Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 7 Hours. Seminar (7 x 1 hour)
Lecture 20 Hours. Lectures and Film Sessions (10 x 2 hour)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 2 Hours   1 x 2 hour 'open book' exam  65%
Semester Assessment 1 x 1,500 word essay  25%
Semester Assessment Seminar Performance  10%
Supplementary Exam Students failing the module will repeat only the failed component(s); those re-sitting failed coursework are required to select a different essay/assignment title and must not submit re-written versions of the original essay/assignment. 

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

- show a critical understanding of issues raised by famine and genocide
- discuss these questions orally and in writing
- demonstrate knowledge of a number of cases of famine and genocide
- respond to questions relating to two specific famines or genocides using concepts encountered in the module

Brief description

This module examines the international politics of mass starvations and genocides and looks at selected case studies in some detail


The module provides a critical introduction to debates surrounding famines, complex emergencies and genocides in international politics. It presents the argument that famine and hunger are not technical but political problems, bound up with conflict and oppression and similar in many ways to genocides. There is extensive use of video material, the aim being to provide students with a richness of detail which they can draw on to debate the politics of famine and genocide.


The module begins by examining three case studies in some detail: Ireland 1845-1850; Germany 1933-1945; Ethiopia 1984-1985. We then consider what causes famine or genocide, and who benefits. We look at several approaches including the Malthusian approach, Sen's entitlement critique and the complex emergency writers. Later lectures consider a series of issues: the way food for work programmes and famine relief camps sustain that system; technologies and micropractices of famine and genocide; images of famine and the portrayal of disaster; and, finally, questions of memory and accountability.

Alongside the lectures there will be showings of documentaries which illustrate the case studies. Seminars will be student-led.

Transferable skills

The module asks students to think critically and analytically about material they are presented with, both textually and in film. The material is difficult and challenging both intellectually and emotionally. During the seminars they will have the opportunity to learn how to facilitate group discussions, to practice their skills in explaining and discussing their own ideas, and to select material suitable for inclusion in discussion. The final open book exam demands individual initiative in researching particular famines or genocides and responding to exam questions on that case.

10 ECTS credits


This module is at CQFW Level 6