Skip to main content


Undergraduate Module Descriptor

PHL3046: The Holocaust and Society

This module descriptor refers to the 2018/9 academic year.

Module Content

Syllabus Plan

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 topics:


Introduction & orientation: Why study the Holocaust? 
Uniqueness and comprehensibility: Was the Holocaust a unique event? 
Dialectic of Enlightenment and the Modernity thesis: was the Holocaust an essentially modern phenomenon? 
 The nature of evil: Radical or Banal? 
Social psychology: situationist explanation and the fundamental attributional error 
Explaining direct perpetrators' actions and motivations: Browning's situationist explanation 
Explaining direct perpetrators' actions and motivations: Goldhagen's cognitive explanation 
Rescue and resistance: supererogation, ordinary goodness and the social conditions of altruism. 
Normalisation of the Holocaust? Comparison & analogy with other genocides and putative cases of social wrong- and evil-doing 
 Knowledge, ignorance and responsibility 
Judgement and understanding: compatible or incompatible?

Learning and Teaching

This table provides an overview of how your hours of study for this module are allocated:

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

...and this table provides a more detailed breakdown of the hours allocated to various study activities:

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities16.511 x 1.5 hour weekly lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities55 x fortnightly 1 hour smaller group seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activities1.5Revision session
Guided independent study47Assigned readings associated with each lecture
Guided independent study 40Preparation for essay
Guided independent study 40Preparation for exam

Online Resources

This module has online resources available via ELE (the Exeter Learning Environment).