Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module HIST44330: Interpretations of Terror and Genocide in Modern Europe

Department: History

HIST44330: Interpretations of Terror and Genocide in Modern Europe

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Not available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To gain an advanced understanding of historical interpretations of genocide and terror in modern Europe, and to develop an advanced understanding of historiographical and methodological approaches in the field.


  • This module considers recent historiographical debates surrounding genocide and terror in modern Europe, giving students an opportunity to interrogate and engage with a wide range of historical interpretations and methodological approaches. The course is research-led, and draws on the research interests of the tutors and students. As such, content is driven by a collectively agreed research agenda. Nonetheless, the course seeks to encourage an advanced understanding of the dynamics and meanings of the terror state, whether in Revolutionary France, Stalinist Russia, or in the fascist dictatorships of the 1930s-1970s. The course examines the state apparatus for repression and control, how the state established and maintained ‘authority’, the relationship between terror and conformity, the persecution of dissidents and others considered without the ‘national community’, the effect of terror on national politics, society and culture and how terror conditioned the interactions between individuals and the state. The course might consider how, in some states, terror led to mass murder and genocide, and how genocide has been remembered and memorialised in European societies.
  • Most importantly, the course will develop students’ appreciation of the methodological complexities associated with this field and the historical controversies that have surrounded it. By understanding the limitations of our knowledge, and the ethical questions research in this field involves, students may develop a more nuanced understanding of how dictatorial power operates and how it was experienced by different populations and how they might develop their own reflective approaches to the study of modern European history more generally.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • advanced knowledge and understanding of key issues and historiographical debates about approaches to the history of terror and genocide in modern Europe.
  • advanced knowledge and understanding of key methodological challenges associated with study in this field.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Subject specific skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/PGModuleProformaMap/
Key Skills:
  • Key skills for this module can be viewed at: http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/PGModuleProformaMap/

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Student learning is facilitated by a range of teaching methods.
  • Seminars and Group Discussion require students to reflect on and discuss: their prior knowledge and experience; set reading of secondary and, where appropriate, primary readings; information provided during the session. They provide a forum in which to assess and comment critically on the findings of others, defend their conclusions in a reasoned setting, and advance their knowledge and understanding of the history of terror and genocide.
  • Structured reading requires students to focus on set materials integral to the knowledge and understanding of the module. It specifically enables the acquisition of detailed knowledge and skills which will be discussed in other areas of the teaching and learning experience.
  • Assessment is by means of a 5000 word essay which requires the acquisition and application of advanced knowledge and understanding of an aspect of the history of terror and/or in modern Europe. Essays require a sustained and coherent argument in defence of a hypothesis, and must be presented in a clearly written and structured form, and with appropriate apparatus.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
seminars 8 weekly 2 hours 16
discussion group 2 two a term 2 hours 4
structured reading and essay preparation 280

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

One or more short assignments delivered orally and discussed in a group context.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University