Please note that there may be changes in the course descriptions (including the course literature) and the exam dates before the start of the semester in question. If few students are registered for a course, there may be changes in the lecture and examination types.

In case the corona situation changes, there may be changes in the assessment forms (course requirements and / or exam). Any changes will be announced in the relevant Canvas-room. All students must stay continuously updated on these changes.

SAM2230: Genocide and Religion

Time schedule | PDF-version for print

General information | Overlapping courses | Course requirements | Final assessment | Course objective and content | Literature 

Person responsible for the course:Jesse Ophoff (
Credit points (ECTS):10
Start of studies:Spring
Study programme:Bachelor's degree programme - Bachelor of Theology
Bachelor's degree programme - Bachelor in Religion and Society
Bachelor's degree programme - Bachelor in Theology, Religion and Society
Department:Department of Theology and Ministry

General information

This course provides an historical overview of genocides and mass killings from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present, with a specific emphasis on the role of religion and religious actors. Students will be introduced to theoretical perspectives from social science and be able to apply them to analyzing specific cases of violence. At the end of the course students will have a broad knowledge of mass killings and genocides in the last century, be able to analyze the religious and ideological components of specific cases, and have an understanding of what religious leaders can do to deter future violent events.

Overlapping courses

  • Students who have already completed SAM2020 will receive 0 credit points (ECTS) for SAM2230 on their transcript of records or diploma.

Course requirements

Students are required to attend 60% of lectures. As reading quizzes will be administered in class, students should be sure to attend these lectures. See Canvas and/or the syllabus for specific dates. 
Students will prepare 15 minute presentations for the rest of class on a specific genocide and the religious actors involved, detailing how they catalyzed or prevented violence. Students are encouraged to work on this assignment in pairs. A sign-up sheet including the dates and the topics for these presentations will be circulated during the first week of the course, and an example presented by the instructor. Any students who have not signed up by the end of the first week of classes will be assigned a topic and date by the instructor. This will be a pass/fail assignment.
Participate in the electronic evaluation of the course if such evaluation is stipulated in the relevant term.
When course requirements are not fulfilled, this will count as one examination attempt, unless the student withdraws before the set deadline (1 May/November).

Final assessment

The final grade (A-F) for this course is given on the basis of a three-day home exam (2500-3500 words) and a portfolio consisting of 8 of 12 reading quizzes. The three-day home exam and the portfolio consisting of the reading quizzes will each make up 50% of the grade. A candidate can receive an F on one of the exam forms in the course and still receive a passing grade on the course as a whole, granted that the candidate receives a passing grade on the other exam form in the course (cf. Mf's regulation §21).

Course objective and content

The student has:
  • Knowledge the mass killings and genocides from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present.
  • Knowledge of key terms including religion, politics, and genocide
The student can:
  • Partake in discussions of the topic of genocide using key terms correctly
  • Explain theoretical models for the role of religion in mass violence, using specific examples as case studies.
  • Analyze specific instances of genocide and describe the role that religion played in that event.
  • Discuss religious and political methods for preventing genocides and mass killings.


To access electronic literature when you are not at MF:

  • Bartov, O. & Mack, P. (Ed.) (2001). In God's name: Genocide and religion in the twentieth century (p. 139-160, 222-242). New York: Berghahn Books. Library (Compendium)
  • Frydenlund, I. (2018). Buddhism and violence: An Oxymoron?: Text and tradition in Buddhist just-war thinking. I L. R. Kurtz (Ed.), The warrior and the pacifist: Competing motifs in Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (p. 13-35). Routledge. Library (Compendium)
  • Glover, J. (2012). Humanity: A moral history of the twentieth century (2. ed.). New Haven: Yale University Press. Library (pbk.)
  • Juergensmeyer, M., Kitts, M. & Jerryson, M. K. (Ed.) (2013). The Oxford handbook of religion and violence (p. 15-40, 100-166). New York: Oxford University Press. Library (Compendium)
  • Scham, P. (2018). Jewish, Israeli and Zionist traditions of war and peace. I L. R. Kurtz (Ed.), The warrior and the pacifist: Competing motifs in Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (p. 86-103). Routledge. Library (Compendium)

> PDF version for printing