SO457      Half Unit
Political Reconciliation

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Claire Moon


This course is available on the MSc in Human Rights, MSc in Human Rights and Politics, MSc in International Migration and Public Policy, MSc in International Migration and Public Policy (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Political Sociology and MSc in Sociology. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). Places are allocated based on a written statement, with priority given to students on the MSc in Human Rights, MSc in Human Rights and Politics, MSc in Political Sociology and MSc in Sociology. As demand is typically high, this may mean that not all students who apply will be able to get a place on this course.

Course content

The course introduces students to current issues in the field of transitional justice and historical injustice, and draws upon a range of examples from Africa, Latin America, post-communist Europe, Australia and the US. Topics include transitional justice as a field of practice and a field of knowledge; historical injustice - apologies and reparations; state crimes; retributive and restorative justice; perpetration; theology and therapy in reconciliation; memory and atrocity. The course explores the politics of reconciliation by identifying and examining its key themes, the practices and institutions in which it is embedded and the political subjects of reconciliation discourse. It is an interdisciplinary course that draws upon literature from sociology, law, political theory, anthropology and philosophy amongst others, in order to understand and interpret the wide social and political reach of reconciliation, as well as its limitations.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures, online materials and seminars totalling a minimum of 20 hours in the AT.

Reading Weeks: Students on this course will have a reading week in AT Week 6, in line with departmental policy.

Formative coursework

1 x formative essay of 1500 words.

Indicative reading

Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (Penguin Books, 1977); Glen Coulthard, Red Skin White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition (University of Minnesota Press, 2014); Priscilla Hayner, Unspeakable Truths: Confronting State Terror and Atrocity (Routledge, 2001); Michael Humphrey, The Politics of Atrocity and Reconciliation: From Terror to Trauma (Routledge, 2002); Karl Jaspers, The Question of German Guilt (Capricorn Books, 1961); Neil Kritz, Transitional Justice: How Emerging Democracies Reckon with Former Regimes (US Institute of Peace, 1995); Claire Moon, Narrating Political Reconciliation: South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Lexington, 2008); Judith Shklar, Legalism: Law, Morals, and Political Trials (Harvard University Press, 1986); Nicholas Tavuchis & Mea Culpa, A Sociology of Apology and Reconciliation (Stanford University Press, 1991); Richard Wilson, The Politics of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa: Legitimizing the Post-Apartheid State (Cambridge University Press, 2001).


Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the WT.

An electronic copy of the assessed essay, to be uploaded to Moodle, no later than 4.00pm on the first Wednesday of Winter Term.

Attendance at all seminars, completion of set readings and submission of set coursework is required.

Key facts

Department: Sociology

Total students 2022/23: 50

Average class size 2022/23: 17

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills