IR312      Half Unit

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Pilar Elizalde CBG.9.08


This course is available on the BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and Chinese, BSc in International Relations and History and BSc in Politics and International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

This course cannot be taken in conjunction with SO309 Atrocity and Justice.

Course content

This course provides an introduction to the study of genocide. The course's disciplinary ambit ranges from anthropology to economics, from history to law, and from political science to sociology. Against the background of diverse disciplinary approaches, it explores major theoretical and empirical aspects of the role(s) of genocidal campaigns in international politics, inter alia, their origins, development, and termination; the manner of their perpetration, progression, and diffusion; their impact on the maintenance of international peace and security; their consequences for the reconstruction and development of states and the building of nations; and their adjudication in domestic and international courts and tribunals. Empirical cases to be discussed include Australia, Cambodia, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, East Timor, Nazi Germany, Guatemala, Iraq, Northern Ireland, the Ottoman Empire, Rwanda, Uganda, the Soviet Union, Sudan, the former Yugoslavia, and Burma/Myanmar, among others. The course is designed to equip students with the analytic tools necessary for making sense of the evolution of the international system from the nineteenth century to the present - and for critically assessing the promise and limits of responding to collective violence.


This course is delivered through lectures and/or classes totaling a minimum of 20 hours in Lent Term. This year, some or all of this teaching will be delivered through a combination of in-person classes/classes delivered online. This course includes a reading week in Week 6 in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the LT.

Students are required to research and write one formative essay (1,500 words) due in Week 7 of Lent term. In order to ensure a broad acquisition of knowledge, students should diversify the subject matter of their essays. In addressing a given essay topic, students must seek to integrate theory and history and bring empirical evidence to bear on the research question they have chosen. In constructing their answers, students may examine a number of cases, drawing comparisons among them, or may focus on a single case. Essays must be fully - and carefully - referenced using one of the major conventions consistently.

Indicative reading

  • Jens Meierhenrich, Genocide: A Reader (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).
  • William A. Schabas, Genocide in International Law: The Crimes of Crimes, Second edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).
  • Anne Orford, International Authority and the Responsibility to Protect (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).
  • Karen E. Smith, Genocide and the Europeans (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
  • Charles Tilly, The Politics of Collective Violence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).
  • Eric D. Weitz, A Century of Genocide: Utopias of Race and Nation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003).
  • Diane M. Nelson, Who Counts? The Mathematics of Death and Life after Genocide (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2015).
  • Damien Short, Redefining Genocide: Settler Colonialism, Social Death and Ecocide (London: Zed Books, 2016).


Take-home assessment (100%) in the ST.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2019/20: 12

Average class size 2019/20: 13

Capped 2019/20: Yes (15)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information