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Holocaust and Genocide Studies (History)
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Study programme

The Master's in Holocaust and Genocide Studies offers an interdisciplinary and comparative one-year programme based on a flexible interpretation of the notion of genocide. You will discuss both the ideology behind a genocide (or mass atrocity) and the context of war or martial law, will be paid to research into how later generations have interpreted different genocidal processes.

  • Core course Holocaust and Genocide Studies
    Period 1
    Period 2
    Period 3
  • Topics in Holocaust Studies
    Period 1
  • Topics in Transitional Justice
    Period 2
  • Free-choice electives
    Period 4
    Period 5
  • Master's Thesis History
    Period 4
    Period 5
    Period 6
Compulsory course
UvA Course Catalogue: Holocaust and Genocide Studies
  • Core Courses

    Core Course in Holocaust and Genocide Studies
    The aim of this course is to introduce students to the broad range of scholarship, questions and discussions in the field of Holocaust and Genocide Studies. We discuss a wide range of case studies and themes including, but not limited to, Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, the Middle East, Perpetrators and Perpetration and Colonialism and Genocide. Students will learn about the causes and mechanisms of genocide and mass atrocities as well as the transitional justice measures attendant to the aftermath of mass political violence and repression. They will write a research paper on one of the course topics and develop and complete a Master's thesis proposal.

    Topics in Holocaust Studies
    While Holocaust research was first primarily conducted by intellectuals who had been in exile during the Nazi era and survivor scholars who had emigrated after the war, more scholars than ever before are engaged in the field of Holocaust studies today. The magnitude of the event, the countless number of sources, and the frequent reinterpretation of these sources have resulted in a flourishing field of studies. In this course, the most recent trends as well as the major debates and controversies in Holocaust historiography are discussed. The themes of this course include Jewish responses during the Holocaust, the knowledge contemporaries had of the mass murder of the Jews, and the meaning and usage of photographs of the Holocaust.

  • Electives

    You can choose from a wide range of electives such as:

    Mass Violence in the Middle East
    The Middle East is often portrayed as synonymous with violence. Media representation and popular imagination tend to converge on the ahistorical notion that Middle Eastern states and societies are inherently violent. This course approaches mass violence as a historical and sociological problem relating to processes of state building and nation building in the postcolonial era that have caused strong changes in countries such as Syria and Iraq. How and why did Syria and Iraq become such violent societies? This course takes a panoramic and in-depth look into the rise of the Baathist regimes in Damascus and Baghdad, and the limitless violence they visited upon their societies in the past half century. It uses secondary literature, primary sources, oral histories, and social media content to examine the causes, courses, and consequences of mass political violence in the region.

    Mass Violence in Africa
    This course approaches mass atrocity violence (i.e., genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, aggression, ethnic cleansing) in Africa as a complex historical and contemporary phenomenon related to colonialism, state building, identity, resources, and climate change. Through a historical, comparative and interdisciplinary approach, we will thematically explore both the parallels and variations between mass atrocities in a broad variety of African countries since 1885. This course will address: colonial violence in Congo Free State, Namibia and Algeria; genocidal violence in the Great Lakes Region and Sudan; Cold War violence in Angola, Chad and Libya; political violence in South Africa, Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire; ethnic violence in Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Ethiopia; and sectarian violence in Somalia, Mali and Central African Republic. It uses primary sources, oral histories and literature to examine, understand and explain the causes, courses and consequences of mass violence on a diverse continent.

    Topics in Transitional Justice
    The aim of this course is to examine and analyze from a historical perspective the characteristics and problems of transitions from non-democratic/dictatorial/totalitarian/criminal political regimes to the beginnings of democracy and civil society. The course is focused on concepts and comparative cases, and current and past transitional justice-related questions. Students will examine, among others, the experience of Germany at and after the Nuremberg proceedings, transitional justice in Africa, post-Soviet efforts at coming to terms with its Communist past, and the legacy of genocide in former Yugoslavia and elsewhere. In the course of our discussion, we will explore the concepts of victors’ justice, retributive justice, restorative justice, memorialization, memory, rehabilitation, and other means of dealing with the legacy of genocide, crimes against humanity, and mass political repression. Students will gain a framework for understanding the questions and challenges related to transitional justice today.

  • Thesis

    The Master's thesis reports on research carried out under the supervision of an academic staff member involved in the programme. The subject of the thesis must be mutually agreed upon by the student and the academic adviser. 

  • Internships 

    Many of our students do internships at NIOD or externally. For more information about available internships and the experiences of other student interns, please follow the link.

    Internship Possibilities and Procedure
  • Extracurricular activities

    We organise a large number of extracurricular activities, including a ‘genocide walk’ through Amsterdam, meetings with experts in the field of Holocaust and Genocide Studies, guest lectures as well as film and documentary screenings. We also visit sites that are related to our field of study, such as former transit camp Westerbork and the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Our faculty is responsible for two major annual lectures: the Auschwitz Never Again lecture, and the Holocaust and Genocide Studies lectures. Our students have the unique opportunity to have ‘meet and greet’ sessions with these speakers. In the past, these have included prof. Philippe Sands, prof. Christopher Browning and Lt Gen Roméo Dallaire.

Holocaust and Genocide Studies as a part-time study

The curriculum is also offered as a part-time study, which lasts one and a half years. Students earn a maximum of 40 ECTS credits per year, i.e. 20 credits per semester. Part-time students attend courses together with full-time students. The programme for a part-time study is put together by the student, in mutual consultation with the coordinator of the programme (See: Contact).

Credit transfer

Students who show exceptional promise during a regular or professional programme are encouraged to continue their studies in a research programme. Once students are admitted to the research programme, they can transfer credits earned during their previous course of study towards their Research Master's degree. The Examinations Board determines which courses qualify for transfer.