Crimes against Humanity (Aut) (L5103A)

30 credits, Level 6

Autumn teaching

Why are human beings capable of extreme forms of cruelty and violence? The module takes an interdisciplinary approach to reflect on how, in times of conflict, it is possible for previously law abiding people to commit the most atrocious acts of cruelty and violence.

Crimes against humanity have only recently caught the attention of criminologists and the module provides you with in-depth information on the origins and dynamics of such crimes.

During the module, you will discuss the work of influential social theorists, psychologists, criminologists, psychoanalysts and philosophers and particular attention will be focused on the work of Erich Fromm (Escape from Freedom), Hannah Arendt (Eichmann in Jerusalem), Zygmunt Bauman (Modernity and the Holocaust) and Ernest Becker (Escape from Evil).

In addition to contemplating the driving force of aggression, conflict and mass violence, you also address the psychological trauma experienced by victims as well as considering the role of both internal and external bystanders.

The overall aim of this module is to introduce you to a range of psychoanalytical, psychological, sociological and criminological reflections on mass violence, psychological trauma and atrocity. 


33%: Lecture
67%: Seminar


100%: Written assessment (Essay)

Contact hours and workload

This module is approximately 300 hours of work. This breaks down into about 30 hours of contact time and about 270 hours of independent study. The University may make minor variations to the contact hours for operational reasons, including timetabling requirements.

We regularly review our modules to incorporate student feedback, staff expertise, as well as the latest research and teaching methodology. We’re planning to run these modules in the academic year 2023/24. However, there may be changes to these modules in response to COVID-19, staff availability, student demand or updates to our curriculum. We’ll make sure to let our applicants know of material changes to modules at the earliest opportunity.


This module is offered on the following courses: