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2007/08 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST2410 Russia in the Age of Peter the Great and Catherine the Great

20 creditsClass Size: 42

Module manager: Professor SM Dixon

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2007/08

This module is not approved as an Elective


On completion of this module, students should be able to:
- demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the emergence of one of the modern world's greatest international powers;
- analyse the principal political, cultural, social and economic developments in eighteenth-century Russia;
- communicate and collaborate with other students taking the course.

Skills outcomes
Enhances Common Skills listed below:

High-level skills in oral and written communication of complex ideas.
Independence of mind and self-discipline and self-direction to work effectively under own initiative.
Ability to locate, handle and synthesize large amounts of information.
Capacity to employ analytical and problem-solving abilities.
Ability to engage constructively with the ideas of their peers, tutors and published sources.
Empathy and active engagement with alternative cultural contexts.


In the mid-seventeenth century, John Milton acknowledged Muscovy as 'the most northerly Region of Europe reputed civil', but most of his contemporaries classified Muscovites as barbarians no better than the infidel Turk. Many Western perceptions of Russia remain condescending even now. The 18th century's sharpest minds were convinced instead that Russia had been dragged into the modern world by the superhuman efforts of a single tsar, Peter the Great (r.1682-1725). We shall question that hypothesis, showing that many of Peter's reforms succeeded precisely because they reinforced longstanding Muscovite traditions. There will be no attempt to deny Peter's ruthless capacity for innovation, which will be compared with the gentler approach of Catherine the Great (r. 1762-1796). The significance of the intervening period - disfigured by palace coups - will also be examined in order to show why Catherine could afford to coax the subjects whom Peter had been obliged to coerce. A final glance at the turbulent regime of Catherin's son, Tsar Paul (r. 1796-1801) will demonstrate the role of chance in history and warn against any linear claims for modernisation. The module will touch on most aspects of the political, social, cultural and economic history of eighteenth-century Russia, referring to foreigners' accounts and primary sources in translation as the basis for tutorials. Lectures will be broadly chronological. Essays on thematic topics will range over the whole period. No knowledge of a foreign language will be required.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours183.00
Total Contact hours17.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Exam preparation; researching, preparing, and writing assignments; undertaking set reading; and self-directed reading around the topic. 183 hours.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Contributions to class discussions, an assessed exercise or exercises worth 10% of module marks, an assessed essay.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
EssayOne 2,000 word assessed essay to be delivered in teaching week 1030.00
Oral PresentationOne seminar paper and the overall oral contribution10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

10% oral presentation is redone with `an equivalent written exercise┬┐

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)2 hr 00 mins60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

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: 29/02/2008


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