Not available in 2022/23
IR324      Half Unit
The Practices of Transitional Justice

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Jens Meierhenrich CLM.6.07


This course is available on the BSc in International Relations, BSc in International Relations and History and BSc in Politics and International Relations. This course is not available as an outside option. This course is available with permission to General Course students.


Students must have completed International Organisations (IR203) and International Political Theory (IR200).

Course content

This taught seminar introduces students to the theory and history of transitional justice.  It explores the logic of amnesties, apologies, memorials, lustrations, reparations, trials, truth commission, and related responses to genocide, crimes against humanity, and other mass atrocities.  Examining the whole array of historical and contemporary solutions to the problems of 'radical evil' (Immanuel Kant), the seminar assesses the conditions for - and limitations to - achieving order, truth, and justices in domestic politics and international affairs.  Utilising insights from political science, law, history, sociology, and philosophy, the seminar will compare alternative institutional designs and divergent choices and consider their real, and imagined, social, political and economic consequences across space and time, from Athens to South Africa to Libya.


20 hours of seminars in the LT. 1 hour of seminars in the ST.

In line with departmental policy, students on the course will have a reading week in Week 6.

Formative coursework

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

Students are required to research and write one essay (2,500 words). In addressing a given essay topic, students must seek to integrate, where applicable, theory and history and bring empirical evidence to bear on the research question they have chosen. Essays must be fully—and carefully—referenced using one of the major conventions consistently. Submissions are due in Week 8 and must be made in hard copy. Feedback is provided by the course teacher, who is responsible for marking essays.

Several criteria are applied in the evaluation of student essays, notably: (1) Originality of argument: How unexpected is the advanced claim? (2) Use of literature: Has relevant scholarship been digested and put to good use? (3) Soundness of analysis: Is the inquiry comprehensive and logically consistent? (4) Organisation of evidence: Have argument and evidence been introduced and presented in a compelling manner? (5) Validity of findings: Does the argument remain valid when applied empirically? (6) Clarity of presentation: Are grammar, punctuation, and references flawless?

Indicative reading

Indicative reading list:

Jon Elster, Closing the Books: Transitional Justice in Historical Perspective (Cambridge: CUP, 2004)

Jens Meierhenrich, Alexander Laban Hinton and Lawrence Douglas (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Transitional Justice (Oxford: OUP, 2017)

Tricia D Losen, Leigh A Payne and Andrew G Reiter (eds), Transitional Justice in Balance: Comparing Processes, Weighing Efficacy (Washington DC: USIP, 2010)

Rosalind Shaw and Lars Waldorf (eds), Localizing Transitional Justice: Interventions and Priorities after Mass Violence (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010)

Kathryn Sikkink, The Justice Cascade: How Human Rights Prosecutions are Changing World Politics (New York: Norton, 2011) 


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the summer exam period.

Key facts

Department: International Relations

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication