2 x 50-minute lectures weekly
1 x 50-minute tutorial weekly
Enrolment not permitted
HIST2044 has been successfully completed
Assignment(s), test(s)
Topic description

Genocide, massacre, extermination, ethnic cleansing - are they all the same? Should we attempt to distinguish? This topic examines the historical phenomenon of deliberate mass killing, outside of conventional warfare. It seeks to explain why instances of mass killing have occurred by placing them in their historical context. In dealing with the theoretical issues of definition and comparison, presenting a number of case studies and explanatory frameworks, the course introduces students to a wide range of historical debates, as well as to contemporary issues of memory, prevention, denial, prosecution, intervention, categorisation and reconciliation. Students are encouraged to address the deeper historical question with regard to deaths in history: in explaining them and the circumstances that surrounded them, are we justifying the killings themselves? Students will study mass killing in revolution (French) and in post-revolutionary political purges; in the pursuit of Empire; during the end of Empire; and in the post-colonial settings. Use of documentaries and images will be frequent, but the topic will avoid being excessively gory, with the construction and examination of the historical circumstances of each case being the main aim.

Educational aims

This topic aims to:

  • Understand the circumstances of mass killing outside of conventional warfare
  • Introduce students to various international cases of mass killing outside of conventional warfare
  • Analyse a range of international secondary reading, assessing the value of this material in terms of argument and research
  • Analyse a wide range of primary sources and determine their contexts
  • Appreciate the value of documentary films to historical understanding
  • Introduce students to a variety of historical sources and develop their skills of evaluating these sources to form arguments
  • Develop students' communication skills (written and oral; informal and formal)
  • Foster an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation that encourages students to develop independent and critical thinking and as collaborative learners
Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic you will be expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the circumstances surrounding mass killing outside of conventional warfare
  2. Analyse a range of secondary reading, assessing the value of this material in terms of argument and research
  3. Analyse a range of primary sources and determine their contexts
  4. Develop the ability to use your knowledge to plan, analyse, think critically, reflect upon and evaluate ideas, options and decisions
  5. Describe ethical issues related to the field of history generally and to the issues of this topic
  6. Apply effective oral and written communication skills to write/present properly structured, clearly argued, fluently expressed essays and oral presentations
  7. Exchange and debate ideas with other members of the class and with the tutor with the utmost integrity and respect
  8. Work regularly, independently and collaboratively to meet the prescribed deadlines and activities