POL3083 : War and Genocide in the Twentieth Century

  • Module Leader(s): Dr Martin Coward
  • Owning School:
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module examines the nature of war and genocide in the twentieth century. It critically evaluates Martin Shaw’s contention that war and genocide must be understood in relation to one another rather than separately, beginning by outlining the defining conceptual features of genocide in order to provide a framework for analysis. The module then examines the way in which both the colonial warfare and the total war waged by modern, industrial states degenerated into genocidal violence. A number of twentieth century genocides will then be examined to establish their common characteristics, focusing on the relation between the state, warfare and genocide. Finally, the course examines the relation between war and genocide in the contemporary era, as well as questions of justice for victims and prevention of future atrocities.

This module aims to:
• Investigate the evolving relationship between war and genocide in the twentieth century.
• Identify the key cases that inform an understanding of genocide in the twentieth century.
• Provide a conceptual framework for understanding the characteristics of, and relationship between, war and genocide.
• Address questions of justice for victims/survivors and prevention of future atrocities.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics may include:

• Introduction: concepts of war and genocide
• War, Genocide and the state in the twentieth Century
• Total War
• The Holocaust
• Dresden and Tokyo: strategic bombing
• Cambodia
• Ethnic cleansing: Bosnia
• Rwanda
• Other –cides: politicide, urbicide
• Justice after genocide

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture132:0026:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching101:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1641:00164:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The lectures will cover major theories and cases in the study of war and genocide in the twentieth century. The seminars will allow students not only to discuss and share their reactions to this material but also to consider specific examples.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M50Critical Document: 1500 words
Essay2M502500 word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

A critical document analysis gives students the opportunity to research and critically analyse founding principles and definitions in the field giving them an ample grounding in key concepts. An essay requires students to research one or more topics, critically assess evidence and develop and communicate an individual argument.

Exchange Students:

Since no unseen exams are used, no alternative form of assessment will be set for exchange students from non-English speaking home institutions replacing the examination

Reading Lists


Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.