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Genocide, Civilian Victimization, and Violence


Admission requirements

Admission to the Master International Relations. Other students who are interested in this course, please contact the co-ordinator of studies.


Though the world has been becoming more peaceful, war and violence remain a key component of international politics. Civil war and indiscriminate violence by Assad and ISIS in the levant, the Russian annexation of the Crimea, and the Saudi-Egyptian intervention in Jemen demonstrate the continued relevance of understanding political violence.
This course seeks to problematize, clarify, and conceptualize the multifaceted concept of mass political violence, whether it is war, civil war, or genocide. We will examine mass political violence at the hand of seminal and occasionally provocative theoretical arguments that together have formed the state of the art of our understanding of mass political violence. We will also examine specific examples of mass political violence and civilian victimization in greater depth.
In-class instruction will aim not to regurgitate the content of readings, but expand upon them by bringing in current research, data, and case analysis. Students will engage with state of the art theoretical arguments of genocide, conflict and violence. Moreover, students will conduct supervised research on a topic related to the course. The research project will culminate in a research paper that aims to make a contribution to our understanding of mass political violence – e.g., war, civil, war and genocide.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:
1) Critically engage major theoretical arguments of conflict and violence;
2) Reflect on the causes of mass political violence, inter-, and intra-state conflict; 3) Reflect on the possibilities and limitations for outside intervention in conflict;
4) Explain the occurrence of selective and indiscriminate violence;
5) Explain the role of state, substate, and non-state actors in the generation political violence;
6) Explain the relationship between authoritarian politics and political violence; and
7) Conduct supervised research on mass political violence.


See the website

Mode of instruction

Lecture, seminar style discussion, and supervised research.

Course Load

  • 24 Hours of classes (attendance is compulsory)

  • 72 hours of close reading (6 hours per week over 12 weeks)

  • 20 hours for presentation

  • 30 hours for research proposal.

  • 100 hours for research paper.

  • 34 hours for regulative activities; meeting with fellow students and teacher; and hours surrounding classes.

Total course load for this 10 EC course is 10 × 28 hours = 280 hours.

Assessment method

  • Prepare the pre-assigned readings prior to each class, and participate fully in the discussions. You should bring the readings to class;

  • Submit a proposal for a research paper, which contains: research question or hypothesis; an outline, and a preliminary bibliography;

  • Write and present a research paper that aims to contribute to knowledge with respect to and mass political violence.

The research paper will only be graded if the student has attended the seminars.


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


The resit is only available for students who have both presented and handed in a complete version of the term paper and when the mark for this paper ends up insufficient.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrolment in uSis
Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

To be announced


Via uSis .

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dhr. Dr. E. van der Maat


Students that have taken dr. Van der Maat’s Researching Authorianism class should contact the lecturer before enrollment.