PIR-20078 - Russian Politics and Society
Coordinator: Matthew D Wyman Room: N/A Tel: +44 1782 7 33756
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 5
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office:

Programme/Approved Electives for 2019/20


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2019/20

The main theme of this module is the most important political experiment of the twentieth century - the attempt to build communism in Russia. We look at:
* the ideological, cultural and political origins of communism
* the nature of the political, economic and social systems created under Lenin and Stalin
* the decline of the Soviet system
* the causes of the collapse of Soviet communism in the Gorbachev period
* communism's legacy and the postcommunist Russian political system
* Putin and Putinism
Indicative reading: Orlando Figes: Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991 (2014); Robert Service: The Penguin History of Modern Russia: from Tsarism to the Twenty-First Century (4th edition 2015).

This introductory Russian politics module, intended for second year students, addresses the following areas:
- An historical overview, focussing on dominant political values and traditions, and on how political institutions were formed in the Soviet period;
- Governing structures, institutional interactions and the mechanics of power in the Soviet Union and in postcommunist Russia;
- The development of civil society in Russia;
- Russia and democracy: democratic development and obstacles to democracy in contemporary Russia.

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Describe the main features of the Soviet political and economic systems, explain their origins, and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses: 1
Describe and analyse the main theoretical approaches to the study of the Soviet Union, and in particular the usefulness of the totalitarian model: 2
Account for the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1980s and 1990s: 2
Describe the main features of the political system in postcommunist Russia, and assess why democracy has failed to take root: 2
Write effectively on an unfamiliar topic for a non specialist audience: 1

Study hours

Lectures/workshops 12 hours;
Seminars 8 hours;
Seminar preparation 32 hours;
Blog writing 32 hours;
Essay writing 66 hours

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Report weighted 35%
One blog post of 1250 words on a topic of the student's choice
Students will select an item from a list identified by tutors and produce a blog of 1250 words, designed as a piece of writing for a lay audience informed by the module material.

2: Essay weighted 65%
One essay of 2000 words
Students will produce one essay of 2000 words chosen from a list of titles that require students to confront the 'big' questions about the meaning of the communist experiment in Russia, its legacy and the nature of postcommunist politics