Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
War Crimes
Academic Year
Semester 2
Mutually Exclusive
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1  (2,000 words)  40%
Semester Assessment Essay 2  (2,500 words)  50%
Semester Assessment Seminar Participation  10%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 1  (2,000 words)  40%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 2  (2,500 words)  50%
Supplementary Assessment Report in lieu of seminar participation  (500 words)  10%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. Demonstrate an understanding of how the legal and political frameworks governing war crimes have evolved through the twentieth century and beyond.

2. Identify the ethical issues entailed in defining war crimes.

3. Demonstrate an understanding of the causes of criminal behaviour in war.

4. Demonstrate an understanding of the debates around perpetrator motivation.

Brief description

This module explores the history of war crimes from the First World War to the present day. It surveys the legal, ethical and political issues entailed in defining war crimes and analyses notable examples of such crimes drawn from the two world wars, wars of decolonization and the Cold War, the Yugoslav wars and the ‘War on Terror’.


The module will first explore the legal, ethical and political issues at stake in the definition of war crimes. It will then explore a number of case studies of such crimes (or, alleged crimes) drawn from the two world wars, wars of decolonization and the Cold War, the Yugoslav wars and the ‘War on Terror’. These will include: the Holocaust; the Allied air war against Germany and Japan; Japanese treatment of POWs, forced labourers and so-called ‘comfort women’; British colonial counter-insurgency; genocide and mass rape in the former Yugoslavia; and drone warfare in the ‘War on Terror’.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Students will learn how to present their ideas both verbally and in writing and how to present their arguments most effectively.
Improving own Learning and Performance The module aims to promote self-management but within a context in which support and assistance is available from both the convener and fellow students alike. Students will be expected to improve their own learning and performance by undertaking their own research and to exercise their own initiative, including searching for sources, compiling reading lists, and deciding (under guidance) the direction of their essay topics.
Information Technology Students will write and submit work electronically. They will be encouraged to search for sources of information electronically and to make use of the resources that will be available on Blackboard.
Personal Development and Career planning The discussions in particular will help to develop students’ verbal and presentation and team-working skills. Preparing assessments will also contribute towards students’ portfolio of transferable skills.
Problem solving Independent project work and problem solving will be one central goal of the module; the submission of essays and preparation for seminars will require that students develop independent research skills as well as problem solving skills.
Research skills Students will be required to identify appropriate sources of both primary and secondary source information and to use them appropriately, understanding their relevant strengths and weaknesses.
Subject Specific Skills Students have the opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of subject specific skills that help them to understand, conceptualise and evaluate examples and ideas on the module.
Team work Seminars will consist in part of small group activities where students will be obliged to prepare, present and discuss as a group the core issues related to seminar topics.


This module is at CQFW Level 5