This course is discontinued

HIS2358 – Genocide in Historical Context

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The twentieth century witnessed an unprecedented upsurge of state-sponsored, ideologically driven violence against the civil population. The intent to physically destroy certain groups of people sets genocide apart from other forms of internationally punishable crimes. The Nazi murder of Jews, the mass murder of Tutsis in Rwanda, and many other cases testify to the deplorable recurrence of genocide in the past century. The first attempt to prevent genocide was made in 1948, when the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. However, it did not deter potential génocidaires from committing this heinous crime. The recurrent nature of genocide is one of the main themes of this course.
The course consists of two parts. During the first seven weeks we will be looking at individual case studies from Europe, Africa, and Asia. The case studies include German South West Africa (Namibia) in 1903-04; the Soviet Union under Stalin, 1928-1953; Nazi policies of extermination, 1939-1945; Khmer Rouge Cambodia, 1975-1979; the former Yugoslavia, 1992-1995; Rwanda, 1994; and Sudan since 2003. In the following weeks we will be examining particular aspects of genocide such as hate language and propaganda; the role of the state and bureaucracy; genocide denial; prevention and punishment of genocide.

Learning outcome

This course seeks to explain the root causes of genocide. Embedded in the comparative method, the course will assess the long-term consequences of genocide and the possibilities for redress. By analyzing the differences among genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of human rights, students will learn how to recognize genocide. Through individual case studies, students will be able to distinguish the different stages of genocide and to identify the patterns of destruction. A comparative analysis of specific aspects of genocide will enable to illuminate certain traits of individual and collective behaviour. In addition to historical method, the course would make use of sociological, anthropological, and legal theories relevant to the study of genocide. The geographical and methodological scope of the course would appeal to students with different academic interests.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

General university entrance requirements.

Higher Education Entrance Qualification for 2000-level courses (bachelor’s courses),
admission to master’s degree programme in history for 4000-level courses (master's courses)

Recommended previous knowledge

History courses at 2000-level presuppose a prior knowledge of history. Students who plan to take a 2000-level course are expected to have accumulated at least 30 academic points at the 1000-level.

All readings are in English

Overlapping courses

The course will be taught as part of the history program. Although the seminar subject does not overlap with any other subjects currently on offer at the University of Oslo, it may overlap with some courses taught in the past. Students are advised to make sure that the contents of this course do not overlap with any similar courses for which they have received academic points.


The main form of instruction is seminar. Two-hour seminars are conducted on a weekly basis, for 12 weeks in total.

Obligatory attendance: Students are expected to attend all the seminars. Those who fail to attend the first class meeting will disqualify from taking the course.

In-class group presentation: At the beginning of the semester students will be divided into groups. Each group will be allocated a topic that they will present in class starting from the week nine. Note that the obligatory assignments have to be approved by the teacher in order for the student to sit the exam.
The final grade will be determined on the basis of a written take-home exam.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


Take-home exam: Students will be given three working days at the end of the semester to write their papers. Students will have to choose from a list of subjects to write a footnoted essay on a particular topic (ca 3,500 words). This exam is graded from A-E (pass) and F (fail). To both papers the following form must be attached, Obligatory Statement Concerning Cheating

The take-home exam has to be delivered to us both in two examples of papers and in Fronter.

The exam questions are integrated in the seminar structure. Only those students who attended the seminar throughout the semester would be able to produce a good essay.

For details see: Normer for undervisning, pensum og vurdering på emner ved HF, kortversjon

Formerly given exams

Examination support material

No examination support material is allowed.

Language of examination

You may submit your response in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English. If you would prefer to have the exam text in English, you may apply to the course administrators.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

The course uses a letter grading system from A to F, where A is the highest and F the lowest grade. For details see: § 6.1 om karaktersystemet i Forskrift om studier og eksamener ved UiO.

Fagspesifikke karakterbeskrivelser for historie

One examiner is used to evaluate the papers, along with an assessment examiner for a selection of papers. A programme auditor is used to evaluate the overall quality of the course, included the guidelines for assessment.

After the examination result is announced, there will be possible to have an explanation of grades from the examiner. Requests for explanations of other assessments must be submitted within one week after the candidate learns of the mark. This request must be made by sending an e-mail to: The explanation will be given either in writing or oral, this will be decided by the examiner. Please inform of your phone number, e-mail address where you can be contacted as well as your candidate number.

Explanations and appeals

Please note that the student must state the reasons for the complaint and it will be sent, along with a written explanation of the grade from the examiner, to the Appeals Committee.

Resit an examination

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

The quality of the course will be attested in accordance with the existing rules and regulations.

Periodic evaluation

Facts about this course






Autumn 2009

Autumn 2008


Autumn 2009

Autumn 2008

Teaching language