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On Violence

Module titleOn Violence
Module codeSOC2095
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Professor Brian Rappert (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module addresses three key questions: What is violence?  How can we understand why it takes place? What can be done to reduce social harms? You will study the patterning of violence, its causes, and the social responses to it. You will learn to understand it from many academic perspectives and to critically appreciate methodologies for assessing harm.  A deliberately broad range of violence is considered, including violence taking place in inter-personal communications, organizational behaviour, political governance, economic relations, physical conflict, and symbolic representations.

There are no pre-requisites or co-requisites for this module.

Module aims - intentions of the module

On Violence aims to increase your confidence in developing independent thinking, expressing that thinking verbally and in written materials, and responding to other people’s contributions, in a seminar environment. It also exposes you to an issue that is challenging in many ways, and cross-disciplinary by nature.

On Violence will help develop and strengthen your abilities to:

  • synthesize and critically assess the relationship between different approaches to violence;
  • apply the insights and findings in the literature to the analysis of problems confronting society;
  • scrutinize the methodological foundations of studying harm;
  • conduct independent analysis.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate a clear understanding of the types of social science research into violence
  • 2. Engage with different sources of information about violence, both quantitative and qualitative, and how they are produced - including their location in particular political and social frameworks - and how they can be interpreted

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Develop and deploy arguments grounded in theoretical frameworks;
  • 4. Draw thematic comparisons between material from different sources;
  • 5. Clearly present research, policy debates and your own arguments;

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Present an argument orally in a clear, organized and effective manner;
  • 7. Evaluate your own work and those of others;
  • 8. Demonstrate skills in collaborative working, e.g. group work, including the presentation and discussion of material in groups; and
  • 9. Demonstrate the ability to work independently, within a limited time frame, and without access to external sources, to complete a specified task.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

The module will examine a wide range of type of violence.  Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following themes over one or more weeks:

Defining Violence - Primary Question: How is violence defined?

Communication and Violence - Primary Question: How is communication characterized by violence?

Measuring Violence - Primary Question: How is violence measured? 
Seeing Violence - Primary Question: How are violent acts rendered seen and unseen?

Systematizing Violence - Primary Question: How is violence ‘structural’?
Bounding Violence - Primary Question: How are social limits placed on violence?
Ignoring Violence - Primary Question: How do societies learn to ignore harm?
Remembering Violence - Primary Question: How do societies remember violence?
Symbolic Violence - Primary Question: In what way do representations entail forms of violence?
Re-defining Violence - Primary Question: How should violence be defined?

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activity4422 x 2-hour seminars (lecturer’s explanations, student participation and discussion)
Guided Independent Study48Preparing for the seminars
Guided Independent Study80Reading assignments
Guided Independent Study20Additional reading/research
Guided Independent Study108Preparation for and completion of all exams


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Two one-hour mock exams to be student peer reviewed and collectively analysed in seminar One hour exam, two hours assessment and discussion 1,2,5,6,9Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Examination – Term 14090 minutes1,2,3,4,7,9Written
Examination – Term 24090 minutes1,2,3,4,7,9Written
Introductions to readings1010 minute presentations1-8Verbal class feedback
Contributions to discussions1022 x 2-hour seminars1-8Verbal class feedback


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Examination 1Examination 1 (90 minutes)1,2,3,4,7,9August/September assessment period
Examination 2Examination 2 (90 minutes)1,2,3,4,7,9August/September assessment period
Introductions to readings10 minute presentations1-8TBA with students
Contributions to discussions1000 word comment-piece on selected seminar themes1,2,3,4,7,9August/September assessment period

Re-assessment notes

When students’ ability to participate in seminars is severely impaired for condonable reasons, an alternative to contributions to discussions will be offered.  


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Rosenberg, M. (1999) Nonviolent Communication

Pachirat, T. (2012) Every Twelve Seconds

Maguire, M., Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (eds.) (1997) The Oxford Handbook in Criminology

Rappert, B. (2012). How to Look Good in a War

Safran Foer, J (2009) Eating Animals

Henckaerts, Jean-Marie and Doswald-Beck, Louise. (2005) Customary International Humanitarian Law

Price, R. (1997) The Chemical Weapons Taboo

Proctor, R. (2011) Golden Holocaust

WHO. (2002) World report on violence and health

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

violence, crime, harm

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date