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2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SLAV3124 Out of the frying pan into the fire: Russian society from perestroika to the Crimean annexation (1985-2015)

20 creditsClass Size: 40

Module manager: Ilya Yablokov

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

Pre-requisite qualifications

Basic knowledge of Soviet history preferable.

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The course will study the political, socioeconomic and cultural development of Russian society after Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika. The course will look at the causes of the Soviet collapse, the emergence of new political leaders and will pay particular attention to the rise of Putin as Russia's political leader. During the module we shall discuss the introduction of liberal economic reforms, consider the economic model elaborated over the post-Soviet period and will look at the emergence of oligarchs. In addition, the course will discuss Russia's relationship with the West and former Soviet countries with a view of explaining the crisis in Ukraine and the reasons behind Russia's annexation of Crimea.


The aim of the module is to introduce students to the main aspects of contemporary post-Soviet Russian politics, culture and economy which determine the life of today's Russian people. The course aims to explain the nature of changes and continuity in politics, economy, cultural and religious life between the Soviet and post-Soviet periods. At the end of the course students will possess a sufficient knowledge of the subject which will allow them to critically analyze the events taking place in the post-Soviet space and make an informed evaluation of post-Soviet Russian politics.

Learning outcomes
Upon the completion of the course students will:
- gain knowledge and understanding of the major events and socio-cultural phenomena which emerged in the post-Soviet period of Russian history;
- demonstrate the ability to analyse primary sources with a view to understanding the underlying causes of political and socio-economic and cultural change;
- develop critical understanding of the process taking place in the post-Soviet space and how these processes impact on European politics and security;
- develop skills of comparative analysis of historical processes in several countries with a view to tracing the causes of the political conflicts in Europe in the post communist period.


The course will consist of the following themes:
1. Introduction: The Soviet collapse explained.
2. Gorbachev's perestroika (1985-1989) and the Collapse of the Soviet Union, 1991 (The August Coup, the Belovezha Accords)
3. 'There will be blood': Economic reforms in post-Soviet Russia. Privatization, financial crisis, the emergence of oligarchs. Russia as a petrostate.
4. Political parties: from the CPSU to United Russia
5. The Strongman: Putin as a phenomenon
6. (Un)Civil society: from Soviet dissidents to Putin's 'foreign agents'
7. Pussy Riot phenomenon: Religion and state in the post-Soviet Russia
8. Post-Soviet media: journalists of the 'Broken' generation
9. The cursed relationship: Russia and the West
10. Russia and the CIS countries: Back to the USSR?

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

180 hours of private study and independent learning to supplement in-class tuition. Students will be expected to read secondary texts, go over class work and carry out weekly homework assignments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will be monitored by their participation in class discussions, practical assignments during the seminars and on their submitted homework. Assessment will be in the form of: (a) 1 x 3,000-word essay and (b) 1 x invigilated examination.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,000 words50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 13/11/2018 09:25:36


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