Rwanda: Peace, Conflict and the Politics of History HIST4284

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 60
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Runs Throughout Semesters 1 and 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This special subject will introduce students to the study of peace, conflict, and the politics of history in Rwanda, a small nation in the Great Lakes region of eastern Africa. Part I will proceed chronologically to cover key events from the mythical origins of the Nyiginya Kingdom to Rwandan independence in 1962. Part II will then cover Rwandan history since independence until the present. Students will analyse relevant primary and secondary sources to better understand a nation whose history includes periods of relative peace and political stability, intermingled with episodes of state-sanctioned political and ethnic violence resulting from colonisation, small-scale ethnic, regional, and political conflicts, civil war, and genocide. In the process, students will learn to examine sources critically with an eye toward comprehending the political processes that have informed how Rwandans and foreigners have presented the nation's history at different points in its past.


3x1 hr per week over 20 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus.  This is one of the Honours options in History and may not run every year. The options that are running in the current session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Successful completion of Junior Honours in History.

Excluded Courses





Semester One:

Reading responses (10%) - 1,000 words

Primary source analysis (30%) - 2,000 words

Final essay (60%) - 3,000 words


Semester Two:

Reading responses (10%) - 1,000 words

Primary source analysis (30%) - 2,000 words

Final essay (60%) - 3,000 words

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ Assess competing interpretations and theoretical concepts relating to the study of Rwandan history, from the mythical origins of the Nyiginya kingdom to the present;

■ Act as professional historians by conducting independent and small-group group analysis of primary sources, in conversation with secondary literature, and writing carefully considered essays and related written assessments;

■ Gain familiarity with some of the challenges that historians face when studying places and people whose histories have been overwhelmed by recent genocides and related atrocities and other potentially polarising events.

■ Develop the confidence, imagination, self-discipline and skills required to excel in similar demanding work in postgraduate work or in employment. 

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Identify and discuss in a critical manner key theoretical and historiographic trends related to the study of Rwanda's history;

■ Critically evaluate and interpret primary sources related to different periods in Rwanda's history, and bring them into conversation with relevant secondary literature to support informed conclusions about Rwanda's past and present; 

■ Draw informed conclusions about how different kinds of political violence have taken shape in Rwanda, and the long-term legacies of such violence for present-day Rwandans;

■ Present research findings in unambiguous, concise and effective prose or verbal argument, incorporating different kinds of substantiating evidence; and

■ Engage in lively and well-grounded discussion with fellow students, including commenting meaningfully on your peers' work.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.