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School of Social Sciences

Student in the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons
BSocSc Politics and International Relations
Gain the skills to critical examine international and comparative politics.

BSocSc Politics and International Relations / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
War, Genocide, Terror: Understanding Organised Violence

Unit code POLI30892
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Politics
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course examines the politics of organised violence in the 20th century: specifically war, genocide and terror. War, genocide and terror have been integral to the 20th century. This course seeks to show how such organised violence has distinctive, evolving dynamics that are a product of politics, society and technology. In order to do this, the course examines a series of historical cases including: the historical emergence of modern war; the total warfare of WWI and WWII; the so-called new and networked warfare of the late 20th and early 21st Century; terrorism; insurgency and asymmetric warfare; and genocide in a number of forms. Overall the course will contend that war, genocide and terror both reflect and constitute a complex relation between society, politics and technology in the 20th century.

Topics may include:

  • Modern war
  • Total war
  • The Revolution in Military Affairs
  • New Wars
  • Colonial genocide
  • The Holocaust
  • Ethnic nationalism
  • Terror and Insurgency


Available to student on the following degree programmes: BSocSc Politics & IR, PMH, LwP, PPE, BASS Politics pathways and BA Econ single specialists in Politics


This course examines the nature and politics of organised violence in the 20th Century. The course identifies 3 specific forms of organised violence in the 20th century: war, genocide and terror. The course then shows how each of these forms of organised violence evolves over time through the examination of appropriate case studies. Overall the course aims to provide students with an opportunity to examine of the politics of organised violence, the nature of war, genocide and terror, and an understanding of cases that exemplify these forms of violence.

This course aims to:

  1. Outline the nature and politics of organised violence in the 20th century.
  2. Identify the 3 central forms of organised violence in the 20th century: war, genocide and terror.
  3. Show how each of these forms of organised violence evolves over time through the examination of appropriate case studies.
  4. Consider possible responses to war, terror and genocide through prevention, intervention or justice.
  5. Provide students with an opportunity to examine the way in which representative cases of war, genocide and terror exemplify the way in which organised violence both reflects and constitutes relationships between politics, society and technology.

Learning outcomes

 On completion of this unit successful students will be able to demonstrate:

  1. Understanding of key theories of war, genocide and terror
  2. Understanding of major historical cases of war, genocide and terror in the modern period.
  3. The ability to construct and communicate conceptual arguments through the analysis of empirical cases

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures will outline the key themes in the literature as well as show the way in which they can be critically assessed and synthesised into perspectives on individual empirical cases.

Tutorials will address questions about the literary and, through small group discussion, discuss the various ways in which the topics can be approached, understood and critically interrogated

Essays gives students the opportunity to research and critically analyse principles and definitions central to the field giving them a grounding in key concepts. Each essay will require students to research one or more topics, critically assess evidence and develop and communicate an individual argument.


10 x 2 hour lectures

10 x 1 hour tutorials

Assessment methods

Two essays:

Essay 1 40% (2500 words)

Essay 2 60% (3000 words)

Feedback methods

Politics staff will provide feedback on written work within 15 working days of submission via Blackboard (if submitted through Turnitin).

Students should be aware that all marks are provisional until confirmed by the external examiner and the final examinations boards in June.

For modules that do not have examination components the marks and feedback for the final assessed component are not subject to the 15 working day rule and will be released with the examination results. This applies to Semester 2 modules only. Semester one modules with no final examination will have their feedback available within the 15 working days.

You will receive feedback on assessed essays in a standard format. This will rate your essay in terms of various aspects of the argument that you have presented your use of sources and the quality of the style and presentation of the essay. If you have any queries about the feedback that you have received you should make an appointment to see your tutor. Tutors and Course Convenors also have a dedicated office hour when you can meet with her/him to discuss course unit specific problems and questions.

On assessments submitted through Turnitin you will receive feedback via Blackboard. This will include suggestions about ways in which you could improve your work in future. You will also receive feedback on non-assessed coursework, whether this is individual or group work. This may be of a more informal kind and may include feedback from peers as well as academic staff

Recommended reading

  1. Shaw, M, War and Genocide: Organized Killing in Modern Society (Cambridge: Polity, 2003)
  2. Jones, A, Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction, 2nd edition (London: Routledge, 2011)
  3. Maleševi¿, Siniša, The Sociology of War and Violence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)
  4. Shaw, M, The New Western Way of War (Cambridge: Polity, 2005)
  5. Kaldor, Mary, New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era (Cambridge: Polity, 1999)
  6. Markusen, E and Kopf, D, The Holocaust And Strategic Bombing: Genocide And Total War In The Twentieth Century (Boulder: Westview Press, 1995)
  7. Shaw, M, What is Genocide?, 2nd edition (Cambridge, Polity, 2007)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Martin Coward Unit coordinator

Additional notes



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