cancel at any time.

Earn digital certificates

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Become an expert

Use your specialist training to progress further in your career or build expertise in areas you’re passionate about.

World-class learning with FutureLearn

FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform and has been providing high quality online courses for learners around the world over the last ten years.

This ExpertTrack is in collaboration with Dr Aisha Ahmad

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

Want to know more about learning on FutureLearn? Using FutureLearn

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After your free trial you can:

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  • Only pay while you’re learning; the subscription will cancel automatically when you finish
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  • Keep access to the content of courses you complete even after your subscription ends


ExpertTracks are a series of online courses designed to help you master new skills in specialist areas. You pay a monthly subscription fee which includes access to all courses within the ExpertTrack, as well as assessments and the final digital certificate.

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