Skip to main content

Module

HIS3235 : Genocide and Justice in the Twentieth Century: From the Armenian Genocide to the International Criminal Court

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Daniel Siemens
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0

Aims

Mass atrocities and genocide have shaped the history of the twentieth century. The Armenian genocide in the middle of the First World War, the Holodomor and the Holocaust in the 1930s and 1940s, yet also more recent mass atrocities which occurred during the Bosnian War and in Rwanda in the 1990s have not only deeply affected millions of people in the respective regions, but have also captured the global public imagination – at the time of these events but also until much later. The scale of these crimes exceeded what people in previous centuries experienced and imagined and gave way to a new and deeply rooted pessimism that came to associate modernity no longer exclusively with progress (as in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries), but also with what is now believed to be the ‘dark side’ of modern civilisation. At the same time, however, did the international community begin to develop mechanism and institutions to enforce human rights on a global scale, to ‘make good’ for the surviving victims of genocide and to hold those responsible accountable. We are thus confronted with a highly ambivalent picture. Against this background, the aim of this module is threefold: to provide students with in-depth factual information about major genocides in the twentieth century, to make them understand how these crimes triggered the development of legal categories and institutions to deal with these events and ideally prevent them from happening in the future, and – finally – to make them aware how closely political, legal and historical studies are interwoven when analysing mass violence and genocide in the twentieth century.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module will explore the concept of genocide and its historiographical significance by analysing key events of mass violence in the twentieth century. Seminars focus on a particular topic; students will be expected to read the assigned secondary texts and primary documents in preparation for the seminars. Indicative syllabus; the precise range of topics may vary from year to year.

Topics covered might include: The Concept of Genocide – The Armenian Genocide – The Holodomor – The Holocaust – Contested Legacies of Genocide – Restitution after 1945 (including case studies) – The legal category of “crimes against humanity” – The history of human rights – Making good for past atrocities? The German Case of dealing with the Holocaust – The Second Wave of Holocaust Restitution since the 1990s – The Screbrenica Massacre – The Rwandan Genocide – Genocide in popular culture – The Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and its historiographical impact – Genocide and modernity

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion541:0054:001/3 of guided independent study
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading551:0055:001/3 of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching113:0033:00Seminar
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery13:003:00Coursework surgery time
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study551:0055:001/3 of guided independent study
Total200:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

As a special subject, aside from an in-depth understanding of the content of the module, the teaching methods, which focus on small group work, independent research and writing, relate to the core learning outcomes of supporting students in developing research skills across a wide range of sources, being able to synthesise the information they collect and form convincing and coherent arguments.

Independent learning is essential to this module: students are expected to develop skills of source evaluation, critical reading and note-taking in an independent and effective manner. Seminar teaching complements these skills by allowing students the opportunity to share and debate information gathered independently. Oral skills of argument and presentation will be developed. Moreover, a significant part of seminar teaching will test the development of primary source analysis as well as of secondary sources from history and related disciplines, in particular law and politics.

Small group teaching will allow the students to explore ideas and patterns together in a structured way, and great emphasis will be placed on primary sources and their interpretation as well as historiography.

Assessment Methods

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

Exams
Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1201A60unseen
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M402000 words
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation1MStudents will give presentations on one specific topic as a means of gaining feedback from the module leader and other students, as
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The exam will test students’ ability to acquire a general knowledge of the subject and the ability to focus this knowledge swiftly and succinctly. Exams also assess the ability to problem solve and communicate ideas and arguments in a clear manner.

The essay will test ability to research, develop, and communicate an argument about a particular subject. This calls for both general knowledge and a detailed understanding of sources relating to the course topics.

An oral presentation will encourage the students to develop, and to test, skills that will be invaluable when it comes to applying for and engaging in a career.

Reading Lists

Timetable