Aftermath of Atrocity: Social Sciences Perspectives on Political Violence and Justice SOCIO4136

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The course investigates the social conditions and the aftermath of atrocities, such as genocide, wars, slavery, famine, environmental and infrastructural violence, and mass political repressions. Grounded in interdisciplinary social sciences, the course creates an empirically rigorous and theoretically informed framework for critique of political violence and for engaging with narratives of denial of mass atrocities and grassroot initiatives that reveal silenced histories to enact a degree of justice and accountability. The course engages with challenging research on political violence and its perpetrators, exhumation of mass graves, juridical trials and war crime tribunals, social mobilisation on the political margins, curation of archives and documents, commemorative and human rights activism, and attempts to give atrocities a representational form, for example in photographs, public art, and monuments.


Two hours per week of timetabled on-campus teaching (1 hour lecture and 1 hour seminar)

Requirements of Entry

In order to take this course you need to have met the requirements for entry into our Honours Programme. This means achieving a grade of 'D' or better in Sociology 1A and 1B and a 'C' or better in Sociology 2A and 2B. You also have to comply with the College of Social Science regulations for progression to Honours.

Excluded Courses





2 X 2,000 word essays.

Assignment One:  a 2,000-word essay (50% of the overall mark). This is a literature review essay that will be based on critical reading and analysis of academic literature and an ethnographic film on a given topic.

Assignment Two: a 2,000- word essay (50% of overall mark). This is a project essay that will require an exploration and critical reflection on building an extended case study of a process of justice-making (e.g. identifying documentary, textual and visual materials relevant to a truth-and-reconciliation committee and collating them into theoretically informed and coherent narrative).

Formative Assignment: a 10 minute group class presentation.

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

The aim of this course is to equip participants with critical and practical investigative skills to assess key research literature on political violence, justice, and social mobilisation in the aftermath of atrocities and to develop familiarity with applied methodologies to research social forms and effects of mass atrocities and sources of evidence such as micro-level of witness testimonies, mundane contexts of documenting atrocities by various stakeholders, and practices of justice-making in different contexts.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able:

1. To evidence critical reading and analytical skills for engaging with interdisciplinary theories and methodologies of investigating political violence and practices of justice-making;

2. To construct a research question and explore it independently;

3. To critically engage with relevant academic and non-academic literature to discern mechanisms and constraints of justice-making;

4. To demonstrate ability to participate in teamwork and deliver a coherent presentation in class;

5. To construct an argument and establish sophisticated connections between empirical data and theory;

6.  To effectively communicate analytical insights in written and verbal forms assessed formatively by a class presentation and summatively by two essays.

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.