SP3NCC-Narrating the Colombian Conflict

Module Provider: Modern Languages
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Cherilyn Elston

Email: c.elston@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module examines the history of the Colombian armed conflict from the 1940s to the present day. Through the analysis of interdisciplinary historical and cultural texts (including essays, fiction, poetry, film, testimony and new media) it explores the stories that have been told about the Western hemisphere’s longest war and asks how these narratives have shaped both national and international interpretations of the conflict. Moving from the civil conflict of the 1940s-50s, through the creation of guerrilla groups in the 1960s, to the emergence of the war on drugs and recent peace processes, the course will interrogate the role stories play in both justifying conflict and creating the possibilities for peace.


  • To introduce students to the history of the Colombian armed conflict from the 1940s to the present day.

  • To examine contrasting narratives of twentieth-century Colombia and situate these narratives politically and historically.

  • To situate the Colombian conflict in broader international developments.

  • To enhance students’ knowledge of the contemporary Spanish language and develop their close textual analysis and critical reading skills of historical and cultural texts.

Assessable learning outcomes:

  • An understanding of the key actors, developments and historical trajectory of the Colombian conflict.

  • To critically analyse, interpret and put into context a variety of Colombian historical and cultural texts.

  • The ability to do close readings of primary sources and apply secondary sources and theoretical frameworks in a critical analysis.

  • The ability to work collaboratively with other students and express written and oral arguments effectively.

  • The ability to show evidence of independent research.

Additional outcomes:

  • Knowledge and skills gained from extra-curricular resources, such as guest speakers and cultural excursions.

  • Students will also improve their IT proficiency by conducting Web searches for materials relevant to the module and by being required to submit word-processed essays and infographic posters.

  • Oral communication and interpersonal skills will be developed through class discussion and group presentations.

Outline content:

Texts and topics for study may include:

  • Sociological analyses and novels about La Violencia of the 1940s-50s.

  • The Bogotazo and the assassination of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán.

  • Journalism and testimonio about the founding of the guerrilla groups.

  • The Holocaust of the Palace of Justice.

  • The peace processes of the 1980s and 1990s and the genocide of the UP.

  • Narconovelas (films, novels and soap operas about the war on drugs).

  • Current peace processes and discourses of historical memory.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

This module will be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars (in Spanish and English, where appropriate). Students will be required to do preparatory reading for each seminar, participate in class discussion and undertake small-group work.

Use of office hours and additional individual meetings for guidance and feedback.

Students may also undertake an academic placement, through which they will learn how to apply the knowledge and skills gained in studying for this module in a professional context outside the University.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 5 5
Seminars 10 10 2
Guided independent study 84 84
Total hours by term 99.00 99.00 2.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 40
Written assignment including essay 50
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Two hour exam.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

  • Oral presentation: group presentation during Autumn or Spring Terms.

  • Essay: 3000-3,500 words, to be submitted at the end of Spring Term.

  • Written exam: 2 hours, during the university summer exam period.

One piece of assessed coursework worth no more than 50% of the module mark can be replaced by a report produced after an academic placement. The placement must be agreed in advance by the module convenor; the length of the report is to be equivalent to standard departmental practice for coursework. 

Formative assessment methods:

Draft essay plan, submitted for informal written and oral feedback in advance of submission of summative essay.

Revision session for examination in Summer Term.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    Module mark of 40%.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re- examination in August in the event of failure in this module and in the degree as a whole. Coursework bearing a confirmed mark of 40% or more can be carried forward; all other coursework to be resubmitted by 12 NOON on the third Friday of August or, if the University is closed, by 12 NOON on the first working day thereafter.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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