HIS32380 Genocide & Mass Violence in the Twentieth Century

Academic Year 2023/2024

Was the twentieth century uniquely violent? If so, why? This course explores the question of genocide and mass violence in the twentieth-century world. In this class, we will engage with theories of genocide and political violence, and also examine the validity of these explanations for the causes and consequences of mass violence by examining four case studies in depth. Looking at Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in the period of the First World War, Jews on the Eastern Front during the Second World War, Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, and Rwanda in 1994, this class will ask: what is the context for these acts of mass violence? Who were the perpetrators of these acts? Who were the victims? Why did they happen at this time and in this place, and not at another time? What was the tipping point between persecution or repression and mass murder? What was the role of belief or ideology? Did the geopolitical situation in each time and place matter? What were the roles of individuals, groups, and the state? Students will engage with the historiography of twentieth-century genocide, political violence, warfare and civil war, as well as reading and viewing a range of primary sources including victim and perpetrator testimonies, trial records, and documentary film.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate detailed knowledge of the events, actors and processes by which mass violence occurred in this period.

2. Critically engage with a variety of primary and secondary material.

3. Evaluate conflicting interpretations of these genocides, their causes and consequences.

4. Write scholarly essays to the standard of a level 3 student of history.

5. Assess and analyse key themes, readings and debates in class discussions.

Indicative Module Content:

The module will cover the following main areas: Week One: Theories. Week Two: Armenia. Week Three: Armenia. Week Four: the Holocaust. Week Five: the Holocaust. Week Six: Cambodia. Week Seven: Cambodia. Week Eight: Rwanda. Week Nine: Rwanda. Week Ten: Culpability, Trials, Restitution. Week Eleven: Genocide and mass violence and memory. Week Twelve: Review.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Seminar (or Webinar)




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module combines large-group and small-group teaching, through a weekly lecture and four seminars over the semester (devoted to each of the four major genocides studied). Weekly lectures provide overviews of weekly topics, with focus upon key historical trends, debates and events. An array of different types of sources are presented, including film footage and documentary film, legal documents, theoretical literature, oral and written testimonies, maps and administrative documentation, timelines, and news reports. Seminars focus on small-group active / task-based learning using both secondary and primary sources related to the topics covered in the lecture. Autonomous learning is nurtured through required preparatory reading each week, and written assignments. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: 1,000 word assignment Unspecified n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: Participation Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Examination: 2 hour end of trimester exam 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on the mid-term assignment is given in writing on the returned assignment.

Name Role
Dr Chiara Tedaldi Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Thurs 13:00 - 13:50
Seminar Offering 1 Week(s) - 21, 23, 25, 29, 31 Thurs 14:00 - 14:50
Seminar Offering 3 Week(s) - 22, 24, 26, 30, 32 Thurs 14:00 - 14:50
Seminar Offering 5 Week(s) - 21, 23, 25, 29, 31 Thurs 16:00 - 16:50
Seminar Offering 6 Week(s) - 22, 24, 26, 30, 32 Thurs 16:00 - 16:50
Seminar Offering 7 Week(s) - 22, 24, 26, 30, 32 Fri 11:00 - 11:50
Seminar Offering 8 Week(s) - 22, 24, 26, 30, 32 Fri 12:00 - 12:50
Seminar Offering 9 Week(s) - 22, 24, 26, 30, 32 Fri 13:00 - 13:50
Seminar Offering 12 Week(s) - 22, 24, 26, 30, 32 Fri 10:00 - 10:50