HIS32380 Genocide & Mass Violence in the Twentieth Century

Academic Year 2023/2024

With the emergence of total war there was a transformation in the scale of violence in the twentieth century. This course explores some of the cases in this period of genocide, looking at the similarities and differences between genocide and mass violence. We will be drawing on global examples from across the twentieth century and engaging with the historiography of genocide and mass violence to help us better understand these crimes against humanity. We will examine the causes and consequences of four different case studies over the semester to assess the explanations for how and why mass violence can become genocide. We will analyse this violence from the perspective of perpetrators, victims, and survivors, as we grapple with attempts to explain the unexplainable.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

1) Ability to process source materials and develop original arguments through focused case studies. Students will also learn to think about these case studies in a thematic way, which can be built upon in their own research and allow them to demonstrate detailed knowledge of the events, actors, and processes through which mass violence occurs.
2) Evaluate conflicting interpretations and revisionist narratives of the causes and consequences of genocide and mass violence.
3) Critically engage with diverse primary and secondary sources, including unconventional sources and multidisciplinary methodologies.
4) Gain experience applying the skills of historians; research skills, synthesising readings and lecture content, meeting deadlines, and presenting historical findings through written work and small group discussions.
5) Write analytical essays to the standards of a third-level history student.

Indicative Module Content:

- Definitions and understandings of terms such as ‘genocide’, ‘crimes against humanity’, ‘war crime’, etc.
- Case Study I: the Armenian Genocide
- Case Study II: the Holocaust and WWII
- Case Study III: Cambodia Under the Khmer Rouge
- Case Study IV: the Rwandan Genocide
- How have acts of genocide been prosecuted and perpetrators brought to justice?
- Are our acts of commemoration and remembrance doing harm or good?

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This module combines a one-hour lecture with five fortnightly one-hour seminars. Weekly lectures provide overviews of the various topics, with focus on background readings and their relation to modern scholarship. Fortnightly seminars focus on small group activities and task-based learning by means of class debates and discussions. Self-directed learning is advanced through accompanying readings and discussion of sources. Advanced research, writing, and citation skills are developed through an end-of-semester essay.

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
Continuous Assessment: In-class participation Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: 2,000-word final essay Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Assignment: 1,000 word source analysis Unspecified n/a 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 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